Your Opinion On Which HVAC To Go With

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OFDPOS

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Background ;
We purchased a house last Nov. on the initial home inspection was told even tho HVAC system is original House built in 1984 . is working ok.
Dec, Jan, Feb electric bill abit on the high side.
July , August Sept was High !
Had a couple local HVAC companies come out and look the system over and give me quotes on updating the system.

One was talking about the mini split systems and I talked with Terry here on it , but can't get past the hugh mini split unit heads hanging off the walls.

House is 1389 sq ft. single story.
One quote is using Carrier.
Carrier Performance Series Two Stage Heat Pump 16 SEER , 9 HSPF model #25HCB636A003 (2.5 to 3 Ton /ARI #9156147)
Carrier Performance Up flow / Down flow Air Handler Model #FV4CNF002L00 (17" Wide)
The guy kept talking about the Carrier Scroll Compressor ?

Using old ducting in place, ( repair, seal and test ) with new ducting connections to new system.
Using my old Smart Thermostat.
Quote is $11,486 Our local Smud electric comp. is offering a $1,500 rebate so total cost would be $9,986.

Other quote is a Train System .
I can't find the paper work showing what models at this time , but quote was at $12,900 . Less the $1,500 rebate
would be $11,400 it included all new ducting tho.

Not sure which system would be better Carrier or Train ?
Or is there a better brand option ?

Are these quotes too high ? average ? or ?

Thanks for any advice , input and or recommendations .
 

Dana

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A 2.5- 3 ton system for a ~1400' house that has fluff in the attic & walls and glass in the windows is a case of ridiculous oversizing, at a ton per 45-550' of space. Most homes that size would do fine with a 1.5 ton or AT MOST 2 ton ducted mini-split, whether new ducts or re-commissioning the old ducts. A 2 stage 3 ton unit that's 2x ovesizd for the load at the high stage is also substantially oversized at the lower stage.

Below is a graphic plotting calculated Manual-J cooling loads for dozens of houses, compiled by a home efficiency contractor in Georgia:

Energy-Vanguard-image-1024x618.png


Not even the WORST performing house was as bad as a ton per 550', and most houses in your size range came in between a ton per 1100' & 1500'.

For the kind of money you're talking it's worth paying an engineer or RESNET/HERS rater to run an aggressive Manual-J load calculation before picking the equipment. NOW is the opportunity moment to get it right, and oversizing the equipment by 2x or more is going to cost more up front, and provide lower comfort.

In California the latent cooling loads are negative, which means you can do just fine with a high SEER ducted or ductless mini-split. Since the old ducts are probably WAY oversized, the static pressures should be low enough to use all but the wimpiest mini-duct cassettes. You may have to install a large pleated filter (Aprilaire 2400 or similar) if pushing the static pressure limits, but some have more blower power than others. The smoothly modulating (3100 BTU/hr - 20,000+ BTU/hr) 1.5 ton Fujitsu 18RLFCD can probably handle both the heating and cooling loads, with more than 20,000 BTU of heating even at +5F, at a higher comfort level than any 2-stager, and even with new ducts would come in under $8K in my neigborhood (YMMV). It has an SEER of almost 20, and a respectable HSPF efficiency north of 11. They have a line of mini-duct cassettes with even beefier blowers and bigger sizes too, if a Manual-J load calculation suggests it's really needed.

Since your contractor seems to support Carrier, note that Carrier now has some decent modulating ducted mini-splits (manufactured by Midea, using Toshiba's compressor technology). The modulating 1.5 tonner has very similar efficiency specs to the Fujitsu 1.5 ton, and would also probably cover your load.

It's worth peeking at Nate Adams' chapters & videos on home comfort, and HVAC 101 & 102- bigger is the opposite of better, and RIGHT NOW is the opportunity to get it right. While Nate is operating in a much cooler climate than most of CA, the principles are universal.
 

OFDPOS

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Thanks for the reply , I don't think any HVAC companies in my area really deal/know much with the mini splits ?
And the couple I talked with wanted to put the box looking heads mounted on the wall in the living room , one in the master bedroom then something along the line to heat/cool the 2 other bedrooms and 2nd bathroom ?
And that came to just under $13,000.
 

WorthFlorida

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.....The guy kept talking about the Carrier Scroll Compressor ?

Using old ducting in place, ( repair, seal and test ) with new ducting connections to new system.
Using my old Smart Thermostat.
Quote is $11,486 Our local Smud electric comp. is offering a $1,500 rebate so total cost would be $9,986.


Not sure which system would be better Carrier or Train ?
Or is there a better brand option ?


I know California is expensive but your quotes just for the compressor and air handler is about double the cost as compared to Florida. SEER 16 is worth upgrading from a SEER 14 required by the US Dept of Energy.

The Scroll compressor has been the world standard for over twenty years. Your 1984 unit is more likely a piston compressor and about SEER 8 on a good day. Copeland Corporation was the first to bring the scroll compressor to market and they are probably the best. Recently, LG has a scroll compressor for low end models. Essential just about every HVAC manufacturer uses the Copeland Scroll compressor.

When trying to compare who has a better AC unit, they are nearly all equal until you get into the units above SEER 16. Carrier & Bryant are the same. Bryant has a little better made compressor housing for corrosion and maybe sound insulation around the compressor. Trane may have the best outside cabinet but its design prevents rain water from reaching the coils. Therefore, they need more cleaning from a garden hose to rinse away lint, etc. The lower end units use nearly the same fan motors, same relays, and the air handlers are nearly identical. The controller board inside the air handler may be different especially when you get above SEER 16 as they become proprietary and expensive.

I have a Carrier unit SEER 16 AC/Heat pump. Installed around 2014 and the coils are all aluminum. It replaced a Carrier unit installed in 2007 because the copper coils in the air handler popped a leak. It was worth replacing. The air is dryer and the home is more comfortable than the older unit and savings on the electric bill.

https://hvac-talk.com/vbb/showthread.php?1586751-Who-Makes-a-Better-Scroll-Compressor
 

Dana

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Thanks for the reply , I don't think any HVAC companies in my area really deal/know much with the mini splits ?
And the couple I talked with wanted to put the box looking heads mounted on the wall in the living room , one in the master bedroom then something along the line to heat/cool the 2 other bedrooms and 2nd bathroom ?
And that came to just under $13,000.

It's too much equipment for the loads, and too much money for that (likely way too) much equipment. Even a half ton ductless head is usually oversized for an individual bedroom, and OBSCENELY oversized for the heating and cooling loads of a bathroom.

In my area name-brand cold climate (= more expensive) ductless runs less than $4K/ton in competitive bidding, but I recently got a budgetary quote over the phone that ran about $8K/ton (which I of course didn't bother to follow up on.)

"...I don't think any HVAC companies in my area..."

Got a ZIP code?
 

OFDPOS

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95621 zip code.

Funny , (not) but the guy pushing the Carrier unit said their coils are made of copper and so much better than aluminum.
He stated Copper could be easily brazed if a leak would ever happen, but that the aluminum coils walls were so thin it would take a professional to braze/ solder a leak !. Hence would need to be replaced .
 

Dana

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"95621 zip code"

It's about an hour's drive away, but A1-Guaranteed Heating & Air Inc. in Vallejo has experience with ducted Fujitsu mini-splits. Ask for Larry Waters. If you're outside their service area they may be able to recommend somebody closer.
 

Dana

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These folks in Elverta claim to run room by room Manual-J load numbers (for free- which from HVAC installers is sometimes worth less than what you pay for it, but sometimes more) , and sell ductless systems as well as standard split AC and heat pump. These folks do too. If you let them know you're more concerned about oversizing than undersizing they might run the Manual-J aggressively (as per the instructions in the manual) rather than conservatively, leading to oversizing.

Most "free" Manual-J's performed by equipment installers have a thumb on the scale, but even a crummy HVAC contractor's Manual-J is better than a "ton per xxx feet" idiot's rule of thumb. CA Title 24 requires the Manual-J and puts limits on oversizing factors, but anybody who has used the tools knows how to tweak the inputs to deliver whatever result they want, and that's widely ignored or misunderstood by inspectors, who typically only want to see that there is a Manual-J report in the file- they don't necessarily go over it line by line, or even page by page. It's better to get it from a qualified third party who is in the business of selling the accuracy of their numbers rather than making a living selling/installing/maintaining equipment.

There are a number of Fujitsu installers within 20 miles of your ZIP. Not all will do ducted mini-splits, but surely some will. Fujitsu's AOU/ARU xxRLFCD series ducted mini-splits have a bit more power than most of the competition, and their AOU/ARU xxRGLX mini-duct cassettes are nearly as powerful as full sized air handlers on split systems. The -xxRLGX systems don't have quite as wide a turn-down range as the xxRLFCDs, and the extra blower power knocks down their test efficiency number a bit, but they're really quite good in general. The 1.5 tonner delivers nearly 2 tons of cooling at 95F (Sacramento's 1% outside design temp is +95F) with an SEER of 19. There are 2 ton, and larger versions in that series, on half-ton size boundaries up to 4 tons if Manual-J really calls for it.

Of the less powerful blower versions, the largest in series 1.5 ton -18RLFCD has comparable capacity numbers, a bigger modulation range (better for comfort) and slightly higher efficiency, and will probably work with existing, recommissioned ducts.

I'm not stuck on Fujitsu, but they are a generally well supported vendor, with a better selection of mini-ducted mini-splits than most. And unlike the others they can be mounted either vertically or horizontally, which means they can often be installed fully inside the pressure and insulation boundary of the house. A vertical mounted eats up less than 10 square feet of floor area, which could be a micro-mechanical closet, such as this 18RLFCD in a house in Berkeley:

Ducted-minispli-1-Dana-Dorsett-700x933.jpg

The big grille is the return plenum. A wall and serviced access doors got built around it:

7843213f27734395e6ede8ea696552a8eafd3a2dd7f62c2b61241bb23189a293.jpg


Scroll down to response #13 on this thread, where Larry Waters posted pictures of a few other Fujitsu installs his company done recently.
 

OFDPOS

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Small world.
Called Larry Waters, who gave me a gentlemen's number locally who then gave me 3 Comp. names to to call.
The third name he gave me was the Comp who came out and was pushing the wall mount minisplit .
Then I called another Comp who does the Carrier Brand ..
Which what encouraged me to reach out here on this site..

So I'll contact the first 2 and have them come out and give me a quote.

Thank you again for the replies..
 

Dana

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Unfortunately a strategy the "... have them come out and give me a quote..." strategy doesn't work very well in terms of getting right-sized equipment at a fair price.

Break it down into three steps:

1: Get a load calculation from someone other than an HVAC company, even if you have to do it yourself. There are no rocket scientists wasting their careers doing Manual-J calculations- this is do-able, and there are free or cheap tools online or downloadable that deliver reasonably accurate numbers if you are reasonably aggressive about the inputs.

For a fee you can have an independent RESNET rater or engineer run those numbers using industry standard tools. When searching the RESNET site for providers in California it came up with this:

CHEERS
1610 R Street
Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95811
Phone: 800.424.3377
Email: jhodgson@cheers.org
Contact: Jim Hodgson
Accreditation Identification Number: 1998-199
Date of Expiration: December 31, 2020

2: Figure out a few models that will cover those loads, with no more than 1.5x oversizing (if possible.) If you're thinking about mini-split (ducted or ductless) solutions, searching the NEEP database can narrow it down pretty quickly. NEEP only lists heat pumps that have a specified capacity at +5F and lower, and will miss a number of solutions that could still be appropriate in your climate- some products have extended temperature tables that stop a +14F/-10C, which may still be appropriate, given Sacramento's 99% outside deign temp of +34F. Post a scan of the Manual-J summary page here and I may be able to come up with solutions that are slightly less expensive (though usually slightly lower efficiency) than the NEEP selections.

3: With a Manual-J report and a few model numbers that fill the bill, then start soliciting quotes, and let the contractors in on your load and suggested model numbers There will be pushback from the contractors- most will want to up-size, some will want to use a different model or vendor, and while it's fine to listen to them, do your research before signing any contracts. Not all heat pumps are alike- most true cold-climate mini-splits use variable speed vapor injection scroll compressor technology that offers both higher efficiency & higher capacity at the temperature extremes than simpler compressor designs.

Contractors who understand that you've educated yourself a bit, know what you want, and know that you are putting it out to competitive bid are more likely to respond well, better than if they're dealing with a clueless client who doesn't really care as long as they're cool enough in summer and warm enough in winter. The vast majority of homeowners really don't have any experience with the comfort levels (and efficiency) that right-sized equipment can deliver, and fall into "bigger is better" thinking, something that HVAC contractors won't argue with, since delivering that education takes valuable time, and results in a smaller sale. Watch the videos in on Nate Adams' site (the links at the bottom of response #2 above) as a primer as to why bigger is the opposite of better.
 
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