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Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Posted by JHZR2 (My Page) on
Fri, Jun 8, 12 at 0:29

Hi,

Long time reader, first post. I have a question, and it seems like some solid answers for other situations have been discussed before.

I live in an old baloon frame wood home, built in the 1930s, with radiator heat. Easy to run stuff through the walls, go up multi-levels through the walls, etc.

We dont have central air, and liked the control of a split system, so tried to get some quotes.

I know the retail and wholesale pricing for the equipment. For example, one unit we were considering, just a single split unit (1:1), was $1500 wholesale, $2200 retail.

The installed cost for this unit is being quoted at $4500. I can certainly appreciate that the burdened cost of labor is around $100/hr. I can appreciate that everyone wants to make a profit. But $2500 or so for all this?

So my question really is, how tough is it to install these things that the costs to install are so high? I see it as the fact that $2500 in installation is like 25 man-hours at $100 per hr burdened rate. Thats three guys for a day.

I was under the impression that the ductless is cheaper/easier to install than a ducted system, so the install is straightforward and managable.

So where is the cost for doing this coming from?

It is less than 25' of tubing run from the outdoor to indoor unit. It is a first floor install on an outer wall. Nothing exotic.

A 4:1 that I asked to be quoted came similarly. Roughly $15k for an installed 4:1 system with 4 indoor units, where the equipment cost is around $5k complete. So $10k to install some pipes and wires?

What gives? Im all for paying well to get a good job done. But this is a pretty straightforward install. Why are ductless installs so pricey?

Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

KHZR2

In the USA this is still a niche product when compared to traditonal split system. Fewer installers have experience with installations and servicing them. This should change over time.

I had quotes from $2700 to $4500 for 15000-18000 btu mini split unit (all quotes included new #12 wiring of about 60' to breaker box for 220 service and disconnect box at condensor). Mitsubishi quotes were about $500 higher than Fujitsu.

Based on my install and assuming the travel time to my home and back to their office and their time to pick up the unit from the distributor I believe it took them 6 hours (12 man hours) for the job. This pretty much takes up most of the day when you consider lunch and paperwork.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Thanks!

Thing is, what's the cost of a man-day? At $100 fully burdened hourly rate, 16 hrs of labor is $1600. With a retail cost for the unit, $2200, and ancillary supplies for $200, it's still only $4k. Id think the profit for the hvac company should come from the fact that im pricing tge unit retail, when i could get it wholesale over the 'net. These systems are more straightforward to install than central And that's awful generous for an HVAC tech to have a burdened rate of $100. I know engineers that with overhead, G&A and all that only cost slightly over $100/hr.

So it still seems excessive.

Thanks!


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

JHZR2:

Just a reminder but your statement "when i could get it wholesale over the 'net" doesn't take into consideration that no major manufacturer will warrant an internet sale. Take a look at their warranties and you'll find that out.
There are 'off brands' that claim to warrant their equipment but good luck actually getting them to honor that warranty...and that so called warranty they give doesn't cover labor. Good luck trying to find an installer for internet puchased equipment that will warrant their labor cost free for one year.

Sorry to say but your better off not self insuring and purchashing from a reputable HVAC installer with a lot of experience installing mini splits. Best bet get 4 or 5 quotes from companies authorized to install the brand they want to install and in my opinion stay with Japanese manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, Sharp, Fujitsu and Daikin.

Good luck.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

It's a good point, but given the excessive install costs (like triple the cost of the equipment), it may be worth it to self insure.

The main point with the Internet wholesale price is that this is the kind of price the installer is getting, while charging me retail. So my estimates build in at least $700 (spread from wholesale to retail) profit to the installer for the equipment, before there is any assumption of profit on the labor which I cost at $100/hr. the costs are still extreme, splits are simpler to install in many ways vs retrofitting central into an old house - that retrofit with a full system (house currently has radiators) is cheaper than a four zone split installed!


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

You may have overlooked the training costs that your well-qualified split installer may have as a cost of doing business to be a dealer of the nicer manufactures. Since this is a new technology, not everyone has this training.

Just as it is true for traditional installations, the experience and training of your installer, and their contacts for trouble shooting with their distributor and manufacturer are there for you when you choose to use that installer.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

That's another good point, but the cost of labor is at $100/man hour. That builds in a ton of overhead for this.

The times estimated are still extreme for the simplicity of the installs.

I'm starting to believe that most HVAC folks are just ripping the consumer off. Hate to be trolling about it, but I see no solid justification for the extreme level of cost to do these jobs on reasonably simple systems.

The fact that man hour estimates are never given seems to substantiate this.

Sorry to be so down on this, but I'm seeing no good well-defined cost basis here. Training and all that is part of overhead costs, and as an engineer, I have a good idea of fully burdened costs for professional positions where a high level of continued training is required. It's not more than $100/hr for folks who pull higher salaries than HVAC techs.

Not trying to play the I know better game, I'm just not seeing a plausible justification.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Many of the high velocity systems can be a real PITA to install.
Even when separated into smaller pieces they are not lightweight.

They often need to be hung from rafters (sometimes after sistering the rafters) to provide vibration isolation.

The now 'floating' hung platform then requires vibration isolators in every refrigerant line and the condensate drain line.

A backup drain pan is required with a separate drain line.

Unless you have a roof mounted compressor the lines are often longer than a simple forced air system.

How do you know that there are NO obstructions in the framing?

I have used Unico more than a few times, and every time a job looks simple something seems to come up.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

This is a split ductless, not unico. I've done enough work on my home to know what is between the joists of my baloon frame home.

A split ductless needs a hole of maybe 3" to let the power and refrigerant lines in from the outdoor condenser unit. I just put a 3" hole in the side of my home for something else two weeks ago. Not hard. Nor is making a base for the condenser, running wire in an unfinished basement from the panel, or putting lines, including condensate, down the house less than one story, with a gravity condensate drain.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

"I've done enough work on my home to know what is between the joists of my baloon frame home. "

Every stud cavity?

Every electric line?

Make sure you hear (and see0 a mini-split before committing.

They are nosier than a decent forced air (or even a high velocity).

They are a lower volume niche market.
I use them to cool communication rooms (a lot) but the rooms are rarely occupied for long.

Troubleshooting is about it.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I have seen the installations in the caribbean, where due to the structure of the homes, they are commonly used.

The indoor air units are virtually silent. Ive slept very nicely under them for MANY nights.

And yes, I know what is in the walls. Frankly, it is almost irrelevant because all the installers want to run the lines outside, so as long as they are capable enough of making a 3" hole through clapboard and then lathe/plaster, it's done. It really is that simple.

I am open to forced air or high velocity at this point, but I have radiators and are not going to remove them, and Id hate to have a noisy air handler in my attic making vibration in the structure of my home while I sleep.

The HVAC guys have priced ductless splits out of practicality, so Im open to all options.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Read thru this thread, it takes some detours but he runs through the nuts and bolts installation of the mini-split install he did (mostly) himself. From pouring the pad to running the electrical to cutting holes in the wall.

I think this is definitely in the realm of a DIY project if you have time. When you pay a pro you pay for speed, done and done in a day.

With HVAC pretty much the only thing you can't do legally without an EPA 608 license is work with the refrigerant. Do the heavy lifting yourself and call a pro to come check the unit out, pull a vacuum/check for leaks, and top off the 410A if needed. Roughly $150-$200 per unit to do that.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ductless DIY install


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Good for him he better hope he doesn't have a warranty problem with that hunk of junk.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Well actually if you took the time to read thru his thread, you will see he already used the warranty on something simple and it went smoothly. Click the thread and search for "warranty".

Here is the LG warranty:

http://www.acdirect.com/LG_learning_center.php?li=9

He did have an issue with one of the two units he bought, but it was due to a manufacturing issue and having sat around in a warehouse IIRC. I believe it ended up just being low on refrigerant.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

wheelsup I did read this thread and it didn't have a thing to do with warranty work. Anyways when did you become his consumer advocate? He is a cheap @@@@.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Ask the contractors why it is so expensive. Note that it cost me a little over $2200/room to install 7 indoor, high-wall and 3 outdoor Mitsu systems. That was all 6000 and 9000 btu. All were installed so that the connections ran under the house, not out the outside walls. All but one were installed in interior walls.

Did your DIY costs include the connecting refrig. lines and cables?


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

just fyi...I have an epa license to handle refrigerants
and bought my heatpump through my local hvac supply.
got ahu set up..ducts in conditioned space run
whole house dehumidifier set up.
t-stats wired in.
delivery of hp tomorrow.

3 days ago I started looking for someone to do the startup.
I don't have vaccume pump, 410 gauges or braising set up.
went to hvac school for load calcs, not install.

I know lots of hvac companies, having worked with the
bulk of them over the 12 years I've been an energy rater.
get along with most of them pretty well.

started making some calls..$800 to $1000 for the start up.
mind you..the copper lines are run, insulated
whip & disconnect is in place. even the tstats are installed.

I could hire one of the workers to do the job on the side..but view that as stealing from the owner.

yesterday I talked to a friend who has his own hvac
plumbing company.we have worked together on quite a few jobs in his area.
a few months ago I re-did his ductwork.
he will be here friday to do the start up.
not charging me anything. nice guy.

but OP..re-think the idea that it will be easy
to have someone come out when equipment is installed.
or to install equipment you buy on your own.

I was totally shocked. and like I said..I know
a lot of hvac company owners & workers.

given that this is the busy time of year was one
of the reasons the price was so high.

if something doesn't work like it should, you can't
just run to the parts house to get another part..
that would be covered if it was purchased there.
maybe you could get it online..but there is a wait
and company has to make a second trip.

hvac is not a racket. its a tough physically
demanding job. hot attics, nasty crawlspaces
standing in the elements to work on condensors.
companies who educate thier workers and themselves
are in high demand, and charge higher prices.

and there are insurances, keeping trucks stocked
and on the road..it takes money to run a hvac company.

so it is pretty insulting when you keep beating that
drum, without knowing the other side of it. like if
someone came on your job & wanted a discount.
you know your worth. they don't.

start shopping now for a company to do your
install or start up. it may take a while.

best of luck.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Re: energy rater

Nice post! My only suggestion is to please use capitals where applicable.

Re: heatseeker

I hear your frustration; I've dealt with engineers too. Some were quite difficult while others have been most pleasant. Go figure...

SR


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Ionized,

Thanks so much for actually providing an answer rather than spewing non-answers because I dare to ask why an HVAC guy charges what he does. At least there is a data point that aligns with what Im being quoted.

You asked "Did your DIY costs include the connecting refrig. lines and cables". My shopping indicates that a lineset list price for 25' is around $250 in an insulated bunch with flared fittings. Wiring with heavy gauge Cu is around $2/ft from HD, and the runs are NOT long in my home. There are indeed control cables, but they are negligible cost when bought from someone like ACWholesalers. Not saying that Id buy anything from them, but even if the local guy marks them up 200%, they are still less than $100.

The run from where the outdoor unit is to where the indoor one is, is around 6 feet. Accounting for turns and whatnot, I dont see the need for a cable run or a refrigerant lineset run longer than 8-10'.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

energy_rater_la,

You had a really good post with very rational discussion. However, you said "so it is pretty insulting when you keep beating thatdrum, without knowing the other side of it. like if someone came on your job & wanted a discount. you know your worth. they don't."

My issue is that nobody doing HVAC is even willing to state what their hourly rate is. When I go to the auto mechanic, have the electrician or plumber over to my home for their professional services, they tell me upfront what their hourly rate is, and what they estimate the time to be.

So what is so hard with the HVAC folks to do the same?

Im just trying to get to the bottom of where the cost element lies. Let's refresh:

A system that is $1500 wholesale, $2200 retail.

So the HVAC installer charges me retail, already making $700 profit for himself. No problem with that.

But the installed cost is $4500.

So that means that the install of the unit costs $2300. Again, why? I have yet to get a straight answer. All the HVAC "experts" could easily explain if they knew. Something as simple as that they need to make three trips because the system gets vacuumed down for 12 hours, or because they have to braze a lot of parts, or even because the refrigerant recovery system that the EPA mandates they have costs $25000 in maintenance and upkeep a year... I get answers like that.

But what Im getting here is that Im a jerk because I dare to ask where the HVAC guys get their magic number of $2300 to install a system that is 6-10' between indoor and outdoor unit, through my home that I know has hollow walls, and in a location where install is a straight run up to connect the two parts.

If I get other technical services like auto repair for roughly $100 per hour, it means that if HVAC burdened labor rate is similar, the manhour estimate to install the system as I described is 23 hours. Or, does HVAC typically charge more per hour? Are all the HVAC folks charging $200/hr for services?

I love how people are critical of me because I dare ask what takes so long to do it. An expert in this would clearly state why.

The fact that all I get is rudeness for daring to ask the question implies that these folks are pulling numbers that suit them out of thin air.

It would be really easy to explain very concisely where all the cost of installing a system like this lies. Again, these are ductless systems, so there is no need to run unwieldy ducts through the house. So Im failing to see where all the cost lies. If plumbers, electricians, auto repair, etc. make their money on markup on parts and charging $100/hr, is it really that much MORE per hour over $100 to do HVAC? Or are these systems really that slow to install? It was far less labor to install our new mod/con boiler and indirect water heater, and they were able to give me an hourly estimate and labor cost - something that the HVAC guys wont and cloak in secrecy, getting upset if you dare ask.

And apparently all the professionals dont know either...


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

JHZR2,

I am not sure if you are really looking for an answer or just jerking our chain but if you want an answer i will
try give it to you. 4500 doesn't sound to bad for a ductless ac system depending on size. that price you see on the internet is sometimes cheaper than we pay for it but NEVER a whole lot more. ductless manufacturers control the price like dictators.
I did a seminar a year or so ago and they calculated what i had to make every hour per technician just to break even.
It was $115 per person per hour. some of the reasons for the number are as follows:
our 100 per hour trips to our mechanic,
tires on the van,
gas to get to your house,
liability insurance,
auto insurance ,
rent
matching social security and medicare.
epa fees
finding and keeping employees
the phone you called me on
the person that answered that call
local, state, and federal taxes

I could fill up another 5 pages but it shouldn't be needed i hope you get the point. every job has to share in all these costs or i can't be in business.
Out of the $4500 the company might get to keep $300 for there own after paying all expenses. You might not agree with it but it is the cold hard truth. if we were making a killing on each job maybe so many of us wouldn't be going out of business.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

harlemhvacguy, thanks so much for an honest, straightforward answer. While folks like heatseeker think that Im out to try to get work done for minimum wage or something like that, Im honestly not, nor am I jerking your chain.

But you made a very good point. You first said that "that price you see on the internet is sometimes cheaper than we pay for it but NEVER a whole lot more.", which means that if I saw the unit on the net for $1500 with MSRP of $2200, you would comfortably be making $5-600 profit on the equipment (Im guessing that you get a wholesale price on equipment from the distributor, as is the model for most everything else).

That's great.

Then you said, "I did a seminar a year or so ago and they calculated what i had to make every hour per technician just to break even. It was $115 per person per hour." Which is totally fine. Though heatseeker implies that Im trying to stiff the HVAC folks out of their deserved fee, Im not.

So, lets say that to turn a profit, you charge $130/man-hour.

The equipment costs $1500, you charge me $2200. Other materials to do the job cost another $400.

So this is implying that the labor to install a one zone ductless is somewhere around $1900, when materials (which include a profit for the installer built in) are subtracted.

So at $130/hr, it is 14 hours to do one zone with a very short run.

I get it that a pad has to be laid, maybe some metal work on the copper lines, etc.

But is this a reasonable amount of labor? 14 hours is effectively two man-days, or two guys for one day. Is that reasonable for one zone?

Similarly, Im interested in installing a four-zone (4:1 type) unit. The cost to install the outdoor unit is the same whether it is a single or multi-zone. If we assume that half the time spent on the single zone unit is doing the outdoor work, then for the 4:1, is it reasonable to estimate that an outdoor install should be roughly 7 hours and then each indoor unit takes about 7 hours to install?

And to get back to my fundamental issue, what is the "long pole in the tent", that requires so much time for these systems? My house is plaster/lathe and clapboard, without insulation. Holes in walls is easy. Mounting the indoor unit is straightforward. What are the most time consuming steps that cause it to take 14 man-hours to install a single zone split system?

Thanks so much for your thoughtful response!


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Your cost quotes seem high to me too. Just to be clear, you asked them to put a hole in your outside wall for each indoor unit and run the pipe and cables down the outside of the house? That would be the least expensive way. You want to run the stuff inside the walls? That will cost more. Where is the condensate going to drain? More cost there because inside will require more time and materials to get the flow right.

I should note that my contractor, though very experienced, smart and knowledgeable, did not have much experience with mini-splits. I think that he took the job on for the experience and hinted that he ended up not making much money on it. (He teaches and needs to stay current on evolving technologies.) He brought in one of his colleagues on the job that had more experience, but I still think it took them a lot longer than they expected.

Did you get estimates from more than one contractor? Maybe the one you talked to just does not like installing mini splits or does not know how. Maybe they will highball a price and suffer through it if the reward is high enough. If very busy right now that would be another incentive to high ball a price.

Keep in mind that you are getting a something superior to conventional, ducted AC. Compare the price to a ducted system that is zoned to control individual rooms. If you don't need that, don't pay for it.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

" People who demand on knowing everything are bound to be duped. To smart for your own good. "

I hope that you are not serious about that. I seek out contractors that will explain everything to me and seem to enjoy doing it. I like to know how stuff works and how the decisions in design are made. Sometimes it takes some time to find them, but I think it is worth it. I feel that the people that are willing to listen to me and are confident in their answers, are the ones that know their stuff and enjoy demonstrating it. I won't consider hiring someone that is dismissive and defensive. BTW, all this goes for medical professionals and auto shops as well as contractors.

I am a cheapskate. Spending money is stressful. I have to remind myself all the time that the people that do stuff for me have a right to make a living to support their families and hope to retire a couple of years before they die.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

JHZR2,

I guess i choose the wrong words when i spoke of internet price vs the price I pay...It is relatively the same. I fuss with my distributors all the time about the fact I can buy ductless systems online for the same price as they are selling it to me. I make very little if any mark up on equipment. only money to be made is in labor.
we install 15 or so ductless systems a year. I single zone with good working conditions can be put in in around 4 hours. But i have hours billed to your job that aren't at your house. taking delivery of your equipment , aquiring the materials to do the install, driving to your house, driving back from your house. the estimate i probably gave to you at your house. It is a 8 hour event 2 person job (for safety of hanging indoor unit etc) when you figure all of that in.
Bottom line is can it be done cheaper? probably so. But the profit I make on a yearly basis says if I do it any cheaper I will have to fire someone or go out of business.

note: a 4 zone unit some of the time and labor is overlapping so a 4 zone can be done a lot cheaper together vs what 4 zones cost individually.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I actually had a 24,000 Fijutsu (1:1) unit installed at the beginning of last summer (inversion unit). Two Japanese guys that didn't speak English but managed to communicate with my electrician husband (LOL) were at my home for approximately 6 hours - working all the time - clearly knew what they were doing. I was impressed.....full charge was $3800. Judging from what I have been reading, that was an extremely fair price. AND i could not be happier with this system....quiet..quiet. It is quieter than my MIL's central air conditioning


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

We have to replace our packaged heat/cooling system that services just two rooms - the master bedroom. Its about 300 square feet. A second unit heats/cools the rest of the house. The bedroom - which has 2 walls of full length windows, was an add-on.
The quotes for central unit + labor are about the same as installation of a ductless system. I really like the idea of a ductless system, but it seems simpler to just replace the packaged system. What recommendations does anyone have for me?


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Yes duped, cause someone might take a personal vendetta against him for the way he treated them. IT'S A CRAZY WORLD. ROR REAL FOR REAL.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

"But is this a reasonable amount of labor? 14 hours is effectively two man-days, or two guys for one day. "

You have obviously never actually done any work.

The time includes selling it, ordering it, picking it up, delivering it, loading and unloading, etc.

You do realize you are paying for the salesman that wrote out the order/contract you signed, right?

And employes like to get paid when work is slack and revenue may not be coming in.

There is at least some risk with every fixed cost job.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

"We have to replace our packaged heat/cooling system that services just two rooms - .... What recommendations does anyone have for me?"

My first advice is to start a new thread.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

brickeyee, you said,

"You have obviously never actually done any work.

The time includes selling it, ordering it, picking it up, delivering it, loading and unloading, etc.

You do realize you are paying for the salesman that wrote out the order/contract you signed, right? "

First, some extent of the other parts of the job should be covered by overhead. If its not, OK, but generally overhead, i.e. one of the parts of the "burdened" cost of an hour labor should cover some stuff. I have to cover a lot of aspects of other stuff in my line of work, including running the place, IT, a small fleet of vehicles, support staff, facility, travel, laboratories, etc. off of overhead, and the fully burdened rate including benefits/retirement isnt $130/hr - actually it is slightly lower. Though more folks are employed.

Im not saying what anybody's charged rate is, just saying that all the stuff that was mentioned, it takes time for sure, but it is also to some extent covered in overhead in the hourly rate charged.

Second, is there zero profit in the equipment? Just asking because the pricing structure Ive seen shows the wholesale prices for the systems at $1500 and the retail of $2200. That $700 spread should cover a lot of other "stuff", like a salesman for a couple hours, the pick-up of equipment, etc, if not a few extra bucks to spare.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

And again, because some folks like heatseeker might get really rude, Im not saying that the HVAC industry shouldnt enjoy a reasonable wage, and I certainly do understand the costs of doing business and overcoming a lot of the major costs incurred.

But from the start, my intent was to better understand the nature of the costs of doing this job and why they were so high compared to when other trades do work for me at seemingly lower total hourly rates, and for comparitively difficult work.

Its not belittling the line of work or saying who is wrong - its understanding why the costs are what they are because frankly, they are shocking. Paying for top skill in this kind of effort is key, and Ive never said I want to cheapskate anyone or cheat them out of profit or benefits or their due cost.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

"First, some extent of the other parts of the job should be covered by overhead. "

And overhead is applied to EVERY job that enters the shop.

It does not make the cost go away, just spreads it out over more jobs.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Posted by brickeyee (My Page) on
Fri, Jun 15, 12 at 9:44

""First, some extent of the other parts of the job should be covered by overhead. "

And overhead is applied to EVERY job that enters the shop.

It does not make the cost go away, just spreads it out over more jobs. "

Totally agree, and not saying it should go away, or that it shouldnt be charged. It still comes back to a very high number of hours for a job that some on here have even said only takes 4 or so hours, at a very high hourly rate, and it isnt clear where the money is going.

Perhaps a better way to explain it is this: There appears to be ZERO transparency of costs and what is being billed within HVAC. This has not been the case when Ive had work, even very substantial jobs, done by electricians, plumbers, carpenters and auto repair. They are all willing to give me an hourly rate (Im not scrutinizing it, it is just good to know), a time estimate and a materials estimate. Evenif it is 20% off, Im not concerned, at least I know why things cost as they do. Why is it so hard for folks in HVAC, from whom Ive gotten a number of quotes recently, to all consistently NOT define where the costs are coming from, and all just give a final number? Every other professional trade Ive dealt with has either given the breakdown upfront or been willing to do so upon request with no issue. All I get with HVAC is some hand-waving arguments and no real answers. It is frustrating.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I saw 2 partial systems for sale. Not sure how u would acquire the inside bits?


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

The truth and bottom line is JHZR2, it really is none of your business what the cost and overhead is for an individual company, all companies have different structures. Like I said before if you really must know than start your own hvac company you seem to think you have what it takes. Then you can post a thread about how little money you are making and that you need to charge more. By the way I have not been rude that has just been your perception.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I asked (in another thread) for some advice for my son up in CT who is looking to explore the option of installing a mini-split system in a home he owns.

He has just started to receive proposals and prices... the first proposal is for just less than $10K. I went to an on-line vendor's site to get a sense for what the retail costs for some of the component hardware would add up to... for the three interior HP units plus the exterior unit the RETAIL ON-LINE costs were about $5100... add the linesets, R-410 (I assume) and electrical/mechanical miscellaneous costs and I have to believe that the RETAIL material costs were something over $6000 total. That puts the labor at something under $4000.

Just providing a single (tiny) data point - he has just started the process and has no intention of shopping material on-line, or anywhere else.

Will start a new thread and keep you guys in the loop so my son can benefit from your collective wisdom as I did two years ago!!!!


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

"There appears to be ZERO transparency of costs and what is being billed within HVAC."

There is no "transparency of costs" in almost every business.

If you do not like the bill, become trained and licensed and do the work yourself.

Did you ask the butcher ow he set the price of the steak?

The more licensing and training required for a job, the higher the cost will become.

Would it make you feel better to be charged for 4 hours of labor at $100 or two hours at $200?


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Saltidawg, how many rooms? Are the connections going straight through the walls or in the walls? This is existing construction, right?


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

ionized,

I really don't know the details - it is my son's property in CT and I'm in MD. Been in the subject home one time.

IIRC it is a cape - there are interior units to go in each of the two upstairs bedrooms and one larger unit to go downstairs.

I believe that the connections are going straight thru the walls and will be disguised on the exterior using downspout-looking covers, etc.

Existing home. Has oil baseboard/radiator heating. No Central air nor ducting. Nice location, nice home, currently has some window A/Cs and a "portable" two-hose A/C unit.

Wants a more finished look and the option to heat with electricity.

I do not want to hijack this thread, so when I have more info and if my son allows I'll start a new thread down the line.

I do appreciate your interest.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

It would appear that the HVAC industry is going the way of a used or new car lot with all the cost and sticker prices available online. There is nothing worse than a consumer with too much info, they will never be satisfied.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

"There is nothing worse than a consumer with too much info, they will never be satisfied."

Think about what you said. I'd love to be the salesman when you go automobile shopping... or be the homeowner when you look to buy a house.

I value your technical acumen, but this statement of yours sorely disappoints.

If it wasn't for consumers looking for information, this forum would not even exist. lol


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

That really is a disappointing comment. I've never met folks in any other trade that aren't willing to explain exactly what they are doing and why.

Its not a matter of being satisfied. It's also not a matter of a reasonable profit being made. The comments about preventing consumers not having access to information reminds me of mideval Europe. Population control. Exactly what I was talking g about earlier, no transparency and heaven forbid anyone actually question a pricing structure.

This stuff isnt rocket science. My wallet will vote, that's it. I've rebuilt the entire AC system on my car, what's so hard or different here? Longer lines? Manual J heat calculations are not complex, nor is pulling 500 micron vacuum on the system. EPA certs to handle the refrigerants are a test. I dont care to be in the business, but frankly on a $1500 system, to pay $3000 install costs is excessive, and I've yet to see the value proposition. This install is as straightforward as it gets, even admitted as such by folks coming in for quotes. I can take a lot of warranty risk for $3000.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

JHZR2,

While I politely expressed my disappointment in heatseeker's comment, you are doing nothing but trolling and should man-up and simply go away. I posted a price point for my son's situation that seemed realistic.. maybe your quote appears out of line.

Find another and quit whining.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

JHZR2, I tend to think a lot like you do. However, saltidawg is right. You've passed the point of analysis into a DIY/contract-out assessment and seem confident in your abilities. You are aware of your options, the cost/risks involved, so place a value on your time to do the research, get any cert needed, materials and tools, (lack of warranty?) and risk of possible mistakes, and as you've said let your wallet decide. But man'ing up = pull the trigger either way.

Continuing comments like the last aren't getting you much help from these guys... assuming that's why you came to this forum anyway, for help. Otherwise, yeah it's just trolling.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I got an idea why don't you get the work done write a check and stop payment on the check, then you will be the winner. I still stand behind my used car analogy, seeking too much info can be a sign of mental a disorder, just like too much cleaning or hording. I have to have all the info before I make a decision, kind of sick. Seeking a broad spectrum of knowledge is acceptable. Let me build some value in my service, acceptable, Having to know every aspect of my pricing structure and bank account numbers unacceptable. Like I said before America was built on small businesses and it is what fuels the economy. Just look at my gas bill. I am personally responsible for the oil company's profits. Do I call them on the phone asking them why is gas 4 dollars a freaking gallon, no, I accept as a price of doing business. When I go to joe shmo's the engineers house for a free estimate and he asks me what the water column of his new ac system that he doesn't even own yet is supposed to be, I cringe and think what a dink. I can answer but then he is going to want to know what my pricing structure is and why he has to pay that much cause he found it on the internet at half the price with the water column pressure along side. Then I have to break out brocures like a used car dealer and paint a pretty picture of him basking in the snow while it is 105 deg. outside, isn't it lovelly? Look here's the price, it will work like it is supposed to, let me do it or go let the other guy BS you cause I refuse to sell you a like a car dealer.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Crfud. Heatseeker, you also need to move on. You frequently provide wonderful technical advive to folks that come here... you're just running it into the ground on this thread, however.

I look forward to your technical based advice and info on other subjects.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

thanks salty but like the hard head that I am I had to have the last word. A recap so to speak.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Is hardheaded what you call it? Seems like you are the troll.

Im done here. Saltidawg gave a price point, mine is 50% more pricey for similar/less equipment. Some think it should just be grinned and bare it, wasting my money. That's OK.

I have no issue DIY and will go that route. My money is green, and the HVAC folks will come running if I have a problem. A rude comment for sure, but Ive had it with HVAC people.

Im done here.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

If hvac installers are charging 3x the equipment cost, you're probably better off going the DIY route even if you went so far as to purchase two identical units and kept one as a spare. That way the right part is always in stock and diagnosing a problem is often easier when a component can be swapped out. I've seriously considered doing this myself and later selling the extra unit if the first one proves reliable.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

All of the above is precisely why I run from Mini splits engineers and used car salesmen,. I AM NOT A (CROOK) TROLL. Just call em like I see them.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Just an FYI if the system is a 410A system you don't even need an EPA 608 to handle the stuff. IIRC the mini systems even come pre-charged so shouldn't even need any refrigerant.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

"All of the above is precisely why I run from Mini splits engineers..."

I would bet you have never had contact with meet a "Mini splits engineer" in any of your dealings.

They are salesmen.

HVAC engineers rarely get involved with residential work except multifamily apartment buildings.

It's is a business.

Shop around.

"Reasonable profit" is in the eye of the person doing the job.

They might want to actually retire before they drop dead of old age.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

"Just an FYI if the system is a 410A system you don't even need an EPA 608 to handle the stuff. IIRC the mini systems even come pre-charged so shouldn't even need any refrigerant."


I haven't read the install instructions yet (can be downloaded online), but I assume I would still want to pull 500 micron or better on the exposed sections for good measure.

Plus a set of 410 gauges that are US made, and a few other things would be needed before an install. Not big $, certainly not $3k worth.

We determined we could fly the inlaws HVAC installer up to us and get the system put in for less than the local folks were charging.

I would still possibly go for a 608/609/SNAP license because the test is easy, I've done the practice tests online before, and it would let me acquire R12 for my old cars. I like to keep the local shop in business though so they have the sniffers and reclaim equipment, so I need to think about that.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

One thing that has not been mentioned is the cost & time of filing permits + the cost of an electrician (assuming it gets subbed out).


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Well I was told the electrician was worth around $300. Small change.

Permits, that's a good point, but nothing I cannot tackle with the town. Ours is a very small town. Certainly not worth $3k in cost.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

sounds like you have figured out how to
circumvent the costs of hiring a pro.

best of luck.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Figured out? None of this is rocket science, though everyone wants to cloak it in secrecy of excessive cost with no basis.

It may be none of my business how some set their costs, but when I talk to others who do this daily and suggest a far lower cost (far more inline with what I'd expect), it makes me vote with my wallet.

Given that Ive rebuilt automotive AC and have totally tight systems that work perfect and have held for years, obviously I have some clue.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

JHZR2,

I gave you my son's price point on an install. You used that info to justify the fact that the quote you received was out of line HIGH!

Fro crisake, go get some additional quotes and stop whining and trolling here.

!@#$%< I can't believe I'm continuing to respond to a Troll!

Sorry to the contributors to this forum!


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I cant believe people are still responding to this... As I said earlier, I'm done. Not only do I have your basis, but other basis that indicates the level of ripoff.

No idea why the commentary doesnt lie there. No need for people to keep replying.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Hello JHZR2, my first time here, I enjoyed reading this thread and I can certainly relate to your situation. I am currently deployed to Afghanistan, where split ductless systems are common fixtures here. I can buy these systems here for $300-$600 US, 9000-18000BTU, major brands like Carrier, Chigo, Mitsubishi, Samsung. I purchased a foreclosure home while I was away, 40+ year old furnace, and no central AC. I was looking at getting several of these systems because they require no ductwork, frees up space in the basement, and I watch people install and replace them all day long with minimal effort. The only thing I would do differently is run the coil in a serpentine or cut the excess rather than coil it. I e-mailed an installer back home to learn more about costs and installation, who replied back that prices here seem to be less than 50% of US prices, and he estimated $1200 PER UNIT for installation. I don't get it. The only thing limiting me from sending a few of these units home is the weight of the fan unit, weighing about 80 lbs, and the USPS weight limit is 70 lbs. Maybe I can remove some heavy guts out of there and mail them in separate boxes. Wait and see. Thank you all for your time and input.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

It is hard to say what is being marketed in Afghanistan. I know that Mitsubishi markets different stuff in different areas and other probably do too. Much of what you saw might have been re-badged or even counterfeit.

I bet that the inexpensive systems that you see there are not inverter systems and not as efficient.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I wish I could email you JHZR2 and Corner Bungelow about this. So many trolls here and I also have been trying to break down the pricing on all of this and find the whole ductless group very involved in price fixing.

There are some chinese products like Shinco now called Senville who are allowing DIY to do the electrical and just have HVAC test the refrigerant lines etc and that will keep their 1 yr parts and 5 yr compressor warranty in place. I even got an email from them in writing stating so. They also sell their units very competitively too like 12btu for their retail is $1200. They also have Toshiba compressors. They also have techicians available on the phone to you.

HVAC guys say chinese is just bad but I refuse to pay 5K for a one zone Mitsubishi for 1k sf. I could still replace this unit like 4 times for the cost of one Mitsubishi. I found that some HVAC guys will do the test of the system for $200. Many of these ductless units also have decent installation instructions.

I think Daikin is the better of the bunch from what I have read. You could buy one of these 15btu free s&h for 2k. They make smaller ones. They have very nice features like the Mitsubishi too.

I wish consumer reports would get their hands dirty and break this down for consumers but it goes on deaf ears with them. Clearly consumers are getting ripped off with these since not many reviews out there and no place for them to post them too since HVAC like to control the sales and many don't provide this place. So maybe JHZR2 with his tech skills should start one up. I would be happy to be a moderator.

Yes there are some reviews but not near enough. Also if in fact these units have been around for decades in Europe, Asia and elsewhere where are those reviews?

Make consumers rather nervous to buy without being able to read reviews at sites that don't cherry pick.

If you can help it I would not buy through public utilities companies that finance it. They profit in a big way. Ours charges 6% interest rates then farms out the loan servicing to other place and charges consumer for a large flat fee upfront for that service. After talking with them I realized they lie a lot and are part of the problem too.

Also some HVAC will want you to do the permit process too and have the shut off box put in by electrician too. If you got to do all that well why not put the 3" hole in your self too. Buy an extra one for back up for parts since no one pays for labor. You would still be ahead with no warranty in place!!!! It is thinking like this that will make the field more competitive. Really this is not rocket science here with these units. It is doable.

Local HVAC guy says he would sell me systems (marked up big time) and you can do the installation (electrical etc) and then you can pay him to do the test on it. Says this will pass the warranty agreement with Mitsubishi they have a "special" agreement regionally with Mitsubishi. I called Mitsubish and talked to rep and a supervisor and both told me they will not warranty such an arrangement. What I think is going on here is hey as long as the HVAC guy signs the warranty card on the unit he sold you then wink wink the warranty stuff has been technically fullfilled.

I too don't begrudge anyone a profit but there is a point where there is profit and then there is major rip off involved. This industry has had cart blanche much too long on all of these ductless systems and it is time to call them on it.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I just came across the Friedrich Breeze which is a total DIY unit and the warranty stays in tact. Just watched the video for it too. It heats and cools and Friedrich is know to make good airconditioners too.Check with consumer reports since I recall them rating Friedrich highly.

A large unit which has air conditioning 12,000-24,000 bts and heating is 6,000-25,000 btus goes for about 2K it needs a 230 volt and plugs into the wall! They make a smaller one too that goes for $1,600 and is only 115 volt and plugs into the wall!
Here is a video of the entire process they made:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=d-qwaOSZWhQ

Here is a list of the features:
http://www.friedrich.com/products/residential/window/breeze/features

I had looked at their older model ductless splits and folks complained about how badly their directions were translated. But I think they listened and here is this new series with a very good video to break it down and this is the future with these units I got to believe.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I have been researching Mini Spits for over 2 years while working on getting my house remodeled and re-insulated. I had Quotes from the largest dealer in the Metro DC Area that was 15000$ for a Mitsubishi 4 zone unit. A second large dealer wanted 12000$ for the same set up. I then found a smaller Company with very good reputation that not only gave me information that the other Company's did not tell me but recommended a 3 zone Mitsubishi H2i hyper heat set up that includes 3 compressors and 3 indoor head units which will heat 100 at percent at 5 degrees outside and 85 percent at -5 degrees out side, His price fully installed was 7300$ half the price the others wanted and a better setup for my place. I later found another smaller dealer that wanted 7500$ for the system.
I know some areas do not have many Mini Split dealers yet but I have found that the large company's normally charge 100 percent more for the same product and are harder to deal with when you have a problem. I had a 11500$ Trane put in my Moms house 4 years ago and it was never right, Done by a large well know company. DO your own home work ,know your prices, and get plenty of Estimates. I had to contact Mitsubishi Company to find the dealer who will be installing my system.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Have these smaller dealers installed mini splits before? If not, they may be underestimating the amount of work involved and neglected to include some supplies in the quotes. In addition, check carefully how they plan to install them. Are they running the lines straight out through the walls or hiding them in some way? Maybe they are quoting low because they want to get into the new wave.

With the lower quotes, you have three zones instead of 4. What was compromised? If the cost is proportional to install 4 rather then three 1:1 systems, you'll pay $9733 with the contractor that quoted you $7300. That would still be a deal compared to 12 or 15K.

I know that the H2i systems were only available in the 1:1 systems. I could be wrong, but I thought that Mitsubishi now has them in the multi-splits now. It could be their commercial line rather than residential line.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Get multiple quotes and compare not just the quotes but the vibe and information you get from the installer/technician/professional. What might be a deal here might be a different story somewhere else. The cost of living/operating in one place can be huge in comparison to another.

If the tech/company has little experience with the units the installed price will be loaded higher to compensate.

The auto shop is a whole different comparison. The customer is billed on a flat rate schedule so if the book says a job pays 2 hours then that is what the mechanic gets. If he breaks a bolt and it takes 4 hours he gets paid for 2. If it all goes smooth and he gets it done in 30 minutes he gets paid for 2 hours. The shop still doesn't 'win' because that bay and lift was not able to be used for the two extra hours but the mechanic totally loses on that job.

There are some tasks that are billed by the actual hour like diagnostic and electrical issues.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Get multiple quotes and compare not just the quotes but the vibe and information you get from the installer/technician/professional. What might be a deal here might be a different story somewhere else. The cost of living/operating in one place can be huge in comparison to another.

If the tech/company has little experience with the units the installed price will be loaded higher to compensate.

The auto shop is a whole different comparison. The customer is billed on a flat rate schedule so if the book says a job pays 2 hours then that is what the mechanic gets. If he breaks a bolt and it takes 4 hours he gets paid for 2. If it all goes smooth and he gets it done in 30 minutes he gets paid for 2 hours. The shop still doesn't 'win' because that bay and lift was not able to be used for the two extra hours but the mechanic totally loses on that job.

There are some tasks that are billed by the actual hour like diagnostic and electrical issues.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

" The only thing limiting me from sending a few of these units home is the weight of the fan unit, weighing about 80 lbs, and the USPS weight limit is 70 lbs. "

They contain compressed gas.

Not generally allowed on aircraft.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Heres my take on the subject.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

This thread rules. I love all the HVAC installers slamming on the OP for not including the cost of their drive to the doughnut store when he has repeatedly said "the burdened cost of labor." Which means he is including all that overhead, or is the take home pay for an HVAC guy $100/hr? The rate he figured already includes that. Like when I pay $40 an hour for house cleaning, the maid doesn't get $40 an hour take home pay, that goes to the business to pay all the overhead.

Truthfully, a lot of contractors bid not the job, but the buyer. They tell you what they think you'll pay.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I am an hvac technician the reason you were quoted a high price is the fact you are an engineer. In our industry it is often assumed you will carefully study the system while it is operating.you will time how long it takes for the moving louvers to rotate 90 degrees,also logging cycle times. you will repeatedly call the company when you feel something is amiss even though the unit is working fine. this will lead to an overall loss in money on the job never tell an hvac contractor you are an engineer cost is usually multiplied by 1.4 if you tip them off. Engineers often generate nuisance calls to the contractor when nothing is wrong with the equipment.the contractor is then uncompensated for the nuisance calls.I am of course only thinking out loud and hypothetically.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Hi JHZR2: I just read this whole thread and was curious what you ended up doing as I am having the same issue wondering why something so much less complicated than central air is almost the same price. Did you ever look into buying the equipment yourself and then hiring someone to install it - I would think that option would be much cheaper but not sure if 'doable'. Thanks for any suggestions as we are about to embark on this project very soon.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I got it, I'm going into business as general contractor specializing in residential split AC installations. I'll buy the systems, hire a laborer to prep the site and set up all of the components.

If I get 20 or 30 such customers, perhaps I can bid down some HVAC contractors and find one to start up the systems at $200/ea.

In some circumstances this will certainly come in lower than the HVAC guy who bids what he thinks the customer is willing to pay. Probably also in many more.

Time for a little more competition.

Of course after a while I'll probably start to get greedy too...


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Hello all,

I am a resident of NJ and have decided to install 2 o these units.

I have a licensed contractor for the install. Can anyone recommend where I can purchase Fujitsu units in NJ?


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

greenhousems,

You will get better responses if you start your own thread.

Any reason why your licensed contractor can't buy the units and install them for you?


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I am in the same exact boat with the OP. I have decided to do the "heavy lifting" and hang the indoor units, set the pad and outdoor unit, run the 220 and wire up the disconnect, drill the holes in the rooms, run the line sets and control wires, install the condensate pumps and anything else that I missed.

After I get it all ready, my HVAC guy will come over and set it up for about $500. I am expecting to save about $10,000 in labor which I thought was ridiculous for a 3 room install.

For the record, my quote was for a LG 9000 BTU x 3 system for $15,000 installed. I am ordering the units from PexSupply and all the parts should come in at about $4,500.

Good luck to the OP, I feel your pain.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I'm finishing part of my attic into a new room. During this process, 2 line sets needed to be lengthened and moved. $ ducts needed the same and the condensation lines needed to be moved. My contractor had an AC guy do it for $700.
I now need my mini split system hooked up. I have already set the compressor outside on a pad with the 220 line run to it. I have mounted the plate to the wall and have pictures of what is behind the drywall showing no studs in the way. The same AC contractor told me he wanted $1200 to hook it up. This is a much easier job than what he has already done.
When did the secret price fixing memo go out to all of these guys?


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Follow-up
I made number of calls and was able to get my system installed for $500.
I had a 30' run for the line set, the installer supplied the line set, wire and condensation line.
After seeing all of this done, I don't see the magic that happens with a mini-split system - it's just connecting a few lines and doing the same evac as in every other system.
That being said, I love the system, it's just too bad that the installers price it so high, it really could take over.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Just had my mini split system installed. I agree with OP and some posters that the installation cost is high, in the states.

I paid 5k to have a 12k unit installed, it is not the simplest installation i will agree, given how my little condo unit is configured, but still I too think the cost is a bit too high. It is probably true these systems are still newer in the states compared to other systems, and that can contribute to the high cost.

Mini split is very common in Asian countries. My parents who live in Hong Kong had theirs installed long ago. It only costs them 300 including the unit. Yes it is a much smaller unit probably not even a 9000btu, and they did get a demo Toshiba unit(no, not a rebadge nor refurbish), but 300 including unit and labor, compare to 5000 that i just paid, you do the math.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Some folks are asking for an update, so here it is. Ended up getting a daikin 24.5 seer, 9000 btu system, with lineset for about $1300 delivered to my door. Bought the tools that I didn't have, including a new high end ritchey yellow jacket vacuum pump. All US made stuff including the gauges and the 410 flaring tool, which apparently makes a better, slightly deeper flare than a standard 45 degree SAE.

Still I'm less than $2k in. While I went daikin, a similar seer unit from
Mitsubishi would have been only around $250 more.

I'm thinking of doing another install or two for my home as these systems are really great. We've used them for years in the Caribbean where they are the norm, so we always were pretty familiar.

Going back to the initial premise of the thread, the reason for asking was because these things are advertised to be easier to install than ducted systems, and they are. Before we made the purchase, we did have options re-quoted for different stuff. Even from the same installer, it was cheaper to retrofit ducting to my home and install a traditional system than to go the mini split route. Yet these systems are super easy to install. I still don't get it and I guess I never will. Apparently putting full ducting and a giant forced air system is cheaper for the HVAC pros (and thus what they're quoting me) to install than a mini split. Never got an answer and will never understand why I guess. Oh well.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I bought and installed a minisplit system myself. I am an appliance repairman so I am licensed to handle refrigerant but I am not experienced in HVAC. The units come pre-charged usually for up to 25 ft. of line. If you buy a line set of approximately the correct length you don't even need to make any of your own flair connections or have the unit charged. I vacuumed the lines because I have the equipment The lines come charged with nitrogen and shouldn't gain much moisture in the few seconds it takes to tighten them up. You can check for leaks with inexpensive bubble leak detector. I did the part of the install that a reasonably proficient DYIer couldn't do himself in about two hours. My guess is that HVAC pros charge too much for this job because they have no experience with these systems. As competition increases prices will come down.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Another price point. $1K for unit and installation. This of course is a very cheap and minimal installation but it reinforces the questioning of the commonly quoted installation costs.

For a basic install I would think that about $500 would be a fair price for installation. Plus a reasonable markup on materials.

I have learned in FL that many(not all) AC people are very opportunistic with their quotes. Some of the posts in this thread confirm that..

This thread was entertaining guys. Mucho Gracias.

Here is a link that might be useful: Amazon Price


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

I have a different view of the hvac trade than any expressed in this thread. I firmly believe a national movement was organized by a few large companies about 1989 to bring hvac work beneath the umbrella of what would become a few corprations controling legislation and licensing. Those few were able to bring about EPA regulations and licenseing as they presently exist. Regulations will progressivly make it increasingly difficult for small companies. My definition of large is multiple offices in multiple states. A business with 3 locations in a metro area running 20 trucks is small by my defination here. Those difinitions will change as time passes and two owner/techs with two trucks already accounts for much less work than a few years ago. Prices charged by large concurns alow smaller operators to set thier prices higher similar to how unions alow many non union workers to get better wages. Presently,a poorly run business can stay in business as a result of charging more than would be nessary if the operators were doing everything right. Public support and consiquintly political support was enthusiactic for licensing but everone I talked to thought each tech was to be licensed similar to electricians and plumbers. Instead,1 license can open unlimited offices with unlimited number of techs all over the state. 3 licenses can cover the intire western coast or 10 can cover all the high demand mid South and Southeast combined. Can you visualize working all that area with an equal number of plumbing or electrician licenses? So the outragious labor and gerenious markup on material is thanks to big business and surly attitude to bottom feeders.
In response to what has been said here. Did everyone notice double dipping by those supporting the prices of labor and mark up on equipment? An example is talking about overhead for training then saying the contractor has to charge more because they are incompitent when it comes to mini-splits. In fact the only way offered to arive at those prices was to start with a figure for hourly labor that already included overhead then adding in fuel,insurance,office staff ect ect ect that was in overhead to begain with.
All the talk about going broke failed to mention the effect of saying "we don't believe in competive shopping nor questions from customers about anything other than how much they should pay us".


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Based on my own experience the A/C service business along with some of the manufacturers (Lennox) want to build in some profit margins that other trades don't enjoy.

You can get minor A/C service, and electrical and plumbing service with the charges being understandable and some (hours) easily verifiable by the home owner. From the plumbing and electrical side they buy their parts from local parts houses at prices not far from HD's. Many homeowners will consequently have some sense of what parts cost. The plumber that charges $25 for a flapper valve won't typically attempt to charge $1000 for a common toilet. Electrical much the same. A/C service calls involving minor parts and refrigerant drop invoices that are dominated by the hourly rate much like the others. When A/C installations involve work or components not familiar to the homeowner the gloves come off. Builders who deal with A/C installs daily often pay for an entire system for less that the homeowner will pay only for a condenser replacement. The builder has no idea what the condenser costs but he can quickly evaluate how well a quote matches up with his detailed requirements. As a consequence you don't hear or read complaints about how an A/C contractor stole a builder's lunch money. These builders don't have any sympathy for training, gas prices, salesmen salaries or any other components of overhead. The typical builder has a small number of qualified companies that bid and while nobody gets rich they make a living. A similar situation happens with the other trades. The question of why split systems installs are so expensive is not answered by looking at the time spent doing the install. The question by the A/C company owner is; "While they are trying to figure out how to install this split system how much could they make installing components with high markup?"

Most recently a contractor who I had used for years had the opportunity to replace a 1 1/2 ton evaporator on a 6 year old system. First it was claimed that the parts were not available (a lie uncovered in about 2 minutes on line), next he wanted to replace the air handling unit including the electric heater and the evaporator. I challenged him on the need to replace anything other than the evaporator to which he responded "I guess that'll work". He calls the office which emails me a $3200 quote to replace the evaporator which included a $2800 Lennox evaporator. Lennox intentionally doesn't state list prices on these components to aid in deception. It took a little work but I found a Lennox source who for the same component quoted for $1200 new in the box. I hate to think what the quote would have been for the air handler box and strip heaters. Again, this is a company I had used for years.

While trying to get some phone quotes on a time and materials basis I found over half claimed that they don't due business that way or flatly refused. I find that odd because other trades often prefer to charge on a T&M basis as opposed to a fixed cost. The A/C folks just don't want any visibility into the cost to allow for a reasonable comparison of bids. I expect that once the sales of split systems grow there will be a dichotomy in the A/C business. Most of the old firms won't sell or service split systems. New companies will have show rooms like abroad, sell at competitive prices and will provide a reasonable cost install.

I cant' wait.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Ask the contractors why it is so expensive. Note that it cost me a little over $2200/room to install 7 indoor, high-wall and 3 outdoor Mitsu systems. That was all 6000 and 9000 btu. All were installed so that the connections ran under the house, not out the outside walls. All but one were installed in interior walls.


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

JHZR2 - New here. Thanks for asking the tough questions about the pricing of an install. I made the decision a while back that I wanted to use one of the split ductless systems in my basement office. I have not purchased yet, but this thread has provided valuable insight into the possible hidden costs. I was originally thinking that an HVAC contractor would do the install, after I purchased the unit. But now I'm having second thoughts and strongly considering the DIY approach, except for the system start-up phase.

I was really surprised in the way you were attacked by a couple of members which I felt was totally out of line, but as we all know, there are all kinds in this world. And unfortunately we meet some of them online.

Was glad to hear about your success. Please do keep the others of us that are facing the same decision to DIY informed, as I'm sure you can provide some valuable 'lessons learned' about the experience.

This post was edited by redowns on Wed, Nov 6, 13 at 14:09


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RE: Why is split ductless so expensive when installed?

Just for your reference. I live in Long Beach, CA. I have a HVAC license technician to install all 4 mini-split systems (electric outlet ready). I guess I got a good deal where he charged $350 for labor per each including refrigerant, punching a 3-inch hole thru the wall and setup...
I bought the systems myself at http://www.airconditioner.com/

Here is a link that might be useful: Mini-split systems


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