My wife and I live in a two story, 1400 sqft home. Recently, our 24 year old HVAC system died on us and we've been recommended by three different independent repair guys to replace the system rather than fix it since the brand that was installed is not that great to begin with. Since this is what we have come to terms with we want to install the right system for our house. One of the issues we always had before which I know most two story homeowners have is the inability to effectively cool down the 2nd story. Currently, the attic has no attic fans. We've had three A/C installers come out to quote us a new system and as to be expected, all came up with a different solution.
The first one (local contractor) was the cheapest and most basic which was to simply replace our current condenser unit, and forced air unit with new Trane models, 13 seer, 3 ton. This was going to be $6300 out the door.
The second contractor (EconoAir through Costco) offered a package that includes replacing the forced air and condenser, but also moving the furnace to the upstairs in our attic, replacing all the ducting with brand new ones, running new gas and electrical, replacing all the registers in the house, installing an attic ladder and relocating the opening to the attic. The brand they use is Lennox and the installer seemed to think moving the furnace to the attic would definitely solve our 2nd story heat issue because the return would be up there and it would be easier for the cool air to move about upstairs. They want about $13K for this system. The package details include, "High performance coil system, oversized suction and liquid drier to clean up a/c system, honeywell prestige flat screen thermostat, complete accoustical sound with oversized returns, Merv 16 air purifier system, complete new plenum system, new free flow high velocity bar type or curve blade registers, all metal wrapped in a commercial fsk wrap, oversized feeders hardwired at the furnace w/ new breakers, new high voltage disconnect w/ new breaker and oversized main feeder, accoustical sound technology for compressor, voltage booster, new stainless steel gas lines installed w new shut off valve, new b-vent cap with collar, install new bacteriostatic, oversized, energy efficient mylar duct system with air balance."
The third contractor offered a package that would replace the condenser with a 15 seer condenser, 3 ton unit (Trane) and would keep it downstairs (though they were willing to move up stairs for $3500), put in an "air accelerator" in the ducts in the attic that would basically help to pull up the cool air from downstairs, as well as an attic fan. Their system would cost out the door about $8600. They also offer lifetime warranty on labor for their system.
-- Basically what I'm trying to figure out is what is the best option for our home to get a new system installed that will sufficiently cool the 2nd story. We plan on being in the house at least another 5 years or so.