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Old 06-29-2008, 11:59 AM
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Default Amp requirements for Heat Pumps

It looks like it's time to replace our heat pumps - they are 15 years old and were neglected by the previous owners for 10 years. We have two units a larger one for the main floor and a smaller one for the upstairs.

The downstairs one uses a 30 amp circuit and the upstairs one uses a 20 amp circuit.

From what I know (which isn't much) the newer units are all higher seer ratings these days. Does this mean they will require new higher amp circuits or will the units that are on the market now be able to use the existing connections.

Are there any brands that use lower amps than other brands?
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Old 06-29-2008, 01:09 PM
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Default Re: Amp requirements for Heat Pumps

You should be fine.

Most information, if you know what you're looking for, you can find online.

For sh*ts and grins, thought I'd see if I could find the electrical data for Ruud (CB's "old line"), which I don't know anything about (product line).

Low and behold, all the elctrical info was there, for me the homeowner to find.

The unit the information listed for is a 13 SEER heat pump.
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Old 06-29-2008, 01:13 PM
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Default Re: Amp requirements for Heat Pumps

Quote:
Originally Posted by PBinWA View Post
It looks like it's time to replace our heat pumps - they are 15 years old and were neglected by the previous owners for 10 years. We have two units a larger one for the main floor and a smaller one for the upstairs.

The downstairs one uses a 30 amp circuit and the upstairs one uses a 20 amp circuit.

From what I know (which isn't much) the newer units are all higher seer ratings these days. Does this mean they will require new higher amp circuits or will the units that are on the market now be able to use the existing connections.

Are there any brands that use lower amps than other brands?
You will need to size your electrical circuit based upon the heat pumps Rated Load Amps (RLA). The National Electrical Code (NEC) specifys the MINIMUM circuit ampacity for various applications, but understand that simply meeting the code, you will have met the MINIMUM requirements, not the optimum for your situation. For example, your 30 amp circuit can be carried by a 10AWG conductor to meet the NEC required minimum ampacity. Now that ampacity is rated at 86 degrees F. If you run that electrical circuit through a 140 degree attic, you must now derate the ampacity because under those conditions, 10AWG cannot safely conduct 30 amps. Additionally, installing the code minimum does not take into account the resistance losses in these minimum conductors, known as I2R losses. (Ohms Law E=IxR) where E=voltage I=Amps and R=resistance. Installing the NEC minimum will prevent electrical fires, but it will also cost you more money to operate because of the wattage lost to resistance and heat. So, more than just the RLA must be taken into account. My recommendation is to NEVER install the bare minimum conductors. Larger conductors than the code minimum will pay off over the lifetimes of several equipment changes.

As to the higher SEER rated equipment, a higher SEER will usually pull less amps. For example, an R22 14 SEER unit will pull less amps than an R22 10 SEER because the 14 SEER unit operates at a lower head pressure. However, be aware that the R410 systems operate at higher pressure than R22. It takes more amps for a compressor to overcome the higher R410A pressures, so you must actually check the RLA of the new equipment before installation to determine if your circuit can handle it.

As to brands, installation is far more important than brand. You want a brand that is common in your area and a contractor that will be there when you need him. Get 3 to 5 bids and go with the contractor that your gut and common sense tells you will do the job right.
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Old 06-29-2008, 04:06 PM
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Default Re: Amp requirements for Heat Pumps

Thanks for the info CB and DZ. I was hoping that Heat Pumps were like welders - Miller welders in general draw much fewer amps than the other brands.

My electrical panels are pretty full so I want to avoid having to get additional electrical work done if I can avoid it.

I'm pretty happy with the guys that have been nursing along my current unit and will get them to bid next week but may get a few other bids to see what the others say.

I was thinking of going with Goodman as it appears that they have the best parts warranty.

I'll probably bounce more questions here since there seems to be a wealth of HVAC knowledge on the Forums!
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Old 06-29-2008, 05:04 PM
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Default Re: Amp requirements for Heat Pumps

Quote:
Originally Posted by PBinWA View Post
Thanks for the info CB and DZ. I was hoping that Heat Pumps were like welders - Miller welders in general draw much fewer amps than the other brands.

My electrical panels are pretty full so I want to avoid having to get additional electrical work done if I can avoid it.

I'm pretty happy with the guys that have been nursing along my current unit and will get them to bid next week but may get a few other bids to see what the others say.

I was thinking of going with Goodman as it appears that they have the best parts warranty.

I'll probably bounce more questions here since there seems to be a wealth of HVAC knowledge on the Forums!
Here's a very good source of information: http://hvac-talk.com/vbb/

Read and follow the site rules before posting. Many HVAC techs have ego's the size of Texas and a variety of attitudes toward homeowners, so be prepared going in. You can probably just do a search and read everything you need without posting. I limit my participation there strictly to the Pro's forums - primarily the Training and Education forum. These Pro forums require proof of credentials before you can post there. I stay out of the general forums because there are more than enough qualified tech's there to advise homeowners. They police themselve fairly well, and will bitch-slap any hacks attempting to give bad advice and will also abuse homeowners who do not follow the rules. But you can learn a lot there.

Keep us posted and ask all the questions you want, and I'll do my best to answer them. I love to see quality installations by contractors who love their work and care about their customers.
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Old 06-29-2008, 05:41 PM
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Default Re: Amp requirements for Heat Pumps

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I was thinking of going with Goodman as it appears that they have the best parts warranty.
Don't just consider the parts warranty because labor is frequently more expensive than parts. If you had the choice between a 10 year parts and 1 year labor warranty and a 5 year parts and 5 year labor warranty, choose the latter.

Goodman is OK, but the brand is especially installation quality dependant. Amana, (owned by Goodman) is a higher quality, more expensive product. That said, I have sold and installed many Goodman (AKA Janitrol & GMC) products to my customers who were more price sensitive, and in three of the homes I've owned (rental and personal) and have gotten between 10-15 years service before any problems were experienced. OTOH, I have replaced compressors on Goodman units that were around 7 years old.

Of course, as I think about it now, I've repaired just about every brand out there at one time or another....Carrier being the most frequent brand I worked on. But you have to consider how huge Carrier Corporation is and how many millions of their products are in the field. Carrier was my preferred brand when I was in Atlanta, and then I switched to Ruud when I moved to Macon because all the Carrier dealers had protected territories there. Pissed me off, but I still respect the Carrier brand and would not hesitate to install their products again.

And of course, theres the Big Green Trane machine. They are a good company, and I own one in my current home now. I'd be a Trane dealer in a heartbeat were I to decide to be a contractor again. I serviced Trane chillers, both centrifugals and screws, for years, as well as DX systems, and like the products. But, they are mechanical equipment and break too, like any other brand. They do tend to be quite proprietary in their replacement parts, as does Lennox (also a quality brand).

Again, let me reiterate that the installation is far more important than brand, and a quality contractor will stand behind whatever brand he sells no matter what.
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Old 06-29-2008, 07:59 PM
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Default Re: Amp requirements for Heat Pumps

Thanks again for the offer of help CB.

So when replacing an existing system, they will most likely want to replace all the lines between the two "units". Is it OK to run the lines on the outside of the house? I have one side of the house where I don't really care if it has pipes and stuff up and down the exterior wall. It has to be a lot easier to just run the lines on the outside of the house but I don't know if there is anything wrong with doing it.

Any thoughts? I'll try and spend some time on the forum you mentioned, I'll post lots of dumb questions and tell them you told me to go there!
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Old 06-30-2008, 06:44 AM
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Default Re: Amp requirements for Heat Pumps

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Originally Posted by PBinWA View Post
I was thinking of going with Goodman as it appears that they have the best parts warranty.
Goodman has the best "standard" wrty (10 years parts/10 years compressor), however, not the best in the business (one brand I can think of has a standard 12 year parts, 12 year compressor and 12 year labor warranty).

As CB mentioned, labor is far more expensive than parts.

Example, a reversing valve may be 1/5 the cost of a compressor, but labor wise, with some guys, will cost you about as much (or at least half) to replace, labor dollars wise .

A little sidenote about Goodman and their warranty. Average time the homeowner will live in their current house is 7 years. Goodman's warranty is non transferable, meaning the warranty is only good for the original homeowner.

I know one guy who just dropped Amana (two weeks ago). Too many recent TXV issues. This isn't Amana's fault (another company makes the TXV's), however the guy didn't get anything for his troubles. That said, almost everyone has issues with TXV's sometime.

As CB said, get mulitple quotes, and go with the contractor you feel most comfortable with. That said, the contractor should at least do a load calculation on your house to verify the propper size of equipment, and the more information he gives you, usually the better. Also make sure your comparing "apples to apples" on competing quotes. One guy may only be replacing the equipment (and different features of the equipment may raise the cost as well), whereas another contractor is replacing duct work or adding a return (which usually costs more).

I'd seriously look at a R-410A unit (don't mention it, see if the contractor offers it). R-22 is at about the same price as R-410A now, and I remember when R-410A was 12 times the cost of R-22. R-22 equipment will cease in production in a couple years as well (and next year, I assure you, R-22 will cost more than R-410A, and that difference will only get greater as time goes on). It's a very good idea that if you replace a R22 unit with a R-410A unit, you should change out the lineset. R-410A and R-22 have different oils, which are not compatible with each other. You can run the lineset outside of the house, I'd suggest a cover for it though (most guys will just use gutter pipe, however, there is a "cover" system for the lineset that is made just for that purpose, looks really nice, but of course more money, but it may keep the wife happier).

Remember this, if you go with a R-22 system now, 10 years down the road if you have a problem with your outdoor unit and it needs to be replaced (for whatever reason) it will be a very interesting scenerio if the compressor isn't available (and that has happened in the past). You run the small risk of having to replace the entire system. Not a scare tactic, just a possibility. Personally, I see too many guys in the HVAC field thinking that there is some other "magic" bullet that will replace R-22 because they refuse to install a R-410A system because they are afraid of it (higher pressures and very sensitive to moisture). Fact is, if your contractor is installing a R-22 equipment properly, he knows he won't have a problem with R-410A. Carrier has had the "Puron" (AKA R-410A) out for some time now (close to 12 years now?). Most of the Carrier guys I know sell NOTHING but R-410A.

Last edited by dzalphakilo; 06-30-2008 at 06:54 AM.
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Old 06-30-2008, 09:35 AM
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Default Re: Amp requirements for Heat Pumps

Thanks again DZ!

So what brand has the super 12 year warranty?

I guess the only reason I was going to avoid the R-410A was due to the higher amperage requirements that they may have.

I'm concerned with the 20 amp circuit on the upstairs unit and the fact that it would probably be a high additional expense to get an additional circuit added. I'm probably just over analyzing this and should just leave it up to the sales guy to quote in their bid.
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Old 06-30-2008, 10:16 AM
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Default Re: Amp requirements for Heat Pumps

PB,

If it helps ease your mind, I had a new heat pump installed a couple years back. Although the unit was bigger (went from a 4-ton to a 5-ton), due to the SEER and other techno-mumbo-jumbo, the electrical requirements went down.

Don't quote me but I think we went from a 100amp to 60amp.
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Old 06-30-2008, 05:53 PM
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Default Re: Amp requirements for Heat Pumps

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Originally Posted by PBinWA View Post
Thanks again DZ!

So what brand has the super 12 year warranty?
Maytag
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