Mini split toolkit

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by North Jersey, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    Despite the complexity of the HVAC discipline, I would like to undertake my own line set connection on the mini-split units I'm putting in on an incremental basis at my house. I currently live in my house, and I intend to move the units on a fairly regular basis as the renovation and home addition progress. At this point, I have my TIF XP-1A refrigerant detector, an R410a Ritchie Yellow Jacket manifold gauge kit with hoses, and my 45o flaring tool. I guess I still need a vacuum pump and a nitrogen tank. I suppose I'll need recapture equipment (and a certification) if I decide to go shorter than a 25' line set. I still don't get why I'm killing the planet if I release excess HFCs from my precharged condenser, but I respect the 25K fine. Any equipment recommendations? What else am I missing?

    I'll be going over the section 608 manual and an HVAC training manual for the next few days. My interest is really limited to split system installation for now. I don't expect to become an HVAC professional overnight, but I would like to be able to install and maintain mini split units. Can anyone recommend any learning resources that address the finer points of mini split installation? My LG installation manual must have been written by a non-native English speaker.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2009
  2. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    I guess I probably need a micron gauge, huh? What about Yellow Jacket or JB? Are the Refco units reliable?
  3. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    Type II Exam?

    The EPA Section 608 Type I exam is only for PTAC units, right? I would need to pass the Type II for mini splits, correct?
  4. maintenanceguy

    maintenanceguy In the Trades

    Messages:
    107
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Type I cert if for any unit with less than 5 lbs of refrigetant. Type II is for over 5 lbs. Type III is for systems that operate at lower than atmospheric pressure, usually large chiller plants. I've got all 3.

    If you're only installing a half dozen systems and never plan to do more, you don't need as much stuff as you're planning to get.

    You can buy copper flairs that you braze on. These are probably more likely to be right than the first few flairs you try to do yourself.

    You will need a decent torch, a propane torch probably will be difficult to do proper brazing since silver brazing rod melts at a higher temp than solder. The smallest air acetylene kit will do.

    You'll need a vacuum gauge. If you do good brazes, let the system sit for several hours after you evacuate (for a couple of hours at least), and the pressure doesn't rise, you probably won't need a micron gauge. These are nice but I wouldn't spend the money if I was never planning on installing more than a few systems.

    You will need a recovery machine and tank. Too bad since you won't use it.

    You'll need a manifold gauge set.

    You'll need a scale for some minisplits. You can't do subcooling or superheat with some since the TXV is in the condenser unit and the lineset acts as part of the evaporator coil so you need to weigh the charge in...or trust the factory charge and watch pressures for a while to see if they're good.

    Without experience, understanding what the pressures in the gauges really mean will be the hardest part. Charts in books are nice but when the pressures are odd, or changing rapidly, experience really helps.
  5. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I attended a dog & pony show with the LG Rep. this week. They have an impressive new product line up. The mini-splits use what they call "inverter" technology, a variable speed compressor.

    On thing they emphasized: for warranty claims, the very first question they want to see the name of the LICENSED technician who installed it. DIY or "wingit" installations....they will politely decline to cover the claim.
  6. Macman

    Macman New Member

    Messages:
    102
    Mitsubishi has been making inverter units for a while. I have two in my home. They're smart. If the BTU output is too high, causing a short cycle, they learn and adjust. I think the actual output can vary from 100% down to about 35% if necessary. So a unit can be oversized with no repercussions other than original cost. And I can't speak for the LGs, but the Mitsubishis are VERY quiet, both indoors and out. We really like ours.
  7. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego

    Yeah, I think they were talking like a 36000 BTU outdoor unit could support like 4 12000 BTU indoor units.
  8. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107

    I hope to use the tools for many years to come. Here's the recovery tank I purchased: 30# recovery tank. What do you think about the Robinair 15500 and the 15600 vacuum pumps? Could I use a recovery system to evacuate noncondensables from the lineset? I'll be using a 20cf high pressure steel tank with a CGA 580 valve for the nitrogen.
  9. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    Yeah, the first one that's going in is a single two-ton Art Cool inverter model. It's the elongated style (not the picture frame) with a mirror finish. It's aesthetically pleasing compared to our current through-the-window units and the oil-fired furnace. The scalable output was a huge selling point for me. I think I'm going to put a couple of 12000x2 system in the new addition and the same thing in the basement.

    I may forgo warranty support, but how else will I gain a little hands-on experience? I'm not going to play around with someone else's system. :) I should have watched what those KBR guys in Iraq were doing with all the counterfeit LG mini splits they installed for us. Of course, they had many callbacks and they didn't really show a lot of pride in their workmanship. At any rate, I'd like to be able to provide better contract oversight if I deploy again.
  10. maintenanceguy

    maintenanceguy In the Trades

    Messages:
    107
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    You won't be able to use a recovery machine as a vacuum pump, they just don't draw down far enough. You don't recover refrigerant down to a vacuum because you don't want to draw air into a leaking system and contaminate the refrigerant you've recovered.

    When you go for your EPA cert, you'll learn all the recovery pressures required for each type of system.
  11. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    Good to know. I was hoping for a dual-use machine. I'll start delving into my materials a little more. The recovery system I bought is a Yellow Jacket R60a. Has anyone had any experience with that line?

    I ended up buying a JB micron gauge as well. I got a good price, and if I don't end up using it that often, I'm sure I won't have a hard time selling it off.

    Should I include an inline fliter/drier in my toolbox if I'll primarily be recovering refrigerant from brand new systems?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2009
  12. North Jersey

    North Jersey New Member

    Messages:
    107
    On a different note, what's the going rate for R410a? I'm also wondering about what I should pay for a 20 cf nitrogen tank.
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