We learned a huge amount
during our recent Minisplit install, and I thought I'd try to sum up
the most salient points in one post to help others who might want to
follow in our footsteps.
First --- is a minisplit a good idea in a trailer? Most installers told us no because the rooms at the far ends of the mobile home won't receive uniform Heat. We're used to heating with a wood stove, though, and don't mind using space heaters at the extremities to top off heat as necessary. We figured the much higher efficiency of a minisplit compared to a mainstream electric furnace or traditional heat pump counteract this slight downside and we still feel that way after enjoying our new device for a few blissful days.
A slightly more tricky issue is the potential for water lines to freeze. I hadn't realized that trailers are designed with air-duct heating in mind, so the water lines run beside the air lines under the trailer. We'll keep you posted if this issue materializes and requires an outside-the-box fix.
Next, let's look at the
pros and cons of DIY versus the Traditional Route of paying to have a
minisplit installed by a pro. After calling pretty much every HVAC
company in the area, I've discovered that a minisplit like the one we got for $1,300 from Home
Depot (plus about $200 in tools, $50 for the wall bracket, and $225 for the
final line work from a pro) would have cost us $5,000 to $8,000 if
we'd gone the traditional route. So, yes, we saved big bucks doing a
lot of the work ourselves.
On the downside, we won't have the support of a licensed dealership behind us if anything goes wrong. And it's possible our machine won't be as long-lived as the Mitsubishi models several of the dealerships in the area are peddling. Once again, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, I'm pretty happy with getting such an efficient model on a shoestring budget.
Finally, when do I
recommend calling in a pro? A reasonably handy DIYer should have no
problem installing both exterior
units themselves. Running the lines between them is actually less
tricky than I'd thought as long as you take extreme care with making
bends gently and slowly.
And the connections (with pre-flared lines like the ones that came in our kit) are less finnicky than I'd thought. Mark and I went to great lengths to buy fancy torque wrenches and get the tightness just right...but our tech finished the job with ordinary wrenches by feel. Basically, you just want the connections to be tight.
So what's it worth paying for? Go ahead and call in an HVAC expert to test the lines with nitrogen, pressurize them, then release the refrigerant from inside the unit. First of all, it's illegal to do this step yourself. Second, this is the tricky part that most benefits from fancy equipment. For $200, a pro will do it right...assuming you can find someone in your area willing to work on equipment not their own.