Which HVAC to choose from: Lennox, Trane, York, or American Standard?

Archived From: Deal Discussion
  • Page :
  • 1
  • Text Only
rated:
Hello, I need help to decide among the 4 choices presented to me by 4 different contractors in my area. They will all do a complete change out of my existing 12-year-old 5 ton York HVAC system including replacing all ductwork and upgrading the circuit breaker from 40 AMP to 50 AMP or 60 AMP (depending on the contractor). The prices they propose also include a relocation of the condenser to a nearby location to allow for a 5-foot clearance from the fence. The existing condenser only has 1.5 feet clearance from the fence.

Here's the pricing I've got:
York YCJF60S41S2 14.5 SEER 5-ton A/C, furnace, and coil $10,100
Lennox Merit Series 14ACX, furnace, coil $9,800
Trane XR14, furnace, and coil $10,200
American Standard (Don't yet know the model but it's for 14 SEER 5 ton), furnace, coil $6,400 without the pricing yet for ductwork, but I don't think he'll charge more than $2K or $3K more.

All the contractors have an average of 4.5 to 5 stars on Yelp. One of them is rated A+ with BBB because he's been in business for 25 years. Another one receives A- rating with BBB because he's only been in business for 10 years. The other two contractors do not show up in the search results on BBB.org.

Which of the above proposals do you think I should go with? Thank you for your help!

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
I still don't understand why automatic zoning of each room is still rare, with only $$$ ductless systems really using it... (more)

larrymoencurly (Jul. 27, 2016 @ 12:28p) |

Generally Carrier/Bryant/Day&Night has the best electrical and electronic controls in their home systems, although their... (more)

larrymoencurly (Jul. 27, 2016 @ 12:35p) |

Probably because they are more expensive and complex to install and balance and since we don't really have true variable... (more)

vadeltachi (Jul. 27, 2016 @ 12:44p) |

Staff Summary
Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

I'd compare at all the features, and make sure they do a Manual J calculation. That's typically needed for any utility company rebates.

I prefer a variable speed blower so you can use it 24x7 specially in summer, a dual speed compressor so it kicks in to high gear when need to cool faster, and a dual stage furnace. And most complete systems will include a programmable thermostat to handle it all. Make sure the thermostat can handle humidity (turn on a central humidifier) and can dehumidify by controlling the AC and blower.

Suggestions, have them add a media filter cabinet (for 5" thick filters, which you'll change 2x a year) if not included.

The folks at the HVAC talk forums may be able to help you, too.
HVAC-Talk
 

You don't mention where you live, but check for utility rebates and consider a heat pump if you live south of the Mason-Dixon line.

American Standard is made in the same factory by the same employees as is the Trane brand. Both are highly regarded and reliable systems. Lennox is next and York is near the bottom of the list.

I second rsuaver's opinions, but variable speed and two-stage compressors are usually found a notch or two higher on the efficiency (16-17 SEER) scale and price ($2-3k more) range. Variable-speed blowers have been troublesome in years past and are expensive to repair or replace (about $.5 - 1k). These more efficient systems have more complex controls and thermostats -- all of which are generally reliable, but costly when they do fail.

If you get a heat pump, make sure it has demand-defrost rather than a time-defrost system.

Check your power provider and see if they have favorable electric rates for heat pumps. Where we live, Dominion Virginia Power offers electricity that is much less expensive in the winter than in summer, so it's often cheaper to heat with electricity than gas or oil.

One more thing -- since you are replacing the ductwork and have a 5-ton system, have you considered splitting the system into zones or using two or more smaller systems? We went from one to three systems and have saved money and increased comfort dramatically. Also, there's still some HVAC available in the event one system fails. 

Not to hijack the thread - but it seems like an insane amount of work and $$$ to replace 12 year old ductwork - is there any possibility that such work is actually worthwhile from an efficiency or "comfort" standpoint? Not challenging it, just seems counterintuitive.

what are the warranties from each company? at the minimum s/b 5 years full parts & labor, some give 10 year warranties.

Also, getting quotes in the peak of summer is often not a good time to get a "deal'., if your present system can get you through the summer, you might get better quotes if you wait til October or November when they are slower and don't have as much work to keep them busy.

vadeltachi said:   You don't mention where you live, but check for utility rebates and consider a heat pump if you live south of the Mason-Dixon line.

American Standard is made in the same factory by the same employees as is the Trane brand. Both are highly regarded and reliable systems. Lennox is next and York is near the bottom of the list.

I second rsuaver's opinions, but variable speed and two-stage compressors are usually found a notch or two higher on the efficiency (16-17 SEER) scale and price ($2-3k more) range. Variable-speed blowers have been troublesome in years past and are expensive to repair or replace (about $.5 - 1k). These more efficient systems have more complex controls and thermostats -- all of which are generally reliable, but costly when they do fail.

If you get a heat pump, make sure it has demand-defrost rather than a time-defrost system.

Check your power provider and see if they have favorable electric rates for heat pumps. Where we live, Dominion Virginia Power offers electricity that is much less expensive in the winter than in summer, so it's often cheaper to heat with electricity than gas or oil.

One more thing -- since you are replacing the ductwork and have a 5-ton system, have you considered splitting the system into zones or using two or more smaller systems? We went from one to three systems and have saved money and increased comfort dramatically. Also, there's still some HVAC available in the event one system fails. 

  

Often the extra cost in seer rating isn't worth the savings. if you are going to pay $2500 more for a 17 seer vs 14 seer system, the extra summer energy savings may only be 15-25 a month. the amount of time it takes you to recoup that savings often makes it at best a wash or simply never realized if you move before that time or you need a new system again in 20 years.  

Depending on the size of your house, I got a Geothermal WaterFurnance. With the 30% federal tax credit I calculated that the system would pay for itself in energy savings in 7 years. These aren't for every home as my house is 5,000 square feet and three floors. For smaller homes it would not be worth the cost.
http://www.waterfurnace.com 

I just did research for my home as I think next year I will change my system out. I have spoken to installers distributors and repair guys. I put probably 40 hours into research as I get on a kick and need to know everything that I can on a subject.  This was my latest project.  My consensus on it was that the Carrier Brand units are the best, but I would buy one of their other brands that they sell under different names and have the same warranty and use the same parts but at a lesser price. I would go with Arcoaire for my HVAC system. Register it online and get twice the warranty making it a 10 year warranty on much of it.  Arcoaire, Heil, Comfortmaker are all the same units but sold regionally under different names.  They are the same as the Carrier units but at a great discount.  ICPUSA.com is their website.  All brands have lesser known brands that are the same items just with a different badge on it.  Think of it like a Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ 3 different cars that are all the same with different names.  The HVAC industry is no different.  If you like paying for their advertising go ahead and buy the well known brand.  BTW the Trane dealer will absolutely say their unit is completely different, but they are lying in my opinion.

You will pay outrageous prices for the big names like Trane, Carrier, Lennox. The installer is much more important in my opinion than the brand. That is where you will get your value out of your unit. Where you need to invest in is research. See how it is installed, watch youtube videos, read HVAC forums on the items. Don't overbuy some crazy system that you really don't need. Make sure you get a MANUAL J calculation done on your home so that they install the proper size. Too big and only the big rooms will heat or cool easily and the small far away room wont have a chance to cool or heat up. I have a 80,000 btu output system on my house and I found out I only need a 64,000 output. If I get closer to that number (not below it) then my home will be more even temperature throughout the house. That is what you want. Many installers want to just replace your unit with the same size or even bigger, don't let them. They are more efficient than they used to be so if your 3 ton AC unit worked before you may only need a 2.5ton this time. Good luck and figure out that the unit will last your about 15 years and break it down how much you will it cost per year of that 15 years. Then figure out how much it would cost to repair the unit you have or only replace a portion of it such as just the AC side.

Ditto on replacing ductwork and warranties, and using Fatwallet instead of an HVAC site.

I'm just wondering but why would you need to replace ALL of your ductwork? I understand that some sheet metal work needs done for a new furnace but I do not see the value in replacing all the ductwork unless they were undersized.

I am going to tape my ductwork joints with red label 3m foil tape or use ductwork mastic (brush on) to lessen any heating or cooling loss.  That is another way to save money on your system with little effort. 

BTW a Manual J load calculation can be done by any qualified installer and you should ask for one and see your numbers.  You may be surprised at what you really need.  BTW I was pricing out my 80% arcoaire furnace 67k btu output, with a 2.5 ton 14 seer AC condenser with coil,  with a 4 inch filter tray, new lineset, and 36 watt honeywell uv light and those parts would cost me less than $2500 at the distributor under my brother in laws name.  FYI.  That is not installation, freon, or sheet metal work.   I would guess I could get all that done for $1500 or less if I shopped around out there and told the installer what I expected from them and was there for installation.  So let's say  around $4000.  Since my brother in law does it I can get it done for much less.  It has a 10 year warranty on most parts if you do it online within a certain time frame.  Make sure you register yours online also ASAP no matte what brand you get.  My suggestion is try to get to know what the costs are for this unit if you can.  Only Trane installers can buy trane, but anyone can buy their lesser known brands.  Trane and American Standard are the same units FYI.

Here is a good article to read to start you off 

A few pieces of installation advice from an HVAC engineer:

  1. Insist on a galvanized metal or plastic emergency drain pan installed below the indoor unit (air handler).  This will save your ceiling below one day.  A leak sensor or float switch should be placed in the pan and interlocked with power to the blower.  The quietest installations involve hanging the air handler from your roof rafters (for units installed horizontally in attics.)
  2. Tell the sheet metal contractor that all joints must be sealed airtight.   Duct leakage is a killer and huge energy waster.   The contractor should use a brush-applied mastic (or at least foil tape) on all slip-and-drive duct joints, and all branch duct takeoffs should have a gasket.  You might tell him you want to inspect the joints before the ducts are wrapped with insulation.
  3. Ask for a 4" pleated air cleaner (but don't pay more than $300 installed).   The 1" factory filters are garbage and let all the small stuff (dust, pollens, etc.) pass through.
  4. All branch ducts must have integral manual volume dampers for air balancing.
  5. I've seen many installations ruined with flexible ducts.  Limit flex duct lengths to 5ft or less per branch.   Tell the contractor the rest of the run should be smooth metal pipe.
  6. Supply and return duct connections to the air handler should include a flexible canvas connector (shop fabricated).   This keeps the unit vibration from being transmitted to the ductwork, which is an effective noise conduit when externally insulated.

If the contractor balks at any of these requests, get a new contractor.

Regarding equipment efficiency, I would recommend a "Mid SEER" unit (14 or 15 SEER) if you're going to be in the house 5 of more years.   Your electric bills will be lower.
 

avidfan said:   A few pieces of installation advice from an HVAC engineer:

  1. Insist on a galvanized metal or plastic emergency drain pan installed below the indoor unit (air handler).  This will save your ceiling below one day.  A leak sensor or float switch should be placed in the pan and interlocked with power to the blower.  The quietest installations involve hanging the air handler from your roof rafters (for units installed horizontally in attics.)
  2. Tell the sheet metal contractor that all joints must be sealed airtight.   Duct leakage is a killer and huge energy waster.   The contractor should use a brush-applied mastic (or at least foil tape) on all slip-and-drive duct joints, and all branch duct takeoffs should have a gasket.  You might tell him you want to inspect the joints before the ducts are wrapped with insulation.
  3. Ask for a 4" pleated air cleaner (but don't pay more than $300 installed).   The 1" factory filters are garbage and let all the small stuff (dust, pollens, etc.) pass through.
  4. All branch ducts must have integral manual volume dampers for air balancing.
  5. I've seen many installations ruined with flexible ducts.  Limit flex duct lengths to 5ft or less per branch.   Tell the contractor the rest of the run should be smooth metal pipe.
  6. Supply and return duct connections to the air handler should include a flexible canvas connector (shop fabricated).   This keeps the unit vibration from being transmitted to the ductwork, which is an effective noise conduit when externally insulated.

If the contractor balks at any of these requests, get a new contractor.

Regarding equipment efficiency, I would recommend a "Mid SEER" unit (14 or 15 SEER) if you're going to be in the house 5 of more years.   Your electric bills will be lower.

Excellent advice. I've often wondered how the silent HVAC system in the Kennedy Center works (maintaining 70 degrees and 46 percent relative humidity regardless of whether 0 to 2500 patrons + 350 performers are in the concert hall) but in my own house, I feel as if a jet turbine is the heart of my systems. Quiet is underrated!

I second the comment about the installer. I had a few people from a few different installers come out. One told me he could fudge the numbers to make me get a bigger tax credit and only sized me with the same system I had currently. Another one handed me the estimate and just left. The final one actually measured the house, looked in the rooms and then came up with the measurement that my unit was sized correctly. He also stayed and asked if I had questions, gave me paperwork, and explained everything in detail. Probably spent a good 2-3 hours going back and forth before we signed with them.

I have a Trane unit and have not had any huge problems. Mine came with a 10 year warranty from the installer and I have had one small issue. A small feather got stuck in a tube and was not allowing enough pressure for the unit to turn on. Installer came back out that night and it was covered under warranty.

Not York.  Otherwise the contractor matters much more than the brand.

Trane and American Standard are the same company.

Is there a reason why nobody in your area offers Rheem, AKA Ruud?

Positive consumer ratings don't mean nearly as much as negative ones, and with any consumer ratings, go by what they actually wrote, not the numerical or star rating. Also larger contractors may have high BBB ratings because they know how to handle complaints, not because they're actually good, and they may have a reputation for overselling services or products.  For example, there's one pretty good local contractor that had an F rating from the BBB, apparently because of the owner's poor attitude, not because his people did shoddy work or cheated customers, and he didn't make his people sell unneeded maintenance.


 

HVAC sites wont help you as they all think they are elites and nobody knows anything except them because they are "certified"...so were most of the the total boobs that have come to my house for service calls over the years..thats why i learned myself...last guy out here literally smoked my thermostat because he put 120v to it down at the circuit board,,and then said he was going to charge me to put in a new thermostat...good luck...

Interesting...I need a new A/C soon and am following this thread.

avidfan said:   A few pieces of installation advice from an HVAC engineer:

  1. Ask for a 4" pleated air cleaner (but don't pay more than $300 installed).   The 1" factory filters are garbage and let all the small stuff (dust, pollens, etc.) pass through.
  2. All branch ducts must have integral manual volume dampers for air balancing.


  I have a different opinion on these two, both add a lot of costs to the system and the 4" filter will cost quite a bit over the long run.  HVAC filter should be used to protect the system, not to act as a air cleaner.  I rather buy the cheap generic 1" filter and change it often. 

Manual dampers helps with balancing but may be cost prohitibtive depends on the exisiting install.  I wouldn't put that as  absolute requirement.

American Standard, Lennox and Trane were the least likely to break in 5 years, according to recent Consumer Reports.

My Mom went with Trane through Home Depot and their affiliated contractor and hasn't had one problem. I think it has been five years or so.

Like someone else above said, get multiple estimates from different contractors. When my Mom went to have the new A/C put in she called this one contractor who literally pestered her for multiple hours. Apparently to get rid of him, she said she need to call her son first. He said "Fine. Let's do it now." So I'm talking to him and I ask what brand he is going to put in. He wouldn't say, except they have a couple different brands they use and will decide what is best when they install it. I attacked it from so many levels to find what brand they use, apparently Trane wasn't one, to no avail. Finally I said he needed to leave so I can think about it. Called back a couple hours later and the bastard had talked my Mom into signing a contract, just to get him out the door she said. Luckily, California has a cooling off period (maybe most states do), but I told her to cancel that contract, stop payment on the check and don't answer the phone or door when the sales guy inevitably shows up. In the end, she had to go down to the shop and retrieve her check. The sad thing is, I think this company is ripping off the elderly all over Tehama County as I see their signs on a lot of lawns.

The complete opposite happened with the contractor through Home Depot. He showed up when he was supposed to, took measurements, asked if she had any questions and left. No pressure, no "sign now or the price goes up" crap. So just an all-around good experience there.

So long story short, pick your contractor carefully. That and probably go with Trane or American Standard.

Many homes AC have too large capacity.It is wiser to have a unit that is consider a little too small in capacity so that it will not cycle on and off frequently. It can result in better dehumidification for better comfort and perhaps improve longevity.
Perhaps a smaller unit could eliminate the need for upgrading the circuit breaker.
Curious about the problems with existing ductwork.

The "Nothing Stops a Trane" was good logo before American Standard (AS) bought them up. Think I had every circuit board replaced in AS built Trane unit (to include electronic air cleaner) at my cost in unit in N. VA. After retirement to FL chose Carrier/Bryant (same company). They have a Coastal design unit better suited for salt air exposure.

We went through Costco and the vendor used Lennox systems. We got 10% back from the total cost - $1100 and then used the costco amex and git another $400 back. We've been very happy with our heat pump system.

megaubersuef said:   We went through Costco and the vendor used Lennox systems. We got 10% back from the total cost - $1100 and then used the costco amex and git another $400 back. We've been very happy with our heat pump system.

I got a quote from Costco. So much misinformation from the salesperson. Told me it was 15% back from Costco. Their price was clearly padded to absorb that . In addition, I did not see any benefit going through Costco. Costco offers 10% back on a card. If I went to the vendors website, they had a coupon for 10% off instalations.

megaubersuef said:   We went through Costco and the vendor used Lennox systems. We got 10% back from the total cost - $1100 and then used the costco amex and git another $400 back. We've been very happy with our heat pump system.
  So your system cost $11,000?  What did that include?

Regarding size, in this case, it's not big or small. It's the RIGHT size. You get a small unit, it will work very hard to cool. You get a unit too big, you're wasting money and energy.

A Manual J calculation is imperative. A good HVAC will do one before giving you a quote. And it's typically required for any utility rebates.

ZenNUTS said:   Manual dampers helps with balancing but may be cost prohitibtive depends on the exisiting install.  I wouldn't put that as  absolute requirement.
  I still don't understand why automatic zoning of each room is still rare, with only $$$ ductless systems really using it.  

wolfgangdieter said:   The "Nothing Stops a Trane" was good logo before American Standard (AS) bought them up. Think I had every circuit board replaced in AS built Trane unit (to include electronic air cleaner) at my cost in unit in N. VA. After retirement to FL chose Carrier/Bryant (same company). They have a Coastal design unit better suited for salt air exposure.
Generally Carrier/Bryant/Day&Night has the best electrical and electronic controls in their home systems, although their ICP brand equipment (Arcoaire, Comfortmaker, Heil, Tempstar, etc.) does not, if it's not based on a Carrier brand design.  

larrymoencurly said:   
ZenNUTS said:   Manual dampers helps with balancing but may be cost prohitibtive depends on the exisiting install.  I wouldn't put that as  absolute requirement.
  I still don't understand why automatic zoning of each room is still rare, with only $$$ ductless systems really using it.  

Probably because they are more expensive and complex to install and balance and since we don't really have true variable-speed compressors and burners commonly available. Some zoned installations also require a bypass damper and related ducting so that adequate airflow can be maintained if too many zones are shut off.  Variable-airflow systems in offices and commercial buildings are often never properly re-commissioned after the original HVAC system buildout and end up causing a lot of discomfort since there is often no way to control the airflow / temperature in a reconfigured space.

I think ductless systems are more efficient in general, but the system itself is visible, often noisier than a ducted central system and cannot clean the air as well as a central ducted system. Also, ductless systems have only one air entrance point, so it can be difficult to distribute the conditioned air evenly and where it is most needed which is often along room perimeters. 



Disclaimer: By providing links to other sites, FatWallet.com does not guarantee, approve or endorse the information or products available at these sites, nor does a link indicate any association with or endorsement by the linked site to FatWallet.com.

Thanks for visiting FatWallet.com. Join for free to remove this ad.

While FatWallet makes every effort to post correct information, offers are subject to change without notice.
Some exclusions may apply based upon merchant policies.
© 1999-2017