Dual-zone Ductless System for Row Home Solves Space Issue, Provides Year-round Comfort

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Philadelphia is a city of row homes. Streets are dotted with long lines of beautiful brick structures, with tenants young and old enjoying their smaller footprint and the access they offer to city life. Less enjoyable are the HVAC problems that result from row homes’ layout, including uneven solar gain and humidity issues. As a result, many owners of row homes are upgrading their cooling and heating systems to achieve more comfort and better air quality. These upgrades can be a significant challenge since the buildings are so old and the spaces are so tight. Chris Knipe and Connie Romano, owners of a row home in Philadelphia’s Art Museum Area, solved this challenge with a dual-zone ductless system from Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc. Cooling & Heating Division (Mitsubishi Electric).

Challenge: Finding an HVAC system that would cool and heat a small row home without taking up space for bulky ductwork.

Knipe and Romano’s century-old row home sits on Corinithian Avenue. Its main floor contains the living room, dining room and kitchen, and its upper floor has three bedrooms and a bathroom. The couple wanted to update the HVAC system throughout for both their own comfort and to increase the home’s resale value.

Knipe researched possible solutions. “The primary retrofit air conditioning I was aware of was high-velocity. We had someone come out to give us an estimate and cover the pros and cons. Meanwhile a friend of mine in the neighborhood with a three-story, narrow house installed a high-velocity system. We went over and checked it out. It was a pretty invasive set-up: one compressor, one air handler with tubes routed throughout the house. We were worried that our house wouldn’t have as much room for tubing.”

Ron Musser, sales and marketing director, ECI Comfort Solutions, Inc. (ECI), Bensalem, Pennsylvania, served as the contractor on the project. Musser said the couple’s worries were exactly in line with his own. “Their house is tight, and a ducted system would have taken up a lot more space. Space is at a premium in these row houses. The houses are maybe 12 to 14 feet wide. There’s not a lot of cavities to hide things in.”

Knipe said, “We also thought zones could be nice, especially in a row house. In a single-family home it’s much easier to get a cross breeze to keep the house cool. So we wanted a lot of air, and we wanted to be able to cool in different ways on the different floors.”

Solution: A dual-zone system from Mitsubishi Electric fit within the home’s tight spaces and offered zones for ultimate personal comfort.

Musser’s suggestion was “a hybrid system. The whole second floor would be ducted, the whole first floor would be ductless – all to help maximize space.” Speaking to how a brand was selected, Musser said, “Mitsubishi Electric is our go-to for ductless. We’ve been working with Mitsubishi Electric for about 20 years for their infrastructure, people, parts, training and distribution. Mitsubishi Electric has such better people in place than their competitors.”

Musser also liked the Mitsubishi Electric option because of row homes’ high levels of moisture. “Humidity is a big issue in row homes, so the ducted and ductless option is perfect. Ductless has a humidity setting, and with the inverter there’s a longer run time, so the air moves over the coils for a longer time, pulling moisture out of the air.”

With the system selected, design began. One air handler would be mounted horizontally in the crawl space between the second floor and attic. Short duct runs would connect that handler to vents in each bedroom and the bathroom. For the open-plan first floor, a wall-mounted unit between the kitchen and dining room would provide air. Installation took just two days. Musser said, “We were in and out quick. It was smooth, with very little disruption.”

The experience post-installation has been positive, as well. Musser said, “They come home from work, turn on the downstairs unit and then turn it off when they go upstairs at night. It was never about money, but this is saving them a lot of money.” The wireless remote also contributes to the cost savings, letting the couple set temperatures with ease. “The whole system is pretty easy to use,” said Knipe.

Knipe is also pleased with the units’ discrete operation. “The system is extremely quiet with no whistle. It’s almost like it’s not even there. Even the compressor is quiet. The high-velocity system we saw was a lot noisier.”

“In short, this project was a perfect match for the Mitsubishi Electric ducted and ductless option,” said Musser.


– Originally Seen Here


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