Furnace on the wayAfter much debate and a few painful estimates we have decided to have Elkhorn HVAC replace our cracked and crappy furnace. The decision was a tough one. Sears had a good offer and what looks like a pretty good product for $1000 less. Ultimately we chose Elkhorn by some of the same criteria that Consumer Reports recommends.
To begin, the Elkhorn guy was just great. He answered all of the questions, even the dumb ones. He also caught a lot of stuff that the Sears guy didn't notice or care about (both code and safety violations or potential problems). Elkhorn will do a heat-load to determine exactly the right size furnace. Everything we've researched says the installation and sizing of the furnace is way more important than the brand. All of the other installers were going to size the furnace based on "experience" or the size of our rooms. Size of the rooms tells some things, but without taking into account the windows and insulation and other factors it's only part of the picture.
The $1000 cost differential is also slightly misleading. With Sears we would have gone with an 80% furnace. With Elkhorn we're looking at a 90%. If we did a 90% with Sears, the Elkhorn one would only be $500 more expensive. We decided to go with the 90% furnace because of the number of holes and their size (80% gives more and bigger holes) that would have to be drilled and because Mark is a tree hugging hippie werido.
Pro's and cons of each installer:
- Pro: Very friendly and knowledgable
- Pro: Candid and detailed about how we could save money doing some things ourselves
- Pro: Answered all of the questions
- Con: Little expensive and no deal on duct cleaning (was hoping to get that thrown in)
- Con: No weekend installation w/o extra charges
- Pro: Very flexible on time for estimate and installation
- Pro: Fairly nice and reasonably knowledgable about codes
- Pro: Nice warranty options
- Pro: Offered duct cleaning as part of the package ($200)
- Con: Didn't look at as many details as Elkhorn
- Con: Really rude when we decided not to go with them
- Pro: Great price
- Con: Estimate took over TWO hours!
- Pro: Gave printed estimate right on the spot
- Con: Would only give estimate for one setup. Others gave multiple options