UPDATED on May 14, 2014
Friedrich is launching a ductless minisplit heat pump designed for installation by a homeowner with only modest mechanical skills and no professional HVAC training.
Ductless minisplits are high-efficiency air conditioners and heaters that include an outdoor compressor and an indoor fan unit, typically mounted on a wall. They’re usually sized and installed by professionals, partly because of the heat gain and loss calculations required to choose the right unit and partly because indoor and outdoor components are connected by electrical, condensate and refrigerant lines that may be difficult for a non-pro to handle.
Friedrich hopes its Breeze heat pump kits will help homeowners navigate those problems without the help of a professional installer. The San Antonio, Texas, company says the unit is available nationally.
Just two sizes to choose from
Heating and cooling professionals normally run Manual J calculations before choosing a specific piece of equipment to make sure its output matches the heating and cooling loads in a particular space. But Friedrich is offering only two models of the Breeze, one for spaces up to 500 square feet and another for spaces up to 1,600 square feet.
The company says its inverter-equipped motors, the same technology used by minisplit pioneers like Fujitsu and Mitsubishi, helps the unit reach its set point quickly and hold it more efficiently than conventional equipment.
After choosing either a large or small capacity unit, the only other decision installers will have to make is whether to run the modular connecting line through a 3-inch hole in the wall behind the fan unit, or through an accessory that sits in the bottom of a window opening. Through-the-wall installations are hidden when installation is complete.
The connecting line comes with a quick-connect fitting allowing it to be snapped into place without tools, according to Friedrich. The compressor also has snap-in electrical connectors.
The whole process is covered in an 8-minute YouTube video.
The smaller of the two units has a maximum cooling output of 12,000 BTU/h and produces 7,000 BTU/h of heat when the outdoor temperature is at 17°F (11,000 BTU/h at 47°F). It runs on 115 volts AC. The large unit has a maximum cooling output of 24,000 BTU/h and produces 14,200 BTU/h at 17°F (22,0000 Btu at 47°F). It requires 230 volts AC.
The units cost from about $2,000 to $2,500.
Update: On May 14, 2014, Friedrich announched that the company is limiting sales of the Breeze. The company announced, “Friedrich has intentionally rolled out the product with limited production for sale only in New York and South Florida. While Friedrich wanted broader exposure this summer season, the company has decided to pull back to avoid creating demand that Friedrich cannot deliver on. Friedrich is currently reviewing its broad launch date with its retailers and production team.” For more information, see Friedrich Pulls Back on DIY Minisplit Launch.