Bard vs Waterfurnace vs FHP geothermal heat pumps

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Topcanadian, Sep 28, 2010.

  1. Topcanadian

    Topcanadian New Member

    We are replacing our worn out Waterfurnace. There seems to be a lot more variety available now. Does anyone have any preferences or comments about any of these?
    we are buying a 6ton dual stage. Any issues with any of these? The Waterfurnace seems to be about $3000 more than the Bard. We are mostly concerned about relieability.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 28, 2010
  2. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    WF, CM, FHP and Hydron, as well as their various private labels, are all good choices.

    Bard doesn't seem to come up often as a mainstream brand, though they have been around for quite awhile. I browsed their site and had trouble drilling down to technical publications; I'm not sure what that means.

    Be sure you are comparing apples to apples when evaluating an apparent price difference.
     
  3. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    My advice for unit choice is to buy the one with the best local suport. If they all have the same support network it comes down to price for me, as all the units have so simmilar performance ratings it is a non issue. Chevy or Ford or Dodge 1/2 ton pick up? They are all a good pick up.
    Eric
     
  4. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I have installed more than a few Bards and have no greater frequency of trouble (also carry FHP and have carried Climatemaster) with them. It is a family owned company that has been around most of 100 years. Most know of their package ASHPs seen on the end of construction trailers or portable class rooms. The family has yet to get their web site up to modern level.
    I agree with all that with the brands you mentioned will serve you well as long as your dealer does.
    Good Luck,
    Joe
     
  5. geome

    geome Member Forum Leader

    Water Furnace participates on geothermal forums and has helped me on 2 occasions. I think this is worth something (at least to me.) Obviously, any manufacturer can decide to participate, or cease participating at any time. If you are happy with your current installer, that may be worth something too. Perhaps they can do something to help with price if asked.
     
  6. Popoff

    Popoff Member

    I've been very impressed with WF's prescence on this forum and their willingness to offer assistance. As a new owner with some ongoing problems (installation, not product) it is reassuring to know that the manufacturer takes an interest in my situation.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2010
  7. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    i also commend water furnaces PR dept for participating in social media, but would never mistake that as a substitute for a good dealer.
    if you hire a good contractor, brand is virtually insignificant as you won't require anyone else's help.
    conversely if you hire a bad contractor, blogs and manufacturer may be no help at all.
    J
     
  8. bobpietrangelo

    bobpietrangelo New Member

    I have found that Bard will sell to just about anybody, lowering your class and experience of installer. In my experience Waterfurnaces' equipment is amde alot sturdier. When it gets delivered, you don't have to fix or tighten anything befire installing it, which I have seen with FHP and CM. WFI support is topnotch and equipment properly installed and systems properly designed you can pretty much be guaranteed a troublefree system.

    I vote for the Waterfurnace
     
  9. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Ok, I can't bear the "WF is superior because they won't sell to just anybody" posistion.
    The truth is they sell dealer direct, a marketing strategy that works for them. But if you are a contractor and want to sell WF they don't insist on references or do a back ground check, they send you a credit app. and require some hours of training (as do many other brands) if your area is not already saturated by dealers.
    With absolutely no insult intended, they sold to a poster here who just got licensed, never contracted before and had 1 project experience: his own home. He is one of the good guys, but are you sure that this represents a real stringent vetting process? How many contractors were taken on as dealers only to wash-out later? How well does Popoff think his original Waterfurnace dealer was trained?

    Again with dealer direct and limited market areas, if you have a problem with your contractor, his replacement may have to come from further away or have to buy parts from the contractor you fired.

    Forgive the tirade, WF is a fine company with good products, but to look down one's nose at others is ridiculous. There are shortcomings to their business model as well.
    I recently cited the case where a part shipped to their dealer for resale to me was bad out of box, and with a weekend in between it was a week before my customers unit was properly repaired. WF did not make the bad motor, but my customer (with their product) might have been better served on that occasion by a brand supported by a local distributor with sizable part inventory. A repair in that scenario would have been same or next day.

    Finally Bard is one of the few companies that never had trouble with a dual compressor 2 stage....know why? By the time they got around to building a 2 stage unit, everyone else had already tanked theirs and gone with a 2 stage scroll. In this case it may have paid not to be "cutting edge".;)

    The best brand of heat pump is.......the one sold by the best dealer in your area. They will get it right regardless of internet support, factory training etc.
    j
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2010
  10. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    What Jo said and...

    make sure it will not fall through the floor, LOL!
     
  11. bobpietrangelo

    bobpietrangelo New Member

    The answer was given in reference to opinions for the best amongst about four brands. Having seen all of them installed and worked on each one over the last 9 years, the Brand with the least amount of issues has been WFI. I have seen better installations done by WFI contractors, I have also seen a few bad ones done by WFI dealers.

    The biggest problems occured, in my opinion, is when the large tax break came out and everyone thoguht they could get a piece of the pie, contractors, and manufacturers.

    In every type of HVAC installation, the best system is installed by the best contractor. But even if you have the best contractor, and he is installing the same 4 different brands as noted originally, the WFI, IMHO will be the best piece of equipment installed. In addition to being made better than the others and having the highest quality control, it has the best warranty of them also. 10 years PARTS AND LABOR.

    Their parts department can get you parts delivered to the homeowners door by 10:30 AM the next day if you have any issues with a broken part or component. We all know the issues with FHP in the past, I am not sure how they are now that Bosch has bought them.

    Proper system sizing and loop design is of the utmost importance of any install, and I have seen so many rules of thumb used in these forums it is scary.
     
  12. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    My problems with water furnace:
    they do not screen their dealers first
    price
    they treat dealers like amway sales, must increase x % a year or we penalise
    parts availability

    Parts availability is the big one. None of the dealers in my area stock anything. That translates into ups to get the widget to fix the unit. Companies with better distribution through supply houses stock enough in house to solve just about any issue that may come up. More than once the supply house has stripped a part from another unit to resolve an issue and then sent the donor unit back to get factory reinstalled.
    Eric
     
  13. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I see a lot of mass production practices here (i.e. 150' well/vertical ton in mid MI). I don't know about rules of thumb.

    We get that you like WF and I don't want to appear to be bashing a quality product just to water down the koolaide you are serving.

    You also seem passionate about geo and want to give the best advice, so if someone is in an area where the best dealer represents a product other than WF, are you going to suggest that person take whoever WF offers or the best dealer?
    The point we've made here over and over again is dealer trumps brand period.
    j
     
  14. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Joe, you've got email

    I'm partial to WF, but agree that customer is best served by best contractor in area selling one of the established brands.

    Differences between brands are minor - most brands share critical components such as compressors and ECM blowers.

    Differences between installers are huge...a knuckle dragging hack can screw up the most perfectly manufactured system.

    Fast parts support is vital, particularly in cold climates where heat is a matter of life safety and avoiding extensive property damage from frozen pipes is a real concern as well.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2010
  15. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    "With absolutely no insult intended, they sold to a poster here who just got licensed, never contracted before and had 1 project experience: his own home. He is one of the good guys, but are you sure that this represents a real stringent vetting process? How many contractors were taken on as dealers only to wash-out later? How well does Popoff think his original Waterfurnace dealer was trained?"

    Wanted to clarify I'm not suggesting WF sold to a homeowner or even someone unlicensed. Just suggesting that selling WF is not exclusive to guys with 9 years in the business. That might have 22 or they might have 1.

    WF is first rate. Some of their dealers are great some are not. Just like any other brand.
    J
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2010
  16. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Agree with that - It comes down to the installing contractor and how well they are supported.

    It really is a Ford / Chevy / Dodge issue - you can bang on for days about minor differences between brands but the quality of the ownership experience is going to be driven by the integrity and quality of the dealer and service staff.
     
  17. bobpietrangelo

    bobpietrangelo New Member

    Nuff said! We are partial to our Brands. And the contractor and their design and installation practices make or break an installation. I think we all agree.
     
  18. Popoff

    Popoff Member

    Let me point out, in all fairness, that my ex did bring in the local WF rep to check out the performance, ie water pressure and temp, to make sure the unit was performing up to spec as well as to assist in identifying the source of the annoying whine I was hearing throughout the house.

    The ex has been a major player in the residential HVAC market in our area. He installed the Carrier system in my home when we renovated 10 years ago. His careless omissions could have happened had it been any type of installation, not just geo.

    I imagine WF was happy to take him on based on his reputation in the area.
     
  19. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I imagine "dealer washout" (nice turn of phrase, that) is a problem for all the major brands of geo. Down here there are scores of ASHP installers who get along fine. Up north, its probably gas / oil heat / hydronic guys. They dabble in geo, maybe take a day or two of training, do one, screw it up, get burned and bail out.

    If you don't understand the thermodynamics and hydrodynamics of the waterside (at least empirically, without the fancy jargon), and the relationships between source temperature, capacity and efficiency, you won't make it in this field, and you stand a good chance of leaving that first (and only) customer with a a system 3x the cost of alternatives and same or greater cost of operation...and a mess for us to sort out long distance here or at GBT
     
  20. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Ummm so you found him to be a well trained....superior installer?
    Or perhaps the rep that missed 4 "serious" errors as well?
    You fired him for cause.
    You also mentioned that you should have picked other guy (same brand) to begin with.
    I wasn't attacking you or WF, but yours is a case where dealer caused alot of angst regardless of carrying a good brand.
    It will be interesting to see if WF continues to carry him.
    Joe
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2010

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