We just received a quote for installing a mini-split AC system in a 2,100 sq ft Eichler. The proposal calls for a multiple zone heat pump system with 4 x 7,000 BTU heads for each of the 4 bedrooms plus a single 24,000 BTU unit for the rest of the house. The quoted cost is ~$21K.
This seems very high. However, I am unfamiliar with pricing for these types of systems and haven't so far been able to find another suitable contractor to get another quote.
Any one more familiar with these types of system have an opinion on this proposal?
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i don't have an installer recommentation (unfortunately), but i'd question if you need a "head" in each of the bedrooms (and if one big one in the main area is wise as opposed to two smaller ones). we have three 12K BTU units running from a single compressor which is roof mounted: one head in the den (adjacent to the kitchen), one in the living room (adjacent to the fireplace) and the third in the master bedroom... 12K in the MBR is overkill for us (big time). while it's nice to have AC in there at times, if the entire house is cool, cooling the individual rooms is often unnecessary.
there are also other ways to cool the bedrooms as well. we have through-the-wall-mounted units in the bedrooms at a cost of $400 each plus the labor to install them (me) and this has worked beautfully for the few times we've needed to turn them on. they back up to a side service yard, so they're not really unsightly, so to speak -- at least no more unsightly than a conduit chase running up the side of the house.
it /is/ nice, however to have two 12K units (as opposed to one) in the main area for more consistent coverage. if you were to install AC in the bedrooms, 7K/room is the right size (our $400 units are 7K cooling + heat).
if we were to do it again, we'd re-think roof mounting. while our contractor assured us that the compressor would be silent when you stood next to it, he didn't tell us that it's quite percussive -- when you're under it, it's like being under a helicopter. fortunately, we had the forsight to install it over the MBR-shower instead of a sleeping-space. granted, the house is wonderfully free of conduit on the outside (everything "spiders" on the roof), i'm not sure if it's a trade-off i'd make again.
if i /were/ to re-do it, i'd likely not put the 12K unit in the bedroom, but instead find a way to install it in the main hall.
remember that each head also needs a drain to the outside for condensate. this limits where you can put them to some degree. you might also look at ceiling cassettes. chris s. in san jose did this with success.
in the spirit of sharing (and community), i'i can tell you tell that we had an LG art-cool system installed (36KBTUs total over three 12K heads) for $15K. the LG art-cool is notoriously more expensive than the Mr. Slims, but they don't look like the front-butt of a window unit, either. we gladly paid for the elevated aesthetics. we also had it done in conjunction with a new foam roof and updated wiring. the foam roof has done more to cool the house that the AC.
you didn't note how many compressors they're specing or what brand... you also didn't note neighborhood. this might help folks, too. the mods don't like external links, so you can searchmy blog for "AC" and come up with the relevant posts.
good luck. it's a good system, but there are ways to be creative and not overspend.
Thanks for the great feedback. Much appreciated and very helpful for me.
Since reading your post, I've been rethinking how I want to configure the units. We expect to only use the AC on exceptionally hot days, so a head per bedroom is probably overkill. We are in Saratoga (yes there are Eichlers here!) so it's typically 2-3 weeks when its really uncomfortable. Going to take your advice and looking to see how we can use 2 or 3 "heads" to cover the whole house. Maybe, install only a single head in the hallway to cover the bedrooms.
The hardware in the original quote is Fujitsu and the plan is to use 1 compressor for the open areas and 1 compressor to drive the 4 heads in the bedrooms. We managed to get another quote for a very similar Fujitsu configuration it comes in at ~16K. Still expensive but quite a big difference from the first.
I was also interested in the LG systems because of their styling. However, I had two contractors tell me that LG systems were unreliable and/or difficult to get parts for. One contractor told me he would install LG if I really wanted them. The other didn't seem interested in them at all.
i helped a friend install one of these through-the-wall...
they come as large as 36Kbtu and have heat options... yes, more expensive than the typical unit, but the detailing (outward and inward) is nice.
if we had an in-wall space to put something like this, i'd have saved over $10K. in his house, the AC fits well into an otherwise awkward wall space, backs up to a side-yard and blows directly down the main hall cooling most/all of the house. kind of an ideal set-up and likely all he'll need to cool his house on the hottest day.
it's a very well-detailed appliance and about as nice as these things come. sure it will take an additional 240V electrical run, but so does your MS (a cost likely not factored into the quote -- most take a dedicated line plus a service outlet). sure, it cuts a hole in the side of your house, but a MS isn't much less intrusive (you still have to put the compressors somewhere and then there are lines running to/from the heads.
of the three models in our neighborhood, two have very convenient places to put something like this. sadly, our did not. you might look at your layout through a different lens to see if something liek this is possible.
we've been happy with our LGs.