Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 1
Rated 5.0 out of 5.0 by rdw357 So far so good, very satisfied all around
I'll write a lengthy review for this since there are currently no others. The reviews for other models were important to me during the selection process, so hopefully this review will help someone else.
Background... I live in the Mideast USA and needed a furnace for my church. We did not have enough money to pay for labor nor do we trust any contractors, so our only option was a self-install. Home Depot turned out to be one of the only places that someone like me could just go buy a furnace.
Summary... So far, all is positive. Although it was a dizzying amount of work, the installation went without any problems and the furnace performs very well. More details below.
Price... The price was competitive with other major brands, assuming the reliability holds out.
Delivery... It came quick. We did site-to-store. It’s heavy, so wherever you have it delivered, make sure you have help to move it.
Installation... None of us had ever done any HVAC work, ever. We had plenty of experience with general construction, gas lines, plumbing, etc., but no specific HVAC knowledge. Thankfully, the manual was very thorough and allowed us to complete the job. We followed it line-by-line and the furnace works great. One caveat... if you do not have extensive handyman skills, I would advise to forget any ideas of self-installation. You really need to know a lot about a lot of things, especially if you do not have previous HVAC knowledge. In our case, we also had to install all the ductwork as well. It all works exceedingly well but again, it is a significant challenge that is not for the DITY beginner.
Calibration/configuration... The manual is very thorough about checking/adjusting manifold pressures, temperature rise, fan speed, etc. Even if you've never done it before, if you read carefully, you can figure it out. You'll need to buy some tools like a manometer and a thermometer. I used an inexpensive charcoal grill thermometer with a probe... very easy to slip into the duct to get a reading.
Performance... It heats like a champ. Good air flow and quick heat, and very quiet. The 96% efficiency is great, as is the two-stage operation. In our case, the building is unoccupied for part of the week, so we like to turn the heat down. It's great to come in and be able to heat up things quick, then it switches to the low stage for temperature maintenance. One thing to note... this furnace produces A LOT of condensate at high stage. Be prepared for that.
Technical support... Very good, I think. Hamilton (the primary dealer) actually called me to confirm that I was ordering the right size furnace, in case I was just shooting in the dark. They asked me questions about square footage, etc. A smooth move on their part, I thought. There is an odd chain of distribution from the actual manufacturer through to Home Depot. I don't know what impact that has on the consumer as far as future support, parts availability, etc. And actually, this points to the only slightly off-color thing about the furnace... the front cover has this small area that says "Place brand logo here," as if Hamilton forgot to put on the Winchester sticker. That seemed a little sloppy and made me nervous, but like I said, everything else went well.
And finally... just a few things of note that spring to mind: 1) The specs make it difficult to figure out the size of the opening for the plenum and some other things, like how the air filter rack should fit. Home Depot sells a 16x25 air filter rack by Winchester, model FR 1625. That’s what you want – two of them. You might need some innovation to get them on right. 2) Hamilton told me that this unit needs a return air box on each side. Word to the wise... heed that advice. It circulates a lot of air at top CFM. 3) Hamilton kept talking about a blower motor that "ran longer than other units" and almost implied that it runs all the time. I see no behavior like that... acts like a normal furnace to me where things turn on and turn off as expected. 4) The gas manifold input is configured to take a 1/2 inch threaded fitting, like the end of a 1/2 inch threaded black iron pipe. We ran black iron all the way from the gas meter to the manifold and I would recommend the same (3/4” most of the way, then 1/2” into the furnace). The manual is not specific about this. 5) As I mentioned before, the manual is your friend. Read every word.
In closing, I'll mention that we actually have a second system to install. So, we will be purchasing another identical unit in the near future without hesitation.
Good luck and stay warm!
March 18, 2015