I had this question this week and as usual try to share some of my real life experiences with others. Some may or may not know, I spent 3 years as a Trane commercial factory sales rep handling equipment orders and service calls for Trane equipment from the small split systems up to large chillers and other commercial HVAC. After Trane, I have spent a lot of time using other manufacturer's equipment for engineered cooling in commercial HVAC applications. I also have 20 years of experience in the real estate and construction environment dealing with HVAC issues in both residential and construction for customers plus personally in my rental homes and buildings. From my viewpoint, Brand does matter depending on the application and situation dictating how it's used. For example, most homeowners move every 3-4 years although rarely does someone anticipate their next move. When I built my dream home in 2006/2007, I never intended to move and planned to eventually retire there. But, life happens and our situation changed where we moved due to our kid's activities and downsizing due to the market crash. In this instance, I had used Goodman Split systems which were not the cheapest, but also not the most expensive which worked out perfectly for that situation. I had very little issues with the units during my time in the home. What I realized working for Trane was that all manufacturers have issues. Even the top of the line units have component problems, quality issues, and service related items. Most manufacturers buy some components from China or Mexico even if made in the US. Plus, the installer has probably as much or more to do with the reliability of the unit as the manufacturer. Therefore, I would start by finding a quality installer who is not only experienced but also honest because a homeowner or business can be taken advantage of in many situations. If you talk to many HVAC techs, they suggest a Rheem unit or something without all the gadgets because all the cool features and components tend to fail at some point.
WHAT CAN I DO? WHICH BRANDS DO I CHOOSE?
I am not endorsing one brand over another. LIke I said application and installation matters...however, here are some things I've seen. Mitsubishi mini splits seem to be the top of the line units and most expensive. I like these units, but can't always afford them on specific jobs. I have used Daiken, Samsung, and a few others. The biggest issue I would ask about is parts availability and parts warranty. Many manufacturers today offer a 10 year warranty which means that it should last. On regular HVAC splits and package units, I like Trane because I worked there. However, they are the top of the line and for many applications, especially residential, the money does not justify it. For residential applications, I have used Goodman, Daiken, Carrier, Rheem, American Standard (Basically made by Trane), and even Ameristar (Owned by Ingersoll Rand who also owns Trane). A lot of these units are made in some of the same factories as the higher end brands, but then some of these are made outside of the US...hard to tell at times. Basically, I would seriously consider some these other brands due to the lower upfront cost as long as they have available parts and can get 10 yr warranty. I would definitely follow up on your unit purchase because you have to register the unit to get the 10 year warranty otherwise you can only get the standard 5 years in many cases. In addition, I would get 2-3 quotes. Not only are you inquiring about the price of the unit, but also the overall solution. For instance, someone may want to sell you a $10,000 replacement unit, but after checking around you realize the reason the unit was so high was they offered financing and increased to price to offer the financing. A $2,000 repair or compressor replacement may also be all you need considering you are moving in a few months. Although the unit's down, the house is hot, and the kids are complaining I would still recommend getting more than 1 service company to look at if they are recommending an expensive replacement. There are other issues and concerns that you may want to inquire about as well such as energy savings with programmable thermostats (scheduling), insulation needs to save energy, and basically wrong setup for your building when first installed. These are perfect times to analyze the whole situation versus quickly replacing a unit which may or may not have been sized properly or be the right unit for the application. These are times when you need your own Advisor for your needs.
AdvisorFriend.com Article by Brian Camp 205-369-7154 Brian@BrianCamp.com
Brian Camp, MBA, BSME & 20 Years of Experience in Real Estate, Construction,
and Building Services
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Partner/Realtor/Land Developer, Lovejoy Realty website: www.LovejoyRealty.com
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