04 August 2012

new Tech.. desert cabin AC.....Mini-Split system 110V

I've been researching off grid AC systems....and thinking there ain't much for desert living, other than a swamp cooler...and this is what I found.
"Mini Split" systems with the INVERTER compressors seems to be the deal....very popular for many years in the Far East, and Europe...and developing countries....but pretty much unheard of here in the US. Maybe due to AC manufacturers, AC svc companies and elect power companies not wanting this techno to become widespread in the land of the Consumers?

Checking around online for the best deals and what other folks have installed for off-grid...this is what I ended up buying. "Overstocked" Fedders mini splits for pretty cheap. There are plenty of Ching Chong versions a tad cheaper ...but this was Fedders...still China made. For some reason I thought this was better, but the price seemed okay, considering the22 SEER rating, at $750 plus the "line set" (copper lines)  and then you gotta add the elect power line and a wire for the control to tell the condenser what to do. My former A/C repair tech son was in town so got him to do the install.......and took about an hour.

Just gotta install the inside bracket, high on the exterior wall....then make a 2" hole to the outside for the freon lines, the power line and the condensate line.
The inside unit and fitting everything thru the hole took a little time, but he did the exterior condenser "suck down" work and hooked up the flare fittings, and with power wires and a wire from the inside unit the outside unit for the remote control....and hooked to 110V.....we wuz in bid-ness!!! The unit is pre charged with R410.

He is a certified AC Tech...so he has the tools and  knows what he's doing...unlike ME.....who knows Nada.
The outside condenser is about as big a a full sized suitcase....and as loud as a box fan on high...the inside unit is damn near SILENT.....remote control and all. But if you're looking for one of these for OFF GRID...it's gotta be with the "Inverter Compressor" and 110 V is best. Some have this...others do not.
This thing is a 22 SEER rating...and has Heat Pump as well...but that heat pump spins the elect meter just like the AC....but most folks don't realize that. (we have propane in winter for heat)

It does seem pricey for a 1 ton AC... compared to a good window unit....and I did get a free installation...only way to get warranteed is certified installer doing the job. But the super efficiency unit at 22SEER and with elect prices steadily going up......makes good sense.

I planned to get a 9K unit for the cabin....but guess what.....they are SOLD OUT of these "overstocked" 22 SEER  Fedders Mini splits.

A standard AC unit is only "on or off" for the compressor...but these units are somewhat variable in the compressor speeds that match to what the thermostat temp setting demands.

Website is called "alpine home air"...or something like that.....free shipping and no tax. But Cust Svc sucks a bit.




tffnguy said...

So what kind of watts does this puppy pull? Sounds interesting.

Anonymous said...

From what research I've done it pulls 250-300 on low. Other off gridders say to turn it on early while the house is still cool in the AM, and gradually ease it higher as the day goes, and it will keep a small place cool. I think about 600W on high. This one has a SEER of 22 and runs on 110V, bigger ones are 220V. Some folks figured out how to run them using DC power for some models.


tffnguy said...

Wow! 600 watts is what the 5000 BTU is supposed to pull running with the building cool, but it pulls a lot more trying to cool from a high temp.

Anonymous said...

We had these type of units in Singapore. Be sure to follow the maintainence, which is to blow out the tubes regularlly. Otherwise the efficiency goes down.

Quixote Kid said...

Interesting! I recently learned about these at a demo solar workshop in Bastrop, TX. Nice to see one in operation.

Do you think a regular weekend project guy could do this? I've been wanting something for our Terlingua Cabin, but I don't want to spend the money if I screw up the installation. :)

Anonymous said...

QK...I've read some forum postings for off-grid living where this has been done, but to get it to it's highest efficiency and least problems you really need to vacuum down the lines and inside unit, test for any leaks in the flare fittings....but it comes pre charged...and we did not need to add any coolant. Warrantee is void unless it's installed by a certified licensed AC tech. Shop around for a good price from an exp tech that has done some startups on these units. IMHO