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Budget mini-spit for zone 6 heating in New England (Midea?)

Seth Fernald | Posted in Mechanicals on

I’m toying with the idea of installing my own mini-split in a secondary family room which is sort of an addition on a concrete slab (odd 60’s house).  We currently have Rinnai propane space heater which cranks through the propane.
I priced having a pro install a “name brand” mini-split for $3800, but the payback is about 10 years for heat (don’t care much about AC in that room, it’s on a cool slab).

Manual J puts me at 16K which makes sense as the Rinnai output of 13K doesn’t always keep up with the single digit cold days. 

Looking around, I see the LG LS180HSV5 can be had for $1,769. 
This unit 18K unit operates about at 100% (18k) down to 0-degrees.
I understand I’m probably another $300 for piping, $150 for lineset cover, and $150 for tools/vacuum.  I also greatly enjoy the satisfaction of doing things myself.  I also accept there is a small chance I completely screw the install (but I hope unlikely).

I came upon this posting:  https://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/question/sizing-a-mini-split-heat-pump-question
In which Jerry mentions Carrier, Midea, Pioneer, Hair, Gree.  Carrier and Gree appear to be somewhat similar pricing to LG.

My question is: has anyone every installed or seen a Midea (or Pioneer or a Boreal) mini-split installed in colder climate area where it’s mostly for heat and get down to single digits?

Additional information I came upon while researching this post:
=====================
Boreal EQX18HPJ1SB is $1,062.  I couldn’t find a good heat output graph, but it says it works to -4f with a min output of 7340btu (I assume at -4f).  If my assumption is right (I called Boreal and he seemed to confirm) the 7340btu does not compare will to the LG 16,810BTU at -3f and I would scratch this out as a contender.

Pioneer WYS018GMFI22RL is $973.  I called the Pioneer number and they said this inverter++ is rated at 60% of the 18K at 0-degrees.  Not good for my climate.
https://www.pdhvac.com/site/downloads/certificates/certificate_WYS018GMFI22-208.pdf seems to rate this even lower as it says 10,400 at 17f.  Either way, not a match for me and not a contender.

Midea MEHSU-18PHH2 is $1,139
https://us.midea.com/dam/jcr:46dc6a93-ff69-45a0-8ae6-546bc7456f5d/US_PP-RAC_PROD_PREMIERHYPER-HIGHWALL_specsheet.pdf
Again, no heat graph that I could find.
Shows it works down to -22 with a full 18K at 5f degrees.

So it looks like a Midea vs LG thing, at least as far as this post goes. I’m not getting much warranty either way as I will install myself and I understand the LG is (likely) much more reliable.  For “only” $700 more the LG is probably the way to go.  On the flip side, I’m trying to weigh out the payback and will only do it if it makes sense.  If this were the main section of the house or a “primary” heat, there is not question which I would go with.  This sort of falls into the mad scientist experiment realm to some extent.

The Midea low heat is 5500btu while the LG is 3070btu.  My heat load at 50f outside is 5000btu.  Reading here I also realize now how that is an important item.
=====================

This brings me back to my original question… has anyone installed or heard of a Midea in cold weather?  I know there is a poster here who likes them (and maybe works with them).  Just curious of real life experience.

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Replies

  1. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #1

    FWIW: The new Carrier mini-splits are re-badged Midea units. (They had formerly been selling rebadged Grees.) See:

    https://www.carrier.com/carrier/en/tr/news/news-article/carrier__midea_launch_residential_ductless_hvac_joint_venture_in_north_america.aspx

    Industry scuttlebutt has it that the current offerings from Samsung are also Midea.

    If the heat load is 5K @ 50F there's no significant advantage to the lower modulation range of the LG- it will still modulate over the vast majority of the heating season.

    It's not clear whether the LG or Midea Premier Hyper units come with (or can be fitted as an option with) a pan heater for clearing defrost ice during extended periods of cold weather, which would be important in a climate zone 6 location. I'm pretty sure the LG does not, but it would be silly to design a hyper-heating mini-split with a specified capacity at -30C/-22F without automatic defrost ice management. Maybe it's worth calling Midea America if you can't find that information online.

    In a zone 6 climate the Midea is probably the better choice here. The minimum specified operating temp of the LG is -4F, and there will be days when the daily high temperature doesn't quite even reach that high in many zone 6 locations.

  2. Nathan Scaglione | | #2

    Just want to throw out there that the tools are going to cost a lot more than $150.

    You need a micron gauge, which if part of a manifold is a minimum of ~$400. Alternatively if you get a stand alone micron gauge, you would need either a cheaper manifold or stand alone pressure gauge for the nitrogen pressure test. If using stand alone gauges, the best shut off valves to attach them to (that I've found) are valve core removal tools at $50 a piece. You also do not want to the micron gauge too close to the vacuum or you will get a better vacuum reading than you actually have.

    A (foolproof) clutch flaring tool is around $100. Don't forget the pipe cutter (small items can add up)

    Even a cheap vacuum with good oil is going to be at least $100.

    A filled nitrogen tank is going to run at least $100, then another $70 for the in-out pressure gauge valve.

    You also will need hoses to hook everything up, another $50+.

    (edit: forgot to mention you need a torque wrench and crows foot ratchet heads for all the compression fittings) that is over $100 as well

    Anyway, you could easily be into it for $1000 by the time you have everything. In my opinion it is not worth installing it yourself unless you are willing to spend for the micron gauge and ability to flush the lines with nitrogen.

    I am going to be installing the LG art cool low heat unit within the next few weeks, LA180HYV2, which has the low heat and built in defrost pan. It still saves a lot of money, I have also heard that a lot of HVAC guys will not follow the proper install guidelines.

    Just another tip I've heard is to not use the corrogated drain pipe because they will clog within a couple years. My local plumbing supplier suggested to attach a pex drain line using an expander tool.

    1. Expert Member
      Dana Dorsett | | #3

      The LG pan heaters must be something new (it was new to ME anyway- thanks!) Compatibility of the PQSH1202 is only for units manufactured after February this year, and only for the 9K & 12K units. The PQSH1201 is compatible with the LSU180HSV5, no begin date indicated, but the date of the submittal is March of this year.

      This year's engineering manual for the Art Cool -HSV5 series indicates the pan heater as a standard feature for all sizes. The extended temperature capacity tables for the -HSV2 (not -HSV5) also now goes down to -12F dry-bulb/-13F wet bulb, whereas the -HSV5 stops at -3DB/-4WB. But it has substantially more capacity at 0F than the -HSV2, which means they've probably upgraded the compressor technology. (I've heard but not confirmed that Midea is selling low-temp mini-split components to LG too.)

      1. Nathan Scaglione | | #4

        I think we might be getting some model numbers crossed.

        As I understand it, the HSV5 is marketed as their 'high efficiency' line, and last I checked the engineering charts still only go down to -3.

        The HYV2 line is marketed as "Art Cool." HYV2 is version 2, preceded by HYV1. The art cool charts have always gone down to -13. The HYV2 is relatively new. If you look on line, almost no one has them listed for sale. I am lucky I have a decent relationship with the local supplier because he set me straight - would have inadvertently ordered the old model which is still available online.

        The 1.5 ton HYV2 are pretty well sold out countrywide from what I can tell. Korea is sending a mass shipment that is getting here around Nov 3. Fingers crossed anyway.. it's getting cold out.

        1. Expert Member
          Dana Dorsett | | #5

          Let us know how it works out!

  3. Seth Fernald | | #6

    Nathan,
    Maybe (probably?) I'm wrong....

    I was planning on a relatively inexpensive vacuum/gauge setup for $100-$200: https://www.toolsid.com/fjc/vacuum-pump-and-brass-manifold-set-mpn-9281.html?view=789174&gclid=Cj0KCQjw08XeBRC0ARIsAP_gaQBrhHsFh9gmbxcuXDKY68VryDNuS6j-6CMFdpUKXyzQPO0z5eTj6kIaAj2ZEALw_wcB

    I don't see anything in Midea installation about need for nitrogen flush, just a vacuum: https://us.midea.com/dam/jcr:70fba053-0a05-4690-8cc1-66fb2a6e9c42/Premier%20HW%20installation%20manual.pdf

    I have a short run, so I will be using the minimum lineset. I don't expect to cut/flare.

    I'll look into the other items you and Dana have mentioned (Art Cool). The Art Cool confuses me as it no longer seems to just mean the square heads you put a picture in/on!

    1. Nathan Scaglione | | #7

      That type of manifold will only give you vacuum in Hg. It is not accurate enough for a minisplit. People will use those for car AC, run it to -29.9 and then let it run for 45 minutes, which is fine for a car.

      I would look at the install manual for Mitsubishi, LG, Fujitsu all call for nitrogen pressure tests. Mitsubishi actually wants a successively deeper vacuum with nitrogen pressurization in between pulling vacuums. I don't know all the technical terms, but the nitrogen will help remove any moisture in the lines in addition to testing for leaks.

      Yeah the Art Cool can come with the picture frame thing, or a standard head. I actually believe the picture frame reduces efficiency somehow.

    2. Nathan Scaglione | | #8

      I did see the manual you linked does not call for a deep vacuum, just let it run for 15 minutes...

      I don't trust that. I have really done my homework on this and absolutely clean line set and deep vacuum is critical for these units to run at maximum efficiency. Especially considering we are pushing these units to the limit, asking them to run below 0F.

      That is my comfort level anyway. You could recoup some of the tool costs by reselling everythign when you're done.

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