Heat Pump vs Minisplit for Central VA

arch123December 2, 2011

We are in the process of building a small kennel building 22 x 31 feet about 650 square feet. We are deciding between a Minisplit vs duct heat pump system - builder grade with propane backup. Is the Heat pump worth $3000 more? Would going with Trane or Carrier for $6000 be worth it?

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The idea of propane would scare the heck out of me.

What is location?

What is electric rate? What is cost of propane?

At what outdoor temp would you want system to begin operation? What is your climate's average winter low temperature? How well will kennel be insulated?

Lots of questions I know.


    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 11:11AM
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The Heat pump would be electric and the propane backup would only go on if it was really cold or in the event the power went out a generator could be connected to the fan. Should I be concerned about this system? I don't think this is comparing electric to propane because it will be mostly always electric. I would be interested in knowing if you think the Heat Pump (electric) would be cheaper to operate then the Minisplit. Also Do you think a Minisplit could handle this size adequetely - would I regret not having a duct system?

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 11:36AM
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I would need to know your rates-both electric and propane to be able to make an informed decision.

If kennel will be insulated with above average properties, I would think all electric would be OK.

What temperature setting for kennel are you looking at?


    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 11:43AM
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The temperatures would be higher 60s in the winter and higher 80s in the summer.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 12:06PM
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The minisplits I've seen are usually more efficient than a 'normal' air-source heat pump. Also, they should be simpler to install (no duct work). They also produce heat down to lower temperatures.

But it is not clear to me in this case how long it would take to make back the money in electrical usage savings.

Since this is a kennel, would the duct work be exposed and inside the insulation envelope (easier installation)?

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 3:54PM
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Your electric rates have to be pretty high to justify propane backup. Like CA high. If a minisplit is cheaper, that would seem to be the way to go. A minisplit is just a type of heat pump. It's setup has some issues in a house with rooms, if you want dual fuel, or if you need humidity. But for what you want, it would seem to be fine.

I would think a cheaper heatpump would make the most sense. If you insulate well enough, there might not be much need for heat the majority of the time. When you say kennel, I am envisioning a number of dogs. Dogs aren't that picky and they generate a decent amount of heat.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 6:34AM
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CJ Mechanical of North jersey llc.

This allso requires care with selecting a good filtration with all the hair in the air.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 6:56AM
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Thanks for the information. The building is insulated. One concern I have is that the bottom 42" of wall is going to be a page cement block. It's the only thing I can think of that the dogs will not be able to chew up. If it becomes a real heat loss problem I will go back and insulate on the interior. The dog doors I am using are Endura I am really impressed with how well they seal.
I had considered a radiant floor, but I learned that it was not a good idea for dogs because they cannot get away from the heat.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 8:00AM
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If this is one big, open room, there is not much difference between the operation of a minisplit and "regular" split unit. It is a good point about the added filtration options available with a regular unit. There are minisplits to fit large areas. OTOH, the duct work for a more conventional system would be pretty easy if it is out in the open.

One thing that I notice about my minisplits is that they are good ceiling heaters with their standard programming. As they approach the set point the blower slows down and the hot air does not project to the floor. Manually setting the blower to a higher speed fixes that and so does using a ceiling fan.

It is not absolutely clear to me. You need heat only and not cooling? If so, I am not sure why you discounted radiant heat so easily. If you install some simple raised pallets of some sort, the dogs can lie on them if they need a cooler spot to lie down. If you need cooling, it would be more expensive as you would need to install a second system for that.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2011 at 7:20PM
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