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Windowless A/C?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by cbrodsky, Jun 20, 2007.

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  1. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    In line with another thread, I am a big fan of window A/C over central A/C. My A/C system cost $88 x 2 for two 5000 BTU units, and I rarely have them both run, and one only runs about one month total over the season in our climate. Sure beats the $8K our builder wanted for a dual-zone central A/C.

    However, I wouldn't mind something easier to install/remove, and potentially quieter compressor noise. I have debated trying a windowless unit for ease of install/removal each year, as well as the fact that it looks much better. Additionally, some seem to be rated for much lower dB as compared to a window unit.

    Anyone have experience with something that would be considered an ultra quiet "high end" window unit and/or windowless unit that would be a good one to consider as an upgrade to meet these requirements? Obviously I still want to be efficient and will pay more for it, but I think most any 5000-10000 BTU solution will be far better than a central A/C by avoiding duct losses, thus I'm willing to consider a windowless even if not as good as a window unit in terms of raw efficiency.

    -Colin

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  2. GVA

    GVA Minister of Fire

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    You could try one of these... http://us.sanyo.com/industrial/HVAC/features.cfm
    We have them in the server rooms at work (which get pretty warm) and in the humidor at our distribution center.

    The condenser unit is like a 10th the size of a full house unit and the inside wall mounted unit is about 10" tall 3' wide by 4" deep.
    It even comes with a remote.......
    They are pricey though...... But excellent for zone cooling.
  3. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Well, that's certainly an interesting product, but it seems like a stretch to install at my place. My central A/C unit has had to be recharged with freon the last two years. Four pounds last year, and two pounds this year. I guess I'm polluting, but what can I do? The A/C guys don't want to sniff out the leak, and frankly, it's cheaper to just charge up and worry about it next year.

    I've inquired about a new 5 ton central unit and got a ballpark figure of $5,000. That 3 room Sanyo unit costs just about the same. I know I'd save some money just cooling 3 rooms, but the rest of the house would be hotter than hell. In the winter, I can get around this using an electric panel heater in the kitchen and basically abandoning several other rooms that don't see a lot of action anyway. But in the summer, I'd need to install another one of these in the kitchen. For that kind of money, it's a lot cheaper to go central.

    Am I missing anything obvious?
  4. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    There are several split systems out there. In some countries this is the predominant type of AC. While we were in Hawaii we got to try one out and they are very nice. They use super efficient compressors and are very quiet. Sanyo, Panasonic, Mitsibushi make nice units.
  5. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    These are interesting and I've stayed in hotels with them - usually on islands with high power costs. What is interesting to me about these is that they call them "zoned" and suggest you need one in every room. However, I'm cooling my entire house 99% of the time using a 5000 BTU window unit in the middle upstairs area. Fairly open floorplan so it dehumidifies and cools the whole house relatively well. If I come home and it's 78 in the house, it'll take a few hours to get to 72, but if I let it run on it's thermostat all the time, it holds the temp well enough and I feel this is better to many units cycling on and off all the time.

    I would think one 10,000 BTU unit, centrally located, would be plenty adequate and would give us more capability to cool down quickly when needed. I believe that is equivalent to a one-ton conventional central air unit - not sure if they even make such a thing.

    I do have one other option. We weren't sure just how much we'd need A/C, and keeping a mind to eventual resale, we did have ductwork put in that is currently unused. (wood w/oil HW backup for heat) My guess is that if we could find one of these split units or something compact with say 3 duct connections, we could get more than adequate balanced cooling throughout the house even better than what I have today, with a minimum of duct connections and losses. (could insulate the heck out of the 3 that would be in use) If I had known how well shaded and insulated the house was, I never would have had them do their standard install with what must be 20+ ducts. It's just overkill, tons of places to leak if I used them all, and I'm sure if I ever got central A/C put in, it would similarly be total overkill on the sizing.

    -Colin
  6. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I looked into the biggest Sanyo concealed duct heat pump for our house. Almost went for it. They are super efficient and very quiet. But none of the firms I contacted had ever installed one, almost all hadn't even heard of them. Yet in India this style unit was quite popular. They are nicely made too. I looked inside at the wiring in the Sanyo. Neatly harnessed and well labeled. The American Standard unit we have looks like a rats nest inside. I think we're stuck with some ludite technology here that will be replaced soon by foreign technology unless American companies wake up and realize this is just like the automotive industry.
  8. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    NYSoap and all...
    Good discussion all the way around. I know where you are coming from. Your thoughts closely mirror my own. I'm a big fan of the 5K window units also...but have considered the compact units as well. Everyone is bringing up good points. The only thing I would add about the situation, in a "couple few years" I'm sure the evolution of these units is going to happen. Needless to say, don't rush, do your homework and... actively seek out "new" contractors leaning to these units. If none are available, do a little research, contact some different manufacturers and say "Hey I want this, make it happen... set me up good and I'll provide a good testimonial for you." Work with the manufacturers trying to get their product recognized... you might be surprised. Perhaps we could get Web to look into getting us a "group discount"...lol Would make quite the commercial "How SMART Wood burners stay comfortable in the off season"...lol
    Something I would like to see the "cooling industry" progress to, and it will probably be a foreign company to get the ball rolling rather than Trane, Carrier or American Standard... Would be to utilize the "waste heat" from central AC, compact units..or even window units for heating or at least "pre heating" domestic hot water. American homes are terribly inefficient if you really look close. An idea I have been "working on" is a basic all around dual role, AC, air exchange,DHW pre heater and dehumidifier. I'm not going to get into the particulars...it's a rainy day project...lol

    Suffice to say...just don't get aggravated...be prepared to do some homework and in time...you will find the best idea.
  9. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    This is pretty much the European pov, scavenge every last btu from the system. I hear ya Keyman, time America woke up and smelled the coffee.
  10. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    My (newer) house here has central air, but 3 zones using dampers in the duct and separate thermostats. It is quite inexpensive to operate......of course this year we don't (yet) have to operate it at all. The breeze outside today feels just like AC.

    In my last house I had to install two Frederick heatpump/ac units (they look like window units) into the wall when I built a large addition. We had hot water heat, so could not install central in that area. They did the job but the noise was unpleasant...especially in the bedroom. If I ever had to do it again, I would use a split system.....they were not readily available back then (1986).

    I am intrigued by those portable AC units.....not that I have a use for one, just that they seem very flexible if you are renting a place or need spot AC.
  11. cbrodsky

    cbrodsky Member

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    I was looking at these some more - it seems to me that this is not beyond the reach of a skilled DIYer except for charging the refrigerant lines. (used to do that on my old car but all my equipment is for R-12!) They seem much lighter weight and easier to work with compared to traditional central systems.

    A lot of these things don't look that tough once you start reading the install manuals - maybe I'll consider going down that road one of these years and cut the costs considerably.

    -Colin
  12. sailor61

    sailor61 Burning Hunk

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    What experieince has anyone had with the mini-split AC systems? They are permanently installed, remote compressor, no duct-work and in the middle of the cost between portable window units and true central. An airhandler that is approximately 36 long, 10 hi and 8 deep is permanently hung on an interior wall, you do need to have access for 2 coolant lines and a condensate drain. I've heard great things about them; mid level cost, efficiency of the compressor, no cooling loss from leaky ducts, quiet because compressor isn't hanging in your window. And the cosmetic benefit of not having the thing hanging out the window. Best of all - you can supposedly diy the install and then find a cooperative HVAC guy to come in and check the refrigerant charge.

    thoughts? experience?
  13. Kilted

    Kilted Member

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  14. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    We were at a restaurant yesterday that had a floor standing A/C unit with a plastic duct going outside.
  15. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    My parents had 2 mini split or "ductless" systems installed in their house. Compressor outside, just a head in the wall. 3" hole is all that is required. Quite and very nice.
    Gives a zone cooling effect. Nice system. Saved more electricity than the older wall mounts. Cost them about $6,000.00 for the 2 installed. More expensive than central, really only an option if you have no duct, or have money to spend.
    I had a guy out for a quote on central AC today. We'll see what comes back. Have an $8,700.00 quote from the last guy. I want the central because I am extending my duct to the addition. want to use same heater & ac for all. Beats buying separate furnace etc. Especially when the heat is only for backup. addition is still waiting for that new stove to add with the Summit insert for heating.

    Regarding the "portable" A/C units. Don't waste your money. I have one in for repair not even a year old. Used 2 months last summer. They are no quieter than a window mount, more expensive ($499.00 for a 10k unit), and made overseas, junk & warranty work is a PITA. First repair company given by warranty co, said " We don't work on those pc's of chit". Second place is about 60 miles away. And had pretty much the same to say of these units, except he said it in a nicer manner.
  16. Kilted

    Kilted Member

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    So would you mind naming the brand and model that has been so troublesome? To paint all brands by one bad example is not very responsible.

    Just so happens that with my style of windows I can not use the usual window units. The Sharp unit I mentioned above is quieter than any window unit I have ever heard. To condem it site unseen or "heard" is blaintly unfair.

    I will recommend to any one to do your own research and do not blame all brands for one bad choice.

    -- Brandy
  17. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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  18. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I installed a mini split in the latest addition I did a 3 season room the only exterior protrusion needed was a 2.5" hole saw cut needed to attach the feed and return lines and the low voltage electrical wire bell wire gage the interior exchanger is run with very effecient 24 volts To make it easier to install t installation kit is available where not cuts are needed in the cooling lines.
    one can shporten them up cut them to length using a flaring tool or leave the coil neatly tucked out of site To answer NY soapstone questions the unit comes fully charged. the only special tool needed is the evac of the system before turning it on. which the unit has screw on fittings for the EVac. The interior exchanger mounts on a melta mounting bracket that can be installed with the supplied screws or one can use longer drywall screws to have stud penetration threw the plaster reminder to line the unit up to miss the studs with the 2.5" hole cut out ant to level the bracket instasllation. I did form and pour a concrete slab for the mini compressor which is installed under the 3 season room out of site behind privacy lattice. The compressor did require 10/3 wire and a 30 amp service and a 30 amp bust fuze remote weather proof curcuit shut offf box It made sense to me to service the equipment to be able to shut it down remotely near the unit than to go back inside and flip the breakers pluss the added in line fuse protection Wiring was explained and straright forward One has to keep track of the low voltage wires but it was explained
    the connon DIY should be able to figure it out common bell wire nuts were used to connect the unit exchanger withing the home.. So all systems are a go power is recorded and I fire the unit it goes on one second and beeps then nada. I read the manual then call customer support I give then my voltage readings and it is determined I have a faulty computer board After them sending 2 incorrect boards and me taking apart the exchanger housing I a bit pissed the boards do not interface with the plug ins on the unit Finally I am sent the correct board aND IT TOOK TAKING THE OLD ONE OUT AND SENDING IT TO THE SUPPLIER TO GET THE RIGHT ONE. This has taken a month and The homeowner is holding a considerable final payment check. To maKE MATTERS WORSE I was not charging for the installation. I figured what's an extra hour work when I made out ok on the job. Let me tell you it turned into a lot of extra time and agrevation.

    With the b new board installed it has worked flawlessly. I q guess this can happen on any manufactures products we here about board failures dealing with pellet stoves.

    Ok real world expectations the unit is far more effecient than window units and runs a lot quieter Not only does it satisfy the 33 season room but also takes care of the adjoining kitchen dining area. This mini split also can heat though they cannot completely carry the load below 30 degrees A backup electric baseboard system was installed. Remember this is a 3 season room that with the backup can be used year round. The strong point of the system is its Ac capabilities. Did I mention it is remote controlled.

    I( bought this Unit over the internet and I think the entire cost including installation kit was less than $1200 If one want more info I can take pictures of the installation and post them plus I will supply the internet site where I bought it. Sanyo is the leading brand name for these mini splits. Mine was a reconized name but I can't remember it now but the compressor was made by Panasonic It might have been Fridigiare. Iknow (SP) again
  19. senorFrog

    senorFrog New Member

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    I bought a portable AC unit and returned it. It was just so BIG in the room! With the two vent hoses it reminded me of the robot from lost in space. I do like the idea of just wheeling it in for the summer. Window units are such a PITA and don't seem to get any lighter.

    When researching the portables try to get one that evaporates the condensation out the exhaust instead of into a drip pan, which you'll have to empty every day. Also, they are not as efficient as window units for a variety of reasons.

    Hands down, the best window unit I've found is the Panasonic...

    http://tinyurl.com/2l3vnq (Tiny edit by Mo, try it yourself at: http://tinyurl.com/)

    It's very well made. I can cool a 20x20 den and adjacent breakfast nook plus kitchen with this single unit! I just use the same air circulation strategy that I do with my wood stove.

    I did research the split unit Mitsubishi Mr Slims. They are intriguing, but cost prohibitive right now. I think they start around $3000 installed.
  20. titan

    titan Minister of Fire

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    Check out "DAIKIN".....they make some nice ductless split heat pumps.They're using "inverters" in the condensing units;super quiet,efficient,rated to operate down to -18*C.
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Daikin is big in other countries but rare here in the US. I tried to find a Daikin sales office locally, but the closest was in CA. Too bad, they seem well proven in places like Australia. Are they popular in Canada?

    Sanyo, Panasonic and Mitsubishi are making in roads into the American HVAC market, but the big ones here still are Trane/Amer. Std., Carrier/Bryant, GE and Goodman, none of which are using the advanced inverter technology in the Japanese units.
  22. titan

    titan Minister of Fire

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    BG,Daikin has only come to the fore here in the last 8-9 months but I believe I read in a brochure that they were being shipped from a dist. centre in Texas?Anyways, I've worked on or installed most brand name units....I don't feel one is much different or better than another.....however this inverter tech. showing up in affordable,residential a/c units is notable.Time will tell if they hold up in our climate but if I were buying one for my own use,I'd lean towards Daikin right now. FWIW-the 24000 btu heatpump I just installed had a SEER rating of 16 with its' R-410a refrigerant.
  23. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Gentlemen,
    after receiving 3 quotes for central AC, I just cannot bring myself to spend 10k or more for central AC.
    I am very interested in the ductless.
    Elk, I would greatly appreciate you installation photos & input. Central I would not consider doing myself. The mini splits I may contemplate.
    Or maybe just have someone install. I just can't justify spending tons of cash I don't have to waste on an inefficient central system that will cool areas at times that do not need to be cooled. I have been thinking of maybe window unit, which in my case would be some casement units and a couple larger regular window units.
    I know the cost would be cheaper, but I just don't want all that crap hanging out of windows and also the taking in and out each year factor.
    I appreciate any input.
  24. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Yea, thanks for the ideas everyone. I too am looking to make a change. I already have central AC but its an older, inefficient, Carrier model. When its working it cools the house just fine, but lately it has been giving me problems (its in its 9th season now), it has been icing over (when this happens on the inside (evaporator coils? I don't really know much about AC repair) it blocks the flow of air, so the thing will run continuously without any airflow which is really not good (doesn't cool the house and probably overloads the fan). Had to teach the wife that turning down the thermostat temp will not make the house cooler if the AC is not working :)

    At any rate - I've already taken this thing apart and cleaned it twice this season (outside and inside). I don't feel like paying a few hundred to a repair guy at this point, I'd rather put the money towards something better. So like many of you, I'm still in the research stage and don't quite know what to do yet.

    Elk I would love to see the photos you mentioned and the link to the product you recommend. I'm also interested in links to the other products mentioned here. I'm sure I can get by with what I have for this year, but next year I'd like to try something different. I would like a DIY install if possible.
  25. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I'm no expert, but when my A/C (18 yr old Lennox central unit) was acting up this spring I called up my father-in-law, a retired EE guy, and asked his help. His first question to me was, "Is it icing up?" I said no, but he said, "If it was, it is probably just low on freon".

    It did ice up the year before and was 4 lbs low. This last spring it didn't ice up, but it was only 2 lbs low on freon. It cost me about $175 both times to top off the freon. Might be worth that much just to see if it fixes the problem.
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