GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Picture icon Hamburger Icon Close Icon Sorted

Community and Q&A

MBtek Apollo floor fan coil

Dan Heidel | Posted in General Questions on

Has anyone had any experience with the MBtek Apollo floor fan coil units?

I know a couple folks on here had some pretty… grim experiences with their heat pumps, so I’m dubious about dealing with this company.  However, the $380 price point for fan coil units that can do heating and cooling is still a little tempting.  The only other competitor product I’ve found is the Arctic Heat Pump fan coil units and those are about 3x the price.  (If anyone else knows of any other fan coil units that can do heating and cooling, please let me know) 

The only reason I’m even considering these fan coil boxes is that there’s not a whole lot in them.  I mean, you’ve got a radiator, a water solenoid valve and a fan and you put them in a box.  It’s a lot harder to screw something that simple up vs a heat pump.  And if the unit is a lemon, it only affects one room and it’s easily accessible for repair or replacement.

GBA Prime

Join the leading community of building science experts

Become a GBA Prime member and get instant access to the latest developments in green building, research, and reports from the field.


  1. Tim_O | | #1

    Chiltrix has some fancoils that DC uses here. The MBtek ones may also be PHNiX imported units, unsure on that though. I believe the Chiltrix and the Arctic fan coils are imported PHNiX ones.

    Keep in mind - the Apollo FCUs do not include a thermostat. I think the Arctic and Chiltrix ones do.

    1. Dan Heidel | | #3

      Correct, the Arctic units come with a thermostat and the Apollo do not. However, even with the thermostat, it's nearly 2:1 for the price.

      Interesting that they might be the same original manufacturer. As long as it works, I won't be too picky. When the time comes, I might order from a couple companies for the first set of units to see if there's a significant difference in build quality.

      1. begreener | | #5

        Thought it would be worthwhile to post the Phnix units ...

        I'm kinda partial to the wall units, as it might be easier to deal with the condensate for cooling (gravity) vs floor units

        1. Dan Heidel | | #7


          As a general question about these fan coil units, do you know how the condensate drain is usually plumbed? Does it require full C/PVC or ABS hard line running to a drain or is just a PEX line running to a drain line sufficient?

          1. Expert Member
            DCcontrarian | | #8

            The ones I've dealt with don't have condensate pumps so they rely on gravity to drain. Gravity drains are very sensitive to slope, it is critical to get it right. You really need some sort of hard pipe. The bigger the pipe the more reliably it drains, 3/4" PVC is the smallest drain allowed by my code.

            If the condensate is pumped the slope is less critical and you can use a flexible line. The issue I've run into with the Chiltrix FCU's -- which as others have noted seem to be rebadged PHNIX -- is that the drip tray is very shallow, only about 3/4", so you have to use a condensate pump capable of sensing and pumping low levels. I've used this one with success:

            Note that since the drip tray is so shallow, the mounting of the FCU becomes critical, it has to be sloped ever so slightly so that the spot where the condensate pump is located is where the water is deepest.

  2. Expert Member
    DCcontrarian | | #2

    Chiltrix sells similar units:

    If you go on Alibaba there are literally thousands of units, I have one in my house I bought through them direct from China. For quantity one it ended up being about $550 delivered, UPS brought it to my door. Since the US is a minor market these are mostly configured for Europe, mine came wired for 220v and with British Standard Pipe connectors. Not insurmountable but something to consider.

    There is a Chiltrix user group on Facebook. They don't allow discussion of other brands but I have communicated via private message there with people who have other FCUs

    1. Dan Heidel | | #4

      Huh, wouldn't have expected Chilltrix to be cheaper than Arctic.

      Thanks for the heads up on Alibaba. I'm no stranger to ordering stuff off of there, so I'll take a look. This is for a new build, so I can always just run 220V out to outlets at the fan coil locations if all else fails.

      1. Expert Member
        DCcontrarian | | #9

        The one thing that's kind of a pain is that US codes require that 220V lines have one circuit per device. The biggest Chiltrix FCU uses 22 Watts, so that's real overkill.

        I wired a regular 120V outlet next to mine, then put a UK powercord on it and used plug-in travel adapter.

        1. Tim_O | | #11

          So you are running it off 120v then?

          1. Expert Member
            DCcontrarian | | #12

            I'm using this converter:

            with this power cord (I cut the end off and wired it to the FCU):

            A couple of things to note: first, this adds about $50 to the cost, so when you're pricing out various options you have to keep this in mind. Second, the FCU isn't UL-listed, nor is the adapter I'm using, so it couldn't be done in inspected work. I didn't it my own home -- the mad scientist's laboratory -- but I wouldn't put it in someone else's.

            These are the British to US pipe adapters:

  3. begreener | | #6

    If you are looking for heat only ...

    This is an interesting product too:

    1. Dan Heidel | | #14

      Unfortunately, I need heating and cooling. I've found a few different heating only models out there but they're not in consideration for my project.

  4. Expert Member
    DCcontrarian | | #10

    Be careful to make sure you're doing an apples-to-apples comparison. There's not much to a FCU, it's a box, a radiator coil and a fan with some control electronics, but there are differences between similar-looking units. As has been noted, the control electronics isn't always the same. The fan isn't always the same either, nicer units will have a variable speed DC motor that is quieter and more efficient. If you're using zone valves it's nice to have a unit that has 24V out to control a zone valve and saves money on the install. Things like having to add a condensate pump, or convert non-US pipe fittings or voltage can add a couple hundred dollars to the install cost.

    Unfortunately the online documentation tends to be scant. US resellers worry (justifiably) about being cut out so they don't give enough information on their websites to identify which OEM model they're selling. The Chinese manufacturer websites tend to just be blurry photos and platitudes. I think you just have to ask.

    1. Dan Heidel | | #13

      Yeah, I'm no stranger to Alibaba sourcing. It can be amazing frustrating with the vague and often just made up specs. My main concern about going the direct sourcing route is the control interface, as that has a lot of potential for making the system more complicated than necessary and getting info from someone that's using Google translate is often incredibly difficult.

    2. Dan Heidel | | #15

      The board won't let me reply to your post about the condensate drains so I'll do it here.

      I kind of figured that it was gravity feed. I can't really use the sump pumps since I'm already pushing cost with just the fan coils since I'll need at least 12 of them.

      I'm fine plumbing in some 3/4" or 1" PVC drain lines. I'll just have them feed down into the basement where I already have to have a sump pump to pick up the condensate drains from the heat pump, water heater drain, etc.

      Do you recall what kind of fitting comes out of the condensate pan?

      1. Expert Member
        DCcontrarian | | #16

        The outlet of the drain pan on the Chiltrix FCU is 5/8" outer diameter. It's CTS -- copper tubing size -- nominal 1/2". I connected it to a piece of 1/2" CPVC, which is also CTS, using 5/8" inner diameter plastic tubing. In the wall is 3/4" PVC which is IPS -- iron pipe size. The CPVC has a male threaded IPS adapter, which screws into a female IPS adapter on a piece of 3/4" PVC that goes into the wall.

        On the Chiltrix Facebook user forum:

        there is a detailed set of posts with photos on how to install the condensate drain. It's focused on ceiling installation, wall is a little easier, but there are a lot of tricks and catches. It's a lot of stuff I wish I had known before starting.

        In particular, there is one piece of advice that I recommend heeding. Cut a piece of plywood slightly smaller than the unit and the same thickness as the drywall. You will remove the drywall behind the unit (or never install it if it's new construction) and put the plywood in its place. On a workbench, mount the unit to the plywood, and figure out the routing for all of the plumbing and electrical, and make holes for where they go. Then mount the plywood to the wall and figure out how to get the pipes and wires where they need to go.

        This solves two problems. First, the FCU doesn't have mounting points that line up with US studs, you need some sort of support to screw it onto. Second, the placement of the pipes is critical, particularly for the condensate drain but the water supply is also somewhat demanding. It's hard to figure out the placement with the unit in the way, the plywood acts as a template.

        If this is new construction I would do a full install onto the plywood before installing drywall, just to be sure. Then I would take the unit off, cap the pipes and wires, and let the drywallers have at it.

        1. Expert Member
          DCcontrarian | | #17

          The FCU I bought on Alibaba has a condensate drain that is 3/4" IPS. I join it to 3/4" PVC with a piece of 1" inside diameter plastic tubing.

Log in or create an account to post an answer.


Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |