Replacement cost for central A/C

Messages
844
Location
MA
Hey everyone,

I know there are a billion factors that go into a project like replacing an existing A/C but I'm just trying to ball park it here. I replaced an A/C in my previous house and the quotes ranged from $3500 to not kidding $20,000. This process is worse than buying vehicles because there are so many costs I don't have access to easily.

House is a colonial built in 1987 in central MA. Fairly large SW facing expsure with skylights. Current unit is a 4-ton Rheem installed in 1994. Works well but getting up there in age. At 85F it will cool to 70F but it runs 19-20 hours out of the day. Once you go above 85F outside the inside temp starts creeping up. On a few 95F days it mainained 72-74F. No hot or cold spots and the ducting seems well done and does not need any changes. A/C is in the attic, it's a huge open space that's well lit and easy to work in and it's accessible with folding stairs in the hall. Today the temp was about 65F up there.

First quote is simply to replace air handler, replace unit outside A/C, run a new line set, and dispose of current equipment. No other changes needed. Proposed equiment is:

126B - Bryant® Preferred™ - 4 Ton 16 SEER Residential Air Conditioner Condensing Unit Model # 126BNA048000
FX4D - Bryant® 4 Ton Residential Fan Coil High Efficiency Multipoise Air Handler Model # FX4DNF049L00

Equipment + installation $11,456.00. I think there's a $300 federal tax credit available.

Seems very high considering I think this is low to maybe mid-tier equipment - A/C is only single stage and air handler is not variable. Any help interpretting and/or working my way through this is much appreciated.
 
Messages
139
Location
belle chasse
This seems very high -- central MA so heat isn't the big issue....is it electric heat or gas?

To be honest, the "no-name" I have had great service from the "no-name" brands like ComfortMaker, Goodman, etc. Once you slap the Trane, American Standard, Lennox, Rheem, Ruud, Bryant, etc name on it the price increases exponentially.
 
Messages
681
Location
Southern MN & Omaha NE
Since HVAC quotes vary so widely in general (and by location), I'd get at least three more bids, preferably four or five.

And make sure that you're shopping roughly comparable systems (either good/better/best), after figuring out what type of system you want (A cheap, low-seer, one-stage, noisier unit that'll get the job done? Or a Cadillac that'll silently maintain 1/4 of a degree at the stat?) This helps so that you can narrow differences down - e.g., don't be surprised if a Goodman 14-seer quote is a lot cheaper than a top-of-the-line Carrier Infinity 18-seer quote. That's expected. Product lines are roughly equivalent between the major brands in terms of pricing and features (Carrier Comfort is comparable to Lennox Merit, and the Infinity competes with the Lennox Signature, etc.), although this breaks down a bit when considering cheaper brands like Goodman or Comfortmaker (which itself is a rebadged Carrier unit). Those units can provide good value, and aren't necessarily of lower quality - they may just lack features.

And finally, the advice is to shop the installer, not the brand - I'd take a well-installed Amana system over a poorly-installed Lennox any day of the week. Ask around, get bids, read reviews, that sort of thing. And, yes, that's a pretty expensive bid for what is equivalent to a mid-level Carrier (the Performance series; we have had the similar AC that's provided good service since 2010, but the whole system with an Infinity furnace and control cost less than your AC-only bid).
 
Messages
4,965
Location
Lima, Ohio, USA
Different market, and I'm sure different equip/ needs, so not exactly apples to apples, but my friend down in Columbus, OH had his whole system, A/C and Furnace, replaced last year for about $10k.

their house is a typical Post war bungalow kinda "Cape Cod"ish?, with 2 beds down, and the master up in what would be the attic... they inherited it from the original owner, his Hubby's grandpa that had it built in the 50's when he got out of the service.
 
Messages
983
Location
Kansas
Jayziss.

It cost my sister/BIL $14k a few years ago for 2 new American Standard units (split level), the labor/install, running ductwork into the house (built 1912, no central heat/air), etc. everything installed.
 
Messages
466
Location
Peace valley, Missouri
When equipment is larger than 3 ton the price jumps up. Same way with seer rating. The higher the seer the less qualified service people there are. Here is a seer rating calculator. Did the 4 ton take care of house previously? How are the windows and insulation? Look for rebates from electric company and do they offer a energy audit with a blower door test ( tell how tight the house is)
 
Messages
995
Location
MO
I got a quote to add ductwork and central heat/AC to a 4 family apartment building I had that was built in 1925. It was about $50,000 and this was 4 years ago. Just for a point of reference. That was 4 separate units, lots of gas line and electrical work as well as new ductwork.
 

PWMDMD

Thread starter
Messages
844
Location
MA
To put it into perspective, my last central A/C project was in SW CT where everything costs more. I had a poorly insulated 1953 built 4200sqft ranch with HUGE SW facing/sun exposed windows. My TV room was basically three sides of SW facing windows from floor to ceiling and the manual J said that room a lone needed 1-ton of cooling. We needed to replace air handler, A/C and line set as well as run a bunch of new ducts and insulate existing ducts in the attic during 80F weather and with a 5-ton 18-SEER Trane system with variable everything it was $16K. Installers were there for 3 solid days and that system was much more impressive for $4k more. That system rocked - set it to 68F and the air was so dry you'd shiver on 98F days. My electric bill went down by half too. Not looking for a system like that as the weather here is cooler and drier - solid mid-tier and at least 16-SEER for the tax rebate.

Things in this part of MA tend to run much cheaper than I expect as well. I'm constantly pleasantly surprised how reasonable things like this normally are here so this stands out.

I'll keep looking. Have another guy coming out tomorrow. Thanks for everyone's input.
 
Messages
331
Location
Litchfield, Ohio
That's way to high for an air handler and a condenser. My price on equipment alone would be probably 3500 at the most. If they are a big Bryant dealer they get better pricing than I do so say maybe 2500 to 3000 in equipment at most.

I do HVAC for a living and its a ruckus what some companies charge. I understand places have to make money but there is a lot of crooks in this business.
 

PWMDMD

Thread starter
Messages
844
Location
MA
That's way to high for an air handler and a condenser. My price on equipment alone would be probably 3500 at the most. If they are a big Bryant dealer they get better pricing than I do so say maybe 2500 to 3000 in equipment at most.

I do HVAC for a living and its a ruckus what some companies charge. I understand places have to make money but there is a lot of crooks in this business.
That's what I thought. So you're saying $3500 for both the condenser and air handler and not $3500 each? I was really surprised to see single speed fan and single stage condensor for that price.
 

PWMDMD

Thread starter
Messages
844
Location
MA
So now my question is would bumping the equipment up to a variable-speed fan and 2-stage condensor at 16-SEER be worth it? Obviously, not for the price that this first guy wants to charge.
 
Messages
331
Location
Litchfield, Ohio
That's what I thought. So you're saying $3500 for both the condenser and air handler and not $3500 each? I was really surprised to see single speed fan and single stage condensor for that price.

Yeah 3500 for both. To give you an idea the last time I bought an air handler it was $600 for a two ton. Wasn't a Bryant but it was made in the same factory as Bryant.
 
Messages
311
Location
Texas
I had new 5 ton York 18 SEER unit installed by Home Depot because it is so critical here in Dallas. Too many Me Too contractors. HD was in median $ wise but at least I have a recourse to have it corrected and ability to recover if I get a judgement. I couldn't be more pleased.
 
Messages
286
Location
North Dakota
I would get a quote for a variable speed for sure, way more comfortable and keeps things nice and even. Also, make sure the current 4 ton is properly sized.
 

PWMDMD

Thread starter
Messages
844
Location
MA
I would get a quote for a variable speed for sure, way more comfortable and keeps things nice and even. Also, make sure the current 4 ton is properly sized.
Guy today did not do a Manual J - he asked me about the current 4-ton unit and if we were comfortable. Doesn't short cycle, dehumifies nicely and on 85F it runs 20 hours to keep house at 68F - it's 27 year old. House is 3000sqft with cooling on 2-floors. I know the Manual J is more accurate. I'm interested to see if anyone else does a Manual J before giving me a quote.
 
Messages
286
Location
North Dakota
Guy today did not do a Manual J - he asked me about the current 4-ton unit and if we were comfortable. Doesn't short cycle, dehumifies nicely and on 85F it runs 20 hours to keep house at 68F - it's 27 year old. House is 3000sqft with cooling on 2-floors. I know the Manual J is more accurate. I'm interested to see if anyone else does a Manual J before giving me a quote.
Seems like no one does a manual J as standard procedure unfortunately. I'm just thinking as well that the new equipment will be more efficient and likely run less.
 
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