Does anyone have experience with some of the new low cost Mini Split Heat Pumps now available for under $1,000 for a 9,000 Btu unit?  Building a low energy house and only need a small unit but prices are all over the place from $6-700 up to $2.000.  Hard to find good reviews on these units.  Any in put is appreciated.  James

Tags: Heat, Mini, Pumps, Split

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Mitsubishi has SEER 21 and SEER 26 single head units that wholesale in the lower end of that range.

Mitsubishi is well regarded

James - I highly recommend sticking with the big guys on ductless mini splits. Fujitsu, Daikin, Mitsubishi are all really good. There is a second tier of providers such as LG, which is ok, and a ton of knock offs that I would stay away from.

Though I am not personally familiar with these newest super-high SEER models, mini-splits are certainly a mature technology, just unfamiliar to us in the US. These were predominant in Jamaica when we studied the A/C industry there in 1998.  I've seen them frequently in Europe and South America too. We put one in our own server room (Petaluma, CA) many years ago and it worked great.

You should check out this old post from Dave Robinson if you haven't already (he recently updated it too).

PS - No affiliation or endorsement of any particular mfr or model.

I am a contractor and have installed these units. Some of them are capable of heating down to -13 deg. F. They are fairly complex and work well but must be installed properly with nitrogen gas and vaccum pumps and micron gauges. Awesome efficiency but not recommended to install without proper tools.


The Mitsubishis I install connect with flare fittings, which means no brazing. No brazing means no nitrogen purge. If brazing is required to install other minisplit brands, then by all means be sure to use a nitrogen purge. A nitrogen purge is standard procedure for conventional split heat pump installations, so I don't see that it represents a hardship peculiar to minisplits.


If you are not employing nitrogen purge, vacuum pump and micron guage with conventional split system installations, consider another line of work.


Vacuum pumps and micron guages should be used with EVERY split system installation, mini or not

Thanks I always use nitrogen on every job to ensure cleanliess even on a new lineset and also to use to pressure test to ensure your fitting s have no leaks. Then the microns gauge we use on every system to ensure a proper vaccum. If there ever is a leak on a mini split the only way to ensure a proper charge as my understanding is to remove all freon and weigh back in to start over.

If you have a lot of competition in your local area you may want to consider using mini-splits by Friedrich Air Conditioning from Texas. The equipment is made in Japan by one of the major manufacturers, so it is good stuff. If everybody has Mitsubishi, Fujitsu, and Daikin equipment it can be a good move to carry a US brand. We know of a major outfit in Hawaii that is using the technique in their market. We have had good experiences with the equipment to date.

Hawaii??? I guess we are starting to have rainy fall weather in Portland.

How can you call it an American brand if it is made in Japan.  My experiance with the company is far from good.    cheap price isn't everything 

Steven, I used the correct terminology. There is a distinction between brand and who manufactures the product. The Friedrich products are OEM produced by one of the major three manufacturers in Japan. You can go and spend $300-$500 more to get the Japanese brand if you like. The importance here is that you get US-support and can talk to a real person if you run into an issue.

We would all like to see manufacturing coming back to the US and North America for that matter. GE got major funding from the US government to get the GE GeoSpring manufacturing back to Louisville, Kentucky. Do you think that they would have moved it back without the extra US-dollars?

I have been looking for the last 3 years for anybody to produce WaterSense showerheads in the  US. Not possible - there is not anybody.

If you show me the US manufactured mini-split that you are currently using we can talk.

The last I heard about Friedrich, DOE had referred three of their room A/C models to EPA for enforcement after failing to meet Energy Star requirements. Has anybody heard anything more about this?

This doesn't necessarily say anything about their re-labeled (Japanese-manufactured) mini-splits, but it certainly has an effect on my opinion of the brand.

Tom, I actually called the factory yesterday to get information. We do not do much with room air conditioning up in the Pacific Northwest, so I was not aware of this at all. 

Friedrich told me that the original test method for room air conditioners were administered by the EPA when ENERGY STAR began. The responsibility moved over to the DOE and new test methods were established. A total of 6 out of 36 ENERGY STAR listed failed the new test procedure. All of these units were delisted by ENERGY STAR. Friedrich has introduced new models that qualify under the new testing procedures.

It looks like a change in testing methodology that caused the de-listing. We currently see similar things going on around the topic of heat pump water heaters. The ENERGY STAR rating is given based on a fictional climate that does not really exist. Many of the HPHWs won't meet ENERGY STAR requirements if a Northern climate was used.

Be careful...just because a particular set of climate conditions rarely or never exists nearby does not mean they don't exist elsewhere. A heat pump water heater that struggles in an unheated Maine or Minnesota garage or basement positively flourishes in Florida.

Conversely, it is understandable for northerners to place little priority on the importance of right-sizing AC for proper dehumidification when their cooling season consists of just a few 3-5 day "heat waves" that carry north ambient dewpoints we combat 5 straight months per year

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