I'm replacing my Gas Furnace and Central Air Conditioner. Which brand?

I have a 1400 sq ft split entry house with a system that is roughly 35 years old. I recently had Sears come out and price a few systems out for me. They priced Carrier and Kenmore (made by Carrier). The cost of the systems ranged from 00-11000. The Carrier was only a few hundred more than the Kenmore.

The furnace was variable speed, and the condenser was a two-speed. The range of SEER and efficiency ratings were from 14-15 SEER, and 91-95 efficiency. Some of the models included sound dampening and more of a heavy-duty housing. Also, there was a humidifier and electronic air cleaner, and 7 day programmable thermostat with humidity control.

Warranty was 10 years parts/1 year labor. Additonal 5 year labor, including 5 annual tune-ups was another 00 (not included in the price).

I feel that this is a lot of money for this equipment? Am I wrong? Also, is Carrier/Kenmore a respected brand? My old house had Rheem and I was pleased. The Sears Salesman said Rheem was a cheap contractor grade unit….Please advise!
The furnace was 2.5 ton, forgot to mention that, and it included all installation, including new rubber pad, and electrical hookup for the a/c unit.
Also, I’m in Pittsburgh, PA, so our cooling season is only 3-4 months, and heating can be as short as 6.
Regarding the Electronic Air Cleaner, I do have allergies and Asthma, so I assume this helps out.

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    • elhigh says:

      Most of my air conditioning equipment at my work is Rheem, at least the stuff on the ground is.

      Rheem has one major redeeming quality that sets it apart – it’s designed to be worked on. Most outdoor units you see have the compressor in the center, right in the middle of the condenser coil. That’s nice for a compact footprint but it’s a big PITA when you need to repair something – gotta reach over the coil, which itself is pretty fragile. Rheem puts it to the side so you can do everything on the level, very convenient.

      That price sounds a little strong, but I reckon it includes installation, which isn’t small potatoes. But call a few more contractors. Get more prices. Estimates are free, you know. The more info you have, the better armed you are against a hard sell, and the Sears guy knows that a lot of folks that come to Sears for that kind of service really don’t want to think about it – they just want it done and will take the hit in the wallet to not have to learn anything.

      10 years warranty is good. 1 year labor is typical. Additional warranty isn’t really worth it, do some annual maintenance (coil cleaning, for instance) and keep the filters changed and it’ll go past 10 years easily.

      Check with your local utility, they may have recommendations and/or a financing plan that makes it a little less painful to get a new AC system. Shop around and look for the Energy Star rating, and try for the tax rebate (is that still going? I don’t know) to take a little bite off.

      Variable speed fan is good, two speed compressor is good. That makes your system more effective at off-peak times, and may cut your utility bill.

      IMHO you’re seeing a bid that’s a little on the high side. Shop around. Rheem is a perfectly good brand, some of the units I have in service are over 15 years old and going strong. Trane is good, Carrier is good, Lennox is good.

      Stay away from Goodman and Janitrol.

      That’s it. Good luck with it.

    • smgray99 says:

      A salesman is not above putting down another model to make a sale. There is nothing wrong with Rheem, Carrier, York, etc. I would get another contractor or 2 to get different estimates. A 10 Warranty is fine – if something were to go wrong it would usually be in the first year or 2. An additional warranty may not be necessary and, unless you have allergy problems, an electronic air cleaner is not worth it but a humidifier is necessary. If you can get a higher SEER that would be better, the 91-95 efficiency is good even though that also could be improved a bit. I am guessing you have gas heat though you did not mention it. Most gas companies also have a service contract that includes the annual tune-ups at a much lower cost. Look into that as well.

    • djfurey2002 says:

      I’d go with Rheem

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