Just because you (or someone you know) can, does not mean you should.
As ductless heat pump systems grow in popularity, more and more brands are advertising “Do It Yourself” (DIY) mini-split kits and online system design programs. While a DIY mini-split installation may seem like a cost-effective solution, it can create real problems for you and your home both short-term and long-term.
A few factors to consider before going the DIY route…
System Design Should Consider More Than Just the Size of a Space
It is a common misconception, even amongst some HVAC salespeople, that HVAC systems can easily be designed by matching the size of a home with equipment BTU size (how much energy a system uses to cool/heat). This assumption often results in the accidental over- or under-sizing of equipment which creates inadequate airflow and inefficiency.
Additionally, by only designing a system around the size of a home, the finished product rarely addresses the unique comfort needs of the home’s occupants. Sun exposure, insulation and use of each room are additional factors that are crucial when designing a system. Similarly, for added comfort, it is always important to address air quality by assessing the home’s humidity or dryness and whether there is need/want for advanced air filtration or odor control.
The Quality of the Equipment is Important
The quality of your HVAC equipment directly impacts its efficiency, durability, and overall performance. Low-quality units, such as those advertised in many DIY kits, are prone to malfunctioning, require more frequent repairs, and consume more energy, leading to higher energy bills.
The Installation Process Installation Requires Industry Expertise
DIY installation projects can be dangerous and lead to costly mistakes. Mini-splits require specialized knowledge and experience to install correctly, and even a minor mistake can lead to leaks, electrical issues, and other safety hazards. The installation process involves drilling holes in walls, running wires and pipes, and mounting the indoor and outdoor units. When installed incorrectly, the finished job often looks unprofessional and can lead to future issues for your home.
Installing a mini-split system also requires electrical and refrigerant knowledge. Mishandling these components may lead to severe damage to the equipment or worse, serious injury. Hiring a professional installer ensures your mini-split system is installed correctly and safely, extending the system’s lifespan and maximizing its efficiency.
Applicable Energy Incentives & Warranties
Most reputable mini-split manufacturers require professional installation for systems to qualify for equipment warranties. Attempting to install the system on your own or by an unauthorized party may void the warranty, leaving you responsible for any costly repairs. In contrast, most reputable HVAC contractors will offer labor warranties for their work in addition to your system qualifying for equipment warranty.
It is especially important to note that most energy programs require systems be installed by an authorized contractor to qualify for incentives like rebates, financing and/or tax credits. For example, to qualify for any Mass Save Program, the system must be installed by a member of the Mass Save Heat Pump Installer Network.
So, can and should you install a mini-split heat pump on your own?
With all this in mind, we strongly urge you to hire a professional HVAC contractor to install your mini-split heat pump system. While this may result in a higher up-front cost, it has the potential to save you hundreds-thousands of dollars in repair costs over your system’s lifetime. Not to mention, a professionally designed and installed mini-split system will likely better address your comfort needs and run more efficiently!