Cheap Chinese Mini-Splits: Worth It?

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Old 08-05-18, 04:50 AM
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Cheap Chinese Mini-Splits: Worth It?

Seems these days that the market is flooded with cheap Chinese mini-splits with a million different names (my guess is that they are made by a handful of manufacturers) that are skewed to the DIY market. Unlike the major brands like Mitsubishi, Sanyo, etc...which usually carry a disclaimer of "warranty will not apply unless installed by a licensed technician," they are marketed to be installed by a DIY'er who then goes out and hires an HVAC guy to vacuum and charge them. I'm curious to hear from anyone who has installed one of these "off brand" units and how they fared.

We have a 2600 SF house that is a mishmosh of original construction and additions going back about 200 years. The good news is that the previous owner put a large second floor addition on in 1998 with a walk up attic. I have plenty of room to mount concealed duct units to feed the six rooms that need cooling up there. I plan on using a three zone system, probably 36K BTU, and splitting the supply and return for each with short runs, each unit serving rooms that are adjacent. I'm also planning on locating a heavy duty whole house dehumidifier in the attic as well with one supply on one end of the house and one return on the other end of the house for a few reasons. First, I've read a lot about how supplemental dehumidification can really take a load off of your AC units, second, humidity, rather than temperature tends to make our house the most uncomfortable. We are pretty deep in the woods with substantial shade to the south, so as long as the humidity level is low, the house is pretty comfortable, even on the second floor up to about 85F. On the other hand, when the humidity level is high, it can be pretty miserable in the mid 70s. The downside of course is that dehumidifiers heat the air somewhat, but the two working in tandem with the dehumidifier handling most of the moisture removal and the concealed duct units simply cooling the air, should work well. I'm only going to do the upstairs this year, so perhaps there will be lessons learned before I do the downstairs.
 
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Old 08-05-18, 05:08 AM
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So, do you want to use these to supplement your existing system or to be the primary source of heating and cooling?
 
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Old 08-05-18, 06:04 AM
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I'll back up a bit-forgot some details:
  • House has no central AC currently and no ductwork (hydronic heat)
  • The system would only be for cooling
We have oil fired hydronic heat and a large woodstove on the first floor that does a pretty good job keeping the entire first floor and some of the second floor warm in the winter so we'll likely never use the heat function on the mini splits. That makes me wonder-are there cheaper mini splits that offer cooling only?
 
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Old 08-05-18, 06:27 AM
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Then no, I’d not suggest these. They don’t work the way your thinking. Many, even though they have multiple heads, run all of them together regardless of individual space settings.
Plus tech/warranty support is next to nonexistent.
 
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Old 08-05-18, 07:29 AM
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Over priced japanese splits are not worth it

Yes, Yes Yes avoid the over priced brands and use the money saved elsewhere.

A few years ago I went through decision making over whether to buy Chinese or Japanese mini-split.

My professional life is centered on the global electronics industry not HVAC, but have long experience with AC's. Also have extensive travel in China.

In China endless forests of hi rise residential buildings have mini-splits. There are zillions of them. Most are made by a handful of billion dollar Chinese companies. Those sold in the US are often re-branded with obscure names.

Because of high Japanese manufacturing costs their units often have significant Chinese made content. I finally concluded there was nothing to justify the 100% price differential of Japanese mini-splits.

If a Chinese unit was to develop problems the 50% savings could be used to pay for service or new unit.

Because of added complexity of heat pump mini-split refrigerant systems I installed a bidirectional filter/dryer and sight glass. System has run flawlessly for five years.
 

Last edited by doughess; 08-05-18 at 08:12 AM.
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