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  1. #1
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    School Me on Adding Air Conditioning to My Forced Air HVAC System

    My house has a forced air electric furnace that runs on an ecobee smart thermostat. Every room has existing duct work running to it,

    The furnace is in a crawl space about 20 feet from the exterior wall where I'd like to put an AC condenser. Getting a 220 line out to that side of the house should hopefully be easy enough.

    I'm in the process of getting quotes for adding AC.

    What should I know about the types of units and brands to look for or look out for?

    Are some brands significantly better than others?

  2. #2
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    figure out your return air layout

    if the house is multistory & didn't have it, i'm guessing putting it in may be challenging
    might have to multi-zone

    if you have a ranch style, the attic is likely your pathway of choice

  3. #3
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    We had a good thread on this topic a year or two back.

  4. #4
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    si casa selected Trane as the brand. Electronics were made in US at the time and parts centers throughout the US also.

  5. #5
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    I just went through this in my house. Had to replace the furnace, so we decided to do AC at the same time. Was relatively easy because our existing ducting was sufficient and we had a new furnace. Older furnaces might not be so plug and play, and like was said above, the ducting in your house may not work.

  6. #6
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    A forced air ELECTRIC furnace?!? This is either ancient 1960s shit, or cutting edge nano-tech. If the former, tear out and start from scratch with a heating-cooling combo or heat pump/mini-split; if the latter ...... I'm too old for that shit.

    Otherwise, Trane for sure; avoid Carrier.

  7. #7
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    I was thinking the same thing.

  8. #8
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    It's a relatively new forced air electric furnace.

    Preliminary responses from the companies I've talked to on the phone ks that they think they can work with it based on the model number and specs.

  9. #9
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    I don't know anything about forced-air electric, there's no return air I guess? I wonder what the advantage of that system is over simple baseboard heaters.

  10. #10
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    My furnace and AC are Trane and they've been dead nuts reliable for 14 years now. I can't comment on the quality of their current offerings. My HVAC guy recommendeds full aluminum core AC units as they don't corrode and last forever.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevo View Post
    ...

    What should I know about the types of units and brands to look for or look out for?

    Are some brands significantly better than others?
    The quality and workmanship of the install far exceeds any pros or cons of different brands. How do I know this? 1-experience, 2-the folks at hvac-talk.com say so. Here's a basic write up on the topic, a good short read.

    A few points to consider:
    Spend the time to get several quotes, one from an installer carrying each of the major brands.

    Look up the brands, just like GM owns Chevy, Cadillac, Buick, the brand names have their sub brands, Carrier for example owns Bryant, Payne, and Day/Night. Same for Trane, Lennox, York and Rheem.

    How to vet a good installer vs. an average one?
    - If the guy has $500 off any install advertising plastered all over bus stops and shopping carts, not a good sign.
    - This is one line of business where word of mouth recons are questionable.
    - If the installer does both commercial and residential work that's a very good sign, they'll have a lot of in-house experience and expertise.
    - Many outfits advertise they do plumbing, heating and cooling. You have to vet these guys to find the ones who are good at HVAC.
    -This may or may not apply in your part of the country, but a subtle 'tell' I've noticed over the years is if the technicians who show up at a residential job insist on putting booties on over their shoes that's a very good sign, they're likely well trained.
    “The best argument in favour of a 90% tax rate on the rich is a five-minute chat with the average rich person.”

    - Winston Churchill, paraphrased.

  12. #12
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    Don't you live in Driggs? Just open the window.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    Don't you live in Driggs? Just open the window.
    This was kinda my line of thinking.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ötzi View Post
    I don't know anything about forced-air electric, there's no return air I guess? I wonder what the advantage of that system is over simple baseboard heaters.
    There is return air.

    AFAIK, it's the same as any other forced air system in that regard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nobody Famous View Post
    The quality and workmanship of the install far exceeds any pros or cons of different brands. How do I know this? 1-experience, 2-the folks at hvac-talk.com say so. Here's a basic write up on the topic, a good short read.

    A few points to consider:
    Spend the time to get several quotes, one from an installer carrying each of the major brands.

    Look up the brands, just like GM owns Chevy, Cadillac, Buick, the brand names have their sub brands, Carrier for example owns Bryant, Payne, and Day/Night. Same for Trane, Lennox, York and Rheem.

    How to vet a good installer vs. an average one?
    - If the guy has $500 off any install advertising plastered all over bus stops and shopping carts, not a good sign.
    - This is one line of business where word of mouth recons are questionable.
    - If the installer does both commercial and residential work that's a very good sign, they'll have a lot of in-house experience and expertise.
    - Many outfits advertise they do plumbing, heating and cooling. You have to vet these guys to find the ones who are good at HVAC.
    -This may or may not apply in your part of the country, but a subtle 'tell' I've noticed over the years is if the technicians who show up at a residential job insist on putting booties on over their shoes that's a very good sign, they're likely well trained.
    Awesome info, thanks. There are only like 3-4 companies who do installs here. I've yet to find anyone who installs Trane.

    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    Don't you live in Driggs? Just open the window.
    There's a house being built next door this summer. Also, last summer there was a 6 week period of intense wildfire smoke and the drought right now is significantly worse than last year.

    I don't want to need to have my windows open to cool down.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevo View Post
    Also, last summer there was a 6 week period of intense wildfire smoke and the drought right now is significantly worse than last year.

    I don't want to need to have my windows open to cool down.
    Almost crazy not to have it after the last 5 years. Even on the west side of Oregon I could justify it on this basis alone.


    I don’t get the electric forced air comments. My parents have had one since the ‘80s. I don’t know about Driggs but electricity is relatively cheap in the PNW and places fed by Bonneville Power hydroelectric.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevo View Post
    Also, last summer there was a 6 week period of intense wildfire smoke and the drought right now is significantly worse than last year.
    I felt really bad for the people in Boulder this Fall who did not have central AC, the smoke was fucking awful and being able to live in controlled/filtered air is the only thing that made it bearable. So that reason is one that makes sense to me.
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
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  17. #17
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    Crazy that smoke has to be such a consideration.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevo View Post
    There is return air.

    AFAIK, it's the same as any other forced air system in that regard.
    There was an earlier post about you needing to install return air is why I asked. But thinking about it, it has to get air from somewhere, there has to be a return system of some sort.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevo View Post
    It's a relatively new forced air electric furnace.

    Preliminary responses from the companies I've talked to on the phone ks that they think they can work with it based on the model number and specs.
    You must be in the PNW or somewhere with cheap kilowatt-hours. I know vertical furnaces have a place in them where the ac will drop right in. The under the house versions, if not too old, prolly do the same. Then you'll need a line set out to a condenser on a small slab on the side of the house, plus the power line. Typically, $7K to $10K.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Foggy_Goggles View Post
    Don't you live in Driggs? Just open the window.
    Quote Originally Posted by skaredshtles View Post
    This was kinda my line of thinking.
    Teton Air Conditioning

  21. #21
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    Have you considered a swamp cooler with hepa filters?

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ötzi View Post
    There was an earlier post about you needing to install return air is why I asked. But thinking about it, it has to get air from somewhere, there has to be a return system of some sort.
    You’d think so
    :0

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Danno View Post
    I felt really bad for the people in Boulder this Fall who did not have central AC, the smoke was fucking awful and being able to live in controlled/filtered air is the only thing that made it bearable. So that reason is one that makes sense to me.
    It's mind boggling that so much of the housing stock in Boulder and the Front Range doesn't have AC (setting aside the smoke issue, it's super hot in the summer). I was always told that summers were much cooler and wetter, but back when the houses were built.

    But hell, back in 2005 it was unbearably hot to live in Boulder without AC.

    Quote Originally Posted by ötzi View Post
    Crazy that smoke has to be such a consideration.
    Agreed, It is an unfortunate reality of living in the mountain west at this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by splat View Post
    You must be in the PNW or somewhere with cheap kilowatt-hours. I know vertical furnaces have a place in them where the ac will drop right in. The under the house versions, if not too old, prolly do the same. Then you'll need a line set out to a condenser on a small slab on the side of the house, plus the power line. Typically, $7K to $10K.
    Yep, we have the cheapest electricity in the country up here because of hydro, and no natural gas utility lines. Some people run propane from backyard tanks, but my house isn't set up for it.

    Thanks for the technical info. That is kind what I'm thinking/ hoping for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Djongo Unchained View Post
    Teton Air Conditioning
    Thanks! I'll check them out.

    Quote Originally Posted by splat View Post
    Have you considered a swamp cooler with hepa filters?
    My previous house in CO had one. I still got smoked out on the worst days. I liked the swamp cooler, but having been there, done that I'd rather not deal with one again. In four years I replaced pretty much every moving part on my own. They are simple and easy to work on, but they need a lot of maintenance in my experience. I was constantly wrenching on mine getting it set up in the summer and winterized in the winter, and then replacing parts as needed, repainting to avoid rust, etc, etc.

    It wasn't an issue with a Home Depot being right around the corner, but up here it is a 1.5 hour drive each way to get parts.

  24. #24
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    I just replaced mine last year. I can run it full time when we get weeks of smoke here by putting a hepa filter on the inlet into the house. I totally get where you're coming from on all this.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ötzi View Post
    I don't know anything about forced-air electric, there's no return air I guess? I wonder what the advantage of that system is over simple baseboard heaters.
    Well, you can add an AC to it.

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