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SwitchFX

join:2007-09-15
La Canada Flintridge, CA

Another AC question and then some

Didn't want to go OT in the other thread, so I decided to ask here before I left for work.

When I bought my house, I gutted it and had it remodeled. At the time I bought a Trane unit for the entire house, which is somewhere between 3,200-3,500 sq feet. I've been considering purchasing two smaller units and splitting the load between them to heat or cool one half of the house at any time. In my head it sounds more economical but I could be wrong. Has anyone ever done this and if so, what was the outcome?

Another question is at the same time I had an RO unit installed. Obviously I change the filters regularly, but I'm looking to replace the unit as a whole. I'd want something economical but also robust. I'd only require 10-12 gallons of water a day for tank storage and and an economical but robust possible filtration rate per day.

Thanks!


cybersaga

join:2011-12-19
Welland, ON

1 edit
What's wrong with the RO system that's there now?

Most home RO systems are pretty much the same: 2 or 3 pre-filters, the membrane, a tank, and a post (polishing) filter. The membrane is what gives you the quick recovery. Mine, for example, came with only a 25 gallon-per-day membrane. When I replaced it, I went with a 50gpd membrane. I've seen as high as 100gpd, if I remember correctly. But they're all the same size, so you can just swap it out.

You can always buy a bigger tank too. Most home systems come with a 3 gallon tank.

Just saw where you live too. La Canada Flintridge, CA: never heard of it till now, but just another reason to confuse California with Canada (the other being Ontario, CA). although I realize there's supposed to be an accent on the N.

Mr Matt

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reply to SwitchFX
Regarding a split AC system. I had a house constructed in 1990 using a builders standard floor plan. I wanted to be able to raise the temperature in the three guest bedrooms when they are unoccupied. The only change the architect made in the plan was to specify a door installed in an archway that connected the hallway to the guest bedrooms with the rest of the house. One AC served the guest bedrooms and the other served the rest of the house. When we did not have guests I could close off the guest bedrooms and raise the temperature in that area. In my opinion unless you can create a physical separation between the zones your benefit will be limited with a multizone system.

The house I am in now is a two zone system with one zone serving the first floor and the second zone serving the second floor. In the summer I raise the temperature on the second floor when we do not have guests. Since heat rises I can maintain a lower temperature on the first floor without conflict. In the winter there is a problem, in that if I keep the temperature lower on the second floor, there is a constant cold draft from the second floor drifting down the open stairway to the first floor.


dev_null
Pithy tag line goes here.

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reply to SwitchFX
Also, consider the payback period. I have a house with a single AC system cooling a ca. 3000 sq ft house too, which the PO installed in 2000. Had it serviced last year and it's still blowing 49F at the coil without added freon.

It generally costs me about $40-50 more a month in the summer to cool the whole house as a single zone. Even if I say summer runs from May-October (6 months), it's only costing me $300 per year to run the system to cool the whole house.

Now I haven't priced AC units lately, but the last time I retrofitted one to a house, it was a split system (1st floor and 2nd floor separate), and that cost me upwards of $10k (including all the plumbing). Even if you saved 50% in electricity, it would take a whole lot of summers to pay for that. Probably more than the life expectancy of the unit.

I'm planning to use what I got until it's dead then think about replacements, but likely if the AHU is still going, probably swap out the current freon parts for whatever is around at that time, staying with a single unit.

Cheers,
--
---
U176

SwitchFX

join:2007-09-15
La Canada Flintridge, CA
reply to cybersaga
said by cybersaga:

What's wrong with the RO system that's there now?

Most home RO systems are pretty much the same: 2 or 3 pre-filters, the membrane, a tank, and a post (polishing) filter. The membrane is what gives you the quick recovery. Mine, for example, came with only a 25 gallon-per-day membrane. When I replaced it, I went with a 50gpd membrane. I've seen as high as 100gpd, if I remember correctly. But they're all the same size, so you can just swap it out.

You can always buy a bigger tank too. Most home systems come with a 3 gallon tank.

Just saw where you live too. La Canada Flintridge, CA: never heard of it till now, but just another reason to confuse California with Canada (the other being Ontario, CA). although I realize there's supposed to be an accent on the N.

The unit started giving problems in August, but I "fixed" it or so I thought I did. It's been becoming more problematic over time, by which we've started using the unit in our fridge to get drinking water from. We do have a GE water cooler but that's to grab a quick glass of water in the middle of the night or for guests. Yeah, I have a vague understanding about membranes and tank systems, but that's it. I personally drink a few gallons a day, a little less during the colder months.

Yes, LOL. I get this quite a lot when I tell people where I'm from. The N is indeed pronounced with an accent. Not many people have heard of it, which I suppose is nice - it's unique.

said by Mr Matt:

Regarding a split AC system. I had a house constructed in 1990 using a builders standard floor plan. I wanted to be able to raise the temperature in the three guest bedrooms when they are unoccupied. The only change the architect made in the plan was to specify a door installed in an archway that connected the hallway to the guest bedrooms with the rest of the house. One AC served the guest bedrooms and the other served the rest of the house. When we did not have guests I could close off the guest bedrooms and raise the temperature in that area. In my opinion unless you can create a physical separation between the zones your benefit will be limited with a multizone system.

The house I am in now is a two zone system with one zone serving the first floor and the second zone serving the second floor. In the summer I raise the temperature on the second floor when we do not have guests. Since heat rises I can maintain a lower temperature on the first floor without conflict. In the winter there is a problem, in that if I keep the temperature lower on the second floor, there is a constant cold draft from the second floor drifting down the open stairway to the first floor.

That was my plan all along. The house was built in 1987, so it was fairly "modern" when I bought it. I had the entire thing gutted as I stated earlier on in the thread and had everything replaced with quality top of the line products. Most of which still functions and looks new. That's quality for you. The house has closed off areas, like a den that leads to the yard. We barely ever use it and it gets cold in that room when I have the AC on. It's a waste of money to cool rooms like that, especially when we're only two people and don't have children yet. The two guest rooms and my home office don't need cooling. Well, mine does a little because of the network hardware that gets hot, but I digress. A cousin of mine built a house, a 6,500 sq foot behemoth and he had 2 or 3 units installed for each of the two floors. With doors for separation and what not. Multi climate zone and it works nicely. Thing is, that house is massive in terms of ceiling height. Heat is a non issue for him. The hallways in the home create "drafts" if you will. It's a smaller, narrower space of the house and I assume it generates pressure and you do feel a draft when you stand just at the opening of a hallway.

said by dev_null:

Also, consider the payback period. I have a house with a single AC system cooling a ca. 3000 sq ft house too, which the PO installed in 2000. Had it serviced last year and it's still blowing 49F at the coil without added freon.

It generally costs me about $40-50 more a month in the summer to cool the whole house as a single zone. Even if I say summer runs from May-October (6 months), it's only costing me $300 per year to run the system to cool the whole house.

Now I haven't priced AC units lately, but the last time I retrofitted one to a house, it was a split system (1st floor and 2nd floor separate), and that cost me upwards of $10k (including all the plumbing). Even if you saved 50% in electricity, it would take a whole lot of summers to pay for that. Probably more than the life expectancy of the unit.

I'm planning to use what I got until it's dead then think about replacements, but likely if the AHU is still going, probably swap out the current freon parts for whatever is around at that time, staying with a single unit.

Cheers,

PO=Post Office?

Payback period as in use time and monetary cost?

Generally I start running the AC unit from the near end of April, starting around today most years, and well into a little bit of November. From the middle of May until Halloween it's turned on almost all day. One of the pains about where I live is that it's in a perfect place for the sun to heat everything up. It's usually 100-109 here, despite weather reports. We had a record 117 one summer day a few years back, which is something you'd only see in the desert.

My bill used to be around 400-500 a month, but it's gotten cheaper over the years. I still manage to hit an extra $200-250 a month when I use the unit, maybe $150 when I use the heat from December until the beginning of April. Unless I can manage to score wood for cheap.

$10K doesn't bother me in the slightest. What does bug me is the possibility of having to demo to fit new ducting in. I remodeled in 2009, that's why. Though I suppose the wife would want to paint the house again... At your given figure, it'll take me 4 years to "pay back" the cost of the new unit and whatnot. Having a pool, even when covered to reduce reflection and mountains made of plain rock don't help with heat reflection.

My electricity bill did go down quite a bit when I switched over to some energy efficient stuff. Had I known I could have saved that much, I would have used them from the get go.

Anyway, I've got to head into work. I appreciate the informative replies. I didn't get this many when I asked on a dedicated HVAC site! LOL

Thanks!


cybersaga

join:2011-12-19
Welland, ON
PO = previous owner

For the RO system, if there's a local water store, they may sell RO systems and parts, and may even offer maintenance and fix everything up for you.

SwitchFX

join:2007-09-15
La Canada Flintridge, CA
said by cybersaga:

PO = previous owner

For the RO system, if there's a local water store, they may sell RO systems and parts, and may even offer maintenance and fix everything up for you.

»www.reverseosmosis.com/categorie···-System/

First Google query result I got. I don't know a thing about RO systems other than how they work. Any good brands there?


cybersaga

join:2011-12-19
Welland, ON
The outer casings of the RO systems are pretty much all the same. It's the filters and especially the membrane inside that matter the most. The brand I've seen most on the membranes is Filmtec, made by Dow Chemical. Just make sure you actually know what the brand is. If there's no brand on it, then you have no idea what you're getting.

Amazon has a ton of RO systems, and a ton of replacement filter packs. The carbon and sediment filters should be replaced roughly once every 6 months. If you get a system with clear filter canisters instead of white ones, you'll be able to see the water getting grey in the canister, and you'll know when the filter needs to be replaced. The membrane should be changed every 2-5 years - whenever you notice the water starting to taste funny. You can also buy a TDS (total dissolved solids) meter (check eBay) and test your water periodically.

The exception to the "every brand looks the same" rule, is at least one system from Watts. That system uses a proprietary filter style that simplifies filter changes. My father-in-law had one of those for a while and it worked well.