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Ductless AC in older home - any experiences?

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[OP]
Deal Addict
Jan 23, 2002
4265 posts
296 upvotes
Hamilton

Ductless AC in older home - any experiences?

So I have a 2.5 level older home (not quite 100 years) and we have hydronic radiant heat. The house is double brick and has a somewhat pretty good envelope for a house this age (I have tried to correct quite a bit of it - it's still leaky compared to modern homes). I would like to add ductless AC (heatpump not required), but the cost for a complete Mitsubishi level multi-split system is pretty substantial (starting to get quotes this week). I have spoken to two installers and here is the feedback so far:

Installer #1) Don't buy multi-split/zone, instead buy single zone and add as you need. I can see his point that two single zone systems appear to cost less than the multi-split/zone and I can add on as needed.

Installer #2) Focus multi-split install on upper floors and let cool air drop to first floor. Two zones.

Has anyone tried either of these configurations? Every bedroom has a ceiling fan and my goal is to keep the place comfortable on the really humid days/nights. I don't want to be capable of keeping the house like a meat locker.

While I can appreciate the practicality of #1, it seems like the labour might negate any equipment savings, plus I end up with multiple compressors.

Option two is appealing if I can really expect the cool air to filter down. I expect to install the ac heads in the hallways on the staircase landings. The installer is looking for a solution that could permit me to install two heads with expandability of a third.

Everything I read says Mitsubishi and Daikin are tops. Fujitsu, LG, Samsung seem to be also well regarded, but with varying degrees of unhappy reviews and tales of poor support. I have to admit the RFDer in me is curious about the ductless brands like YGMI, Goodman, Shinco, etc. If you have a ductless, what brand are you running and how reliable has it been?

Any advice is welcome owners or installers.
21 replies
Deal Expert
Oct 6, 2005
16731 posts
2409 upvotes
I was quoted 5K for a multi-zone system, and about 4.5K for a single zone system.

Seems awfully pricey.

However with the multi-zone system, additional heads are only 600.00 apparently.

Perhaps the company I got the quote from was just over priced.
Deal Addict
Jun 15, 2006
1310 posts
150 upvotes
I don't know how big your house is, but I had a 15,000 BTU heat pump installed on the 2nd floor stairway and it works fine. Obviously, the 2nd floor stays nice and cool which is important at night. The ground floor has a tougher time staying cool, especially during the hot days of July/August and in my kitchen which is at one end of the house, but I find it acceptable. Just don't be expecting the comfort level to be like an air conditioner if you opt for just the single unit instead of 2 units or a multi-split/zone unit. The cold air does fall down to the ground floor, but it takes time and depending on how far the ground floor room is relative to the ductless, some areas will not be great from a coolness point of view. I think the important thing to remember is that, with 1 unit, you have to start the cooling right in the morning and just leave it on the whole day. You can't leave it off in the morning and then turn it on when you come home because the house will already be too hot and it'll take a while for the ductless to cool the house down. And having ceiling fans and other fans will help the cold air circulate.

Net net, 1 unit is sufficient for most average sized 2-storey homes IMHO. But if you or anyone else in the family is sensitive to heat, I would suggest you get a 2nd unit for the main floor or a multi-split to save you complaining later :)

P.S. the heat pump is almost the same price as a cooling-only ductless and I find that having heat has been useful for the spring/fall when it's cold, but not cold enough to turn on the boiler. I don't use the heating from the heat pump that often, but since it's almost the same price, I didn't mind paying a little bit extra for that flexibility.
Deal Guru
Dec 31, 2005
13306 posts
740 upvotes
Despite most companies saying that one should put a ductless at the top of the stairs and that it will cool the rest of the house, I have never seen this work as promised. All the houses around here have that and it is only ok for the tiny semis...we had some 10 friends with this set up.

In our current detached we have one head at the top of the stairs and one in the kitchen...this gets the entire house nice and cool....chilly cool.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jan 23, 2002
4265 posts
296 upvotes
Hamilton
Thanks for the feedback guys.
nalababe wrote: Despite most companies saying that one should put a ductless at the top of the stairs and that it will cool the rest of the house, I have never seen this work as promised. All the houses around here have that and it is only ok for the tiny semis...we had some 10 friends with this set up.

In our current detached we have one head at the top of the stairs and one in the kitchen...this gets the entire house nice and cool....chilly cool.

May I ask if your 2nd level ac head is directly in the staircase?

I'm leaning toward a 2 zone system with zone-1 on level two, but the next question is if zone-2 should be level one or level two-and-a-half. Worst case I guess level two-and-a-half could use a portable unit as/if needed. No one is going to climb into one of those windows :)
Deal Guru
Dec 31, 2005
13306 posts
740 upvotes
synaptech wrote: Thanks for the feedback guys.



May I ask if your 2nd level ac head is directly in the staircase?

I'm leaning toward a 2 zone system with zone-1 on level two, but the next question is if zone-2 should be level one or level two-and-a-half. Worst case I guess level two-and-a-half could use a portable unit as/if needed. No one is going to climb into one of those windows :)

Head for the second level is over the staircase and blows into the upper hall and rooms.

At our old house we did have youse a portable unit.
Member
Mar 24, 2009
386 posts
28 upvotes
I had a split-level condo (1050 sq ft) and had an LG 12000 btu unit installed at the end of the unit in the second bedroom, in line with the hallway leading to the rest of the condo.

It worked well, however, the room with the AC duct was quite cold.
Deal Expert
Oct 6, 2005
16731 posts
2409 upvotes
For all those that installed ductless, how much did you guys pay and what did you install?
Sr. Member
Nov 26, 2002
641 posts
81 upvotes
synaptech wrote: I have to admit the RFDer in me is curious about the ductless brands like YGMI, Goodman, Shinco, etc. If you have a ductless, what brand are you running and how reliable has it been?

I would steer away from any of these lesser brands. As others have mentioned the cost between cooling only and heat pump models is negligible in fact most units come from the factory as heat pump and are reengineered to become cooling only units.

Daikin is the worlds largest AC company and they invented the VRV (Variable Refrigerant Volume) technology 20+ years ago. The Daikin Quaternity system has some nice features including dehumidification and an advanced air cleaning and purification system that decomposes harmful bacteria and allergens commonly found in the air. It can deal with pathogens like E. coli as well as molds and allergens. It also features the Intelligent eye that senses a presence in room and adjusts temperatures autopmtically.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jan 23, 2002
4265 posts
296 upvotes
Hamilton
hempopotamus wrote: I would steer away from any of these lesser brands. As others have mentioned the cost between cooling only and heat pump models is negligible in fact most units come from the factory as heat pump and are reengineered to become cooling only units.

Daikin is the worlds largest AC company and they invented the VRV (Variable Refrigerant Volume) technology 20+ years ago. The Daikin Quaternity system has some nice features including dehumidification and an advanced air cleaning and purification system that decomposes harmful bacteria and allergens commonly found in the air. It can deal with pathogens like E. coli as well as molds and allergens. It also features the Intelligent eye that senses a presence in room and adjusts temperatures autopmtically.

I have no question that Daikin and Mitsubishi are best. I've read issues about every other brand. Any experience a company called Airlux? They have a Canadian presence in BC and claim a Mitsubishi compressor.
Deal Guru
Dec 31, 2005
13306 posts
740 upvotes
We have Mitsubishi...previous owners installed.

I'll look it up if I can...they left most of their documentation.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jan 23, 2002
4265 posts
296 upvotes
Hamilton
coolspot wrote: I was quoted 5K for a multi-zone system, and about 4.5K for a single zone system.

Seems awfully pricey.

However with the multi-zone system, additional heads are only 600.00 apparently.

Perhaps the company I got the quote from was just over priced.

What was the brand, how many zones, and total BTU?
Member
Mar 24, 2009
386 posts
28 upvotes
coolspot wrote: For all those that installed ductless, how much did you guys pay and what did you install?
~$3500
Deal Addict
User avatar
Sep 30, 2003
3908 posts
127 upvotes
Toronto
Got a mitsubishi Mr. Slim 15K BTU cooling only single unit for $3600 (tax in) this year.
--
There is no happy ending
Member
Dec 10, 2007
324 posts
13 upvotes
I need a ductless unit installed on the second floor. Can anyone post info on any reliable installers around $4K ?

Thanks,
Member
User avatar
Sep 20, 2005
439 posts
146 upvotes
I have had a Fujitsu 15RLQ since 2008 and love it as it was the most efficient at that time for the size (20 seer cooling and 10 HSPF heating). Came with full 10 year parts and labour warranty and was 4600$ including tax, install, permits etc. My house is split level 1250 sq feet. I had a problem with the motor in the fan and they replaced it no questions asked. I would certainly go heat pump as you will not regret the savings in the winter especially if you have electric baseboard heat. IMO, I would put Fujitsu among the best also and there are a few other threads where other RFD ers say the same. As for Air-lux, they were selling them on e-bay a few years ago. They are very in-expensive compared to others (or they were at the time), but also had a fair share of complaints. In the end, you get what you pay for.
Newbie
Jun 27, 2013
1 posts
Toronto
I have used United Energy in the past for 6 different installs. I have 4 Mitsubishi Mr Slim units and 2 Samsung Silver Nano units in my two properties. I think they are called Dr Comfort now or they are owned by the same company since when you phone them its the same reception. Nevertheless they were very clever in the way they planned the job by going through my closet space through multiple floors of my 4 story building. None of the other contractors had a better idea on how to get me cooling without trashing my century old building. Super clean installation that is still holding up 8 years later (for the mitsubishi's only 5 years for the Samsungs). I have had some drainage issues with one of the units getting backflow from the eavestrough during heavy rainfall and humidity. Apparently this is common according to the service guy who comes to clean the units most years but taking the drain line out of the eave seems to have stopped that. Dr Comfort/United sent me a flyer a few months ago promoting a 1 ton hitachi unit installed for $2200 with a 10 year warranty!?!? I only got 5 years for mine ( :o but oh well I don't think they are going to break any time soon anyway (fingers crossed). So thats my 2 cents, great company to deal with if you want a relationship with the installer for maintenance afterwards. 416 503 3159 is the number I use to reach them or email them off the website.. here is a pic of one the Samsung compressors for you guys...[IMG]http://i.imgur.com/gr9NUha.jpg[/IMG]


I LOVE my ductless units!!!! WAAAY better than central air and heat

Have a great summer

-Dean
Deal Guru
Dec 31, 2005
13306 posts
740 upvotes
Our entire neighbourhood...at least the old homes...have ductless

We would never only get the single head at the top of the stairs. It just doesn't cool the rest of the house well, especially in old homes in a non open plan.

In our current house we have two heads. One in the upstairs hall and the other in the kitchen. Far far better.
P
We are starting to have problems with the units. But that isn't surprising given their age of 13 years.
Deal Addict
Mar 8, 2012
2718 posts
1460 upvotes
Ottawa
Last fall I saw some 12K BTU mini split units on sale at a Rona (in Quebec) for about $900. These units were built for DIY installation with quick-connects on the line set. Basically, put a hole in the wall for the line set, mount the head unit and condensor, wire them up, connect the line set and away you go.

A relative in Quebec City installed one himself in the spring of 2012 and it works quite well. He picked his up from some place in Montreal for $750. Found this dealer on "Tuango".

I have never seen these on a sales floor in Ontario. Must be some kind of law or something forcing us to hire a "contracteur" to guide us and empty our wallets in our quest for comfort.
prae praesto filum clostrum
Sr. Member
Nov 24, 2002
892 posts
71 upvotes
Toronto
Generic question: how can a 12K BTU ductless AC be good enough for an average size house?? I lived in a 1960's apartment a few years back and had a 11.5K window BTU AC and it was barely enough for the 650 sq feet place (north facing too!)

Isn't 10K BTU same as 1 ton central AC? Rule of thumb is 1 ton per 1000 sq feet of well sealed home. With home with little to no insulation, bump up. (Basement space not counted into formula). So for my current house with 650 sq feet per floor, 1.5 ton would be fine but since its 100 years old 2 ton works better (barely keeps up on hot days at 25C!!)

With this logic, shouldn't most people here getting 20K+ BTU ductless for complete home coverage??

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