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3 Reasons NOT to buy a Ductless Mini Split online

33 thoughts on “3 Reasons NOT to buy a Ductless Mini Split online
Ed Ericson | Reply

I have been researching the dazzling array of HVAC equiptment available as well as a rating site or two. If I am to invest the $$$$ I am certainly going to make sure I properly fill out the paperwork and send it in that is common sense. If the manufacturer insists that for warranties’ sake certain accredited installers have to sign off or be involved in order for the warranty to be valid, I’ll make arrangements to do so. Again, common sense.
However, having the construction knowledge and experience that I have and the fact that many units come precharged with refrigerant, I have to take your sage advice with a grain of salt. Why? Because you have a vested interest in saying what you have. Some of those brands you mentioned aren’t even sold in this country, so if your desire is truly to help the comfort level of the consumers, why use the fear tactic? Save that for the politicians.

CT | Reply

I dove in for Mitsubishi. I live in a house and neighborhood that I will lose my butt if I have to pay trades for my remodelling. I also live in a town small enough that only a couple installers can be trusted because this technology is too new. The trusted couple way over charge and all tge rest approach with R22 redneck mentality and dont even know the flares need to be made larger nor use a torque wrench. Even if there is no leak at install, I could face failure later even compressor lock and $$ labor if they arent in business or I chose to change contractors. One fully licensed semi retiring contractor advised me to purchase online since I could get it cheaper than they could locally. They just inastalled their first mini and had leaks everywhere. This town doesnt accept new technolgy and that causes poor jobs because a lot of HVAC installers dont like minis. I was even laughed out of the most respected plumbing dealers store for requesting Uponor Pex pipe and expansion system which is much superior to standard Pex clamp or crimp systems with a Hahaha!

I have researched extremely h avily and know I could be making some design errors but feel I am more versed in 410a techniques unknown to R22 know-it-alls. I also realize there is a small chance I wont get a parts/component warranty. Mitsubishi will accept the manufacture date in the abscence of all paperwork. But I will be getting permitted ( considerd verification by Mistu for install date) to help minimize Mitsu voiding my serial number. They do not mention online purchase which they almost wont know except to infer. I know that only contractors can service and more business for them. Without my installation, I would have stuck with window units so I didnt take $$ out of anyone pocket and will only be adding. So everyone please help the DIY guy.
Their is a solution to all this and is being done by some. Create and offer a strategy for the DIYer. Recommend and sell equip to DIYer. Require pipe to be cut and flared by you but still installed also by DIYer. Then inspect and commission by you only. It will take patience to work in this type arrangement. But also the number one problem with HVAC systems in homes today is poor design and install by licensed persons so the industry has major problems already. Can you blame people taking on themselves. Its time for some changes. I have no lines outside my house with 3 handlers in a retro fit and cant imagine what that would have cost or even accepted. I had no choice.

Duane | Reply

I have installed the "cheap , never heard of" equipment. I only had 1 warranty dealing and it went flawlessly. I can tell you that my former employer sold Fujitsu and I’m quite knowledgable about fixing them from installer error or equipment failure
I needed a condensor motor for a Sanyo and there wasn’t a single one in the US and was back ordered from Japan. So don’t peddle you BS by something you appearently have no knowledge about. I lived in both sides of the fence and I’ll buy online anyway

well i can tell you this i work for one of the best mini split companies in the business and we do a lot business online and we take care of customers. check us out http://www.aurasystemsonline.com

David Elgin | Reply

Some fair points. I believe in paying a fair price for the installation because the installer is being paid for their time, training, and experience. However, why is it reasonable for HVAC companies like yours to charge a huge mark up on equipment that is available online for a much lower price? The HVAC company has nothing to do with the manufacture of the equipment, so why the huge markup.

I think what you’re afraid of is that, with the advent of online wholesalers, consumers can see what a fair price for equipment is and the installer can no longer hide the price of their $10, 15, or $20,000 installation for one or two days of labor by blaming the price of the equipment.

Reese | Reply

It would be a lot easier to take your comments seriously if your spelling and grammar weren’t so poor. But you do make some valid points, giving one pause to consider your observations… though not all of them pointing away from ordering online.

Davosity | Reply

Some of the manufacturers you mention as "unknown" are actually very large. Gree, for example, produces almost $30 billion in HVAC equipment alone and is hooked up with Daikin, another very large and high quality producer.

Tim Randall | Reply

Well said. I am a universal EPA certified HVAC technician in Northeast PA (Tim Randall Home Improvements LLC) and I have installed scores of Mitsubishi, Fujitsu, and LG mini-split systems. Definitely not a DIY project, especially if you have excessive lineset runs beyond the limits of the system since you have to add refrigerant at that point. It is illegal for anyone not EPA certified to do ANYTHING with R-22, R-410A, and any other number of refrigerant. Don’t do it and don’t have cousin Vinny, jack of all trades and master of screwing up projects help you either! As the contractor said, get a professional to install. You’ll be glad you did.

By the way, don’t everyone in Northeast PA call me. I only install one ductless system a month if I can help it. I also install Generac generators, rebuild and sell rusted, junk trailers, reclaim abandoned buildings and repurpose for the communities in which they are located, etc. Heinz 57 contractor!

BV | Reply

Best answer from the EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/title6/phaseout/technicians_contractors_faq.html

Is EPA technician certification required to service R-410A systems?

No, at this time EPA technician certification (i.e., EPA Section 608 certification) is not required in order to service R-410A systems or other stationary refrigeration and air conditioning systems containing HFCs.

It appears this activity is legal, provided the 410a is not intentionally released into the atmosphere.

Honest D | Reply

Go ahead its totally a DIY Project and its not illegal scammers want you to pay more I’ve did mine and also two of my friends no problem piece of care don’t be scared to voice you opinion

Jim T. | Reply

Gree is a relatively unknown brand?? They are the world’s largest residential air-conditioner manufacturer. Most condensers found in Mitsubishi systems are Gree. Your credibility goes down the drain after that statement. Look it up, and research before writing an article.

Peter | Reply

Wrong. The truth is you’re scared of people shopping online, but instead of fear tactics, you should educate people on the process and help them understand all the complexities in sizing a system and become a trusted source of information. All but #3 You mislead people to not shop online b/c of warranty and quality. But, the quality is exactly the same you’ll get with anyone else. They’re all made in the same factories and shipped to the US the same way, but consumers should be aware of damage in shipping and inspect everything closely. This isn’t a quality issue, it’s the same issue for everyone installers included. Manufacturers Warranty is the same no matter where you buy as long as it’s installed by a certified installer. It’s NOT a DIY project and doing so will void the warranty. Many HVAC installers will advertise to install a Mini Split bought online and will even help to size the equipment because at the end of the day, people are going online to shop. The question is, are you going to be there to help or hurt them because they’ve done so?

Good points. Yes, consumers will more and more purchase online and Yes we actually sell some of our equipment from our website. To curb the common problems with online purchases we offer 3 installation types to get customer better warranty and installation standards. Customer can choose from DYI package, DYI with pro-startup, OR full installation.
https://www.missionac.com/store

Jason | Reply

lol..For the cost local guys charge for the same unit (Mitsubishi) I could buy three complete units! I was quoted 15,000 dollars at the cheapest out of 10 quotes, 10!!!! AC installation and service guys are just trying to rip people off!

Stephen | Reply

"At the end of the day. You’re an adult. Make the right decision. Make the wise decision. In my opinion the wise decision is to have a professional take care of the work from start to finish. "

Translation: If you don’t have a professional do the work, you’re a hapless child.

Is that really the message you want to be sending to your potential clients?

Jed Carroll | Reply

I bought a Chigo online for my office and paid a local HVAC guy to do a pro install. Total Junk! Never again. This article is 100% accurate. I wished I had read this article before buying. The other commenters who think buying these chinese garbage AC units is a good idea are way off base.

MJ | Reply

I bought a Fujitsu about 10 years ago for an addition to my home, it still works fine although it is noisier than it used to be. I paid $3,200 to a reputable local AC firm. They had to do the proper electrical installation, and pour the concrete pad, and whatever else they did. I asked the same company how much it would cost to replace this unit and they told me $5,000 though all they need to do now is replace the unit, not all the extras.
The mini split systems are used all over the world, in poor areas of the world. If Fujitsu or Mitsubishi or LG had the same unreasonable demands for the installation of their units in other parts of the world as they have here, there would be no such thing as mini split systems. Moreover, the populations of these underdeveloped countries where these systems are so common could not afford the prices for the installed units we pay for in the USA.
This is taken from the Department of Energy website regarding mini split systems:
“Qualified installers and service people for mini splits may not be easy to find. In addition, most conventional heating and cooling contractors have large investments in tools and training for sheet metal duct systems. They need to use (and charge for) these to earn a return on their investment, so they may not recommend ductless systems except where a ducted system would be difficult to install.”
My point is that it is about time Americans get serious about not wasting energy like we do. I am tired of cooling the attic of my home in central Florida; about 30% of the energy used to cool my house goes to cooling the attic. I believe that the reason the installation of mini splits is so expensive in the USA is to discourage this technology (per the quote from the Department of Energy).

I purchased a Mrcool diy mini split been running great and installation was simple the wire was snap fitting and lineset was precharged. The warranty is 5 year parts and 7 year compressor.
Definitely worth trying at a fair price

Cheers

Ken | Reply

Well, how exciting. EXCEPT, I bought a single mini-split from an authorized Diamond Mitsubishi contractor. The unit is four months old. The official Mitsubishi contractor installed it in the U.S. Virgin Islands in a condo near the sea. When the unit failed after we had a hurricane, guess what, Mitsubishi gave me the middle finger. Sorry, they said, notice the fine print, we don’t warranty our products in the U.S.V.I. Haaaaaa! haaaaa! Of course they lured me into buying the machine in the Virgin Islands and charged a lot more than if they had sold it on the mainland with the promise of a great warranty. What did I get? You guessed it. The finger.

Matey Blokey | Reply

Well I have seen many D.I.Y installs of mini splits and all of them have worked flawlessly. When a so called professional charges through the roof many people just cannot even consider paying it. I am not sure where there hvac idiots get off by charging 5k labor to install a system that takes 2 to 3 days work. No other contractor discipline charges this sort of figure. Installing split ac as with most things is about common sense, patience and research. It isn’t as hard as the ‘experts’ make out. Very basic skills are needed, and checking all the pressures and charging the units is one of the easiest jobs on the install to do, and buying the gauges etc is not that expensive. The hardest part, which is not actually that hard is making sure you are careful with installing the line sets. The copper tubing can and will kink if you are not careful with it. Make sure you use a tool to do any 90 bends you may need and always put your lines in trunking (line set cover). The electrical work is so easy. As easy as wiring in an outlet, just on a larger scale. In upstate NY where it does get pretty cold and snowy I would advise installing the condenser on the wall rather than on a pad – stops it getting covered in snow drifts. If you are at all handy with basic electrics and plumbing then installing it yourself is not difficult. Articles like this are only out there to cement in peoples heads that they need to hire a professional to do it for them. Which we all know in the HVAC business is ludicrously expensive for the basic skill set needed to install a split ac system.

The only thing this article gets right is never buy the cheap crappy brands. Gree however is not an unknown brand. Mitsubishi is KING FULL STOP. But they are also very expensive. Next on the list would be PANASONIC, very good customer service if things go wrong. LG make good stuff but their customer service is total BS. I have never used Fujitsu or Gree so can’t comment on them.

HVAC Jim | Reply

Well Matey, you should read the warranty statements from the manufactures themselves. MOST will tell you they will not honor online purchases, or DIY installs. The other thing you should know is that these products and most HVAC products do not provide labor warranties, so when you have a contractor install a system for you, they have to factor warranty labor into their price as well. Also these products are distributed throughout the country by independent wholesale houses and not the manufacturers, so if you think your going to get that compressor warrantied by going down to the local distributor think again. they track the serial numbers of everything the sell and if it didn’t come from them guess what no warranty. Oh and by the way did you use a vacuum pump and micron gauge when you connected you system? No? You will probably be needing that warranty before too long. Long story short mini splits regardless of brand are very complex, and have many things that must be considered such as indoor and outdoor combinations. they don’t all work with each other. Line set lengths, there are minimums and maximums be careful to adhere to those. Refrigerant charge, it may need to be adjusted according to your line sets. If you think $5k is out of line for an HVAC company for three days work consider that 2 guys for 3 8 hour days is 48 man hours. That equates to $104/hr. HVAC is an expensive industry to be in. Insurance is expensive, training is expensive, tools are expensive, good quality experienced employees are expensive. Consider that you would pay a car dealership upwards of $120/hr to get your car fixed when you take your car to their shop and on their schedule and most people don’t complain. Now consider your hvac company has to put their shop in theirs truck and bring it to you on your schedule, their gas, their insurance, their truck payment and maintenance. $100 doesn’t go that far. They are a business, they have to make a profit to continue being a business. Yes they charge a markup on equipment. Most online pricing is at or even below what a contractor can buy it from their wholesaler for so yes it looks like they have a huge mark up but in reality they may be paying more for it then you do online and they have to warranty it. Don’t believe about online prices. Ask a plumber what he pays for a 50 gallon water heater where you live. I guarantee Home Depot has it for less.

Some installs may be simple, some are very complicated. Either way you will get what you pay for. Don’t blame the HVAC company and accuse them of ripping you off until you know the whole story. If you want to take on an install on your own, you may do just fine but if something goes wrong it could get expensive. Do your homework, research the companies you want to do business with and make the decision that’s right for you.

John | Reply

You sounds like promoting certain brands here only. Gree is world’s largest AC manufacturer in the world. DO your Research before writing yours ads. We sell differents brands here in NY. Some small brand like YMGI and Chigo does a good job if you install them in a proper way. My experience from many years of selling mini split system is most of the issue relate to mini split system comes from beginning. Loose connection. Leaks etc are all caused by rush jobs!!! Why? Because Techs are too busy in summer And when they are called back they have 101 excuse to say”you shouldn’t got an unknown brand”. “You should get a mistubishi!

We deal with warranty every send days most of time we just pass on I can’t see there is any big difference between YMGI and Fujitsu or some big brands. The fact is you don’t screws up the unit by by installing the unit yourself if you don’t have the knowledge and the tool! This is just not your another toy that you can trail and error! Get someone known the system. My advise is check with the retailer or manufacturer they will recommend one for you and save you lots of time.

Robert | Reply

Well Let me tell you my story. I am not a AC hater, nor a mini-split hater or a on-line hater or any of this crap yall are talking about which is away from the issue:

I bought a Midea 3 ton unit for my garage in June of 2016.

Up to about a month ago the only issue i had with the unit was that the remote in the garage seemed to not be accurate in temperature as i would set the system in the winter for overnight and weekends at 60 degrees and the temp would never get below 67 degrees. In the summer i would set it for 80 and it would stay down in the 75 range. i could not get this to work right but other than that it worked perfectly.

When i bought the unit i paid for an extended warranty with onsite repair and parts.

Three weeks ago the unit seemed to run for extended times and i called my AC tech to investigate. He looked a the unit, tested it and it was very low on freon and the compressor was pulling about 45 amps……………..much more than it should.

He said the coil had a leak and the compressor needed replaced.

I called the company i bought it from and they pushed me to Midea.

Midea has not responded to my calls except to ask for more tests and pictures and movies and such. All of this i supplied and paid for on my own outside of the warranty.

Today Midea finally said that Carrier has bought them out and they no longer make my unit or supply parts for it for repair. In addition the Warranty review board will not honor the warranty even though i bought extended warranty coverage for everything but Zombie attacks.

So now it looks like i will be forced to by another new unit to replace this one and guess what…….i cannot keep and use the inside unit with a new outside unit as that company will not honor a warranty with a mixed system.

To replace it: $4500.

I will never buy another on-line unit again and i will see Midea out of business before i buy another and Carrier is now on my no-buy list also.

TheTechGuy | Reply

I think that post is made by HVAC union,
The point about the warranty is simply false and Mitsubishi honors the warranty no matter where you purchased from as long as you register the equipment to activate the warranty.
the second point is misleading because you can decide what brand you go with, there is nobody is forcing you to go with unknown brand when you buy online.
The 3rd point is misleading as well, because ductless system installation is much less complicated than regular central air unit and there are many videos and instructions online for proper installation which some HVAC tech don’t even follow, you might use some help from an HVAC tech to check for leaks at the end.
I installed 3 zone Mitsubishi unit by myself 5 years ago and it works great without any issues. and it the cost was 1 third of what I was quoted by many HVAC companies for cheaper brands.

Below is a direct quote from Mitsubishi’s website regarding warranty on M series units.

Subject to the terms and conditions of this Limited Warranty, the Cooling & Heating Division of MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC US,
INC. (“MEUS”) warrants to the original purchaser of this M-Series product purchased on or after April 1, 2015 from a licensed
HVAC contractor and installed by such contractor in the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii, that:
A. The parts are warranted for a period of five (5) years to the original owner of the System. If any parts should
prove defective due to improper workmanship and/or material for a period of five (5) years from the date of installation,
MEUS will replace any defective part without charge for the part. Replacement parts are warranted for the remainder of
the original 5-year warranty period. Parts used for replacement may be of like kind and quality and may be new or
remanufactured. Defective parts must be made available to MEUS in exchange for the replacement parts and become
the property of MEUS.

You probably did a great job with the install but this quote sounds like unit needs to be installed by a licensed hvac contractor in order to qualify for warranty.

cgt | Reply

Good Advice !!
Let me qualify my comment by explaining my particular situation: 1) I am a self admitted cheap ass, 2) I’m a residential Remodeling contractor, 3) I have about 1 1/2 years prior experience working for HVAC contractors, I consider myself reasonably intelligent, and 5) I have 3 friends who are licensed and insured HVAC contractors.
I am blessed to own my home and also have 3 rental properties so over a period of time maintenance costs can really add up. I often try to perform my own repairs in order to limit expenses so I am guilty of surfing the web to find good deals. I know my skill sets and capabilities; ie, I know what I can do myself and I also know when to call a professional with the proper training and equipment. ( My HVAC friends provide me with free advice from time to time because they know I will generally buy my parts and supplies from them – and I will hire them when the situation warrants. )
To sum it up, if you don’t know what you’re doing call someone who does !! Training, licenses, and insurance cost the contractor quite a bit and they have to recover these expenses as well as pay taxes on their income so they have to charge more than " Joe Fly By Night". In exchange they’ll stand behind their work and they’re more likely to respond quickly when you have an emergency situation. Most times you get what you pay for.

kw | Reply

Many of the manufacturers who sell online are relatively unknown. Ever heard of Gree, ….. ah yes, Chinese Manufacturer who is the LARGEST residential HVAC in the world……

Dave | Reply

I bought my new home from a ‘professional’ home builder. He had a well known area HVAC contractor install my central heating and air conditioning system. Like everything in this world, the day came to replace it. Forgetting the fact that it took forever to heat the house up and cool the house down, I got a real look at what a BUTCHER this bastered really was. There’s an old saying, if you want something done right, do it yourself. Remember for those ‘professionals’, this is a hit and run job. Just get the cash and get out.

John | Reply

I bought my 18K BTU YMGI off eBay for around $700 and had it installed by a guy from Craigslist. ( He worked for a HVAC company during the week) He said he was very impressed with the quality of the unit and installation went well. Been running for over 3 years now with no issues. I installed the basic hardware and through wall holes etc and he did the lines etc. Charged me less than $500. I even talked to a YMGI tech before I bought mine and he said that they have the exact unit running in their office perfectly for years! I love the mini split concept and hate the idea of of cooling off my attic. I also think that many of the general HVAC techs are giving the business a bad name with their poor advice and greed.

John | Reply

I bought my 18K BTU YMGI off eBay for around $700 and had it installed by a guy from Craigslist. ( He worked for a HVAC company during the week) He said he was very impressed with the quality of the unit and installation went well. Been running for over 3 years now with no issues. I installed the basic hardware and through wall holes etc and he did the lines etc. Charged me less than $500. I even talked to a YMGI tech before I bought mine and he said that they have the exact unit running in their office perfectly for years! I love the mini split concept and hate the idea of of cooling off my attic. I also think that many of the general HVAC techs are giving the business a bad name with their poor advice and greed.

Djea3 | Reply

Define "installed". Any one that KNOWS how to handle tools and can drill a hole and cut sheetrock as well as properly mount a wall unit to the manufacturers specifications can MOUNT ALL THE COMPONENTS.
A home owner/contractor or electrician or HVAC contractor can legally wire the unit up.

The ONLY installation that takes any special license is working with the coolant and that is NOT a state license requirement (contractor) it IS a FEDERAL requirement for the actual worker that installs the coolant.

With regard to Mitsubishi "…purchased on or after April 1, 2015 from a licensed
HVAC contractor and installed by such contractor in the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii"; they just lost a sale to me for two reasons.
1. They are REQUIRING that I purchase from a CONTRACTOR….
2. They have ONLY a 5 year warranty. The last really cheap standard Heat pump that I purchased was under half the cost and a 10 year warranty (q2 years available in higher level models.

Done with Mitsubishi! thanks for the information.

jesse | Reply

Hello,
I’m a highly certified HVAC/R Service Technician specializing in VRF units ( Dare me to post my resume, seriously you will be in shock and aw, then try to hire me). This article is simply a contractor trying sway home owners away from attempting to save a buck. Remember the only legal requirement to install one of these units start to finish aside running power out of the breaker panel is an E.P.A. 608 type II. which is a 100 question test that can be taken open book that you can fail 25 of the questions. Pandering to try and scare the client into going with your company is just as despicable as an amateur not installing something correctly.

Let me lay a little bit of wisdom on you , a client will pay more for the privilege of having a sincere and honest company to do the job.

Rob | Reply

Funny article by someone that wants those huge profits to continue. Hmm, every hear of Gree? Yeah, I have since they are the largest in the world. Plus Carrier and others just them, and just change the name on some models.

You guys just cannot stand competition and use every angle to keep it going. Lying about how hard it is and dangerous. Crying to the government for more regulations. Anyone that wants to get ripped off and save money, ignore all these people. The sheep that always just calls and pays, well they aren’t going to even try. HVAC is one of the most corrupt industries that’s ever existed. Extreme prices for nothing.

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