Author Topic: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?  (Read 25281 times)

wildbeast

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« on: May 06, 2017, 12:23:28 PM »
We're looking to install A/C and replace a 23 yo furnace and 55 yo duct work in our house.  Oh, and remove the asbestos (required if we replace the duct work) and beef up the attic insulation.  So the whole project adds up to almost 15k due to high labor costs in this area.  We're in our 40's and plan to retire here so the investment seems wise.  Costco has a 15% off promo on Lennox products installed by local licensed and vetted installers.  We've used Costco before for our garage door and were very pleased with the service.

Our existing furnace is Rheem and has held up well in our mild No.Calif climate.  I think Home Depot installed it.  I also used HD for my water heater but was not happy with the contractor used by them for that.  It was a bit of a hassle.  Hence, I'm reluctant to use HD again for such a major job.

I know nothing about the Lennox products and am hoping someone here has experience with them and can share.  When I talked with a rep before, they recommended the lowest priced models for the AC and furnace, saying that they would serve us just fine.  We have a 1450 sq ft single level home.  Nowadays it's really hard to trust anything a sales person tells you.  I don't want to spend all this money and have the units break down a few years later because they're the cheapest ones. 

Would appreciate any and all feedback, suggestions, ideas, etc... :)
« Last Edit: May 06, 2017, 12:31:09 PM by jane doe »

lukebuz

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 195
  • Location: Bowling Green, KY
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2017, 12:43:17 PM »
I hope you can trust someone who worked for them for 7 years.  I've seen all the coil blowers, furnances, and A/C units made.

If you like USA made, get a G61/G71 variable speed furnace, and an XC/XP AC or Heatpump.  All the others are made in Mexico (not a bad thing really, their plant is good!).
Otherwise, they are a very reliable. good choice product.  I would however spring for the variable speed 90% furnances, and an XC/XP 14 or higher model outdoor unit.  They are more efficient and quieter.  If you have specific Q's, post 'em up.  PM me if I forget.

wildbeast

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2017, 12:52:07 PM »
I hope you can trust someone who worked for them for 7 years.  I've seen all the coil blowers, furnances, and A/C units made.

If you like USA made, get a G61/G71 variable speed furnace, and an XC/XP AC or Heatpump.  All the others are made in Mexico (not a bad thing really, their plant is good!).
Otherwise, they are a very reliable. good choice product.  I would however spring for the variable speed 90% furnances, and an XC/XP 14 or higher model outdoor unit.  They are more efficient and quieter.  If you have specific Q's, post 'em up.  PM me if I forget.

How lucky am I that you read this?!  Ok, 7 yrs gets you full confidence.  The Costco package only offers certain models so I will need to see which ones they are.  Although I was made in Mexico myself, so hopefully that product is just as good.  :)

I have a home appt next week with their rep and I will get a list of the products at that time.  If I remember correctly, the lowest priced AC model offered is an outdoor unit.  Thanks for your reply!  I will post on here and/or pm you later when I have more info.

405programmer

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 87
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2017, 12:57:28 PM »
I'll throw my 2 cents in but I have no where near the experience as Lukebuz.

As for what brand to get I think they are all pretty good at this point. I was an HVAC apprentice one summer between high school and college and we replaced a surprising amount of Goodman units that were only 5-10 years old. So anecdotally, I would avoid those. The model, SEER rating and tonnage all depend on several factors. You'll want someone who is a pro to help you pick out all of those options. The only advice I remember is don't "over-ton" the size of the air conditioner to your house unless it is very very drafty. By getting a unit with a higher tonnage than you need, you run the risk of your AC turning on and then very quickly turning off again. This means the compressor only runs in its least efficient ranges. You don't want to under-ton by too much either because then your AC will never be able to lower the temperature in your house.

Sorry if that was too basic an overview but the best thing you can do in my opinion is seal as many air leaks as possible, upgrade insulation as much as possible, get the lowest effective tonnage for your home and the highest SEER rating you're comfortable spending for.

This https://asm-air.com/airconditioning/what-is-a-good-seer-rating/ website has more information about SEER ratings. They recommend a 16 SEER.

As for air ducts, are they currently in your attic or in an enclosed basement? If they are the rigid style in an enclosed basement I would recommend cleaning and sealing and never replacing. If they are the soft flexible ones in an attic then definitely replace because those somehow begin to disintegrate after 50 years.

wildbeast

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2017, 01:17:28 PM »
I'll throw my 2 cents in but I have no where near the experience as Lukebuz.

As for what brand to get I think they are all pretty good at this point. I was an HVAC apprentice one summer between high school and college and we replaced a surprising amount of Goodman units that were only 5-10 years old. So anecdotally, I would avoid those. The model, SEER rating and tonnage all depend on several factors. You'll want someone who is a pro to help you pick out all of those options. The only advice I remember is don't "over-ton" the size of the air conditioner to your house unless it is very very drafty. By getting a unit with a higher tonnage than you need, you run the risk of your AC turning on and then very quickly turning off again. This means the compressor only runs in its least efficient ranges. You don't want to under-ton by too much either because then your AC will never be able to lower the temperature in your house.

Sorry if that was too basic an overview but the best thing you can do in my opinion is seal as many air leaks as possible, upgrade insulation as much as possible, get the lowest effective tonnage for your home and the highest SEER rating you're comfortable spending for.

This https://asm-air.com/airconditioning/what-is-a-good-seer-rating/ website has more information about SEER ratings. They recommend a 16 SEER.

As for air ducts, are they currently in your attic or in an enclosed basement? If they are the rigid style in an enclosed basement I would recommend cleaning and sealing and never replacing. If they are the soft flexible ones in an attic then definitely replace because those somehow begin to disintegrate after 50 years.

Thanks 405programmer.  The tonnage thing makes sense.  Since our house is relatively small, I think that will help in the cost department.  I will look at the SEER info as well.

As for the duct work - it's in the attic.  I'm assuming it's soft... haven't really looked at it.  But they are all up there, we have no basement, and the air ducts vent from the attic as well.  That's good to know about the duct work disintegrating.  We figured that they were pretty drafty but this makes it more important to replace them. 

Our house was built in 1961 so it's somewhat drafty, although we've put in double pane windows and sealed up where we can.  The insulation is probably pretty low too since we've never touched it and I assume no one else has either. 

We also have lots of deciduous trees around our house and installed both an attic fan and a whole house fan about 12 years ago and that has made a huge difference.  We were hoping to get by without an AC but the summers have been getting progressively warmer these past few years. 

lukebuz

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 195
  • Location: Bowling Green, KY
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2017, 01:22:44 PM »
Yup, your contractor needs to size it properly, as stated above.  But that is any brand. 

As for "outdoor unit" - I mean the condenser.  They are all outdoor units.  Just an interchangeable name.  If the appointment is a week out, PM me - cause I'll forget about this thread.  I'll hook you up with right models, and right price verification.

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8474
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2017, 01:33:44 PM »
I recently got four different bids to replace our furnace, and the lennox guy from Costco was the most expensive even after the Costco discount.  He was higher than the big local hvac company with all the tv ads that also sells lennox.

The lowest by far was a local furnace guy who only runs one installation crew.  He came in approximately 30% below the next closest bid, in part because he doesn't have to install any particular manufacturers products.  He recommended Goodman, for a variety of reasons including fair pricing.  The drawback of using a local independent installer is that scheduling can take a while.

The Lennox products may be fine.  It sounds like a lot depends on the quality of the installation, which is basically impossible to predict.  Even the best companies seem to have vicious customer complaints about stuff being done incorrectly once in a while.

Another Reader

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5212
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2017, 03:30:12 PM »
Goodman furnaces are supposed to be ok.  The A/C units - not.  Put one in an Arizona rental.  Never again.

For a mild Northern California climate, I would use an 80 percent efficient Trane.  Their quality is still the best.  If you look on the Trane website, the authorized dealers are listed.  Get multiple bids.  My 80 percent efficient model (not the cheapest but mid-line) to serve 2,500 sf was $2,000 about 4 years ago.  My 26 year old Trane A/C still runs like a charm.

High efficiency units require re-plumbing the flue and are not cost-effective in mild climates.  Evan with PG&E's breathtaking gas prices.

protostache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 897
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2017, 06:43:36 PM »
We got a Lennox EL296 96% efficient furnace and an XC20 AC unit installed last summer. It was definitely not the cheapest option but it sure does work better than whatever we had before. It was all original to the house and the AC a-coil was riddled with corrosion after 10 years.

Edit to add: we have only had them for a year but I love that HVAC system almost as much as I love the gas oven we put in around the same time. It was a good investment.

geekette

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2001
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2017, 10:25:53 PM »
Sorry for the threadjack, but will a variable speed unit help lower humidity in shoulder season?

Our A/C works fine in the summer (we keep it between 77-78 usually), but there are weeks spring and fall when the A/C barely needs to run (and never at night), so the humidity builds up, especially in our bedroom.  We've taken to running the circulating fan overnight to help.  We don't open the windows due to allergies. 

We have a gas pack, if that matters, and it's probably due for a replacement, as is our ductwork.  Yay...


lukebuz

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 195
  • Location: Bowling Green, KY
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2017, 01:18:00 PM »
Yes, it will help.  Variable speed compressor runs longer to cool the same amount (reducing humidity!) and variable speed blower pairs with that.

tp_from_ks

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2017, 02:26:55 PM »
I strongly recommend them as a consumer.

We've owned 2 Lennox a/c units. Small town, local business sold/installed both. One for upstairs, other for main. Older unit is 7-9 years old and runs as smooth as the new one installed last month.
No concerns, we budgeted and thus no sticker shock with the bill.

As aside, I recall box for new unit said from Mexico.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

BlueMR2

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2041
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2017, 02:44:59 PM »
My house had Lennox (Pulse) when I moved in.  Liked it other than it was kind of loud.  When the A/C died (just short of 20 years old) I went Lennox again (for a whole new system due to the age).  Just about through year 2 with it and so far so good with the new one.  High efficiency and variable speed.  Does everything I'd wanted :-) and the price was very reasonable.

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8474
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2017, 05:04:18 PM »
My house had Lennox (Pulse) when I moved in.  Liked it other than it was kind of loud.  When the A/C died (just short of 20 years old) I went Lennox again (for a whole new system due to the age).  Just about through year 2 with it and so far so good with the new one.  High efficiency and variable speed.  Does everything I'd wanted :-) and the price was very reasonable.

What do you think counts as "very reasonable"?  Because the Lennox Costco guy quoted me like $13,500 for a 3 ton 80% AFUE variable speed gas furnace and heat pump (9.5 HSPF and 18 SEER).  That's nearly double the lowest bid I got for a similar Goodman system.  The hardware might be top notch for all I know, but their prices are definitely not competitive.

protostache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 897
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2017, 06:50:21 PM »
My house had Lennox (Pulse) when I moved in.  Liked it other than it was kind of loud.  When the A/C died (just short of 20 years old) I went Lennox again (for a whole new system due to the age).  Just about through year 2 with it and so far so good with the new one.  High efficiency and variable speed.  Does everything I'd wanted :-) and the price was very reasonable.

What do you think counts as "very reasonable"?  Because the Lennox Costco guy quoted me like $13,500 for a 3 ton 80% AFUE variable speed gas furnace and heat pump (9.5 HSPF and 18 SEER).  That's nearly double the lowest bid I got for a similar Goodman system.  The hardware might be top notch for all I know, but their prices are definitely not competitive.

That is atrocious pricing. We paid $8500 all in (after rebates) for our 96% AFUE variable speed furnance and 20 SEER AC from the local Lennox dealer.

wildbeast

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2017, 07:36:39 PM »
@Sol - last year I got an estimate from Costco's guy for about $13k but that included an A/C unit, a furnace, all new ductwork, and asbestos removal for a 1450 sq ft home.  What did your $13k quote include?  What size home do you have?  Are you in a high labor cost area?

I do think some of the pricing has to do with insurance.  I'm assuming that Costco requires all of their subs to carry full workers comp, liability, etc.   When I worked for a local union contractor, workers comp was a big expense, and depending on the liability requirements per project, that could run up as well.  We live in a very high labor cost area. 

I've had experience with all manner of contractors and subs on my house, and if I can afford it, I'll go with the ones that are fully insured, bonded, etc.  And reputable.  I've been burned more than once.  I'm willing to pay for quality work and assurance of expertise, which I assume is what Costco is offering.  Typically, I've found that Costco does the negotiating and product selection for the customer and offers a good price with a good product.  And stands behind their service.  I think that's the most you can hope for.  Sure, I might find a better deal if I shop around and put some legwork into it.  But I might also get screwed. 

Since this project will require asbestos removal and new ductwork throughout, it gives me peace of mind to go with someone reputable.  I know I could probably find cheaper installs, but not sure if they would be the same quality of materials and labor.

wildbeast

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2017, 07:39:03 PM »
My house had Lennox (Pulse) when I moved in.  Liked it other than it was kind of loud.  When the A/C died (just short of 20 years old) I went Lennox again (for a whole new system due to the age).  Just about through year 2 with it and so far so good with the new one.  High efficiency and variable speed.  Does everything I'd wanted :-) and the price was very reasonable.

What do you think counts as "very reasonable"?  Because the Lennox Costco guy quoted me like $13,500 for a 3 ton 80% AFUE variable speed gas furnace and heat pump (9.5 HSPF and 18 SEER).  That's nearly double the lowest bid I got for a similar Goodman system.  The hardware might be top notch for all I know, but their prices are definitely not competitive.

That is atrocious pricing. We paid $8500 all in (after rebates) for our 96% AFUE variable speed furnance and 20 SEER AC from the local Lennox dealer.

May I ask your sq footage and region of the country?  It would help me compare with my own estimate when I get it. 

I threw out the quote and product info from last year because we decided to wait a few years, so I can't compare the units yet, but I should be able to later this week.

BlueMR2

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2041
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2017, 05:21:32 AM »
My house had Lennox (Pulse) when I moved in.  Liked it other than it was kind of loud.  When the A/C died (just short of 20 years old) I went Lennox again (for a whole new system due to the age).  Just about through year 2 with it and so far so good with the new one.  High efficiency and variable speed.  Does everything I'd wanted :-) and the price was very reasonable.

What do you think counts as "very reasonable"?  Because the Lennox Costco guy quoted me like $13,500 for a 3 ton 80% AFUE variable speed gas furnace and heat pump (9.5 HSPF and 18 SEER).  That's nearly double the lowest bid I got for a similar Goodman system.  The hardware might be top notch for all I know, but their prices are definitely not competitive.

After rebates and all, my total ended up being $6900.  The quotes I'd received were all $10,000.  I don't use Costco.  We have a local independent Lennox dealer just down the street...

protostache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 897
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2017, 05:53:46 AM »
My house had Lennox (Pulse) when I moved in.  Liked it other than it was kind of loud.  When the A/C died (just short of 20 years old) I went Lennox again (for a whole new system due to the age).  Just about through year 2 with it and so far so good with the new one.  High efficiency and variable speed.  Does everything I'd wanted :-) and the price was very reasonable.

What do you think counts as "very reasonable"?  Because the Lennox Costco guy quoted me like $13,500 for a 3 ton 80% AFUE variable speed gas furnace and heat pump (9.5 HSPF and 18 SEER).  That's nearly double the lowest bid I got for a similar Goodman system.  The hardware might be top notch for all I know, but their prices are definitely not competitive.

That is atrocious pricing. We paid $8500 all in (after rebates) for our 96% AFUE variable speed furnance and 20 SEER AC from the local Lennox dealer.

May I ask your sq footage and region of the country?  It would help me compare with my own estimate when I get it. 

I threw out the quote and product info from last year because we decided to wait a few years, so I can't compare the units yet, but I should be able to later this week.

2600 square feet 2 story in SE Michigan. The AC is a 4 ton unit. Not sure about the furnace.

Kroaler

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 890
  • Age: 29
  • Location: Greenville, South Carolina
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2017, 08:07:14 AM »
Sorry for the threadjack, but will a variable speed unit help lower humidity in shoulder season?

Our A/C works fine in the summer (we keep it between 77-78 usually), but there are weeks spring and fall when the A/C barely needs to run (and never at night), so the humidity builds up, especially in our bedroom.  We've taken to running the circulating fan overnight to help.  We don't open the windows due to allergies. 

We have a gas pack, if that matters, and it's probably due for a replacement, as is our ductwork.  Yay...

Variable speed systems are amazing.  Only variable speed systems can truly control temperature and humidity.   

http://web.uconn.edu/poultry/NE-127/NewFiles/psychrometric_inset.html  Here is a link to a pschometric chart - just to bore anyone...

Slow air across a cold coil will remove humidity as the water condenses on the cold coil.
Fast air across a coil can cool the air but not have time to take the humidity load out. 

With a traditional system you have 1 setting.  Blower on , AC on.      With a VFD system the blower and compressor can be ran at ideal speeds to control humidity and temperature.   

Im not an expert, but this is my understanding from my research of the subject.  On my next system I will pay the extra for a variable system.




wildbeast

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #20 on: May 09, 2017, 11:15:06 AM »
Interesting discussion about the Variable Speed systems.  I had no idea what that meant.

Ironically, after our 3 day heat spell, we've had pretty cold weather.  And now, I'm like... "Why am I spending all this money?  It's not even hot!" 

affordablehousing

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 482
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2017, 01:00:09 PM »
On the variable speed question, I've heard that they are much more prone to breakdown and much more expensive to fix as the controllers and motors are hard to service.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 13332
  • Age: 62
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #22 on: May 10, 2017, 11:01:26 AM »
PTF because I have more questions than time.

Spork

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5748
    • Spork In The Eye
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #23 on: May 10, 2017, 11:14:14 AM »
Beware: This advice is from 2011.  Efficiencies and cost of utility power changes.

That said: When we built our house, we had a discussion with an engineer that designs HVAC units.  (I.e., not a guy that sells HVAC systems, but a guy that works for a manufacturer that builds them.)  His opinion at that time was a 13-SEER with a variable-speed indoor unit (which essentially makes it a 14 according to this guy).  I believe 14 SEER is now the regulated minimum, so ... round up.  He also thought that buying over 15 SEER was a waste of money -- that the efficiency vs cost was not recoverable.  (Again: words from 2011.  This may have changed.  But I suspect there is a kernel of truth in there still.  Maybe "15 SEER" is no longer the break point... but I still bet there is one.)

He thought all AC units were essentially the same by most leading manufacturers but held firm that a few companies were leaps and bounds above others IF you went with a heat pump.

wildbeast

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #24 on: May 11, 2017, 11:01:10 AM »
Thanks for the continued feedback.  My appt is later today and all this info will help me ask the right questions and help me feel less clueless about the whole thing!  I'll post later with the product info.

lukebuz

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 195
  • Location: Bowling Green, KY
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #25 on: May 12, 2017, 11:59:02 AM »
Wow!  Those costs must be Bay Area/Cali costs.  Knocked me off my seat, but then I'm from Rural IA and KY.   You'll have to get comparisons between other dealers.

I'd do with Option 2 or 3.  Variable speeds are way better, as discussed.  As for 80% vs 90% furnace, if you have a drain line and plastic piping now, stick with the 90%.  If you have no way to drain and metal exhaust piping, along with not much usage - I'd stick with the 80%.  It'll take you awhile to make up $1500 in initial costs in gas savings, if you have low usage...

wildbeast

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
Re: Lennox HVAC - yay or nay?
« Reply #26 on: May 12, 2017, 12:16:24 PM »
Wow!  Those costs must be Bay Area/Cali costs.  Knocked me off my seat, but then I'm from Rural IA and KY.   You'll have to get comparisons between other dealers.

I'd do with Option 2 or 3.  Variable speeds are way better, as discussed.  As for 80% vs 90% furnace, if you have a drain line and plastic piping now, stick with the 90%.  If you have no way to drain and metal exhaust piping, along with not much usage - I'd stick with the 80%.  It'll take you awhile to make up $1500 in initial costs in gas savings, if you have low usage...

Yeah, I was floored too the first time I got these numbers.  I'm not sure about the drain and exhaust pipe.  I'll have to find out.  One good thing is that the prices have not changed much from last year, which makes me feel better about possibly waiting till the furnace dies to do everything. 

I appreciate your input.  I was leaning towards the cheapest model just for cost savings, but I might be better off waiting a year or two and going for the variable speed units.  I'll also investigate the possibility of doing the insulation ourselves, which would save a good chunk of money.