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Old 06-25-13, 12:27 PM   #1
SimpleManLance
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Default Time for Central Air. Should i buy a heat pump instead.

Its time to install a central air in the house and i don't really know that much about AC or heat pumps. My friend who installs commercial heating a cooling can get me a deal on Bryant products. They also sell heat pumps. Im not sure if i should buy one instead to help offset my heating season some.


I live in south east Michigan. To heat the house I burn wood in my wood furnace. When the weather isn't cold enough to fire up the wood furnace i use my natural gas furnace(93% efficient). It does the job, but maybe the heat pump could do it a little more efficient and i might not have to burn as much wood.

I am looking at the cheaper models because i dont plan on living here forever and i think a heat pump would look better when its time to sell the house.

I'm looking at the Legacy line for either the AC or the Heat pump

Product Comparison - Heat Pumps - Bryant

Product Comparison - Air Conditioning - Bryant

What do you guys think? is a whole house heat pump worth the extra money or should i just stick with the AC unit?

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Old 06-26-13, 02:25 PM   #2
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What is the cost difference from going from just an A/C unit to a heat pump? It seems like you have a fairly ideal/cheap heating setup. Its going to be difficult to save money there.
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Old 06-27-13, 08:53 AM   #3
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Where you are I would not rely on a heatpump for heat. They work great for mild temps but once the temps start getting below freezing it gets much harder for it to heat. (I still have relatives north of Detroit)

Since you have what I assume is a good not to old furnace I would go ahead and get a heat pump condenser and coil. These days most all coils are set up for heat pump use so that usually isn't an extra cost. And also many condensers aren't that much more for a heat pump version. I think eventually the straight cool condensers will be very rare as it's cheaper and easier to make just one type of unit.

The reason I would go ahead and go that route even with the issues I mentioned is because for very little extra you can get the heatpump and now you have 3 forms of heat and can switch between whatever is cheapest or if one quits you have a backup. Heat pumps are light years better than what they were 15 years ago. In fact here because of the price of nat gas it's often cheaper to run a heat pump than it is a gas furnace even though our elec rate in the winter goes up due to lower demand.(usually 3 cents higher in winter)


Bryant is a good brand. In fact there are only two brands that I wouldn't own myself these days and that's York and Ammana and that is from repair/install experience. Goodman used to be a poor unit but since it's part of the Amana group it has gotten much better to where It's comparable with many high priced units. I don't have a problem recommending them now.
My favorite for bang for the buck is Payne. They have retrofit kits that come with everything including disconnect, whip, and a new pad.

One thing to look for in any unit is not so much price these days as paying for a name gets you just a name on the unit but don't go over 16 seer. The reason is 16 is the break point right now for value easy install and reliability. As the seer goes up so does the complexity and the failure rate goes up exponentially. Some brands if the board dies you have to order it from the factory as it has to be programmed for your specific unit and it has been known to take up to 3 weeks to get them delivered. Can you live without AC or heat for that long?
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Old 06-27-13, 02:36 PM   #4
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The difference is $1000. I'm kind of leaning more towards just ac unit. I'm concerned that I won't get the use out of the heat pump. My friend said that the heat pump is good to about 32* and that should be able to heat the house to 62*. The rule is I use the furnace till the bill gets to $80 a month then I burn wood. Then my electric bills goes up to $25(wood furnace blower) which usually puts me at $80-90 a month. That was last year. Fuel and electric have gone up. Is using a heat pump really going to save me that much.
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Old 06-27-13, 02:43 PM   #5
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Lets do some horribly rough math to find out... Feel free to tweak the numbers as I'm really just guessing.

Say you get to use the heat pump for 4 months out of the year in heating mode. Over those 4 months you'd normally spend $60/mo on gas, instead you spend $20 on electricity. So you save $40 * 4 = $120 per year. $1000 / $120 = 8.3 year ROI. Thats actually not as bad as I thought it would be. But, as I said these numbers are really just wild guesses. You'd probably be better off spending $1k on sealing up the house and adding insulation.
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Old 06-27-13, 03:28 PM   #6
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here are my electric and gas bills to try and give info on what i use and how much it costs.


little background on the house.

built in 1934, 2 story plus basement(no insulation), each floor is 20'x22'x8'. 10'x11' and 6'x8' rooms with crawl spaces under them open to basement( no sealing and no insulation)
2x4 walls with foam insulation installed. (probably not filled the greatest) 1/2" foam board(pink) under vinyl siding (seams untapped)
attic has 2 rows of 9" batt insulation rolled out in a crisscross.
newer double pane windows.

still has a lot of work in the sealing and insulating areas.
planning on sealing and insulating the bond-board in the basement and crawl space this fall.


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Old 06-27-13, 04:28 PM   #7
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Your utility rates are quite cheap. We are happy when elec is 10 cents KWH. Here we try to keep the summer elec under $200. Course 105* and forecast 111* tomorrow. Supposed to cool to mid 90s next week.

Personally with your house I'd go straight ac coil and condenser and spend that 1K on insulation and air sealing as it will return way more than the unit will.
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Old 06-27-13, 06:29 PM   #8
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No brainer to me, esp as The difference is $1000 for the option yu put up.

For $2000 total you can put in 2 minisplits (3T total) if you splurge another $300 to buy used guages and a vacuum pump and DIY the install - no special tools needed beyond that. The minisplits will be mcuh quieter than the bryants and give you true redundancy.
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Old 06-27-13, 07:15 PM   #9
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Since the house didn't already have A/C, I presume that's just "nice to have" and not truly required. If it doesn't get too humid in the summer, a simple evaporative cooler will do.
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Old 06-27-13, 07:18 PM   #10
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Im paying at cost prices for both. Includes everything but the electrical from the panel to the AC box and the drain hose for the coil.

AC 13 seer $1050
HP 13 seer $2050

my buddy has all the tools to install AC's and he would be doing the installing for free.


i was thinking a mini split on the main floor (i dont have a spot on my 2nd floor for one) but my house is broken in to little rooms so moving warm/cool air around isnt very easy. I used to have a wood burner on the main floor to heat the house. it didnt do to well. the temps were 10* lower the further you went away from the wood burner. I took that out and installed a wood furnace in the basement. it ties into my existing duct work and heats the house evenly.


it seems like our winters are getting more mild here. if i could use the heat pump longer into the colder months that would allow me to use less wood. which is less cutting, splitting, stacking, storing, and hauling down into my basment. That is if running a heat pump down to 30-40* would be cheaper then running the gas furnace.

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