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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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    Hello All, I received a very reasonable price from a Fujitsu dealer - $3200 for a one outdoor unit/one indoor unit 15RLS2H. This is equivalent to the Mitsubishi hyper-heat units in low temperature performance, and almost the same ratings above 0 degrees F. It also puts out nearly as much as the Mitsubishi unit at similar temperatures above 0 degrees. Not only is the quoted price a lot better than the Mitsubishi 18kBTU unit ($5k and up), but the inside unit is a little smaller and less obtrusive looking, and it has a "drying" mode (dehumidifies without heating the room) and I don't believe the Mitsubishi unit had that (the Mitsubushi website is remarkably awful, and their literature isn't much better - it is hard to understand what they sell and how it performs).

    I'm paying for the install - thanks for all the encouragement to do this myself, but I just don't have the time to invest in that, and I want to have someone my wife can count on for service if something goes wrong and I am not around.

    I never would have considered one of these units in my climate, but the various postings on this site extolling their virtues and performance really changed my mind, so thanks all for the good advice and user experiences over the last couple of years.
    leffs likes this.

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  2. brian89gp

    brian89gp Feeling the Heat

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    I've always been surprised at mini-split pricing.

    Just throwing it out there for the DIY types, not to change the mind of the thread starter, take a look at air-to-water AC/heat pumps. The market is coming around and there are a few manufacturers making the products now but also on the same hand it is very easy to DIY buy craigslisting the condensor and buying your own coil. If you have a system already in place that can use 120* water to heat then this product adds the benefit that it is a hydronic system and it is much easier for the DIY person to mess with water pipes then refrigerant piping.
    http://www.electromn.com/gen/noraire.htm
  3. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    Well, my one ton mini split arrived yesterday, the flexduct supplier went on backorder but I discovered that Pex Supply has the product so all the goodies are ordered. I expect to start hanging the equipment in the next day or so and go from there. I have the gear to pump the lines down but once I have everything roughed in I will make the call to the local HVAC folks to see if they will do if for me for reasonable price.
  4. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    I was surprised to find the lines are seperate with some systems and they are pricy ,about $200 for 25Ft line.
  5. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Just a follow-up to my original post. I just had another mini-split installed (yes, I am racking up a ridiculous number of these things, but they're an easy way to heat/cool an isolated space), and paid $3176 with the heat pump option for a Mitsubishi MSZ/MUZ GE12NA rig. Here's the quote.

    The "power wiring not included," statement refers to the fact that I offered to run the service wiring out thru the exterior wall from my breaker panel for them. They installed their exterior disconnect box, and did all wiring between the outdoor and indoor units, along with the plumbing.

    minisplit.JPG
  6. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    That is not a bad price. I expect the similar unit and the tubing plus the plastic duct between the two units will be roughly $1850. So $1,350 to install beats the $2,650 quote from Home Depot. Of course considering its a half day install for someone up to speed on these units, its still a good days profit.
  7. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    In my case, they ran 100 feet of copper tubing, included in the pricing above. I would not accept plastic / pex on an HVAC install. Once I open up a wall to run lines, I expect them to outlive me. I don't want to be tearing them out for a re-do in 20 years.
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I've never heard of pex being used for refrigerant lines. I would think the oil in them would damage plastic. Pex could be used with an air to water heat exchanger though.
  9. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    So is that first quote for a system that WONT heat just cold air? And the second one will do both cold and warm air?
  10. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Yep. They sell both AC only and AC+Heat pump versions. I've had both quoted a few times, for different installs, and the diff is usually $500-$700, depending on tonnage.
  11. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    No way would i want just AC for the cost diff. Most places in the US even down south get cold now and then.
  12. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I did AC only for the minisplit on the third floor of my old house. In that case, I already had another heating system, and even that ran infrequently due to heat rising from the floors below. The system I just installed on Friday, in the room above the attached garage, is AC+heat pump. I wish they had AC + heat pump + propane backup... but they don't make that configuration.
  13. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    huh? Shirley your HP BTUs are cheaper than propane BTUs?
  14. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Most of the time, yes. Then there's that inevitable low-temperature cost cross-over, although I don't know where that actually lies with a modern mini-split. I suspect it's low enough that we may only hit it a few evenings each winter... but haven't sought out any literature on it, as it's not an option.
  15. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    My guess from looking at the numbers is such a temp is almost certainly well below zero F at local propane/kWh costs. No worries.
    Joful likes this.
  16. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Yes the new units work down below zero now,although im sure they are more costly to run in those kind of temps as is propane.
  17. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    **rolls up sleeves**

    1 gallone Propane = 91,500 BTU. At 80% eff that is 74 kBTU output. This is equivalent to 74/3.414 = 21.7 kWh elec if you were using strip heat.

    If elec is $0.15/cents per kWh, then the BTU content output of a gallon of propane would be like $0.15*22 = $3.30, if you used strip heat. I have seen local Propane prices higher than that around here, and $0.15/kWh is not cheap either. I paid $0.135 last month.

    In practice, I would expect the COP of a MSHP to be at least 2.5 at 15°F, which is the 99% design temp for Philly. At that cost the BTU output of a gallon of propane costs $3.30/2.5 = $1.32. Unless you can get Propane for $1.32/gallon in Philly, the HP will be cheaper.

    I've heard of folks around here paying $5/gallon on prebuy!! :eek:

    I would expect the COP would drop to 2 around the low single digits, but that would still beat Propane at $1.65 gallon, and Joful prob doesn't hit single digits at all most years.
    Seasoned Oak and Joful like this.
  18. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the analysis, woodgeek! I probably only hit single digit lows a couple of nights, every other year. Definitely the exception, but I have seen -5F to -10F a few times here, in my 40 years. Most if the time, we consider teens (F) pretty damn cold.
  19. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    THats why we have wood stoves,for the kind of cold only a wood stove can laugh at.
  20. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I didn't realize they draw a lot more amps at low temps, thought they just run longer.
  21. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    From what i understand they never shut off ,just run faster or slower depending on load. Maximum Amp draw is fairly low.
  22. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    They definitely shut off. I have watched the outside unit cycle on and off at 15F. But they can run at low speed for a long time if that is all that's needed and heat/cool is still being called for. That is usually at a much lower speed. If you light the wood stove, the sun warms up the place or run the oven for a baking spree and the room gets above the thermostat set temp the unit shuts off completely.
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2013
  23. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Yep, they cycle off. In my case, wood stove is not a factor, as this mini-split is in a part of the house not connected to either wood stove, separated by double firewalls and surrounded by unheated attic.
  24. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    My folks had 2 LG units installed(2 outdoor units & 2 indoor wall units inside) for $5,500.00 about 5 or so years ago.
    I find it hard to believe that would have doubled.
  25. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    Well, its all installed and wired. I have a HVAC tech that is supposed to stop by today to hook up the line set and pump it down. The biggest challenge was to get the wiring hooked to the indoor unit. The terminal box is buried inside and getting the case off requires a lot of careful gentle prying. Plus they forget to mention that an additional access panel needs to be removed.

    The trade off for not buying and having it installed by a dealer is they are not responsible for warranty work or unit replacement. If its dead I get to ship I back to Florida.

    I think a lot of the pricing for the installation is that it wouldn't take a lot longer to set up two or three than one and can easily be done in a day. I think most contractors just schedule a days worth of labor. I was quoted $75 per hour including drive time for the firm doing the final set up. Therefore $600 for labor for 6 hours labor and 2 hours drive time. (they actually have another job in the area and plan to do both in one day so I only pay for half the drive time). I have roughly $2,000 in materials (unit, tubing, wiring, breaker, disconnect, line set cover, and control wiring). So the cost should have been in the $3,000 range which I would have paid. Considering I got a $4,500 estimate from Home Depots qualified contractor, the dealer (a different firms) is figuring in the cost of a spare unit on the shelf. The $4,500 estimate assumed that I would run wires to the disconnect so there was even more profit in the install quote.

    Hopefully my last post will be a successful install and then I have a winter of "free" heat as I plan to use my surplus solar to run it.
    Joful likes this.

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