Barron Heating AC Electrical & Plumbing Blog: Archive for the ‘Tax Credits’ Category

Ductless Exposed: The 8 Types of Ductless Systems

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

NOTE: this article assumes you know what a ductless heat pump is, if you need some pre-education, click here. You can also visit my YouTube Channel for walkthrus on installed systems!

  1. Single Zone Basic (i.e: Lennox MS8)
  2. Single Zone Feature Rich (i.e.: Daikin L Series)
  3. Single Zone Specialty (i.e.: Fujitsu RLS2)
  4. 2-4 Zone Basic (i.e.: Lennox MS8 Multi)
  5. 2-4 Zone Feature Rich (i.e. Daikin MXS)
  6. 2-6/8 Zone Flex (i.e. Fujitsu HFI, Daikin RMXS Super Multi)
  7. 2-8 Zone VRV(F) (i.e Daikin VRV3-S)
  8. Radiant Heating w/ Domestic Water Heating (i.e. Daikin Altherma)

The reason why I am writing this is pretty much the same as all my other posts; too often contractors offer you a ductless system without telling you what other options are available. So, in light of this, I am going to help you understand the 8 ductless residential systems that I have listed above. Settle in, because this is going to take a few minutes!

Each of the eight has it’s own special place in this world, so let’s break them down so you can figure out what will work best in your application.

Single Zone Basic

This system is entry level ductless. You still get all the efficiency and “ductless” benefits, but usually warranty and features (like programming, etc.) are limited. If you hate your TV remote and technology in general, then this is the ductless for you! ON/OFF – HEAT/COOL. That’s it.

Single Zone Feature Rich

IF you want ductless AND you want the highest level of control, satisfaction and warranty, then a feature rich system suites you well. Things like 3D Airflow, programming, wi-fi, motion sensing, etc., etc. come built in!

Single Zone Specialty

There are 3 types of ductless buyers; those who want just efficiency (Basic), those who want efficiency and comfort (Feature Rich) and those who are disgusted by the idea of a ductless head on their wall….Specialty!!

If you are in this category  you want ductless, but dread it at the same time. The specialty system, like the Fujitsu RLS2, might be for you. Still a feature rich system, but in slick packaging! The one drawback is that the sizing is limited so I would say you are going to get up to 1200 sq ft depending on how well the house was built.

Did I mention that these are also the most efficient ductless on the market? Clocking in at 12 HSPF+, they are very much an option to consider.

2-4 Zone Basic

Remember, a multi-zone system is just one outdoor unit and multiple indoor units. Most 2-4 Zone Basic buyers are just folks who fall into the “basic” category but have a house or specific need that warrants a 2nd, 3rd or 4th head; say, the Master Bedroom needs its own cooling or the basement/upstairs needs a head for heating/cooling. Maybe the 4th head goes in the Bonus Room?

Here is a video to help.

2-4 Zone Feature Rich

Replace “basic” with “feature rich” in the paragraph above. Sorry…I’m lazy.

2-6/8 Zone Flex

This is where things start to get a little different so pay close attention. When you go to my pictures, etc. and look at ductless; do you see how each head has a line that runs from it all the way back to the heat pump? This is how the standard multi zone systems work, if you have 4 heads you have 4 lines. Now, with a Flex system 2 of those run into 1 and the other 2 run into 1 (this is called a branch), then you have only 2 lines that have to run all the way back to the Heat Pump (HP) outside. This is one difference about the Flex. The other is that the HP is a larger 4 Ton and will allow you to, say, have just 2 large 24k heads on it or all the way up to 6 smaller heads.

Another difference is that while a standard 2-4 Zone Ductless has individual control points for each head (remotes/thermostats), the Flex can be operated from a SINGLE control. This allows for better management of a full home system.

Fujitsu’s HFI System falls somewhere in between Basic and Feature Rich, but when Daikin releases the RMXS Super Multi, I have a feeling it is going to be mind-blowing, word is that it will hit 11.3 HSPF on up to 8 heads. I want it NOW!…. tantrum. 🙂

2-8 Zone VRV(F) Light Commercial

Further up and further in! This is getting a bit obscure, but it IS an option. Okay, think of the flex, but those 2 lines that came back to the Heat Pump outside go into 1 and just 1 line goes out to the HP. This is possible because the metering of refrigerant is no longer done at the HP it is done at the indoor.

Again, we do install these, but here is an application. Million Dollar Home. Everything hidden, zoned, perfect and integrated into building management software for commercial buildings…. but its a house. You see where I am going?

Radiant Heating w/ Domestic Water Heating, Cooling and Solar

That guy is obviously European!  This system has been booming in Europe for a while and is now starting to destroy Geothermal here in the northwest. Hands down, this is the system that is the one to beat in custom construction right now. Radiant Heat with Inverter Heat Pump, Cooling to Fan Coil or Head, Domestic Hot Water with Solar Optional. Man oh Man. SUMMARY: IF YOU ARE BUILDING A HOME WITH RADIANT HEATING, YOU HAVE TO ASK ABOUT THIS SYSTEM! Watch video (it starts over at about 6:20…crazy Euros). Sorry, this one just does too much stuff to describe in text.

Posted by Wes Diskin

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‘Right Sizing’ Heat Pumps for the Pacific Northwest

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Sizing is one of the most important factors determining a heat pump’s efficiency and reliability. In Western Washington, heat pumps are sized according to the heating requirements of your home. If you lived in a climate where heat pumps are primarily used for air conditioning, then you homes cooling needs would determine the size of the heat pump.

In order to determine size, we must do a heat loss for your home as well as analyse your home’s duct sizing to determine air circulation requirements. For a proper installation these calculations must be done. This helps us “balance” the system to ensure that the heat pump delivers the correct amount of air to all rooms in the house.

Heat pumps are sized in two ways; tone and BTUs. Tons do not refer to the weight of the heat but rather are a measure of cooling capacity. Each ton of heat pump capacity produces about 12,000 BTUs of heat. A BTU is a measure of heat output; most heat pumps are in the 24,000 to 60,000 BTU range or 2 to 5 ton range.

As the temperature outside drops, the ability of most heat pump systems (except inverter) to deliver heat also drops somewhat and the heat needs of the house go up. It is possible to install a system large enough to heat the house no matter how low the temperature is outside. But a system which is sized to heat your home during the coldest day of the year will be over sized the rest of the year. This is not only uneconomical, but also places unnecessary stress on the compressor because the heat pump cycles on and off constantly.

In the Pacific NW’s maritime climate, a heat pump should be sized so that it can heat the house when outside temperatures are as low as 30 degrees, below that you will need to invest in a 2-stage or Modulating Heat Pump.

Posted by Wes Diskin

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All About Ductless – An Overview

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Save Energy & Money

A Ductless Heat Pump is a highly efficient heating and cooling system that is easily installed as a new primary heat source for electrically heated homes. Ductless systems heat and cool homes at a fraction of the cost of baseboards and wall heaters.

More Comfortable.

Ductless systems do a better job of distributing warm or cool air around a home, thus making your living areas more comfortable. They are especially well suited to homes with open floor plans, as one indoor unit can heat/cool a large living space quite well.

Easy to Install.

The ductless system design allows you to retain the original aesthetics of a room. They do not require expensive and invasive ductwork; they require only a three-inch opening in the wall or ceiling. Installation is as simple as mounting the indoor and outdoor units, connecting the refrigerant lines, and making a few electrical connections. Most installations can be done in a day or two.


Ductless Heating and Cooling systems can be used to heat and cool a wide variety of spaces. Here are a few popular residential applications:

  • Homes with Electric Heat – Ductless systems can replace or supplement inefficient existing electric baseboard/wall/ceiling units, woodstoves and other space heaters (propane, kerosene). A cost effective electric heat conversion in a small house might consist of a Ductless system serving the main area of the house, while leaving existing electric baseboards in bedrooms and bathrooms for supplementary heat when needed.
  • Remodels and Room Additions – A Ductless system can be used when a room is added to a house or an attic is converted to living space. Rather than extending the home’s existing ductwork or pipes or adding electric resistance heaters, the ductless heat pump can provide efficient heating and cooling.
  • New Construction – New homes can be designed or adapted to take advantage of the characteristics of ductless heat pumps. One or more systems might be installed in various “zones” of the house to simplify installation and minimize refrigerant line length.


Ductless systems have been around for several decades and are manufactured by many of the companies you’re used to buying products from. You can rest assured that your investment is in a proven technology that you will be happy with for many years to come.

Posted by Wes Diskin

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Equipment You Shouldn’t Keep – Knowing When to Cash In

Friday, March 29th, 2013

When you move into an existing home, there are many pieces of equipment that you may not want to keep. Some of them are just old and poor quality, while others cost you a lot of money and others still may be dangerous to you or your children. Before you settle into your space, make sure you have every one of your systems checked thoroughly for potential problems including inefficient heating, dangerous parts or environmentally unfriendly components.

Energy Cost

Number one on your list should be the cost of the energy needed to run your HVAC equipment. Furnaces and air conditioners in particular have become much more energy efficient in the last 10 years so older systems routinely cost much more money to operate than new ones. That doesn’t mean you should immediately rush out to replace your old furnace, but if it isn’t working properly or it’s costing you more money than you’d like, the cost benefit of a new system is often worth checking into.

Other things to check include your insulation, your air quality system, your ventilation system and anything used to heat or cool food in the kitchen – all of which may be less efficient than you might like.

Ozone Depleting Refrigerants

Older appliances like air conditioners may still use ozone depleting refrigerants that are no longer considered safe (or in some cases legal) for home use. If this is the case, not only does your system probably have a very low SEER/HSPF rating, it likely isn’t good for the environment or your own health. So, have your system replaced as soon as possible to avoid potentially negative side effects.

Dangerous Equipment

Finally, there are those pieces of equipment that are dangerous. If you find that your furnace has rust around the edges, your gas lines are kinked, or you have a dangerously out of date heat pump in your backyard, it may be time for some replacements. In general, these systems will last for years longer than they are considered safe and while you probably cannot buy a house without a working and safe furnace and air conditioner, you should still have them inspected carefully and replaced as soon as possible if you suspect problems.

Good HVAC equipment is hard to come by – if your home has it already, you’re in luck, but if you happen to move into a place with poor quality materials and equipment, have it replaced as soon as possible. Your health and wallet will both benefit greatly.

Posted by Wes Diskin

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