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Mini-Split Heat Pump Price Reality Check

Post in 'The Green Room' started by DBoon, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    Some background - I'm just starting a two to three year process of renovation of an ~1800 two-story craftsman house in Central NY. This summer the focus is on some structural repairs to two of the three barns, and not so much the house. However, I am installing a 5.3 kW solar array in the fall and I thought I would get some pricing on mini-split heat pumps to provide winter heating as a near-term way to use the solar production and also to serve (ultimately) as the winter backup to the indoor wood boiler system I'll be installing in the future as part of the renovation. Ultimately, the heat loss at 0 degree F outdoor temperature will be (my estimate) ~20,000 BTUs/hour (I know how to calculate this with high accuracy).

    I was shocked to get a price of $10,000 for a two-ton system. I will be calling for some clarification from the company that prepared the quotation (their quotation doesn't list enough detail for me to understand all that they are providing). What it does list is as follows:

    Qty. 1 outdoor condensor - not clear if this is 24,000 BTU two-zone or larger with >2 zones - no part number is given. SEER rating is 21
    Qty. 1 SLZ-KA12 Ceiling Cassette Unit
    Qty. 1 MSZ-GE12 High Wall Mounted Unit
    Installation, breaker panel additions, and remote controls for heating units.

    I am waiting to get a quotation from a second Mitsubishi installer. I am in a rural area, but I will also be trying to locate an LG or Fujitsu dealer as well to see if their prices are more reasonable.

    Is there any other advice can be offered regarding price, sizing, or efficiency in order to get this closer to a $5-6k install?

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Seems a bit high, especially with the drop in the yen. You might ask pen what he paid for his system last year. Are the refrigerant line runs long or difficult? FYI, if you want the best heating, make sure that this is for the Mitsubishi H2i hyper-heat condenser. I think that model is the PUZ-A24NHA4, but check that. Note that the SEER rating is less important than the HSPF if heating is the primary goal.

    To save some money, would you consider installing the exterior and the interior units and wiring them? Then it is just a matter of running the refrigerant lines, connect, charge and test. Also, consider using two wall mount units if that makes installation much easier.
  3. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    Hi begreen, at these prices, I would consider installation myself - on-line pricing is way way cheaper. I value what a local contractor can add for installation and maintenance/repair, but I don't value this as a 2.5x markup.

    The runs are not long, the installation is not what I would consider to be complex. And the hyper-heat units weren't quoted, despite my clear instructions as to how the units would be used. I think this contractor is ultimately an interesting "first-step" learning experience and someone I will not be using.

    I can find Fujitsu dealers near me, but no LG dealers. I might call a Fujitsu contractor on Monday.
  4. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    I have a contractor coming in a couple of weeks to give me a free estimate for a 1 ton Misubishi that I can buy for $1,600 delivered. I can pay a pro to come charge up the lines and make the warrantee legit for about $100 and installation for me is about 4 hours plus the time to fabricate a mounting bracket.
  5. spirilis

    spirilis Feeling the Heat

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    I got some quotes recently, both Mitsubishi. Not much detail to talk about, one was an over-the-phone rough quote based on my description of how I wanted it, 3 ton setup $11K. The other was a salesman who came in and surveyed the house, also 3 ton total (split between 2t and 1t separate outdoor units) and that was $17.5K. Needless to say I laughed at both of them. This looks like good 'ole fashioned capitalism at work--they know the products are good and efficient, so they charge out the nose to inflate the value. Problem is the equipment isn't that expensive and it's extremely widespread elsewhere in the world. Reality will catch up to these HVAC shops some day.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Note that the devil is in the details. Mitsubishi (and others) have many models. Ask for references for similar installations of mini-splits. If none, pass. For pricing, check to see if your local utilities and/or state have incentives.
  7. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    Hi peakbagger, I've been thinking the same thing. I can get what I want on-line for about $2500. Mitsubishi allows access to all of their installation documentation on-line, and I downloaded all of that over the weekend. The install looks pretty straightforward with the exception of the refrigerant charge. What kind of contractor are you getting to do that? Just curious. I'm assuming you've already arranged with an HVAC contractor to do this....
  8. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    The local electrical contractor is a Mitsubishi Rep. I installed the units and ran the cable and tubing but didn't connect them at either end. I also mounted the disconnect and drilled all the holes in the floor joists for him to run the power cable to the electrical panel. So he got a couple of hours of labor. Of course some folks say that the vacuum pump should be run for several hours, left overnight and then checked in the morning which didn't happen but the reality is most installers are flat rate and they are going to do the same thing, pump it down, let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes, check the gauges and if it didn't leak, open the valve.

    I had called a couple of other Mitsubishi reps and they were willing to do the pump down for warranty purposes. They figure some revenue is better than none.
  9. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    Hey folks,

    I have also received several quotes for Mitsubishi and Fujistu (Hyper Heat and Halcyon models) ranging from $3500 to 4500 per unit installed. I am only interested in the high performance units and this means one outside unit to one inside unit(wall cassette only). All the other combinations really drop off when the temps are low. Check those specs closely!

    I agree the prices seem high, especially when you consider the online prices available but be aware that internet sales are NOT supported by Mitsubishi or Fujitsu.

    I am not saying don't go the internet route, just know that you likely wont have warranty coverage even if installed by a licensed HVAC tech as the unit was not sold in the "proper" manner. Manufacturer >regional distributor> authorized dealer/installer.

    BTW, the super insulated house I am building for my folks will be getting a Fujitsu 12RLS2 installed next week for 3500. It will easily heat the 1100 sq ft main level down to below 0::F and "should" have a seasonal COP of 3.5+(heating) and provide a little cooling/dehumidification as needed. I am pretty happy with what they will be getting for that price.

    Also, from my research these mini splits can be a bit of a headache if not properly commissioned from the get go and they wont achieve their rated output as such.

    Noah
    BoilerMan likes this.
  10. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I paid $3500 installed (3rd floor!) for a Mitsubishi 2 ton mini split with AC only. I was quoted $4200 with heat and AC in same location.
  11. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    Hello All,

    Thanks for all the advice. Things are getting more realistic. After asking for a requote for just a 18kBTU Mitsubishi hyper-heat with a single wall-mounted unit, the price is $5k to $5.5k, depending on whether the connection to the breaker is made and who the quote is from.

    The 2nd contractor I talked to gave me good advice to bring the cost down. He didn't just send a quotation. What was quoted was listed for $2250 on eComfort.com, plus about $250 of additional installation items would be required. So figure $2500. I figure this is what he is probably buying the unit for (wholesale), adding 30% and then installation costs. I think $5k is somewhat reasonable, but think it should be a little closer to $4.5k. Any thoughts?
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Are you factoring in and state or federal incentives? Does the local power co. offer any breaks?
  13. georgepds

    georgepds New Member

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    I had a 1 ton (12 kBTU/hr) Fujitsu RLS2 installed last summer. Installed price was $3800. Rebates ( state $500, feds $300) will bring it down to $3000. When I was searching for prices, they varied from $3800 to $5800. the most expensive units were the Mitsubishi ones. For some reason, there were no LG dealers close to me, but plenty of Mitsubishi and Fujitsu dealers. If you DIY, you can find a unit on line for ~$1500. The problem is the manufacturer will not respect the warranty. That, and you have to have the right vacuum pumps and meters to purge the lines before you let the in the refrigerant.

    When my unit was installed it took 2 HVAC guys from 8 am to 4 pm, and two electricians from 2 pm to 4 pm, so the relatively expensive install price, for that type of skilled labor, is not that bad


    The other thing to look out for, if you live in a cold area, is low temperature performance. My unit will put out heat at -5F,but some units will do so at -20F. The older units would not go below +20F. The rule of thumb for sizing is a moderately insulated house in a class 4 heating zone needs about 1 ton of cooling for every 600 ft^2 of floor space. Mitsubishi has a sizing calculator

    http://www.acdirect.com/mitsubishi_learning_center.php?li=2

    As to efficiency there are three measures: SEER, HSPF and EER..here are the numbers Massachusetts looks for to qualify for the rebate HSPF >10 SEER>20 EER >13

    The Fujitsu RLS2 had HSPF 12, SEER 25, and EER 13.8

    You can search the ASHRE directory for units that meet your efficiency requirements. It's not the most friendly site, but I managed to find more than 30 units that met all 3 requirements.

    http://www.ahridirectory.org/ahridirectory/pages/ac/defaultSearch.aspx
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  14. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    Hi begreen, unfortunately the local power company (NYSEG) offers no incentives for this type of equipment. NYSERDA may offer something, so I'll have to check that out further, but I don't think anything is available. I don't qualify for the Federal rebates (used them already).

    Hi georgepds, I've been focusing on the Mitsubishi HyperHeat units, which operate really well at cold temperatures (common in my area). The HSPF for the 18,000 BTU unit is 10.3 with 100% of rating at 5 degrees F and 73% of rating at -13 degrees F. I don't need much cooling capacity, so the EER and SEER really aren't that important to me. For $2000 less, I'd consider the Fujitsu with 10 HSPF and worse low temp performance. I'll check that out. Thanks for the advice on that.

    I've done a heat loss calc on existing structure (30,000+ BTU) and with improvements (18,000 BTU) at 0 degrees F. I'll either get a 1 or 1-1/2 ton unit. I won't consider old-style heat pump technology as I have had unhappy experiences with these and the wife won't learn how to operate it correctly (turns temp up too quickly and puts it into auxiliary resistance heat mode).
  15. sesmith

    sesmith Member

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    My 2 cents from living in an 1840 farmhouse, also in central NY. Can you really get your heat loss that low, at least without going to extremes? If you get it that low, is the wood boiler overkill most of the year? I'm also surprised that the minisplit quote is as high as you got. I'll bet that for the price of a new wood boiler plus the price of the mini split (s) you could do a ground source heat pump (with tax incentives included) for a similar cost. You would have one central system that did it all and supplied central ac and much of your hot water, as well. Just an idea.

    I have all the wood necessary on my property to heat our place (we used a wood stove). An injury (you can never plan these things) got me out of the wood heating business a couple of years ago. We went the ground source heat pump route, and I can say I couldn't buy firewood for what the heat pump costs to run. I know the air source units keep getting better and better, but I'd do ground source again, given the choice, on an older home like mine in our climate. We haven't done anything with solar, but currently buy all our electric power as wind power through NYSEG. With the heat pump, utilities are very inexpensive.
  16. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    Hi sesmith, I appreciate the advice on the GSHP. About where in Central NY are you located?

    I've done the heat calcs on my remodel, and I can really get it that low, and not by going to crazy extremes - 3-1/2" of closed-cell foam in the walls, 5-1/2" of foam in the attic roof, and 1/2" foam on the outside. The house is not terribly big (~1700 square feet). I've done the calcs on my existing house and correlated that back to oil usage knowing boiler efficiency and heating degree days and I was within 10%, so I know I am doing the calcs correctly. I'm going to use the foam insulation since it will air-seal the house really well and allow me to skip that separate step.

    I talked to an installer about a GSHP a few weeks ago. Realistically, I can't have the type of heating system I want with a GSHP. My wife and I have a lot of dust and mold allergies. When we moved into a house with cast iron radiators, we were more allergy symptom free than with any forced air heating system. The GSHP is really optimized for forced (ducted) hot/cool air or low temperature hydronic. I don't want the former (allergies), and I can't install the latter. But you are right, the pricing for one GSHP system is less than a mini-split + boiler - a two ton GSHP system would be about $10k after tax credit incentives. But then I pay some operating costs since my solar install is not large enough to run that and supply everything else and/or I pay more for additional solar (I want to be 100% self-sufficient in electricity). Frankly, I want my "cash out the door" to be as close to zero as possible, going forward, for any utilities.

    First step is to install the mini-split ASHP if I can get that for ~$4500 (I think I can). This will nearly heat the entire house except in extreme cold, and will give me a shoulder season heater (and AC as well) essentially for free since my solar system is slightly oversized for my other electricity needs. Next step is to decide what my final heating system will be - I have a year or two to go before I have to make that decision. If I take the long view (10+ years = long view, and I expect to be in the house for 20 years or more), a good wood boiler that my wife will use makes sense and fits with my environmental desires, even if it wasn't the most optimum investment. I might also just stay with a wood stove, but I would rather have the boiler since it is more zonable. At the end of the day, my wife just wants heat in every room without too much work, and I want to reduce my carbon footprint. I'm remodeling the house of my dreams, and I am fortunate to be able to afford to do what I want instead of what I can afford, at least that is what I think right now :)
  17. sesmith

    sesmith Member

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    Sounds like a good plan.

    We're in Newfield. FWIW, don't make the assumption that a GSHP system will be similar to any other forced air system you have used. We did replace all our duct work with our installation, and have found that the large HEPA air filter in the system acts as a whole house air filter (we also have mold and dust allergies). Since the installation of the heat pump, our house has never been more dust and allergen free than it is now (other than our golden retriever). The air quality is much better than when we heated previously with the wood stove or oil (forced air). We also had a whole house humidifier added to the system, which only gets any use late into the winter. Air temperature between rooms only varies by a degree and the t-stat stays within a degree of it's set point, usually right at the set point.
  18. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    I thought people with allergies liked HVAC because they could control humidity and filter air more effectively.
  19. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Two schools of thought on that. While the benefits you suggest are feasible, most allergists recommend shopping for a house with radiators. I suspect this has a lot to do with the fact that these systems (particularly humidifiers) have the potential to do far more harm than good, if improperly sized, installed, or maintained. Also, traditional forced-air systems without advanced filters and humidification play hell on allergies.
  20. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    Mini Split Home Depot install results, A one ton Mitsubishi Hyper heat mini spit installed with me wirign and installing a non fused disconnect was estimated at $4,100 minus $400 utility rebate. I can buy the same unit shipped to my house for $1600 plus a line set kit for $100. Contractor sends a two man crew. I installed one solo a few years back and paid a local HVAC tech $150 to do the final hookup.
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  21. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Exactly how I've handled all my installs. I provide hookup at condenser, they install system. Price is roughly $3500 for AC only, or $4200 with heat option. I've done three already, two more planned for near future.
  22. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    I bit the bullet, $1621 for a Mitsubishi hyper heat delivered. Will need to buy a line set and few accessories once I get the two major units installed but I can buy a spare for the price difference installed. If I can figure out how to get the NH rebate, I can buy three.

    If anyone has a source of the plastic that they use to make the tubing job look pretty and reduce UV damage, I am all ears.
  23. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Dunno, a lot of outfits just use gutter downspout pipe.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013
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  24. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like an awful lot of profit in that 10K
    You can buy a 2 ton system for about $1500 at Home depot. Install it yourself ,and if you dont feel comfortable hooking up the lines and charging it, hire that part out. Some of the units come pre-charged.
  25. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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