Do mini split systems come cooling only

legalsec111March 30, 2012

I have just started researching air conditioning systems and have many many questions.

A little background. We live in the northeast and our home is about 75 years old. It's a center hall colonial that is heated by lot water radiators. In the summer we install window cooling units. Since we're getting older we want to minimize the amount of labor that takes.

I just got one estimate on installing a multi zone system which would cool the living room, kitchen, master bedroom and third floor refinished attic bedroom. He told me that two units needed to be installed outside. One 4 zone unit and one 1 zone unit. But the units (Mitsubishi are cooling/heating units when all I really wanted was the cooling part.

So, I guess I need to know what my options are. Can I do cooling only? Are there advantages to having heat also? Would be the price difference between the two be substantial?

As you can tell, I'm a novice at this so any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much.

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Yes, they can be had in cooling-only. I think that the heat pumps are a little more expensive than cooling only, but not much. I can not comment on the relative efficiency. The heat pumps are mechanically more complex so they have more failure modes. I have three multi outdoor units for my seven room house. The reversal valve crapped out on one of mine just before the one-year warranty date. (Note to you AC guys, it stuck in heat mode and would reverse if I tapped on the valve with the butt end of a screwdriver.) I do not think that is a big consideration, but you might want to discuss that.

What is the advantage of heat pumps to you? Maybe a lot and maybe none. Do you heat with oil, gas or propane? You can compare your heating costs with your current fuel and electricity rates and decide if you want to heat with heat pumps in relatively mild, but cool, weather. There is a cut-off temp where they fail to perform well when it gets colder. You can zone your heat when you are using them, adding more economy, heating only the rooms are sitting in to comfortable temp and leaving your main t-stat set lower. (This gets a little complicated if the t-stat is in a room that you are heating with the mini split.)

Tip: when heating with high wall or ceiling units, you will probably want to turn up the blower manually higher than its programmed speed to keep the heat near the floor and not accumulate near the ceiling. On the other hand, your ceiling paddle fan will take care of this as well if you have them.

One thing you might want to keep in mind. I can say that the Mitsu (and perhaps all brand) multi are less efficient than the 1:1 units and they do not do as well as the single units with heating at low temperatures. For the former, I think it stems from the fact that the compressors only throttle back to a certain percentage of max. For example, a single unit might be rated at 9000 BTU. If you only need a little cooling, and assume that they throttle back to 10%, you can efficiently get 900 btu out of them running constantly with no on/off. Your tri unit is probably 22,000 btu and can throttle back to 2200 btu with the same assumption so your compressor will be flicking on and off more often which yields poorer humidity control and not as even cooling. Please, keep in mind the relative nature of my comments. These things all work really well compared to window units and compared to central forced air.

Be sure to consider all of your alternatives for the installation. In addition to wall-hung, you can have floor mounted, short ducts to hidden units and ceiling-mounted. That all costs more though. You have probably seen the pictures of installations with the plumbing straight through the walls to the outside of the house. Mine are run inside the walls to underneath the house. Again it might cost you a little more, but talk about it with your contractor.

You should look at the MItsubishi, Sanyo, Toshiba and perhaps, other web sites to get some more information about their equipment alternatives.

Your contractor should be willing to discuss all of this at length with you since you are making a big investment. I hope they can evaluate your cut off point for economical heating with the heat pumps vs. your hydronic heat. They should be able to estimate for cooling only vs heat pumps. The price difference might be trivial, however.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 12:48PM
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yes they do. I have a cooling only Fujitsu unit 24,000 1:1 unit. Best money I ever spent. Quiet..quiet...quiet! Price difference was just a few hundred dollars

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 12:53PM
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