Which HVAC company is best?
April 25, 2018 6:56 AM   Subscribe

I have roughly equivalent quotes from two HVAC companies to replace my furnace, air conditioning unit, and water heater. I'm not sure which company I should choose given the offered warranties and make of the equipment.

The estimates for the work are within $200 of each other, and the specifications for the equipment are more or less the same.

Company A did the servicing and maintenance of the furnace and A/C currently in the house for the previous owners, who were here for nearly 5 years. They did a decent job, given the age of the equipment. I had the company out to do a service of both the furnace and A/C a week ago, as I'd recently moved in and had noticed that it sounded like the pilot light was having trouble lighting when the furnace came on. The guy who did the service confirmed that it was an issue, although he didn't offer to fix it (I guess because I'd asked for an estimate for replacement).

He gave me a hand-written estimate. The company uses Goodman furnaces and A/C units, with a 12 year parts and labor warranty for both (plus a lifetime warranty on the furnace's heat exchanger). Yearly service for the furnace and A/C would be $100. I don't have details on the make of the hot water heater. I felt comfortable with the guy, but the quote was not as comprehensive as I would've liked.

Company B uses Carrier furnace and A/C units and State water heaters. The HVAC representative and the plumbing representative came out to do separate estimates, and they e-mailed them to me the same day. The quotes are more comprehensive (I have three options for the furnace and A/C), and I feel better about the level of detail they provided in the quotes than the information I have from Company A.

The furnace and A/C unit have a 10 year parts/5 year labor warranty (6 years on the water heater). There's a 10-year compressor warranty on the A/C unit and a lifetime warranty on the furnace's heat exchanger. Yearly service is $150.

TL;DR: Company A uses Goodman and has a better warranty. Company B uses Carrier and doesn't have as good a warranty, but I feel better about the level of information in the Company B quote. The difference between the yearly service amounts (Company A: $100; Company B $150) isn't enough to make my decision. Which one do I pick?
posted by minsies to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is a question that I'd take to Nextdoor.com - you likely have neighbors who can give opinions of both installers.

FWIW, I would probably go with B, because to me Carrier is to Goodman as Toyota is to Hyundai. Both might be fine, but Carrier has a longer standing reputation for reliability, warranty notwithstanding. Carrier also has requirements for who they allow to represent their products, but anyone can offer Goodman. On top of that, I would be swayed by the more professional quote.
posted by Kriesa at 7:18 AM on April 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Do those prices take into account the rebate options from the local Power and Gas companies? Rebates for new HVAC installs can be worth several hundred dollars. But they depend on either specific make/models being used or meeting specific efficiency requirements. Rebate eligibility could be a deciding factor.
posted by zinon at 7:27 AM on April 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Re: rebates: yes, both prices include the eligible rebates.
posted by minsies at 7:34 AM on April 25, 2018

I’m surprised one company can quote you for both the water heater and HVAC work; this typically requires two different licenses. Either the first company holds both licenses, or they plan to sub out the water heater work to someone who does.
posted by samthemander at 7:40 AM on April 25, 2018

Just an FYI on Goodman, they're a brand of the Daikin corporation and apparently the brand name (just the name) is being phased out. I know nothing about the reputation of Daikin, but it might be helpful in your research. If you go on /r/HVAC you'll get a million conflicting opinions about every single brand.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:52 AM on April 25, 2018

Best answer: My partner, who does not currently work in the HVAC industry but did for many years, feels very strongly that HVAC contractors who use Carrier are the only way to go. His information may be out of date but FWIW as a data point, in our house he's the expert on this topic and would absolutely go with B. (Although yes, probably a quick skim of NextDoor and/or Angieslist might be warranted just to make sure no one's running around out there posting horror stories about your particular contractor.)
posted by Stacey at 7:52 AM on April 25, 2018

Gas furnace/ AC? Use Consumer Reports to research, then find the company that installs the best equipment. A gas furnace should last a long time, get good quality. See what you can do to keep fuel use low. Over the lifespan of a furnace, this maters.

Get a 3rd quote. When I was told to replace my oil furnace, I got 3 quotes. The guy from the most expensive company told me it was likely fixable, would cost @500, there was some level of risk that it wasn't fixable, but he was pretty confident it would be. It was. That was about 8,000 I didn't have to spend for 5 years now, furnace is still fine, so the savings continue.
posted by theora55 at 8:47 AM on April 25, 2018

Best answer: I'm surprised the Goodman and Carrier quotes are so similar. That being said I've known people who have both and have no problems. One of the biggest variables in HVAC is the installer and the quality of their work.

Also make sure that the warranty is not written by the installer and that it is the manufacturers warranty that covers the parts and the labor. If your Goodman installer goes out of business is your labor warranty still valid? the labor cost of replacing manufacturer warrantied parts is often more than the cost of the parts replaced.

The Goodman warranty seems a little suspect to me; as in their might be some Gotchas built into it (maybe prorated?). All other things being equal go with Carrier or get an additional quote for Goodman and you might find it is significantly less.

Also you can buy Goodman retail for DIY installation. I'm not suggesting you install yourself but you can get an idea of the retail cost of the equipment you are having installed to better understand what your labor costs are for the Goodman.
posted by jmsta at 9:13 AM on April 25, 2018

Best answer: Carrier invented AC. That's a good brand.
posted by w0mbat at 10:01 AM on April 25, 2018

If you have gas to your home (you mentioned a pilot light), I would strongly consider an instant-on gas hot water heater. We have that in our home and another property and it’s great. Small exterior unit, never running out of hot water, runs on demand and uses less energy mostly because it doesn’t have to maintain temp of a large water volume, no more floods when the water heater fails, and so on.
posted by sudogeek at 11:46 AM on April 25, 2018

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