Repair Vs. Replace? It's Almost a Draw

December 18, 2006
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The fact that most 10 SEER equipment is virtually gone should come as no surprise. According to a survey conducted by Emerson Climate Technologies, participants estimated that by year’s end, 97 percent of existing 10 SEER unitary stock would be gone - that is, installed (The NEWS, Nov. 13, 2006).

The survey also revealed interesting information about contractors’ 2006 experiences repairing or replacing lower-efficiency systems. There was a slight edge in replacements over repairs among survey participants: 48 percent of these contractors said they were repairing more unitary systems in 2006 vs. 2005; 53 percent said they have been selling customers up to 14-plus SEER systems.

Click on the image for an enlarged view.

BUH BYE 10

As of October 2006, 23 percent stated they still had 10 SEER inventory. A total of 19 percent stated they had less than 50 units and only 1 percent had more than 500 units.

These contractors had good reason for expecting 10 SEER stock to sell out; 65 percent said they had not stocked up in anticipation of the 13 SEER transition. Only 6 percent said they had stocked up 50 to 100 units, in anticipation of “sales opportunities” after the transition. Still others said they had to fulfill existing commitments with builders.

Others just said they wanted the option of “a quick changeout after compressor failures.” One respondent stated, “The upgrade to 13 SEER is difficult regarding static pressure; [you] often can’t replace without reconfiguring the duct system.”

Contractors who stocked up also said:

  • They were “staying competitive if competition stocks up.”
  • They needed them for “new construction jobs already sold.”
  • “We took an improved margin on their sale.”
  • The company will use them for “rentals for the summer season.”

    One wholesaler said the company stocked up “to help contractors with the transition.”


  • Click on the image for an enlarged view.

    REPAIR VS. REPLACE

    The split between repairs and replacements is pretty tight. On the side of the repairs, “People cannot afford to buy an entire new system,” said one contractor.

    A total of 48 percent of contractors participating in the survey have been repairing old systems more often than they have been replacing them with higher-efficiency products.

    Reasons for repairing included:

  • The cost of the repair (vs. replacing the system), 57 percent.
  • Equipment availability, 26 percent.
  • Other reasons, 10 percent.
  • The systems were still under warranty, 8 percent.

    On the other hand, 53 percent said they have been selling up to 14-plus SEER systems, due to energy costs, features/benefits, and building codes. (The survey results did not include information specific to 13 SEER systems.)


  • SURVEY STATS

    According to Emerson, a total of 14,738 surveys were sent out. Of these, 857 valid responses were used for the survey results for a healthy 7.2 percent response rate.

    Regionally, the bulk of these contractors were located in:

  • The East North Central (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin), 20 percent.
  • South Atlantic (Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia), 20 percent.
  • And the West South Central (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas), 16 percent.

    The remaining 44 percent came from the West North Central (Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North and South Dakota, and Nebraska), East South Central (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee), Mid-Atlantic (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania), Mountain (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming), New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont), and the Pacific (California, Oregon, and Washington).

    Publication date: 12/18/2006


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