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HVAC refit in South Florida beach condominium apartment

West and North facing full glass curtain walls. 30 year old AC duct/return plenum system in place.

Up north we have seen many high volume small duct system installations in old houses. In south florida we are concerned about humidity control/ efficiency of AC system. In addition in this apartment the slab to slab distance is 100 inches so large ducts impact ceiling height.

Surprisingly there are few AC servicing companies that have any direct knowledge of the Spacepak or Unico products (are there other brands?).

We don't know if these systems live up to their billing for energy efficiency and humidity control and of course for return on investment.

For example, similar to this the thermally broken window frames are few and far between probably because thermal delta inside to out is mostly 10-20 degrees instead of the 20 - 40 degrees further north.

We are also concerned with noisy air exchange - has this really been controlled in the new installations?

Any opinions? Any independent local experts in Florida?

Thank you.

Asked by Marc Karlan, M.D.
Posted Tue, 02/04/2014 - 10:46

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Marc,
High-volume small duct air conditioners have only one virtue: the small diameter ducts are easier to snake through small framing cavities in older buildings than full-sized ducts. Except for that virtue, everything else about the approach is a list of disadvantages: lower efficiency, higher noise, etc.

If you don't want to install a conventional forced-air system, consider installing ductless minisplits -- an approach which will actually lower your energy costs.

Answered by Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Posted Tue, 02/04/2014 - 11:24

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