MINI-SPLIT AIR CONDITIONERS

What is a Mini-Split Air Conditioner 

A “split” air conditioner consists of two main parts: the outdoor unit and the indoor unit.

A mini-split system is therefore “split” into the compression and expansion stages of the refrigeration cycle. Refrigerant lines and electrical wires connect the condenser to the evaporator. The outdoor unit contains a compressor which pumps the refrigerant to the indoor evaporator where it expands and cools. A fan behind the evaporator coil blows the cool air into the room. Because the coil and fan blow directly into the room, the term “ductless” applies because no distribution system is required.

WHAT IS A SPLIT SYSTEM2

How a Mini-Split Air Conditioner different from other AC Units 

Like central air systems, but unlike a window air conditioner, also known as a “self contained” or one piece, a mini-split air conditioner or a mini-split heat pump consists of two separate components including an outdoor condenser/compressor and an indoor evaporator, or air-handling unit. A conduit, which houses the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing and a condensate drain, links the outdoor and indoor units.

Mini splits have numerous potential applications in residential, commercial and institutional buildings. The most common applications are in multifamily housing or as retrofit add-ons to houses with non-ducted heating systems, such as hydronic (hot water heat), radiant panels and space heaters. They can also be a good choice for room additions and small apartments, where extending or installing distribution ductwork is not feasible.

Benefits of a Mini-Split Air Conditioning System  

This kind of air conditioner has many advantages over traditional air conditioners including quiet performance. The parts of the air conditioner that make the most noise are the compressor and the fan that cools the condenser, which in a split system, are located outside of the room being cooled and therefore the major sources of noise are removed, unlike with window units.

Other advantages of mini splits are their small size and flexibility for zoning or heating and cooling individual rooms. Central air conditioners usually cool an entire area, but mini splits can be more selective and heat or cool specific areas and individual rooms. Many models can have as many as four indoor air handling units (for four zones or rooms) connected to one outdoor unit. The number depends on how much heating or cooling is required for the building or each zone, which in turn is affected by how well the building is insulated. Each of the zones will have its own thermostat, so you only need to condition that space when it is occupied, saving energy and money.

Ductless mini split systems are often easier to install than other types of air conditioning systems. A ductless mini-split system is similar to a central air system in that the evaporator is “split” from the condenser, but unlike a central air system, no duct work is required. The hookup between the indoor and outdoor units  generally requires  only a two- to three-inch hole through the wall for the conduit, Also, most manufacturers of this type of system can provide a variety of lengths of connecting conduits so that if necessary, you can locate the outdoor unit as far as 50 feet from the indoor evaporator.

Because there is no ductwork required, mini split systems are not only easy to install but also more economical and better for the environment. The ductwork required for many traditional air conditioning units generally increases energy expenditures, as many centralized AC units lose a lot of energy due to heat exchange in the air duct system. So, without a duct system, there is very little opportunity for heat or energy loss in a split air conditioning system. Duct losses can account for more than 30% of energy consumption for space conditioning, especially if the ducts are in an unconditioned space such as an attic.

A mini-split heat pump will also supplement an inadequate heating system and add comfort to a room. However, as in the case with all heat pumps, it may not be sufficient and might require an auxiliary heating source. This depends on the climate you reside. Some areas require considerably more BTU of heating than cooling, so the proper size air conditioner may not be the proper size heat pump. Over sizing is not a good idea for two reasons. You will loose efficiency by running a large air conditioner than needed. And, over-sized cooling will cool, but not dry effectively.

 
Disadvantages of a Mini-Split Air Conditioning System 

The primary disadvantage of mini splits is their cost. Such systems can cost anywhere between $1,500 to $2,000 per ton (12,000 BTU per hour) of cooling capacity, which is about 30% more than central systems, not including ductwork, and may cost twice as much as window units of similar capacity.

An installer must correctly size each indoor unit and judge the best location for the installation. Oversized or incorrectly located air-handlers often result in short-cycling, which wastes energy and does not provide proper temperature or humidity control. Too large a system may also cost more money and use more energy to operate.

Although there will be more control of cooled areas, refrigerant lines and electrical wires must be installed from each evaporator to the condenser. There must also be a place to drain condensate water near the outdoor unit. Unlike window and central air conditioners which have brazed joints, most mini splits have flared copper to brass refrigerant connections, making it possible to loosen and leak. Because the refrigerant lines come pre-attached to the evaporator, mini splits can also be more difficult to “rough-in” on new construction or remodels. Mini splits are simpler to install on finished wall.

The indoor section of a mini split is good sized, however physically locating it can present a problem at times. Built-ins, windows and doors and décor can also be implements to prime locations and some people may not like the appearance of the indoor part of the system.  While less obstructive than a window room air conditioner, they seldom have the built-in look  of a central system.

 

Maintenance 

The indoor unit will most likely have an air filter, which will require periodic cleaning or replacement, depending on how often the unit runs. The outdoor unit should be kept clear of plants and debris. It would not hurt to have a professional HVAC technician clean and test the condenser, which we recommend yearly. If you would like to have this done, Call ACE HI today at 970-667-0300. We service Fort Collins, Colorado and Loveland, Colorado.

A split air conditioner is an efficient and cost effective way to cool your home, however, qualified installers and service technicians for mini splits may not be easy to find. It should be noted that the initial cost  of this type of air conditioning unit is significantly higher than a window unit and does require professional installation. The amount you will save on your energy bills as well as the longevity of the unit will make it worth your while in the end.

Humidifiers In the Summer

Humidifiers should be turned off for the summer while the A/C is running.  Air conditioning is a dehumidifier which cools the skin and removes humidity out of the air.  If the humidifier is left on it will actually cause the house to be warmer and cause the A/C not to work correctly.

Beware of the low-cost inspection fee.  They will try to sell you high-priced services and creat high pressure sales.  Consumers beware!

Ace Hi can service any brand of air conditioner and humidifier at a reasonable cost. 

Central Air Conditioners

Types of Central Air Conditioners
A central air conditioner is either a split-system unit or a packaged unit.

In a split-system central air conditioner, an outdoor metal cabinet contains the condenser and compressor, and an indoor cabinet contains the evaporator. The indoor cabinet also contains a furnace or the indoor part of a heat pump in many of the split-system air conditioners. The air conditioner’s evaporator coil is installed in the cabinet or main supply duct of this furnace or heat pump. A split-system is the most economical central air conditioner to install if your home already has a furnace but no air conditioner.

CENTRAL AC

In a packaged central air conditioner, the evaporator, condenser and compressor are all located in one cabinet, which usually is placed on a roof or on a concrete slab next to the house’s foundation. This type of air conditioner is also used in small commercial buildings. Air supply and return ducts come from the indoors through the home’s exterior wall or roof to connect with the packaged air conditioner, which is usually located outside. These can often include electric heating coils or a natural gas furnace. This combination of central heating and air conditioning eliminates the need for a  separate furnace indoors.

PACKAGED AC

Central air conditioning systems are thermostatically controlled and convenient to use.  

Central air conditioners circulate cool air through a system of supply and return ducts. Supply ducts and registers carry cooled air from the air conditioner to the home. This cooled air becomes warmer as it circulates through the homed. The warm air then flows back to the central air conditioner through return ducts and registers.

Indoor humidity can cause many problems. Too much humidity in the air causes you to feel warmer, meaning it costs you more to run your air conditioning system longer. By selecting a thermostat with a humidity control feature, this could save you up to $300 per year and will also increase comfort in the home especially if you live in a humid area.

Air conditioners help to dehumidify the incoming air, but in extremely humid climates or in cases where the air conditioner is oversized, it may not achieve a low humidity. Running a dehumidifier in your home will increase your energy use, both for the dehumidifier and because the air conditioner will require more energy to cool your house. A dehumidifying heat pipe, which can be added as a retrofit to most existing systems, is a preferable alternative.

If you are considering adding central air conditioning to your home, the deciding factor may be the need for duct work.  

Central air conditioners are more efficient than room air conditioners. They are out of the way, quiet and convenient to operate. Purchasing an energy-efficient air conditioner will save money, and reduce you central air conditioner’s energy use. In an average air-conditioned home, an AC consumes more than 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, causing power plants to emit about 3,500 pounds of carbon monoxide and 31 pounds of sulfur dioxide.

If you would like to install a central air conditioning system or have an annual inspection on your system, call ACE HI PLUMBING, HEATING & AIR AT 970-667-0300 today to schedule an appointment. We offer services in the Northern Colorado area and have 24-hour emergency service available. Trust us to keep you and your family cool this summer. Making sure our customers are completely satisfied is our first priority.

SEER RATINGS AND NEW AIR CONDITIONING STANDARDS FOR 2015

Today’s best air conditioners use 30% to 50% less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made in the me 1970s. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save 20% to 50% of your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model.

REDUCE ENERGY USE 20-50%

Proper sizing and installation are key elements in determining air conditioner efficiency. A unit that is too large will not adequately remove humidity. A unit that is too small will not be able to attain a comfortable temperature on the hottest days. Lack of insulation and improper unit and duct installation can greatly diminish efficiency.

What are SEER Ratings? 

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, a measure of system efficiency, which translates to how much it costs to operate and indicates the relative amount of energy needed to provide specific cooling output. The higher the number, the more efficient the system. A SEER rating of 16 or higher with stepped capacity modulation is considered high efficiency and could save you over $400 per year versus an older lower efficiency system. Many older systems have SEER ratings of 6 or less. The minimum SEER allowed today is 13.

Central Air conditioners are rated according to their SEER rating. If you are thinking about purchasing a new air conditioner, look for a model with a high efficiency or look for the ENERGY STAR® label for central air conditioners with SEER ratings of 13 or greater. Also consider using air conditioning equipment with higher SEER ratings for greater savings.

Department of Energy (DOE)
Residential Central Air Conditioner Standards

New residential central air conditioner standards went into effect on January 23, 2006. Air conditioners manufactured after January 23, 2006 must achieve a SEER of 13 or higher. SEER 13 is 30% more efficient than the previous minimum SEER of 10. The standard only applies to appliances manufacture after January 23, 2006. Equipment with a rating less than SEER 13 manufactured before January 1, 2015 may still be sold and installed anywhere in the U.S. If you are in the North region, as specified by the DOE, you may continue to install SEER 13 AC systems even if they were manufactured after January 1, 2015. There is not yet a date for phasing out those units in the North. However, All heat pump systems built after January 1, 2015, must be at least a SEER 14.

If you are located in the South or Southwest DOE regions, you can only install SEER 13 units (AC or heat pump) built before January 1, 2015, and you can continue to do this until the 18-month grace period is over on June 30, 2016. After this date, everything in those regions must be SEER 14 irrespective of when it was built. Also, the Southwest region has an EER (Energy Efficiency Ratio) minimum in addition to the SEER minimum, so homeowners in the region will need to watch for the EER rating as well. It is not clear how the availability of SEER 13 units built before January 1, 2015 will play out, but there are certainly some in the channel for the 2015 cooling season. It is likely that this availability will drop significantly as we move closer to the June 30, 2016 date when they can no longer be used (except in the North).

The standards do not require you to change your existing central air conditioning units, and replacement parts and services are still available for your home’s system. The “lifespan” of a central air conditioner is about 15 to 20 years. Manufacturers typically continue to support existing equipment by making replacement parts available and honoring maintenance contracts.

Other features to look for when purchasing  an air conditioner 
  • A thermal expansion valve and a high-temperature rating (EER) greater than 11.6, for high-efficiency operation when the weather is the hottest
  • A variable speed handler for new ventilation systems
  • A unit that operates quietly
  • A fan-only switch, so you can use the unit for nighttime ventilation to substantially reduce air conditioning costs
  • A filter check light to remind you to change the filter after a predetermined number of operating hours
  • An automatic-delay fan switch to turn off the fan a few minutes after the compressor turns off

If you have an older central air conditioner, you might choose to replace the outdoor compressor with a modern, high efficiency unit. If you do so, consult a local heating and cooling contractor to assure that the new compressor is properly matched to the indoor unit. However, considering recent changes in refrigerant and air conditioning designs, it might be wiser to replace the entire system. (Read more about R-22 and R-410A Refrigerant)

For questions concerning your air conditioning unit, call ACE HI PLUMBING, HEATING & AIR at 970-667-0300 today. We have NATE-trained technicians and provide 24-hour emergency service. Ace Hi Plumbing services the Northern Colorado area including Loveland, Fort Collins, Berthoud, Longmont, Windsor, Greeley, and Estes Park.

Spring Clean Your Drains With Our Plumbing Services In Fort Collins

Spring clean your drains with our plumbing services in Fort Collins. When it comes to cleaning, people often forget about household surfaces that are not in plain sight. Just like your countertops, mirrors, and floors the inside of your drains need to be cleaned too. Without proper drain maintenance, unexpected clogs are bound to pop up sooner or later.In fact, it is important to incorporate drain cleaning into all your major cleaning routines. Doing so will help keep clogs away and avoid costly repairs in the future. If you are not sure how to go about cleaning your drains don’t worry you are not the only one.

To clean your drains,  remove the stoppers throughout your home. Clean each one thoroughly, as food, soap scum, and hair can easily cling to stoppers and create problems.  Next, test each drain by running water to see if it drains slow or normal pace. If it is clear, you can use a clog prevention treatment for regular maintenance. If it is running slow you will need a more specific clog treatment to get whatever is in the drain to move through. Prevention on a monthly basis is key to clog free pipes. As you are continuing through this routine, be sure to clean all the drains in your home. There are a few that are easy to forget (laundry room drains, garage drains, guest bedroom drains). With these simple steps, your drains and pipes will remain clog free. However, there are some clogs that need professional help and we are here for you!

Fort Collins Air Conditioner

The installation of your air conditioner in Fort Collins is the first step in determining the success of your air conditioning system.  Even the best air conditioners on the market will not be able to adequately cool your home if they are not properly installed.  Efficiency will suffer,costing you more money to cool your home.  The effectiveness of your air conditioner will drop.

Schedule a professional air conditioning installation service to get the most out of you ac unit!

Call Ace Hi Plumbing, Heating & Air Today!!

970-667-0300

The Difference Between R-22 & R-410A

Since 1992, a major shift in the air conditioning industry has been underway. R-22 refrigerant, often called by its brand name Freon, has been being phased out in favor of a new type of refrigerant, R-410A, often called by its brand name Puron. This has some big implications for homeowners who are repairing or replacing their air conditioners. Also, as a homeowner considering a purchase, it is important that you understand the difference between these two refrigerants in order to make the best decision for your system.

R-22 has been the standard refrigerant used in air conditioners for many years now. The problem with this refrigerant is that it is both less efficient and less environmentally friendly that R-410A refrigerant. In 2010, R-22 was outlawed for use in new units. The government-mandated shift away from  R-22 refrigerant is an attempt to make homes more efficient and reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses into the environment.

Although R-22 was outlawed, some companies are taking advantage of the law by producing what is known as “dry charge” units. These are new units that don’t have the refrigerant installed at the factory. Instead, a technician is required to come to your home to install the R-22 refrigerant. While this practice is technically legal, this is not the best option. Here is why:

  1. There is a limited supply of R-22 and the price will increase as the supplies diminish.
  2. R-410A offers greater efficiency, saving you in energy costs, and is much better for the environment.
  3. Dry charged units typically offer much shorter warranty periods.

 

R-22 vs. R-410A

R-22 Refrigerant:

  • Often referred to by its brand name, Freon®
  • As of 2010, this refrigerant is no longer allowed to be used in newly manufactured air conditioners.
  • R- 22 is a Hydro-chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) which contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer.
  • It is less capable of absorbing and releasing heat than R-410A refrigerant, making it less efficient.
  • It is becoming more and more costly as its use is phased out.

R-410A Refrigerant

  • Often referred to by its brand name, Puron®
  • R-410A has been approved for use in all newly manufactured residential air conditioners.
  • In 2015, R-410A will become the new standard for U.S. residential air conditioning systems.
  • It is a Hydro-fluorocarbon (HFC) which does not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer.
  • It is better at absorbing and releasing heat than R-22 refrigerant, making it more efficient to use.
  • Requires the use of tougher, more durable air conditioner parts, which reduces the risk of your system overheating and breaking down.

Performance

Although R-22 refrigerant is still available to replenish older systems that have refrigerant leaks, the cost of that repair is on the rise. Because R-410A requires different air conditioner components than R-22, you cannot replenish a system that uses R-22 refrigerant with R-410A.

Newer air conditioning models are designed to be used with R-410A for reliable and more efficient operation. Because R-410A can absorb and release more heat than R-22, your air conditioning compressor can run cooler, reducing the risk of compressor burnout due to overheating.

R-410A functions at a higher pressure than R-22, so new compressors are built to withstand greater stresses, reducing the chance for cracking. If you were to put R-410A refrigerant into a system designed for R-22, the pressure would be too much and the unit would break.

All air conditioners use an oil to keep the compressor lubricated during operation. R-22 air conditioners use mineral oil and R-410A systems use synthetic oil. The synthetic oil is generally more soluble with R-410A than mineral oil is with R-22. This means the R-410A system operates more efficiently reducing wear and tear on the compressor.

In order to reap the efficiency, performance and environmental benefits of R-410A refrigerant, you will need to install a new system that is designed to use the refrigerant. If your air conditioner is nearing the end of its operating life, R-410A refrigerant might be a good reason to replace your system sooner rather than later so that you can avoid the rising costs of repairing a refrigerant leak with R-22 refrigerant.

If you have questions about R-22 or R-410A refrigerant, or if you would like to have a new cooling system installed or your current system serviced, call ACE HI PLUMBING, HEATING & AIR at 970-667-0300 today to make an appointment. We have NATE-trained technicians and provide 24-hour emergency service. Ace Hi Plumbing services the Northern Colorado area including Loveland, Fort Collins, Berthoud, Longmont, Windsor, Greeley, and Estes Park.

COMPONENTS AND FUNCTIONS OF AIR CONDITIONING UNITS

WHAT IS A SPLIT SYSTEM2 
Major Parts and Functions in a Split Air Conditioning System 

An outdoor compressor is an electric pump, or heart of the system, that circulates the refrigerant in a closed loop between the condenser and evaporator coils. Compressors come in more than one variety. According to Consumer Reports™ a reciprocating compressor is more trouble-prone than a scroll type one. While pricier, scroll-type compressors do tend to be higher in efficiency and quieter than reciprocating compressors. Most manufacturers offer both types of compressor.

The majority of homes and smaller commercial air conditioning systems circulate a compressed gas refrigerant, widely recognized as Freon, in a closed “split” system to cool and condition inside air. The refrigerant helps to cool and dehumidify the inside air and has to be re-cooled and condensed, and outside air is the medium most often used to accomplish this. The term “split” simply means that components are divided into inside and outside portions as opposed to being located together in a “package” unit. In a “forced air” system, an internal blower circulates the conditioned air through ducts to the rooms where the cooler air is needed. The air ducts generally run either below the ceiling and inside the rooms (conditioned air) or in the attic (unconditioned air). An outside fan pulls air across the external parts of the system to cool and condense the refrigerant.

AC-FUNCTIONS

Evaporator Coils vs. Condenser Coils  

As pressure on a gas decreases, the gas expands and cools. Increasing pressure makes the temperature rise. These phase changes are also expressed as evaporation and condensation, which is how evaporator coils and condenser coils get their names.  Refrigerants, including Freon and Puron may never need recharging through the life of your AC.

Coolant in the systems travels through four components

  1. An expansion valve to reduce the pressure on liquid coolant
  2. An evaporation coil where the coolant can become gaseous, absorbing heat from surrounding air
  3. a compressor that pressurizes the gas
  4. a condenser coil in which the heated gas becomes a liquid, releasing its heat to the outside air

The blower moves the warm indoor air over the chilled evaporator apparatus as the exterior exhaust fan moves hot air away from the heated condenser coils. All air conditioning units, including window units, heat pumps and ductless units operate on the same principle. They differ only in the size and configuration of the coils.

An air handling unit is indoors where the blower and related portion of the central air conditioning system moves air through the air ducts.

The air filters are indoor elements that trap dust, pollen and other airborne particles as air moves through the air conditioning system. Air filters contribute to both reliable air conditioner operation and health.

Evaporator Coils are indoors and consists of a network of tubes filled with refrigerant that remove heat and moisture from the air as the refrigerant evaporates into a gas again

As the coolant inside the metal coils evaporates, it acts as a heat sink for the air that moves across it from the blower. Copper conducts heat readily, so the coils that contain the coolant are usually made of metal. To maximize surface area and provide more cooling power, the copper coils have metal fins or vanes surrounding them. In dual or hybrid heat systems, the same coils that act as evaporation sites in the summer to cool your home become condensation sites in the winter to provide warmth.

During routine seasonal maintenance, your AC Service cleans the interior coils for you, but if you notice reduced cooling capacity, check the coils for signs of dirt or ice.

Condenser Coils are outdoors and consists of a network of tubes filled with refrigerant that remove heat from the heated gas refrigerant and convert the refrigerant into a liquid form again. The excess heat escapes into the outside air.

Your air conditioner’s condenser apparatus is outside where waste heat can dissipate to the outdoor air as the heated gas inside it returns to its liquid state under pressure. Like the interior coils, the exterior coils are a heat transfer site, however, the heat moves in the opposite direction, going from the coolant into the surrounding air with the help of exhaust fans.

Outside units are susceptible to collecting dust, pollen and other debris, but they are easier to clean than interior coils. Your air conditioner runs more efficiently when excess heat leaves the system quickly, so keeping the coils clean can lower utility bills and lengthen the lifespan of your system. To remove any build-up of dirt, a stiff nylon brush, can of commercial cleaning solution and a hose are usually sufficient. Always turn off power to the unit before cleaning the vanes, coils and grill on an interior unit. It’s best to call a professional AC Service to clean the coils thoroughly if the unit has not been cleaned in some time.

An outside fan pulls the air through the condenser coils for heat dispersal.

For the first time cleaning interior and exterior coils, calling an HVAC specialist is a good idea. At Ace Hi Plumbing, Heating & Air we have NATE-Trained technicians who can give you tips on keeping coils clean, free of debris and help you to devise a maintenance schedule to help your AC run at peak efficiency.

Heat pump Air conditioning is a combination of air conditioning and a heating system. In one mode, it functions as an air conditioner. In the reverse mode, it becomes a heater.

Drainage System & Pan  

During the normal condensation process, an AC produces a significant amount of water as a by-product. In a central AC system, there is a primary system of pipes, often made of PVC, that carry this condensate water to the outside of the building. This piping needs periodic piping to prevent from getting stopped up with the algae and similar growth. At a minimum this type of maintenance should be done by your AC Service company during an annual system tune-up  An inside AC system should have an emergency drain in case the primary drain lines stop up.  This pan usually comes with an automatic cut-off switch that turns your AC system off when the pan fills up with water. Water will run out of the pan and into the ceiling or anything located below the pan. The need to flush the drain lines is a prime example of how a little preventative maintenance can prevent a major repair.

The Importance Of A Backup Sump Pump From Plumbing Services In Fort Collins

Even with a sump pump installed, your basement may still occasionally flood, especially in the winter months. In such an event, you need a backup sump pump system. These occur when thunderstorms cause power failure in your home. To prepare for such emergencies, your plumbing services in Fort Collins can install a backup sump pump system that works independently with its own power supply. Sump pumps fail for a number of reasons. The most common among them are:

  • A frozen or clogged discharge pipe
  • Power failure
  • A tripped circuit breaker
  • A blown fuse
  • Damaged power feed line
  • Float switch problem (stuck or broken)
  • Pump may be broken or become unplugged
  • Too much water leaking into the basement
  • A clogged intake

In instances where the primary sump pump isn’t working, you will need to depend on the backup system. That usually happens during a power failure or the pump itself is damaged. The risk of having a flooded basement is always a threat without a backup in place. The backup is easily installed almost anywhere in the basement since it gets its power from a 12 volt battery. Some models can pump for eight straight hours at full speed while you repair your primary sump pump. Most flooded basements are not covered under your homeowner’s policy and that isn’t a risk you should take.Give yourself peace of mind and protect your belongings. With our quality service and installation in Fort Collins, you won’t be disappointed. We take pride in our work.