Hello all. We’re at the end of a long search for a new, 2-ton package unit (AC/Heat) for our DC home. Our 14 year-old Goodman was declared non-functioning in December. Because it was mild here, and we have zoned heating, we didn’t get serious about the problem until the thermostat plummeted last month.
We’ve had eight companies give us an estimate for replacing the equipment. Those companies included several national companies in addition to local companies. We’ve received quotes on Carrier, Trane, Lennox, Goodman, and Ruud/Rheem. Our research included equipment specs (in an effort to compare apples to apples), contractor reputation, regulatory agency information, and association memberships. We’re also clear that getting a good installation crew is the key to the life and efficiency of our new unit.
Long introduction to my question. We settled on a contractor who quoted a Trane XL14C. He called us back an hour or so after we paid our deposit and said the estimated time for delivery was two weeks. We said OK (what’s two more weeks?). Today, however, he called back and said his vendor thought the delivery time would be longer than two weeks but wouldn’t give a firm delivery date. The contractor is now offering an upgrade - Lennox 15GSCX for the same installation price.
Is this a bait and switch on the contractor’s part or is Trane that difficult to get this time of year?
Is this Lennox a better machine than the Trane?
I would add that if this was a furnace I’d be past suspicious. But, package units are less common and more likely out of stock and tied to a lead time. (Partly because package units are mostly used in commercial applications and 2 tons is less common in commercial sizes)
So…a lead time on a 2 ton package unit is believable.
Check the specs side by side to make sure he didn’t quote a Buick, and wants to deliver a Chevy.
As raindog said they’re mostly equivalent. A quick internet search shows the Trane with a 80% AFUE(Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) and Lennox 78%.
What you don’t know and have no way of finding out is which unit the contractor is paying more for. He may indeed be trying to maximize his margin. My inclination would be to insist he provide what he quoted or be willing to show you the difference in his costs.
A delivery time of more than 2 weeks sounds extremely suspicious to me.
In the interest of full disclosure one of those companies is printed on my paycheck.
The reason I’m inclined to believe it’s a lead time issue, is that Lennox is not a low budget product. He could have quoted Armstrong (a cheaper Lennox product although I’m not sure they sell package units) or some cheaper alternative but he went with a name brand.
Also, switching after you have the sale is the quickest way to undo the sale, or raise suspicions. (and damage his reputation)
So I’m inclined to believe he’s not that foolish-----my experience is that that Lennox unit could have been $50-150 lower, or quite possibly $50-150 higher in which case he’d be ok with eating $100 on a sale worth several thousand.
In other words, switching to Lennox would not have been a windfall had it been cheaper, nor would have been a deal breaker for him had it been higher. (and I’d be ok with eating $100 and get the job done now, that waiting weeks and possibly seeing the job come undone.)
Bait and switch happens----although not not that much in HVAC----but this doesn’t sound like one.
Thanks Raindog and Batfish. Your replies are helpful. @raindog: Both are 2-stage with variable speed blowers. Trane is SEER 14-AFUE 80 /Lennox SEER 15-AFUE 78
A side-by-side comparison from the manuals suggests equivalent equipment though not identical. For example, the Lennox uses a scroll compressor and is not energy star rated. The Trane uses a reciprocating compressor and is energy star rated.
I think we really got into the weeds trying to understand the differences in this equipment but not enough to really understand what those differences mean. Oh, and being energy star rated for the tax rebates is important.
I don’t know a lot about HVAC but I just bought a whole Carrier system last month and efficiency is just one part of the comparison you need to do, and perhaps a small part at that. You wouldn’t say that a Ford Focus is a better car than a Lexus just because it gets better gas mileage.
BTW I am in the metro DC area and am curious as to the local companies you got estimates from. I got estimates from Vernon, ADCO, and Glenmont and ended up using ADCO (eight estimates sounds like an awful lot to me).
Hi Cooking With Gas - You’re right. Eight estimates is a lot and I’m tired of this process. However, I do not have so much money that I’m not going to conduct a fair amount (read: maybe excessive) research before making a decision. I am a researcher by training. In addition to being concerned about the expense I’m about to incur, I also wanted to rule out the “gender” factor (a woman alone dealing with contractors on a technology I know less than nothing about) and the perceived (or real) urgency of needing to replace our heating system in the middle of winter. Your Ford vs Lexus analogy is absolutely correct as well. In addition to SEER/AFUE ratings, we looked at compressor type, heat exchange material, db levels, warranty, and repair history for our region. For each company, I looked for BBB entries and general customer reviews on several sites.
The companies we contacted were Sears (they helped us establish a baseline as we had no intentions of using them), Home Depot, Lowes, Clover, Sila, Cropp-Metcalfe, Wheat, and Dynatemp. Except for the national names, the other five solicitations were chosen from Angie’s List based on positive service ratings. One of those companies never submitted a proposal.
Hi Raindog. Because the specs were lining up pretty equally and because this company has done so much work in the area, we had pretty well decided to just wait for the Trane. Really, we have weathered (no pun intended) the worst of winter until now, a few more weeks will put us in Spring when the heat upstairs will not be as critical. When I called to inform this contractor of our decision, he said he had just been told by his crane operator that this job could only be completed on a Saturday and for that reason the crane charges would have to increase. The contractor was sorry but he was going to have to increase our cost by $900.
I’m sorry. I called the city and learned the city’s public use permit is valid Monday through Saturday. I can’t speak to the availability of cranes during the week vs weekends - and if there is a price differential, but this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We chose a different contractor who offered our second choice machine.
**mdenisem **gave a pretty good answer to this question as quoted here.
But my question for you is how do you evaluate the quality of the installation in advance? Most people, like me, don’t know how to inspect an HVAC installation. Wouldn’t you have to have an independent expert assess installations that have already been done by each of the candidate companies? I’m not sure you could go by just reputation or customer recommendations, since most customers don’t have that expertise and are going to provide ratings based on price and perception rather than a technical assessment. My guys replaced the copper line from the outside compressor into the house. Only one of three recommended that. Was it necessary? I have no freaking idea. Did they make the right changes to the flue? Are the connections correct? My guys added a flood detector on the floor. Great idea but it wasn’t in the estimate and wasn’t mentioned by the other two either. Does that mean they did a better job? They had to change the position of the outdoor A/C unit because of code changes since the house was built. Would the other two have done that? Who knows?