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Phil
Phil, Mechanical Engineer
Category: HVAC
Satisfied Customers: 8007
Experience:  Retired HVAC/ Electrical & Boiler contractor. Industrial
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We are looking at both replacing both our current Trane

Customer Question

We are looking at both replacing both our current Trane system with a new Trane or Carrier system. I am interested in having an efficient furnace 96% or higher and a good humidifier (looking at Aprilaire) to go alone with it. Also wanted to know if the
communicating/modulating systems are worth the extra cost. What systems would you recommend for both the Trane and Carrier, including the humidifiers and thermostats that go with them?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: HVAC
Expert:  Phil replied 1 year ago.

Hello, if you can tell me which direction you are from the center of the nearest city I can assess the weather conditions and let you know if the repair costs on these very complex 96% efficient furnaces will exceed the amount of fuel you save or not.

The same though pattern goes into the communicating type controls systems, more complexity equates to less reliability and more repair costs, For instance an old style blower motor sells wholesale for about $120... the new variable speed models with their electronics modules sell for about ten times that.

Both Trane and Carrier make good equipment, but you are paying something around 20% for the brand name, both companies make side brands, Trane makes American Standard and Carrier makes Bryant and those sell for 20% or more less.

Beyond that, there are bare bones brands, that you will be 95% as happy with, that you can get installed for 30 to 50% less, and they will need fewer repairs than these more efficient highly complex systems.

If you live in a city you will be able to get repairs on the high efficiency systems. if you live 30 or 40 miles out into the woods so to speak, there will be little or no competent service.

All of these are things that need consideration.

Let me know your thoughts, we can go from there.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm in Chicago. I don't mind going with the Trane or Carrier, I've been getting estimates but everyone has suggested slightly different systems. I wanted to get an unbiased take on the subject.
Expert:  Phil replied 1 year ago.

Thanks, ***** ***** go with the high end equipment of the two I like Tranes systems the best, ***** ***** a fairly narrow margin, Trane because of their use of ball bearing motors primarily.

If you have air conditioning their top of the line 20 SEER unit uses a two stage compressor, and an electronically speed controlled motor that makes them dramatically quieter than almost anything else on the market 95% of time... both the outside fan and compressor run at much slower speeds in that time frame, the neighbors will not be complaining at all.

The hair splits between the two brands are not nearly as crucially important as the HVAC contractor you use... a bad or incompetent installation can ruin the system performance and life expectancy.. it is the elephant in the room.

Look for length of time in business, and number of service people and service trucks, and local reputation. it is still a close call.

If you want me to investigate the choice of contractors for you let me know, and I will submit a $50 additional charge, that will pay for 2 hours of investigation and phone calls. I will see who is best in the area. This cannot be done in a public forum such as this. We need to do do that privately. Or you can do your own investigation.

Let me know we can go from there with more discussion or an investigation, whatever you feel is warranted.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What exactly is the benefit of a ball bearing motor?I am looking at the Trane XC95m and XV95, but you say the modulating and communicating furnace has more equipment to break? Is there really any added benefit as the homeowner to have communicating systems?Also what thermostat and humidifier would you recommend for the Trane system? I was thinking of staying with a Trane thermostat and aprilaire humidifier like I had.In terms of the humidifier what is better? An automatic humidifier or a manual?
Expert:  Phil replied 1 year ago.

Hello again, ball bearings last longer than sleeve bearings which wear out on average in 7 to 10 years. Ball bearing motors can last about twice as long.

Regarding modulating and communicating systems, if you are wealthy and want your house at exactly the temperature set at all times, and with very precise control of humidity, and do not like any blower noise, then you need the Trane high end system or an equal.

If most residential AC systems that you have experienced are not too noisy for you, and you can suffer 1 or 2 degree F temperature excursions, then you can spend about half as much money on a much more basic system, such as Goodmans low cost range of systems, and about 400% less on repairs for the life of the system. You will spend between 15 and 30% more in electricity to run the lower priced system however.... the money you save can easily be spend keeping the very complex high end trane systems running... its a bit of a push in that regard.

Summary: None of these systems are an 'investment' they wear out, at 10 years they are quite old, you will need a new system in the 15 year range or less... for that reason I prefer lower first cost.

If I were a multi millionaire I would buy the Trane system for its sound and humidity control benefits... I might buy two of those systems, so that if one breaks I would not have to sweat a lot until Trane can send out a rocket scientist to fix it.

I like steam humidifiers best, ***** ***** makes decent humidifiers that are less expensive and work well.

You need Tranes proprietary thermostats for best performance... those are two or three times more expensive than the generic models by others on the market however.

Automatic humidifier is the way to go wired to be controlled by Tranes high end thermostat so that the furnace and AC unit can work in tandem year round to provide humidity control.

...............

If you appreciate my input so far, and wish to continue with virtually no time limit, rate my work positively... we can go from there. The company only pays me if you rate positively, lacking that I can spenddays with a customer at my own expense, without any compensation.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
If I go with an XV95, the non-modulating efficient model, which thermostat and humidifier would you recommend? You say the automatic humidifier works best with the communicating systems.
Expert:  Phil replied 1 year ago.

Hello again,

Trane equipment works best and is easiest to wire using the Trane brand thermostat built for that unit, the trane dealer who sells you the system will have some recommendations that he is familiar with and knows how to install... you will want one that has a built in humidistat so that the aprilaire humidifier you choose will operate automatically off of the same central system thermostat.

In chicago you will want the larger aprilaire 700 model. use this aprilaire solution finder to narrow down the choice related to allergies, mold or dust mites in the home.

http://www.aprilaire.com/aprilaire-solution-finder

Let me know how that goes, we can proceed from there.

........

If you appreciate my input so far, and wish to continue with virtually no time limit, rate my work positively... we can go from there. The company only pays me if you rate positively, lacking that I can spenddays with a customer at my own expense, without any compensation.