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If you’re reading this article, you’re curious about Zoned Comfort Solutions™ – what they are, what they include and ultimately what they cost. Responses to each question are in this article, so let’s dig in.
Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating (Mitsubishi Electric)’s ductless systems or Zoned Comfort Solutions™ are comprised of an outdoor unit connected by refrigerant piping to one or more indoor units. Indoor units come in a variety of styles, and can be networked together to create multiple zones – each controlled separately. A single outdoor unit can create one large zone, eight zones or anything in between. Likewise, a system can include ducted indoor units, ductless indoor units or a mix. What you want for your home determines how your system is configured (and how much it costs).
Zoned Comfort Solutions are sophisticated HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) systems available for use in almost all U.S. climates. These are definitely not your run-of-the-mill central systems that force you to have one thermostat for an entire floor or entire home. Zoned Comfort Solutions provide individualized zone control, allowing you to save energy and money by more efficiently controlling energy usage, while offering personalized comfort in each space of your home you want to cool or heat.
Millions of homeowners worldwide have already purchased Zoned Comfort Solutions from a Mitsubishi Electric contractor and everyone has their own reason for doing so. For most people, there’s an interest in three key benefits:
1. Zoning. When you work with your HVAC contractor to design your home’s system, you’ll decide how many rooms you want to set up as zones. Maybe you live in a so-called tiny house and want just one zone for the whole place. Maybe you have a larger home and want one zone for you, one for each of your kids’ rooms and a couple for the common spaces. By working with a trained contractor, you can vary the number and location of zones to meet your specific needs. This ability to personalize your comfort – to create specific zones based on usage and to operate those zones independently – is a big draw with this technology. This means your den and its frequently used treadmill can be set to 70 degrees Fahrenheit while your newborn baby’s room right next door can be set to 75 degrees . . . all while your unused guest room can be shut off entirely so you save energy.
2. Quiet operation. With a central system, you experience the whoosh and whistle of air moving through ductwork, the vibration of the indoor unit and the rumble of the system constantly starting and stopping. This is due to a combination of issues all stemming from the outdoor unit’s design and performance, including: a large fan with spinning metal blades creating noise; the fan and fan motor are loud; the compressor sits exposed in the unit compartment and vibrates, causing noise; and the whole unit bangs on and off.
In contrast, Zoned Comfort Solutions’ outdoor units are specially engineered and manufactured for quiet operation. The high-efficiency DC motors and the plastic fan blades are designed to minimize the dreaded chopping sound that many central systems make. The compressor is also housed in its own insulated compartment and sits on rubber feet for maximum vibration dampening. Because the compressor is INVERTER-driven, it typically runs at a low frequency to maintain the desired set point and only ramps up to rapidly cool or heat a zone. Meanwhile, you will barely notice the unit running, which will bring joy to you – and your neighbors!
Zoned Comfort Solutions’ indoor units are also incredibly quiet. They feature a small, compact footprint and have specially designed fans that deliver powerful and consistent airflow extremely quietly. Ductless and short-run ducted units operate at barely detectable sound levels.
3. Efficient operation. Zoned Comfort Solutions minimize the amount of energy used to maintain your desired indoor temperature. Conventional systems are either on or off – all or nothing, using the maximum amount of energy to cool or heat the entire house. In contrast, Zoned Comfort Solutions divide the capacity by zones, and have compressors that ramp up or down based on the needs of each zone to maintain comfort and conserve energy. Many systems are also ENERGY STAR® qualified.
With so many options available to you, it’s easy to see why Zoned Comfort Solutions are not as straightforward to price as some other cooling and heating systems. This isn’t a window a/c unit you can buy online and insert into your window. This is a state-of-the-art system that can be configured to your specific needs and installed many different ways. For this reason and others, a Zoned Comfort Solution must be designed and installed by a licensed HVAC contractor trained to design and install this very kind of system.
While there are seemingly countless options for your home’s new Zoned Comfort Solution, it is possible to get a sense of how much you’ll be spending.
Components contributing to pricing
Visualize painting your home. There are lots of variables: how many rooms you’re painting, how many coats you’re applying, what brand of paint you’re purchasing, who you hire to paint, if you need to patch any walls first and so on. As a result, the cost can vary widely. The same is true for Zoned Comfort Solutions.
The first step to understanding the cost of your home’s new Zoned Comfort Solution is to understand the individual elements that contribute to that cost:
1. New equipment. Each Zoned Comfort Solution includes an outdoor unit, indoor unit(s), controls and parts including the refrigerant lineset, wiring and electrical accessories. The bigger and more complex the system, the more expensive. Conditioning one room or zone comes at a significantly different price than conditioning a home with eight zones. Generally, new equipment comes in at $3,000 to $15,000. Your costs will vary and may be higher or lower than this estimate.
2. Labor. This is what you pay your HVAC contractor to install the system (and remove your old system, as necessary). Contractors’ labor prices vary widely, but expect to spend an amount equal to roughly 30 percent of your equipment cost. Your specific installation cost might be less or more expensive depending on your geographic location and the specific details of your installation.
3. Possible additional costs
4. Controller options. There are many controller options to choose from with Zoned Comfort Solutions. What you select will affect the cost. Wall-mounted units come standard with a handheld wireless controller; otherwise, factor in $200 to $300 per controller for each zone.
5. Any additional equipment needed for unique situations. Some homes need a little extra something; this is true for older homes, high-performance homes, and homes in cold weather regions where the ambient temperature regularly drops below minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit. These homes often require specialized designs and/or equipment, all of which impacts the cost of the system. Our Hyper-Heating INVERTER® technology is developed to provide comfortable indoor temperatures in extreme cold-climate conditions (as low as minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit) while saving energy and money.
As you can see, there are a lot of variables that affect the estimated cost of a Zoned Comfort Solution. While it is impossible to get a precise estimate of your costs without consulting a local contractor, there is some third-party data available regarding the low end of the cost range. In July 2016, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance published a study showing that simpler zoned comfort solution installations (defined as having one outdoor unit connected to one indoor unit) range from $3,913 to $4,633. Based on this study as well as our internal data, Mitsubishi Electric estimates that you can expect to pay – on average – between $4,000 and $5,500 for each zone (each area you want to condition). Depending on how you design your system, its total price is likely to fall within a range that averages from $4,000 to $20,000.
Your specific price range is directly impacted by the choices you and your contractor make regarding the number of zones you want to condition, whether to use ductless or ducted indoor units, if you want a standard or premium product, what type of indoor units work best and so on. The range of costs will also be determined by where you live. A licensed electrician in your area might cost more or less than a licensed electrician in another state. As a result, the answer to the question, “How much does a Zoned Comfort Solution cost?” remains a range, and perhaps a larger range than more traditional cooling and heating systems. Nonetheless, millions of homeowners have chosen Zoned Comfort Solutions because of the greater value proposition these systems offer through enhanced performance, individualized control, energy savings, quiet operation and the many other benefits we’ve discussed.
Getting an estimate for your home
First, find a qualified contractor in your area. Mitsubishi Electric recommends working with Diamond Contractors™, licensed HVAC contractors with specific training and experience installing Mitsubishi Electric products. Systems designed and installed by a Diamond Contractor are also covered by our 12-year parts and compressor limited warranty.
When you meet with your contractor, discuss how many zones you want, where indoor and outdoor units might go, if you prefer ductless or ducted options (or a mix) and any special considerations – for example if you’re interested in a unit with an i-See™ sensor that detects temperature variations and controls the airflow. Your contractor will also let you know what to expect during the installation process.
Sounds pretty good, right? Soon you’ll have your estimated cost, and after that – a future filled with personalized comfort and energy savings.
 The study was titled, “Northwest Ductless Heat Pump Initiative: Market Progress Evaluation Report #5”; the study can be read in full at http://neea.org/docs/default-source/reports/northwest-ductless-heat-pump...