Questions about ductless heat pump install in Western Canada

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by tasfalen, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. tasfalen

    tasfalen New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Canada
    New to this forum, first post, so please bear with me. Took some forum advice from here last year on toilets and it was fantastic!

    Background: we have an old (1939) home, technically 1-level but it has a fully finished full-height basement. It's our first home. We're using oil, and there were some electric baseboard heaters installed in the basement as well. We're on Vancouver Island, which is one of the most temperate regions of Canada (temperatures almost never go below freezing).

    Our furnace just quit working, and while I plan to get it fixed, oil is expensive. I'm a bit geeky, and I've heard some good things about ductless heat pumps being installed in the Northwest (of America). It does get hot here in the summer, so the possibility of air conditioning is attractive, too.

    Is this a feasible solution to heat the main level of our house. It's about 1000 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 1 dining room. Additional living room has an electric fireplace. We have upgraded electricity - 200 amps including a 100 amp sub-panel.

    I've called several contractors about this but none of them know what a ductless heat pump is, or they don't get back to me. I'm also scared of the prices they may quote - the equipment SEEMS to be readily available in the US and I'm handy.

    Any and all advice/comments appreciated. Thanks in advance, and happy holidays!
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Ductless Heat pumps ( see Mr. Slim by Mitsubishi, Friedriech, GE, LG, etc) are split systems....they have the condenser/heat pump equipment outside the house, and inside is the air handler where the refrigerant gas is used to cool , or heat, the room air. They are ductless because the air handler is just a blower unit, mounted on a wall anywhere in the room that you want to put it. ( The indoor and outdoor units are connected by the copper tubing 'line set')

    The air handler just serves the room it is in. They make multizone systems, where one outdoor unit serves 1 to 4 indoor room units.
    In your area, you could not rely on heat pump as sole heat source. Many of these units are rated to operate all the way down to 5ºF, but at that outside edge of the range, the room air blown would be barely warm. Heat pumps are most effective above 25ºF.

    I suspect in your cold climate, heat pumps are not widely used.

    A 3 zone system might run you $3000 ballpark. It is NOT a DIY install, because you need a vacuum pump to evacuate the lines, gauges to set the charge, and a bottle of 410 and a year of trade school , to be able to properly set the subcool parameters.
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,804
    Location:
    New England
    FWIW, some of the units come with precharged line sets (or used to, when I last looked). So, no vaccum required (but not a bad idea to check). Hassle is, you can't cut them or you'd lose the refrigerant.
  4. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I never saw precharged LINES. The outdoor unit is charged, probably for 15 feet of line. I guess if some manufacturer wants to make it truly diy, they could do that. How do you take the cap of the line to connect it? It all sounds iffy to me, but these days you never know.
  5. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,804
    Location:
    New England
    They connected like an air hose...sealed until you attach. Hassle is, they only come in certain fixed lengths. Nicer to run the lines where you want, but that requires a pro to prepare.
  6. tasfalen

    tasfalen New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Canada
    Thanks for the discussion. Jimbo, FYI heat pumps are extremely common here. We have a friend who's trained and licensed and has been installing them in the area for 20 years, unfortunately, he's TOO busy! It rarely goes below 5 degrees (we're like the San Diego of Canada) and when it does he says their pumps have heating elements in them.

    Unfortunately, this being Canada, very few people much less contractors seem to be familiar with the ductless type. We experienced them visiting Japan a couple years ago (in the winter!) - where it did a more than adequate job of heating a 2 bedroom apartment.

    Any tips on manufacturers or anything to look for? it's very frustrating here, we frequently don't get the latest and greatest and the contractors seem to be too busy to care.
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