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Old 05-16-2016, 10:37 AM   #1
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HVAC Costs

My main source of heat the past several years has been baseboard and a free-standing NG stove in the basement. The stove is kaput and so I plan on putting in a mini-split heat pump AC/Heating system. A good quality system capable of handling sub-zero temps runs about 3k for equipment.

I have a dedicated 220 circuit sitting there unused. The air handlers will mount on the wall with the attached garage on the opposite side, so running the drain and freon lines is super-simple. I'm no pro but I do have some experience. I would rather get a professional install since I no longer own the equipment needed and I have too many other projects. Not to mention, I don't have any experience with these particular systems - only ginormous military A/C units.

But....I'm getting estimates running between 7k and 14k. There's no way I'm paying anyone $4,000 to $10,000 (that one is just plain silly) for someone to come in and do 4 hours worth of work!!!

I guess I'm just venting here. I'll buy and install the equipment myself (for me - estimating a full day) then pay someone to come in and do the initial service.

Need to do more shooting and less home projects. I guess if I mess it up really bad, I can shoot my home projects.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:59 AM   #2
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I had HVAC installed in my house in 2008 when I bought a for clusure and someone actually stole the furnace and heat pump just left copper lines hanging. Check into rebates for installing High efficiency equipment. I received a cash rebate and also a rebate on the install all told it cost me about $4,000.00 reduced from $7,000.00 also tax deductable.
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Old 05-16-2016, 11:17 AM   #3
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That blows. People will steal almost anything Grrr. I used to park my Tundra at trailheads sometimes for a week or more - their catalytic converters were a pretty hot item to steal around here. Fortunately mine was never stolen but I did look into buying a hardened cable "cage" to protect it at one point.

That's a pretty good savings you got! If the local utility offers a good rebate, I guess it could pay for the entire unit.
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Old 05-16-2016, 11:28 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by swca View Post
I had HVAC installed in my house in 2008 when I bought a for clusure and someone actually stole the furnace and heat pump just left copper lines hanging. Check into rebates for installing High efficiency equipment. I received a cash rebate and also a rebate on the install all told it cost me about $4,000.00 reduced from $7,000.00 also tax deductable.
I'm surprised they left the copper tubing. Back when the housing market crash was in full swing, there were full crews stripping vacant homes of all copper and anything else of value.
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Old 05-16-2016, 12:30 PM   #5
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FYI, on the heat pump side, bigger is not better! Its been a number of years but I owned a house with an oversized heat pump and it had to be replaced within the first year (at the builders expense) and was well on the way to failing at the end of the second year before I had the opportunity to go to gas.

I was told that an oversized unit 'short cycles' which, as it turns out means that subsequent starts occur while there is still pressure on the compressor. This apparently is the equivalent of trying to push start a car going slightly uphill and will cause premature failure.

It did for me! I was quoted a rule of thumb that said get the size right or go smaller. Heat pumps have to run long enough to provide enough heat or cool so that the period between cycles is long enough to allow the pressure to bleed off.

FWIW, I am not an HVAC guy and do not pretend to be one but I saw this happen with a new unit within a year of moving in and I sure ended up paying enough dollars to pay attention!

As you consider your options, ask questions about sizing the unit and remember that 'Bigger is not always better'!

Russ
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Old 05-16-2016, 12:55 PM   #6
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Thanks BugSlayer! I have read that as well. The first guy to give an estimate didn't even measure the house, so needless to say, any estimate of his would be suspect.
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Old 05-16-2016, 03:37 PM   #7
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I am not a HVAC guy but I do have minor involvement.
Examine Geothermal if at all possible. Cut my electric bill in more than half.
Also the HVAC people and realtors can get all the home dimension off county government site. Don't have to measure but I would think a good one would.
Good luck.
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Old 05-16-2016, 04:17 PM   #8
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Save your money. Buy a chainsaw, get some exercise, and enjoy the free heat. 48" diameter at the base. Each 16" bucked log piece is a days of heat when the temps are single digits.
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Old 05-16-2016, 06:07 PM   #9
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I can only wish I was in a position to trade sweat for heat. But that's the plan in the near future! Just got another estimate - about $4500 for the equipment (which I validated as a fair cost) then another 5k for labor, which the guy admitted was half a day. Damn - I chose the wrong trade.
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Old 05-17-2016, 04:37 AM   #10
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Spotly, you definitely don't want an oversized system, they do cycle too often and don't take the humidity out of the room so it always feel wet inside. Mitsubishi is the leader in ductless splits. The only issue I have with Mitsubishi is parts are not always readily available and they change their systems very often. That means basically if you need to replace your condenser, the new one might not be able to communicate with your evaporator section and therefore you have to replace both indoor and outdoor units. Also after 7 years they may not make your parts anymore. These units are very efficient and they make almost no noise. They come with an inverter which regulates the speed of the compressor. They never hard start like a conventional system, they start slow and ramp up based on demand. All compressors have pressure on them when they start, you just want the pressure to equalize before restarting. When they get near set point they slow down to keep dehumidifying. This may allow you to set your thermostat to a higher temperature in the summer because it feel colder due the constant dehumidifying. If you are doing your own installation make sure you run nitrogen through the lines before brazing any copper fittings. The nitrogen displaces the oxygen in the line and stops oxidation. If you braze without nitrogen you get this gray flakey stuff inside the pipes which will eventually clogged the expansion valve. You also need to evacuate the system properly. Most companies recommend evacuating to 500 microns and recommend triple evacuation. That means breaking the vacuum three times before getting to 500 microns.This will ensure a dry system which is very important with the new refrigerants that are being used. Most system use R-410A today and the oil used for this gas absorbs water very quick.
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