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Old 01-19-2010, 11:43 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Dayton, OH
Posts: 4,210
Originally Posted by bordelond View Post
Looking to get a new gas furnace/"air handler" AC unit in the house. Condensor/compressor unit outside is not getting replaced. Trying to get a read on how much you get for the money with the pricier brands (Lennox, Trane, Carrier) versus "builder-grade" units such as Luxaire and Goodman.

Any testimonies about other brands are more than welcome.

Regrettably, we are on a super-tight budget with this purchase, and can't really even dump even a nickel into greater unit energy efficiency (no tax benefit would help us soon enough to make a difference). We're locked into a 13 SEER system, though 18+ would be ideal. This thread is basically to gauge HVAC-manufacturer reputations, and share experiences of changing out HVAC parts in the home.

Notes to guide the discussion: we're in SE Louisiana, and can get by with a merely adequate furnace for the 3 or 4 weeks a year we really need to run it. So the types of units we're looking at are substantially different, I think, than what would be purchased in the northern U.S.

Is this an air handler, or a gas furnace?

1) HVAC systems are not like cars. What I mean by that is that we can wrap our mind around the difference between a Chevy and a Cadillac.

However, in HVAC systems every brand------under the same name----- has Chevys through Cadillacs.

So....Lennox or Carrier has lower end products---builders models-----up to more advanced units---all under the Lennox or Carrier name. (as just 2 examples)

In other words, you can get a 13 SEER Carrier builders model that's inferior to a 18 SEER Luxaire. So...rather than looking at brand names, look at specs within the brand name product line. In other, other words make your distinctions on the specs, not on the brand names.

2) Most of the manufacturers sell similar---but most often the exact---unit under different names. Carrier and Bryant are the same unit. Trane and American Standard only differ in the cabinet. York, Coleman and Luxaire are all York Products. And so on.

3) Systems are a matched engineered set. It would be foolish to get anything but a 13 SEER unit if you're not replacing the outdoor unit. In other words, if you put an 18 SEER unit inside and left the existing AC outside, you'll get efficiencies that will likely be less than 13. Read: wasted money.

4) It's really important to know if this is a furnace or air handler. If it's a furnace, and if you only run it 1 month out of the year, your payback for a super high efficiency unit is way, way out there. Given that your heat needs are very low, I wouldn't put any heat in there that wasn't your basic efficiency unit----in the case of a furnace, 80% AFUE. It would just take too long to get the return---without a doubt many years.

If it's an air handler, than you have a Heat Pump, and then there are other concerns. But answer that first and then we'll give you some answers.

If it's a furnace, then an 80% unit would probably be best. If it's an air handler, I'd be tempted to stay with the same manufacturer that makes the out door unit. (which you say is remaining)

But if it's an air handler, I would still stay with a basic model since you're only replacing the indoor unit. If it's an air handler, you're not going to get the benefit of efficiency, SEER rating etc without a matched system.

Questions for you:
1) Do you have a proposal from somebody yet?

2) Furnace or air handler?

3) Brand of existing out door unit? (Is it a heat pump)

4) What is the square footage of the house?
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