Adding Mini splits in duplex

20 Replies

I just went under contract on 3 all brick duplexes that have window unit heating and cooling.  local PMs are telling me thats going to limit my rental cap.  they said 50$ a month more for non window unit.   these are 2 bed 1 bath 750sf per unit.  I was thinking of putting  duel head mini splits in each unit as they do tenant turns and maximize rents.  currently its under market at 600$ per door. PMs tell me they should be at 700-750 with window units and 800 without.  each unit has own electric meter and pays it.   opinions?  

@Tyler Labelle , I'm a huge fan of mini splits. They are very efficient, quieter than window units, and certainly more attractive (from the outside anyway). Many units also provide heat and in a warm climate like Charlotte they may be able to eliminate any other heating units you currently have. That could be a long term savings, if you never have to replace a furnace again.

That said, mini-splits can be pricey. Though this tends to be driven by labor. I think you really need to shop around and be cognizant of any instillation challenges.

What is the current electrical service to each unit? These will require 240V, 40-Amp (I think) service. If you have to upgrade the electrical service to each unit, that may be deal killer...or an opportunity. E.g. if you're currently paying for HW, you could install electric tankless water heaters for each unit and eliminate that operating expense.

Lots to consider. If you provide some more specifics, we can help you think it through.

@Jaysen Medhurst . I'm not sure of capacity of breakers yet but ill check on the inspection monday.  ill be able to do most of the work myself only paying for the electric and final pressure test.   Currently each750sf unit has two window units heating and cooling it all.  I know it must be struggling with that.  these little places look pretty good but the window units make them look section 8 right away.   

Yeah, @Tyler Labelle . These places could be cute. I highly doubt the window units are providing heat.

I'd be very cautious about doing all of the work yourself. Many manufacturers won't honor the warranty unless they've been professionally installed. You can certainly do the grunt work, but make sure you're covering yourself.

Originally posted by @Jaysen Medhurst :

Yeah, @Tyler Labelle. These places could be cute. I highly doubt the window units are providing heat.

I'd be very cautious about doing all of the work yourself. Many manufacturers won't honor the warranty unless they've been professionally installed. You can certainly do the grunt work, but make sure you're covering yourself.

The selling agent was very specific thats all they have.  I said dont they have base board heaters as well?  he said nope just the heating/cooling window units.  I was shocked.  he said it was a little chilly in there when he was in to take photos.   it's amazing how some people will live and not even complain.  That's just not how I Roll and I'll be upgrading them.  But honestly I'll be looking to get rid of most of the tenants down the road and will likely do the upgrades as that happens.   I was thinking just have an electrician come one time and run power to a box outside each unit and just cap it that way im paying one time and can likely get a better price on a package deal.  


Originally posted by @Jaysen Medhurst :

Huh, I'm very surprised that you could get a C of O or insurance without some kind of permanently installed heating. Curious about what you see when you walk the property, @Tyler Labelle.

Yeah it's hard to say for sure until I get inside myself but he was admit about it.  It's one of those deals where i needed to put it under contract asap and i'll sort the rest after inspections.  time was of the most importance and they weren't going to show unless under contract since its 6 occupied units.  I don't blame them.


@Tyler Labelle

Mini splits otherwise known as heat pumps are awesome, I’m an HVAC contractor and I highly recommend these units. They are 300% efficient in the heating mode, regular baseboard is only 100% efficient. The initial cost is pretty expensive but I believe it pays off. Electrical costs go along as there will need to be a disconnect at the condenser(outdoor unit) and power to each head. And I would definitely recommend getting a contractor to do the work.

@Tyler Labelle

Tyler I was asking the same questions as you about 2 years ago and went ahead and installed mini splits in every room of a 20 unit complex. These are heat pump units that create amazing heat in sub zero weather conditions.

My reasoning for going with a ductless system was partially due to the existing ductwork in the lower level units was completely rusted out and every hvac system was original from 1972!

Check with your electric company and see if they offer rebates for installing these energy efficient systems. I received a rebate of $800 for each unit and additional rebates for sealing up the old ductwork and increasing the attic insulation.

After researching all of the different brands of systems and reading reviews, I ended up going with a bit of an off brand manufacturer...Pioneer. So far, with these systems going through a winter, a summer and now winter again, I couldn't be happier with their performance. We installed indoor units in each bedroom and one in the living room, so residents can control temps separately in those rooms via remote control. The service from Pioneer has been outstanding and I have no regrets, thus far. If you'd like more info, feel free to PM me.

@Tyler Labelle I just put 3 single zone units in a 2/2 850 sf property I have in Houston. All 3 furnished and installed were half the price of a central unit and gives great flexibility. The house previously had window units and taking those out just makes the house have better curb appeal while letting me get more in rent.

@Tyler Labelle

I'm going to guess that there is a separate heating system in each unit. Perhaps electric baseboard and maybe hot water, especially if these houses were converted from SF to 2-family at some point in the past. As for the cost of the units, i don't think that $50 is enough of an increase over base to justify the investment cost in equipment. You will likely pay over $3000 for each of these units installed professionally. Depending on your neighborhood and likely class of renter, they may or may not be necessary. With rents being around $600 for those units, this suggests the more budget end of the rental spectrum and for that AC unit type is not much of a concern. If you are really concerned about the looks, buy them a moveable in-room AC unit to replace the window units. BTW, i have no problems with window units personally and don't associate them with low class - just older houses usually.

@Tyler Labelle I love em! Im not a licensed hvac technician, and many of them will require this to back a warranty, but i do my own installs as well. The Cooper Hunter brand is one I love. All you need is a little electrical know how and a vacuum pump (pick up on amazon for about 150$). Or you can buy the quick connect versions from Mr. Cool and not need the vac.

If you hire someone to install, thats going to be your primary cost over the unit cost. But depends on your investment model and abilities.

Either way, excellent invention and I would take it everyday over a standard central heat and air unit or window units or baseboard heating etc.

@Nick Gann meant to add in there, you could do multiple 12k btu units and utilize the nearest 20amp circuit. This would save you running a 30amp for higher btu output... but this will definitely depend on access to breakers and where you have to put the unit and run electrical.

When you start having to put more than one head with 2 bedroom units, it gets pretty close in cost to a central unit. Im all for them in a studioesque apt, but when you start having a lot of separate doors, it gets hard to distribute the heat. Every time i try to get a quote for a 3 head unit, it comes out around 4k+ which isn't much less than just 1.5 ton gas pack. 

@Tyler Labelle

Im a Huge fan of mini splits.

I personaly use fujitsu. I have them in our Duplex I installed them with my Cousin. They also have supplemental heat which is great incase you loose a boiler. Added Layer of protection. Plus they are extremely quiet and energy efficient. I highly reccomend installing them.

Great insight everyone,  yeah these are 2 bed 1 bath units so in reality it probably needs a 3 head.  and yeah they look to be pretty pricy but maybe I can get away with 2 heads and some ceiling fans.  I still haven't been in the units and they are pushing me back on the day ill be able to enter.  from what i understand is these units are long and narrow the house being long and split down the center length wise.  and that being said i was thinking one on each end. 

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