First, if you know of a good site to ask this question, please let me know.
I plan to get an air conditioning unit replaced with seer 12-16. We have a heat strip on ours and plan to get one with the new one. The old one also has a heat pump which we plan to have on the new one.
We will need to change the air exchanger/handler in our attic too (I was told this is standard when you change the air conditioning unit outside).
We have a 4 ton right now I believe. I sometimes wonder if that is excessive. I plan to have the air conditioning installer look at all the variables in picking out the right ton size.
With that size and seer what should I expect to pay for labor and the unit (air handler and air conditioning unit outside)?
Where can I find a site or table that explains what my costs should be? We live in Georgia. I understand prices differ from region to region. How do I make sure I am not taken for a ride?
I know a person that got a Corsaire and their bill for the replacement was 5K for all of it. The air handler was changed, the outside unit was changed. Nothing else like new ducts or repositioning of the ducts was done though the company tried to convince them to do that. The unit cost the air conditioning professional $1600.
Understand that labor represents anywhere from half to two-thirds the cost of residential construction work. If your friend's unit cost $1600, and if it was one-third of the total cost of the work, the final cost would have been $4800, right in line with the final price.
In order to complete that job, the contractor had to calculate the unit size required, disconnect and remove the old units, install the new units, possibly modify or replace refrigerant piping and electrical wiring, fabricate and install a new connection between the new air-handling unit and the existing ductwork, possibly replace controls, charge the system with refrigerant, test the refrigerant piping for leaks, test the system for performance, and then pay insurance on their personnel and vehicles, pay for their office and shop overhead, pay payroll taxes for their personnel, pay benefits for their personnel, and hope somehow to find a little profit in there somewhere.
Your best bet for your system is to interview three or four contractors and get yourself at least three proposals for your system, and then select not necessarily the lowest, but the one which appears most professional and complete, written by the person you liked best among the bidders.
If you start out thinking everyone is out to screw you, you will likely end up getting screwed. If a contractor gets the sense that you are looking for the absolute cheapest system available, he just might give it to you, and at some point you won't be happy.
In your friend's case, it is very possible that the contractors tried to talk him/her into changing the ductwork because that would have been the way for their system to work at its best. It may seem to be working fine, but perhaps it could have been even better. No one will ever know, except the contractor who tried to do his best but was denied.
There is no site or chart that will give you the information you need, because each individual house is different. If there are two exactly alike houses on opposite sides of the street, they could need different unit sizes only because their orientation is different. So, since size can vary greatly from house to house, and since prices vary from region to region, and since there are cheap and dirty units available as well as well-built ones, even the price of two units of the same capacity can vary widely.
Get yourself some good bids, and then you'll know the price.
Architect (NY) and Home Designer (PA)
You may wish to consider replacing your air conditioning system if it is old, inefficient or in need of repair. Today's systems are as much as 60% more efficient than those systems manufactured as little as ten years ago. In addition, _ if not properly maintained, wear and tear on a system can reduce the efficiency of the system.
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