12:55 AM 02/01/2013
Looking for the most practical and least expensive option to put into a multifamily browstone house. It currently runs on one furnace, however we would like heating and AC to be separate for each apartment and remove all the exposed pipes and radiators. It seems like placing ductless units would cost the same as central HVAC since we would need a ductless mini unit for each room in every apartment. Please advice!
If you use ductless, you won't solve your heating issue. They are somewhat less efficient but can be individually controlled, a plus. And probably cheaper to install. And the piping, while much less intrusive than ducts, can be almost as much of a pain to conceal (unless you're doing major reno.) You might also look into some "ductless" ceiling units, installed centrally, which have auxiliary ducts that can be run to nearby rooms.
Why are you changing the heating? You'll never recoup the investment in multiple furnaces and installation, and renters normally expect heat to be included in the rent.
9:20 AM 02/01/2013 | 0 Votes
I wonder if the OP is thinking about using the ductless system for both heating and cooling -- not going with individual boilers. I have been thinking about the same thing. Does anyone have experience with using the ductless systems for both a/c and heating? Are they economical/efficient? I have heard good things about the Mitsubishi units. Are there other manufacturers that the pros like? Thanks.
9:34 AM 02/01/2013 | 0 Votes
We (briefly) looking into this, and one contractor told us that while it is possible, you need to insulate really, really well in order for the ductless units to be used as the primary heat source. Even then, they may not be able to keep up in a really cold snap. They'll also be significantly more expensive since they're electric. You get some benefit from the fact that they are zoned, but if it's a multi-family building and all the rooms in the building are being heated, then that doesn't really help any.
10:12 AM 02/01/2013 | 0 Votes
cmu...never heard of the ductless ceiling units. Do you know the brand name???
I'm installing a Unico (mini ducts) system in PA that will have an auxiliary electric heat pump but i will only use the latter for when I arrive at the house and the heat has been turned down. I might want to use the ceiling system you mentioned somewhere else. Thanks
12:03 PM 02/01/2013 | 0 Votes
Seem expensive....but not what I'm looking for. Would be great for large open space
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12:26 PM 02/01/2013 | 1 Votes
There are couple suppliers with the branchable ceiling units. Fujitsu is the only one I've dealt with directly. It has two outlets onthe side that can go to adjacent rooms.
I think you will be happy with Unico, they make a higher end product. Make sure you listen to all the ducts before they leave. There are special baffles they can install to reduce the high velocity noise.
I ended up not liking the heat pump heat ,(no electric), because the air coming out felt cold to me. Now the gun proved it was actually warmer, but it didn't feel that way to me. Maybe the resistant electric will be better.
12:27 PM 02/01/2013 | 0 Votes
Thanks Bruce. Yes, the installer also said that you need to maximize the number of outlets based on the BTU of the Unico system as well in order to eliminate any noise.
12:30 PM 02/01/2013 | 0 Votes
Another good option for the Unico system is using the coil kit piped off your boiler.
12:38 PM 02/01/2013 | 0 Votes
i spoke with the energy audit guy today and he suggested to place the mini split ceiling units that control upto 4-8 rooms and to get the heatpumps. Since this is a multifamily each family would get a separate outside unit. Currently we are running on oil and want to change to gas. Energy audit guy also recommended to get the tankless on demand heaters. what do you guys think?
3:47 PM 02/01/2013 | 0 Votes
I have fujitsu units. We use it most for AC and the heat is used to augment our existing steam radiator system. In terms of heat we find it very limited. It barely warms a 12x12 room and I would not trust it as my only heat source in a place that gets as cold as NYC. just my 2 cents.
4:58 PM 02/01/2013 | 0 Votes
I am planning to install (against some advice here) the Mitsubishi Citi Multi, which is a high efficiency semi-ducted unit with heat pump. It is rated to below zero temperatures (I believe -15). The person I am using is John Fay NEW YORK COOLING TOWERS, 718-497-0545 and I would recommend so far.
Would you mind sharing your energy auditor's information?
6:17 PM 02/01/2013 | -1 Votes
Some of the heat pumps will work to low temps, but you need to pay close attention to the performance curves. Karenanne, at 15 below you aren't getting any capacity out of the heat pump, even if its technically "rated" to function at low temps.
7:45 PM 02/01/2013 | 0 Votes
I am going to join those who have recommended holding back on your extensive plans.
The only possible ROI might be a planned condo development. And that only because the offering plan is easier that way.
While I understand your desire to accomplish your goals as cheaply as possible, the particular improvements you are contemplating are the most sensitive to poor design and poor installation.
Your idea seem all downside with no upside.
Heat, you haveta provide. You can insist that they pay, but the apparatus to provide is mandatory.
Air conditioning, on the other hand is optional. The presumable bickering about how much was used and who should pay would be less for air.
Heat, on the other hand, would be an uphill battle to get tenants to pay. So the only possible reason to invite that headache would be a big savings to you. And your plans will be extensive and expensive. Installing boilers without replumbing the whole house is expensive enough. Replumbing, (and I am in the middle of doing one), disrupts every structure and surface.
If you are gut renovating, it is somewhat less painful. Dreaming that a ducted or mini-split system will somehow kill two birds with one stone, is just plain wrong.
10:26 PM 02/01/2013 | 0 Votes
My 2 cents: keep the central heat source. Why on earth would one want to remove radiators? They are the best kind of heat around, bar none. If your radiators look unsightly, have them stripped and painted with the proper (and gorgeous, in the right shade of paint) or leave them a they are and build nice radiator covers to put over them. If they are shot, pick up ones people are getting rid of cheaply and replace some of yours. If you want a modern look, and are into being spendy as you seem to be, there are beautiful sleek new radiators that are thinner and take up less room and come in many colors available. (I don't understand this idea that radiators and old-fashioned, outdated, and need to be removed...it is very foolish.)
Yes, in a place where heat is usually included, tenants will pick a place with heat included over one where they have to pay for it. Not because they are cheap - they will do the calculation and expect to pay less in rent than for a comparable place with heat included - but will likely take the heat included one because it will be impossible for them to calculate ahead of time the cost of heating your place. If the heating source is unfamiliar to them, and one that makes them question whether it CAN even heat the place even more so...it is an incalculable cost. No one likes paying the electricity for space heaters when they are supposedly paying for heat in their rent. Also, old brownstones tend to be built without insulation, and even if you add some, a prospective tenant has no way of knowing if you insulated properly around the window openings, or how much heat will be lost through whatever window panes you install. I'd walk, no matter how nice your place looked.
I don't understand why you want the tenants to pay for heat. Price it into your rent like anyone else. If you are concerned that people will complain to you that there isn't enough heat, insulate the place well, put in a programmable thermostat, and provide enough heat to be over the (ridiculously low) legal threshholds.
AC, I can see having the tenants pay for. Completely separate issue. And not having window units is a great idea. CA is so much more efficient - if you can put a traditional central air unit in each unit in a closet somewhere and run ducts (if you can do it without messing up the brownstone details too much), that is ideal - from the point of view of efficiency (I recently had one in an apartment built in the brownsone era (no insulation, lots of window panes) which cooled 1200 sq feet quite well for the same electicity cost I used to spend to run one small window AC) in a bedroom. Though I hate the boxy ducts where they mess up brownstone details, you may be doing a renovation that doesn't repect the details anyway...many do. Otherwise, go with the ones with the small duct tubes you snake through the walls to not mess up the brownstone details.
8:44 AM 02/02/2013 | 0 Votes
oh yeah, the apartment with the CA unit in one closet had the old original radiators for heat still. heat was still communally supplied in that building, as it still is in many old buildings converted to coop or condos, both brownstone size and larger apartment buildings like that one was.
8:48 AM 02/02/2013 | 1 Votes
Atypical renter (or buyer if you are looking ahead to condo conversion) who prefers old brownstones tends to think baseboard or other heating units are an eyesore, and that old radiators (and nice radiator covers) are a thing of beauty. I recognize this may be different for some of the younger folk coming up who have never lived with radiator heat. (AC can also be an eyesore, but an essential one.)
8:52 AM 02/02/2013 | 0 Votes
Hey brokelin, I'm doing a gut renovation and am going to be sharing the boiler with the garden-floor renter and therefore paying for their heat & hot water. The plumber is setting up the piping so I can add a second boiler down the road if needed. All floors will have radiant floor heating on zones, so they can control their own heat for their floor.
Are you suggesting that I could/should put the thermostat outside of their unit and set it to something reasonable? Or is that weird? I had never thought about that, but could address my concern that they go crazy with the heat somehow and open windows in the winter...
7:33 PM 02/02/2013 | 0 Votes
If you notice, presidentst says they are setting up basement apt separate from upper triplex. Because of access to radiators from cellar, and ability to run lines in cellar ceiling, you get a one floor only getout of jail free card.
I can tell from your comments that you still don't grasp the difference between installing multiple boilers and plumbing radiators separately up from those separate boilers. We normally pick a location that we can live with, and fabricate a plumbing chase that will house the two lines required for each zone. This chase basically goes all the way up to top floor, with one pair branching out each floor.
You still need to plumb from that central chase out on every floor to each radiator site. When building is gutted, it's a big job. Working around walls ceilings and finish floors, not for the faint of heart.
I do enjoy removing the old heat risers and patching the floors and ceilings. It does look better. Heck even copper risers look better than old 1" pipe. Once you get an estimate, you'll drop separate boilers like a hot potato.
If you want to see what it looks like, contact me off line bruce at jerseydata.net
11:30 PM 02/02/2013 | 0 Votes
if you want to save some serious $$ over the next 15 years, spend your money on insulation.
Putting in City Multi for 3 units heat/cool. Insulate back exterior, and front interior.
I found these incredible thermostats, where I plan to individual metering: http://www.nest.com/
4:09 PM 02/03/2013 | 0 Votes
so i had the heating and cooling guy come today. he said those muti units are no good for homes becuase they only work well in open big spaces like commercial, and he said the heatpumps dont work that well. and if i wanna do central air i have to lower my ceiling to run the ducts. now im really confused. all i want is an efficient heating and cooling system that requiers less broken walls amd ceilings. i really liked the idea of the installing one unit in each apartment and running small pipes to heat and cool every room in each apartment.
10:49 PM 02/04/2013 | 0 Votes
Sorry for your disappointment, but this definitely one of those situations that it is better to measure twice and cut once.
Regardless of advertisements, there is no easy or inexpensive solution.
However, I recommend that you use this forum as basically crowd source. Although I am in the trade, I am not offering to be a vendor to you, so there is a better chance what I say is uninfluenced by profit motive.
For the time being, gas is your most effective source of heat, and your overall heat/energy expense will be so low that it makes no sense to spend a lot of money to "offload" that expense onto tenants.
HVAC, on the other hand, is an optional service that better lends itself to payment by tenant through their electric bill. And as the consumption is optional, and there is no easy way to provide the equipment at low cost to all tenants,, you should be seeking a minisplit for each unit. These units will set you back a significant sum, but you may have more attractive units, and so over long term you may recoup your investment.
12:19 AM 02/05/2013 | 0 Votes
Point by point I agree with some of what your vendor told you.
I agree the heat pumps will disappoint. When you need them the most, they work the poorest.
I somewhat disagree with his drop ceiling rationale as why central air is no good, but that is academic because central air is a bad choice for the reasons stated in my post above.
Brownstones were built according to hundreds of years of incremental development. They do a lot of things right, but modern sensibilities of climate control was unheard of then.So to retro fit you have to choose the least painful of unpleasant alternatives.
12:26 AM 02/05/2013 | 0 Votes