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AC/furnace vs. heat pump

I posted a while back but now I am close to pulling the trigger . House currently has a Trane heat pump dual fuel with LP furnace . It is from 1996 and is in need of replacement . I can replace with a similar unit regardless of brand . Dual fuel adds complexity like reversing valves as an example , also more complicated electronics.

Another option is a more conventional AC with a LP furnace . AC works in the summer the furnace works when cold , no cross blending . This route is less expensive for the purchase and the install. In both cases I am getting quotes for 14 and 16 SEER systems .

I am in north Georgia so basically 9 months of hot and humid and 3 months of cool with stints of cold ( 20's ) . I like the KISS principle and the standard AC with furnace seems to be the way to go . House is 1650 s.f. and our electric bills run 125.00 - 200.00 a month . I purchase LP in the summer to get lower rates and we generally spend 200.00 to fill the 500 gallon tank . The tank usually has about 40 percent in it when I have it filled . So what system would you go with ?

Old 01-10-2020, 12:57 PM
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Have a good look around as technology has changed a great deal with some heat pumps able to make decent heat below the temperatures you have in the winter with great efficiency.
I would really consider doing a heat pump if your energy costs work out in your favor and I also like the dual fuel option too. Lets you have a gas fireplace backup heat option and gas cooktop if you are in an area that experiences power outages.
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Old 01-10-2020, 02:10 PM
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Actually a heat pump adds complexity of reversing valves. Dual fuel only adds the complexity of a dual fuel thermostat and outdoor temp sensor to switch between the heat pump and backup source of heat when the balance point is met. The difference in electronics between a heat pump and a regular A/C outdoor unit really isn't that great. For your climate, and the fact you mention LP as your fuel, I'd probably go with a high efficiency heat pump.
As with all things related to energy consumption, you have to consider how many years it would take to recover the cost of the investment. If you really want to keep it simple, avoid two speed systems and variable speed dc systems but you'll be avoiding the most energy savings when you do that.
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Last edited by cabmando; 01-10-2020 at 02:19 PM..
Old 01-10-2020, 02:14 PM
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Stay with the heat pump with LP backup.
Old 01-10-2020, 02:15 PM
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Thanks for the replies . We have LP for the furnace , cooktop and a backup unvented heater . I am torn between keeping the system simple as possible to hopefully net long term service vs more efficient/ complex system to get lower overall monthly bills .

I am getting quotes on 14/16 SEER central AC with LP furnace . Also 14/16SEER heat pump dual fuel and 16/18SEER inverter heat pump . So I can compare all and choose what I feel is the best overall . The HVAC dude that has been repairing the current system last year installed the inverter style heat pump at his house . He said the performance is amazing but repair costs if needed are $$$!!! .

I plan on making a decision this month with an install next month .
Old 01-10-2020, 04:13 PM
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I remember when 90%+ condensing furnaces came on the market.
People were afraid of them as they were so complicated and big $ if they fail.
Same with fuel injection on cars and trucks and electronic ignition. Turns out that the majority of these are pretty darn reliable.

I can appreciate that if the system craps the bed they can be pricey to repair. Heat pump 4 way valves can get a bit sticky if they are not cycled once in a while.

The best advice I can give you is go with something that gives you the efficiency you want at the price you want to pay. Go with someone local and what ever line they may be representing. You will most likely get better service that way.

We are looking at -30 deg F temps next week. That is a stress test for a furnace/heating system...
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Old 01-10-2020, 07:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sooner or later View Post
Stay with the heat pump with LP backup.
^^^^This. I have a heat pump and gas furnace. No heat strips. If the heat pump is not keeping up the thermostat automatically switches on the gas furnace. Real cold weather I switch it manually and leave it. Also, if the power goes out I plug the gas furnace into my generator and have heat.
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Old 01-10-2020, 08:13 PM
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Cabmando when you suggested " I'd probably go with a high efficiency heat pump " are you suggesting heat pump only with no LP backup ? Or heat pump only with heat strip backup ? A conventional high SEER heat pump or an inverter style ?
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Old 01-11-2020, 04:04 AM
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billybek you make some valid points on initial fears of new technology , lets face it modern heat pumps are NOT new technology they have been around for quite a while . Generally speaking it doesn't get much colder than 25 degrees here and at those temps my Mitsubishi mini split in the man cave does a great job of heating the space . So I know what modern inverter technology can do .

I " think " a conventional heat pump in the 16 SEER range can deliver similar results as the mini split just not quite as efficient . And your point of buying locally is dead on and that's what I will do . I called four companies all local with good reviews and time in the community . And they all sell different brands so I will get a good look across the board on price/features/warranty .

First quote came in last night , aprox. $6900.00 installed for a 3.5 ton14 SEER American Standard AC with a LP furnace . That is using the duct work already in place but doing things like taping/sealing all joints and insulating the register boots . Warranty is 10 years parts to include all major components but no labor warranty . To bump that up to 16 SEER is an additional $1300.00 .

I only asked this company to quote the above I didn't ask about any other type , but I have this baseline to reference when others give their quotes . I expect to have all quotes in next week . And for those of you that chimed in saying stay with dual fuel I am not ruling that out , it boils down to $$$ . Thanks guys I will update when I know more .
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Old 01-11-2020, 04:21 AM
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There is certainly new control strategies that have come about in the last 10 years or so. Variable Refrigerant Flow/inverter compressor systems will often run almost continually rather than cycle a compressor on and off based on zone temperature. Not cycling a compressor on and off can be a tremendous savings.
Some neat stuff out there but there is something to be said for simplicity.
I use the A/C at the house for maybe 3 or 4 weeks per year. A little different situation than you have at your location. For me going to a high seer system would take years to pay off. For you, a new system may payback in savings within 10 years or less.
My ducting system is all foil tape sealed and it makes a huge difference in getting the air where it needs to go. Great idea to get this done.
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Old 01-11-2020, 06:56 AM
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How long do you plan to stay in the house? What are your electricity rates?

If you are looking longer term I would look at something like this. Works to sub 0 ambient, higher seer and works with existing ductwork. Not the only option, just 1.

https://www.ecomfort.com/LG-LV361HV4/p102722.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI45HqxfT75gIVFGyGCh3 YxwudEAYYASABEgIuo_D_BwE
Old 01-11-2020, 08:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfuerst911sc View Post
Cabmando when you suggested " I'd probably go with a high efficiency heat pump " are you suggesting heat pump only with no LP backup ? Or heat pump only with heat strip backup ? A conventional high SEER heat pump or an inverter style ?
It's a tough call. The high efficiency systems are impressive and depending on your cost for propane, might work better than a dual fuel system. I think I'd ask your contractor which system they recommend in your climate. Your backup heat probably won't run as often as mine would. You probably don't buy Propane like I do either. I own two 1000 gallon tanks. My dad has three. My brother has three. My neighbors each have 1. When I buy I get a discount because I buy at the summer fill rate or even less sometimes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rfuerst911sc View Post
First quote came in last night , aprox. $6900.00 installed for a 3.5 ton14 SEER American Standard AC with a LP furnace . That is using the duct work already in place but doing things like taping/sealing all joints and insulating the register boots . Warranty is 10 years parts to include all major components but no labor warranty . To bump that up to 16 SEER is an additional $1300.00 .
For a two day job... Not bad... not bad at all. Sometimes I think I should get back into HVAC but then I remember how much I hated attic and crawl space work and the thought leaves my head.
I assume for $6900 you're getting a 95% efficient furnace right? Also have you checked with your power company? A lot of companies offer rebates for heat pump or dual fuel systems.
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Last edited by cabmando; 01-11-2020 at 09:56 AM..
Old 01-11-2020, 09:48 AM
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The $6900.00 is for a 90 % + LP furnace that draws outside air for combustion and of course exhaust , both being PVC pipe . I had not considered a ducted mini split......... that is another option . The inverter style heat pump that I talked to my repair guy about looks like a conventional heat pump outside and a furnace inside . I guess the internals are similar to a mini split . Unfortunately off the top of my head I don't know what our cost per kilowatt is I just know our electric bill is anywhere from 125.00 a month to a little over 200.00 in the winter and with guests for the holidays .

I have checked with our electric provider they offer no rebates , I also haven't found anything from the feds either . This is the last house I will purchase before the dirt nap , I am 62 and hoping to make it at least 15-20 years but obviously no guarantees .
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Old 01-11-2020, 11:59 AM
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Also I have a full basement so a relatively easy install , all work can be done standing up like a human no crawling on hands and knees .
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Old 01-11-2020, 12:04 PM
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I didn't even know people needed furnaces in Georgia.
Old 01-11-2020, 01:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowbob View Post
I didn't even know people needed furnaces in Georgia.
Yeah when the temps are 25-30 at night you have to heat some how . Obviously we need AC a lot more than heat but we do need heat .
Old 01-11-2020, 02:14 PM
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I had a text volley with my HVAC repair dude last night he will have four quotes for me later today . He is quoting the full gamut of systems and his quotes will also include replacement of all the duct work . The current ducting is the silver flexible stuff , overall it looks like it is in good condition but there are a few spots where the " strap material " used to hang it from the floor joists is too tight and is pinching it . This can be fixed but overall he is not a fan of this style ducting .

He is old school and likes to run metal ducts then seal/insulate them . He say's he rarely has mold issues when using metal but replaces quite a bit of the flex stuff due to mold on the inside . To be honest this makes sense to me . We have similar summer temps/humidity as Florida so a LOT of moisture is in the air during the summer . Also he stated just like the other guy did that the end of January there will be a 6 - 7 % price increase from the manufacturers of HVAC equipment , I am keeping that in mind also . Looking forward to his quotes and discussing them with you guys .
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Old 01-12-2020, 05:44 AM
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If your entire trunk is flex duct I'd strongly consider new duct. Flex duct creates a lot of resistance and reduces airflow if not strapped properly. I'd go metal trunk with proper rectangle to round takeoffs and metal duct to the register. Taping the joints is fine but in a basement I never worried much about heat loss into that space and honestly if you run the pipe correctly with the crimped joint going to the register boot, you shouldn't get much if any air loss.
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Old 01-12-2020, 09:59 AM
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Cabmando yes all intake and exhaust piping is flexible silver foiled . I have been told the inside is like a black sock then insulation then the silver exterior . While it works it seems a little chincy to me .

The quotes I will receive today will include all new metal ductwork . I assume this will add some $$$ to the project but it should provide a better final result . Is there a reason the ducts would transition from rectangular to round ? Why not rectangular the entire length ? Would fit tighter to the floor joists and look a little cleaner . Just curious .
Old 01-12-2020, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfuerst911sc View Post
Yeah when the temps are 25-30 at night you have to heat some how . Obviously we need AC a lot more than heat but we do need heat .
We use pajamas at those temps.

Old 01-12-2020, 10:58 AM
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