Ductless Minisplits for DIYers
Friedrich is launching a ductless minisplit heat pump designed for installation by a homeowner with only modest mechanical skills and no professional HVAC training.
Ductless minisplits are high-efficiency air conditioners and heaters that include an outdoor compressor and an indoor fan unit, typically mounted on a wall. They are usually sized and installed by professionals, partly because of the heat gain and loss calculations that are required to choose the right unit and partly because the components are connected by separate electrical, condensate, and refrigerant lines that may be difficult for a non-pro to handle.
Friedrich hopes its Breeze ductless air conditioners will help homeowners skirt those problems and do the work themselves. The San Antonio, Texas, company says the unit is available nationally.
Just two sizes to choose from
Heating-and-cooling professionals normally run Manual J calculations before choosing a specific piece of equipment to make sure its output matches the heating-and-cooling loads in a particular space. But Friedrich is offering only two models of the Breeze, one for spaces up to 500 sq. ft. and another for spaces up to 1600 sq. ft.
The company says its inverter-equipped motors, the same technology used by pioneers like Fujitsu and Mitsubishi, help the unit reach its set point quickly and hold it more efficiently than conventional equipment.
The only other decision installers will have to make is whether to run the modular connecting line through a 3-in. hole in the wall behind the fan unit, or through an accessory that sits in the bottom of a window opening. Through-the-wall installations are hidden when installation is complete.
The connecting line comes with a quick-connect fitting allowing it to be snapped into place without tools, according to Friedrich. The compressor also has snap-in electrical connectors.
The whole process is covered in an 8-minute YouTube video:
The smaller of the two units has a maximum cooling output of 12,000 Btu, puts out 7000 Btu of heat at 17 F. (11,000 Btu at 47 F.), and runs on 115v. The large units has a maximum cooling output of 24,000 Btu, puts out 14,200 Btu at 17 F. (22,0000 Btu at 47 F.) and requires 230v.
The units range from about $2,000 to $2,500.
This is the module that mounts on the inside wall. It's connected to the outside compressor with a bundled line that includes electrical, refrigerant and tubing for condensate.
The Breeze compressor sits outside on a pad that's included with the kit. The maximum distance between inside and outside units is 25 ft.
This snap-together fitting is for the refrigerant piped between indoor and outdoor units. The electrical connection is also a quick-connect.