GBA Logo horizontal Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter 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

Cost to Install Multisplit for HVAC

spiffyjwc | Posted in Mechanicals on

Just started getting back some bids for a new home we’re building in MA (Boston suburb).  I’m worried because although we are shooting for “pretty good house” insulation levels, some of the builders expressed skepticism of using a mini/multi-split for HVAC.  On our first bid, they indicated that a mitsubishi system would cost $88k to install, and it just sounds outlandish given my early research into the systems!  Is this one of the “non-bids” that I hear about – where an HVAC contractor puts in a high price to sway you away from these systems and back towards traditional gas furnaces?

It’s a 3000 sf two story home.  BeOPT and CoolCalc #s come back as likely in the 35,000 BTU heat load range (still in the process of getting an official engineering load calculation).  Should I be hunting for my own HVAC installer, or have I seriously underestimated things on my end?

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.

Replies

  1. Jeff Wasilko | | #1

    That sounds insane. We're in MA as well.

    We used Boucher ( https://boucherenergy.com/ ) to replace our AC with a Mitsubishi heat pump system last year. The project was around $37k for a MXZ-8c48NAHZ outdoor unit, with a SVZ-KP30NA andSVZ-KP24NA ducted air handlers, and MSZ-GL06NA head. The project also included completely replacing our attic duct work, and Aerosealing all of the other duct work. We also had hydro heating coils installed in the 2 air handlers for backup from our existing boiler.

    Boucher was able to get us into the MA MVP program, which covered around $5K of the system. We also tried to get the DOER heat pump generation credits, but were ineligible because the 8c48NAHZ doesn't meet the requirements. The 42k would have, in hindsight.

    It was a big project and less than half your bid.

    If you're only doing ductless heads, you should also talk to https://www.netrinc.com/

    1. spiffyjwc | | #14

      @jeff - I was excited to follow up with Boucher after your strong recommend.
      They just got back to me at $75K! They wanted to put in 3 separate outdoor units with 3 ducted air handlers - so essentially swapping your head with another handler+ducts. I even asked about going with a single multi-zone versus the 3 condensers, but my rep indicated that it wouldn't make much of a difference in price!
      I'm even more confused about pricing now!

  2. Walter Ahlgrim | | #2

    Sound like a bait and switch bid with a head in every room and the compressors over sized by at least 3X.

    Consider having the engineer prepare the head size and placement and compressor specifications. For the contractor to bid. This way the contractor is not going the oversize every thing to cover his tail.

    Walta

  3. Jonathan Lawrence CZ 4A New Jersey | | #3

    That sounds high to me. I am in the suburbs of New Jersey and I received 3 quotes for a new construction install with a heat load of 50,000 btu's. The installed setup is 5 outdoor units and 6 indoor units. The second floor and unvented attic are served by 2 ducted medium static Fujitsu 12RGLX's. The other units are wall mounts. Total installed cost was just under $50k. The Daiken quote with a similar setup was around $55k and the Mitsubishi quote was around $65k.

  4. Sam S | | #4

    It's either a bad quote, or a bad system design. Ask them for a list of installed equipment to help figure it out.

  5. BubDBuilder | | #5

    I’m blown away by these prices. I know cost of living is higher in the Northeast than the rural South but today we paid $6k for a Fujitsu system with 4 indoor units and 2 outdoor.

  6. Jameson Hagenauer | | #6

    Currently soliciting bids to replace our aging furnace with a multi-split heat pump with a mix of ducted and ductless units in a two or three zone configuration. Our house here in Tacoma (not a cheap labor market) is smaller than yours (~1800 sq ft of conditioned space) but roughly the same heating load. I've had a range of bids from ~$18K - $28K, some of those have included total duct replacement, others partial replacement.

  7. C L | | #7

    That bid is insane. I would not deal with any company that proposed that.

    The other bids in the $30k range sound insane, and the $18k-$28k range also sounds very high.

    In the Southeast, you can get a standard split system installed in new construction for around $5k-$6k. Let's say $12k in HVAC costs for 2 systems in a new home. Even if a minisplit system only costs twice that, it will NEVER pay for itself.

    I hope someone in the trade with familiarity around this pricing responds to this thread, as I cannot understand why minisplit install costs are so insane. I'd like to know which of the below is incorrect:
    a. Equipment cost is equal to or less than traditional split system
    b. Aux material cost (ducting, etc.) is either less (non-ducted system) or a bit more because traditional system uses flex and ducted mini's need hard pipe.
    c. Install is a bit easier (lighter, smaller indoor equip)
    d. Commissioning is a bit more (more complex controls, less room for error on charging the system)

    1. Jeff Wasilko | | #9

      Keep in mind our $37k estimate included a lot of ductwork, and Aeroseal. Since we're a dual-fuel system, we needed boiler work.

  8. Expert Member
    Akos | | #8

    In the north, before mini splits, the only AC option for older houses with rads was high velocity. These are not cheap, so when mini splits came in, installers started offering them as an alternative. The price never reflected the real cost, as long as it was cheaper than high velocity, people bought them. Thus the silly prices.

    Usually you can find much better pricing if you only cost the install of the unit and the ducting is done by others. This would get you a closer to realistic parts+labor cost instead of magical pricing.

  9. spiffyjwc | | #10

    Thanks for all of the input folks, and it is good to know that I wasn't crazy in my initial shock at seeing the numbers!
    I also really appreciate the tips on some of the local installers here who specialize in these systems. I'm reaching out to them since it looks like I'll have to be the one who drives this particular angle. The builders we have contacted have great craftsmanship, but are all of the more traditional ilk. I know they originally hesitated at my initial specification for the type of system I'd like to have, so it's not surprising in that sense. Maybe a little disappointing, though!

  10. Wooba Goobaa | | #11

    The price is insane. I'm also in the Boston area. I've got a similar size job being done for about half that (ducted Mitsubishi cold climate heat pumps with three air handlers).

    1. Will R | | #12

      @wooba. Who is doing the job? Currently getting quotes now for a 1915 Bungalow outside of Boston. Given advice here, I'm first having an insulator perform a blower door test to determine what needs to be done for insulation. Next, I will get a 3rd party HVAC design. Any recommendations on HVAC designers in the Boston area for retrofitting heat pumps? Perhaps, Dana could weigh in on this question.

      1. Jeff Wasilko | | #13

        I can't offer a 'designer', but Boucher (mentioned above) was the only contractor I found that did a solid, reasonable load calc and system design.

        1. Will R | | #15

          Jeff, just got a quote for them. They seem to be oversizing for my small cape. I was bit underwhelmed by them but have heard good things from everyone else.

          1. spiffyjwc | | #16

            Unfortunately, it sounds like this thread has died! I also reached out to Boucher, but they seemed to be oversizing as well. Not to mention, their price was still super expensive (in the 70-80k range). Have you gotten quotes from anyone else?

          2. Jeff Wasilko | | #17

            Who did you deal with? It's always possible to have a conversation about the load calc. Make sure the design temps (outdoor and indoor) are accurate and review the data about the space and see where that lands you.

            Did they say why they oversized?

  11. Will R | | #18

    My quote was $37k. They said they would not provide me with a manual J, only a quote. They put 2 9kbtu units in my 2 upstairs bedrooms which are in a 1.5 level cape with sloped ceilings. My guess is that 2 6kbtu wall units 1:1 with outdoor units for good turn down would be more than sufficient. Unless I can figure out a way to duct to my upstairs. I really need an experienced HERS rater or someone similar to that to look at my house and take everything into consideration.

    1. Jeff Wasilko | | #19

      We worked with Fleming Lund (https://www.infrareddiagnostic.com ) to do a blower door/IR audit of the house before we started. He does do HERS rating.

      1. Will R | | #20

        Thanks Jeff, I’m working with blower door guy now too who will do some smoke guided airsealing for me who works with Byggmeister. I guess I don’t necessarily need the HERS rating but rather someone to look at the big picture of insulation steps going forward and manual J, S and D (if it makes sense) a long with the ability to add ventilation down the road.

Log in or create an account to post an answer.

Community

Recent Questions and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |