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Thread: OT: Best furnace/AC units
04-09-2013, 11:15 AM #1
OT: Best furnace/AC units
After 15 years, my Lennox A/C has a leak in the heat exchanger. Poor (rough) penetration of the tubesheet, I think. Plus, the induced draft fan for the gas burners overheats. So I'm looking to replace furnace and A/C, and am not particularly impressed with Lennox.
My A/C guy tells me that Bryant is good brand. Anybody with in-depth experience as to best brands? The "I've got a brand Y, and I love it because ____" stories are appreciated, but an "I install and service AC units and for home applications, brand Z has a much lower frequency of repair" story would be even better.
04-09-2013, 12:49 PM #2
I've got a Lennox and I think that you should buy a new furnace from thiem. The reason is that they are made here and if you don't buy from them, they will have a lay-off and my property value will drop. Then I can't retire and will come live with you.
04-09-2013, 01:53 PM #3
OK, a little more time now. I do have a Lennox that replaced a Bryant that wouldn't stay running.
Here's a link from last year - OT: Anyone have "Goodman" brand HVAC? Are they any good?
Here are the brands - to the best of my knowledge.
Lennox - Merrit
Trane (Ingersol Rand) - American Standard
Carrier - Bryant, International comfort, Payne,
York (Johnson Controls) - Coleman, Guardian, Armstrong, Luxaire, Ducane,
Nordyne - Tappan, Westinghouse, Frigidaire, Kelvinator, Gibson, Grandaire, Philco, Miller and Intertherm
Goodman - Amana
Fedders (airwell) - Airtemp, Melcor, Trion, Sun, Koppel, Eubank, Polenz, MAC-10 and Maytag (under license)
What's best? I think a lot depends on how good the installer is. I've got a longtime friend in the business and he tells me that a high % of service calls are due to improper installation (including theirs).
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04-09-2013, 02:36 PM #4
What are you looking for in a new unit? Long life, best efficiency, best bang for the buck?
While many different brands are made by the same "company" I am told that the innards don't compare well between brands. I just replaced a Lenox in a my Mother-In-Law's house with a Trane. Same company who installed the Lenox (and still is a Lenox dealer) said don't buy a lenox. Better units are available for less or the same money. Several of the brands listed above are "builder grade" units designed for inexpensive installation---they just may not last very long.
04-09-2013, 03:04 PM #5
I recently.. five years ago; replaced the scroll compressor in my 5ton RUUD AC condenser originally installed in 1991. I'll skip the saga of firing the original "certified technician" installing the original system because I'm just a machinist and have "..no understanding of the complexity of the modern air conditioning system."
The coil in my air handler a Grainger unit was precharged and had threaded fittings, the RUUD condenser unit I purchaced through a friends non HVAC business was also precharged but had sweat fittings . I contacted RUUD factory service and after convincing the man though I was not a "certified technician" I was not a complete dolt either and inquired about installing threaded fittings. His answer, "..we don't use threaded fittings, threaded fittings leak. " I have used nothing but RUDD in four other installations for friends and family, but then I'm only a machinist so what do I know.
Last edited by BGL; 04-09-2013 at 03:09 PM. Reason: spelling, RUUD
04-09-2013, 07:56 PM #6
One in shop for 7 years now, PVC vented, heating 2800 sq, has worn out one fan motor and one ignition board. Not bad for a "home" unit in a commercial setting. 125000 BTU's
I have the availability to buy true wholesale on many brands but chose Ducane, parts are not OEM specific, standard industry stuff.
Of course one in my house also
04-09-2013, 09:49 PM #7
Thanks, guys. My goal is to have a unit that does not burn out an induced air fan in the middle of winter, and have 384 of those fans backordered (so the parts guy told me). That is, obviously Lennox should have recalled those fans (a unit I got on eBay overheated, so I had to run the unit with the safety cover off in front), and thed didn't.
Now, the condenser tubes are leaking. I suspect poor workmanship on the tube sheet. Lennox isn't on my list - crappy products, crappy support.
I'll continue to search. PRoblem is, the service guys from one company will tell you "Oh, we only install Lennox - they're the best", and of course the next company tells you "Oh, we only install Bryant, they're the best".
04-09-2013, 10:04 PM #8
At one time, Ducane made 75% or more of all gas furnaces sold in the US. You didn't see their name on anything, but they were the contract manufacturer for most all major brands except Lennox. So yeah, they definitely know how to make a gas furnace.
I've been out of the business for a dozen years, but during the 42 yrs my dad was in the contracting business, Lennox had a reputation for using almost 100% proprietary parts and the costs on any of their repair parts were outrageous as compared to similar component prices from other mfgrs. Dad had a strict policy that his company did not touch anything made by Lennox, for any reason. Where other mfgrs would sell parts at wholesale to any licensed contractor, Lennox would only sell to a Lennox dealer and the Lennox dealer would only sell at retail. So, if you chose to work on Lennox stuff as a non-dealer, you bought all parts for about 3X what they should've cost, and then marked them up the standard 50%. The customer felt like he was being screwed, and he was. But he was being screwed by Lennox and not by the repairer. Dad's solution to this was to tell anyone who had Lennox to call the Lennox dealer since they were the only ones with access to Lennox parts. IOW, if the customer is gonna feel screwed, let him keep all those happy thoughts within the Lennox family.
If Matt's info on Trane as now owned by Ingersoll Rand is correct, that's plenty of reason to avoid Trane. Ingersoll has cheapened and screwed up most everything else they've bought over the last 20 or so years, so there's not much to say they haven't done the same with Trane. FWIW, I actually thought York had bought Trane. If that turned out to be the case, then their stuff should still be fine. We used a fair bit of larger York equipment like centrifugal chillers and large air handlers over the years, and had no problems with quality or warranty support. A friend in the business sold York residential equipment for 20+ years, and had good luck with it too.
Carrier, Bryant, and Payne are the same basic equipment at 3 different price levels. Carrier will have the most baubles and bangles, and often the units with the very highest efficiency levels, but that all comes at a price. Reliability wise, I never saw any difference from one to the other. Carrier gave us a super high efficiency gas furnace and highest efficiency A/C unit when we built our shop in 89. The condensing unit croaked in 93 and I replaced it with a cheapo Payne that's now in its 20th year without ever being touched. Had to replace the fan wheel in the furnace about a year ago, and that's the only repair work done on it in 24 years.
Efficiency-wise, the best bang for the buck is usually the model one notch below the top for A/C equipment and for gas furnaces as well. You might pay an extra $300 to go from a 14 SEER to a 16, but the jump to an 18 might be an additional $1200 plus the $300. On gas furnaces, the percentage jump is even more pronounced. When we got out of the business in the late 90's, I could buy a 92% gas furnace for about $550, or a 97% one for about $1250. With markup, sales tax, etc, the 97% unit would cost the customer roughly an additional $1000. High gas prices make the higher efficiency models more attractive, but you're still looking at spending roughly $19,000 on gas before you hit the break even point and actually start saving money. If you consider the lost use of the initial $1000, the payback is even longer.
As others have said, the installer will have more influence on your satisfaction with the new system than the brand will. My own opinion is that Carrier and Bryant are hard to beat overall. Parts are available and reasonable. The quality of the sheet metal work on the enclosures, etc is head and shoulders above brands like Goodman. Overall build quality just looks better, without some of the sloppy solder joints, and wires pulled too tight that you see on the cheap ones. As a rough rule of thumb, the total cost of the job is going to be about 1/3 equipment and materials, 1/3 bare labor, and 1/3 overhead and profit. The labor cost to install one brand or the other is essentially the same, so a significant premium in the equipment cost doesn't make nearly so significant a cost increase in the total price of the job.
04-10-2013, 10:29 AM #9
He said Goodman. They put one of those in my house right before I bought it. What kind of idiots give you a nine-inch-wide opening for a twelve-inch filter? The folks at Goodman will.