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Ducted or ductless

I live in the desert SW I run a swamp cooler. I’m tired of it. I’m in a much better position now to consider AC. I did not buy the house, we inherited it.

3000sqft house divided into two sections. Apparently it will take serious construction to run new ducting to put the house on a heat pump/AC because of how the addition was built. “The construction was very well done but there was no consideration made for ducting of any kind. We only use a small portion of the house regularly. So my question is this:
Bite the bullet and install the AC and new duct work? But this would cool a large section of space we just don’t use.

or

Go ductless?

HVAC is an area I know nothing about and it seems it really is 6:1 half dozen the other on which is better but I don’t know anyone who has experience with both.
 

FarmerTan

George Bailey Fanboy
You can run a LOT of the duct work yourself if you don't want to hide it. It's exposed in our church, in friends homes....they are painted, hung along the ceiling, up the wall, etc.

I've heated and cooled with window units and central systems....much prefer the central systems.

But you WILL need someone that knows all the math involved in reduction of flow, etc. WAY above my pay grade!
 
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This is a cost / aesthetic issue. We live in an old stone house and currently use window units - which certainly are inexpensive and work - ends up feeling like student housing after a while. Ducts are the most inexpensive but as you’ve realized with old houses this is really difficult to do right without lowering ceilings etc . The next option is the split fins which are pretty common in Europe and are not crazy expensive. Our issue is you end up with vent units on the walls and to be honest they aren’t really the prettiest things .. and feel just like window units but glued to the walls to be honest. The 3rd option which is common with old housing stock out here is high velocity ducts:

You can see examples of the installs here, they basically look like tiny radiator pipes and in houses / offices we have seen it it looks and works really well. The thing is it is stupidly pricy which is why we still have window units :)



Regards
Avi
 

FarmerTan

George Bailey Fanboy
This is a cost / aesthetic issue. We live in an old stone house and currently use window units - which certainly are inexpensive and work - ends up feeling like student housing after a while. Ducts are the most inexpensive but as you’ve realized with old houses this is really difficult to do right without lowering ceilings etc . The next option is the split fins which are pretty common in Europe and are not crazy expensive. Our issue is you end up with vent units on the walls and to be honest they aren’t really the prettiest things .. and feel just like window units but glued to the walls to be honest. The 3rd option which is common with old housing stock out here is high velocity ducts:

You can see examples of the installs here, they basically look like tiny radiator pipes and in houses / offices we have seen it it looks and works really well. The thing is it is stupidly pricy which is why we still have window units :)



Regards
Avi
Yeah, ouch! Until my long lost rich Unkle dies I will keep burning wood!

But when he does die, I'll buy two houses, one in Alaska and one in Hawaii!

But I really enjoy wood heat. It's to the point now where my health is making me buy wood, if it weren't for some great friends that we have and my fearsome wife doing the majority (95%) of the work.

But if I ever get rich I won't have the system I have now. I will put in a wood cook stove for a little bit of supplemental heat and to cook with in the winter.

A wood stove heats you to the bone when you get bone cold, seriously.
 
We went the ductless route. With the installation of ducts the cost would have only been $100 difference. They are said to be efficient because each unit has its own thermostat not one thermostat for the entire house.
 
Yeah, ouch! Until my long lost rich Unkle dies I will keep burning wood!

But when he does die, I'll buy two houses, one in Alaska and one in Hawaii!

But I really enjoy wood heat. It's to the point now where my health is making me buy wood, if it weren't for some great friends that we have and my fearsome wife doing the majority (95%) of the work.

But if I ever get rich I won't have the system I have now. I will put in a wood cook stove for a little bit of supplemental heat and to cook with in the winter.

A wood stove heats you to the bone when you get bone cold, seriously.
I love wood heat! we are on heating oil ( no gas lines ) which is a bit stupidly expensive .. well maybe not anymore ( we laugh, we cry ) .. our “new” addition was built before anyone heard of insulation but had an open fireplace ( which to be honest made the room cooler than warmer from the updraft ). We used to just close the whole thing off ( basically our living room ) in winter but a few winters ago ( post kids ) we put in a proper wood stove insert and that thing is awesome. You can put a load in and it heats the place for pretty much the day and cheaper than heating oil on a btu basis.

To be honest my favorite thing about wood heat is I like to weird the city kids out by telling them we have generation 1 solar installed :)

regards
avi
 
You can run a LOT of the duct work yourself if you don't want to hide it. It's exposed in our church, in friends homes....they are painted, hung along the ceiling, up the wall, etc.

I've heated and cooled with window units and central systems....much prefer the central systems.

But you WILL need someone that knows all the math involved in reduction of flow, etc. WAY above my pay grade!
to be honest I love that industrial aesthetic ..
 

FarmerTan

George Bailey Fanboy
I love wood heat! we are on heating oil ( no gas lines ) which is a bit stupidly expensive .. well maybe not anymore ( we laugh, we cry ) .. our “new” addition was built before anyone heard of insulation but had an open fireplace ( which to be honest made the room cooler than warmer from the updraft ). We used to just close the whole thing off ( basically our living room ) in winter but a few winters ago ( post kids ) we put in a proper wood stove insert and that thing is awesome. You can put a load in and it heats the place for pretty much the day and cheaper than heating oil on a btu basis.

To be honest my favorite thing about wood heat is I like to weird the city kids out by telling them we have generation 1 solar installed :)

regards
avi
EXCELLENT story.

I'm obviously not a tree hugger, but I can count on one hand the live trees I've harvested for heat. I used to cut all my wood, and in a fairly mature wood lot the dead fall will heat your house. Very rarely I may have dropped a dead tree on a live one that would be destroyed so I'd have to cut it down.

I miss those Fall days in the woods!
 
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FarmerTan

George Bailey Fanboy
to be honest I love that industrial aesthetic ..
A friend gutted his house, made his own built in cabinet work, ran his own everything: plumbing, electric, heating and AC ducts... Lived in one room basically. It could now be in a Magazine, seriously.

I ain't that skilled or dedicated, ha!
 
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EXCELLENT story.

I'm obviously not a tree hugger, but I can count on one hand the live trees I've harvested for heat. I used to cut all my wood, and in a fairly mature wood lot the dead fall will heat your house. Very rarely I may have dropped a dead tree on a live one that would be destroyed so I'd have to cut it down.

I miss those Fall days in the woods!
Exactly.. it’s actually truly a renewable resource just like solar used that way. You do need some acreage for it to work though. And the willingness to split wood or a splitter

regards
avi
 

FarmerTan

George Bailey Fanboy
Exactly.. it’s actually truly a renewable resource just like solar used that way. You do need some acreage for it to work though. And the willingness to split wood or a splitter

regards
avi
Used a "Monster Maul" for years. For the last 15 I've had a hydraulic splitter. It has literally saved my life! I can barely lift a maul today. But that's what friends are for. It forces me to be less mean to people!
 
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A friend gutted his house, made his own built in cabinet work, ran his own everything: plumbing, electric, heating and AC ducts... Lived in one room basically. It could now be in a Magazine, seriously.

I ain't that skilled or dedicated, ha!
back when philly was a bit more sketchy ( as in people could buy old warehouse buildings for peanuts) , the kids used to buy entire abandoned factories and do this, it was really super cool.


Used a "Monster Maul" for years. For the last 15 I've had a hydraulic splitter. It has literally saved my life! I can barely lift a maul today. But that's what friends are for. It forces me to be less mean to people!
Out of curiosity how much is a cord up where you are? We were just chatting with friends in upstate ny and their dry stacked cords are like 50 to 75 bucks. We are like 220 but that is still cheaper than our heating oil to be honest. We have enough old dead tree wood to not to need to do this yet, but I do keep pondering..

regards
avi
 

FarmerTan

George Bailey Fanboy
back when philly was a bit more sketchy ( as in people could buy old warehouse buildings for peanuts) , the kids used to buy entire abandoned factories and do this, it was really super cool.




Out of curiosity how much is a cord up where you are? We were just chatting with friends in upstate ny and their dry stacked cords are like 50 to 75 bucks. We are like 220 but that is still cheaper than our heating oil to be honest. We have enough old dead tree wood to not to need to do this yet, but I do keep pondering..

regards
avi
Last I bought was custom, lol. A guy with an F250 that he turned the bed into a dump truck cut some dead Ash about 22 inches long, had it on his truck like a cartoon! Unsplit price was 165 bucks, and I got about 3.5 face cords, so closer to 4 face cords with the length he cut it for me. My lovely wife split most of it.

Sorry for the long winded response! But the price to pick up Ash per face cord is about $60 here between Flint and Saginaw. But that is pre split.

I'm a wood burning geek, lol, and have read books on BTU's per cord of different types of wood.

I use on average right around 10 face cords a year, give or take, and that's whatever I scrounge; I ain't picky! But I figure I could heat my house with about 600 dollars worth of Ash per year. As you probably know, the Emerald Ash borer has devastated the whole state of Michigan.

We also burn whatever the minimum is to have free tank rental for propane. Switched to that when the old fuel oil furnace died years ago. Propane heat sucks in a coldish climate. Fuel oil is my favorite, if'n I ever get rich!
 
I live in the desert SW I run a swamp cooler. I’m tired of it. I’m in a much better position now to consider AC. I did not buy the house, we inherited it.

3000sqft house divided into two sections. Apparently it will take serious construction to run new ducting to put the house on a heat pump/AC because of how the addition was built. “The construction was very well done but there was no consideration made for ducting of any kind. We only use a small portion of the house regularly. So my question is this:
Bite the bullet and install the AC and new duct work? But this would cool a large section of space we just don’t use.

or

Go ductless?

HVAC is an area I know nothing about and it seems it really is 6:1 half dozen the other on which is better but I don’t know anyone who has experience with both.
I had to look up swamp cooler, my local climate is so humid that would never work here.

My home has central HVAC but I have stayed in a few places with ductless units. I am no expert but looked into them a little in order to try to better understand. (I might suggest that you find a few builder or renovation type YouTube channels to see what they have to say the units).

I think the biggest drawback is that the units (pipes) may not look attractive on the exterior of your home. Depends on your location, neighborhood, etc. The second drawback is that they dump cool air into a room at the wall. That with a big room (big house like 3000 sq ft) you may need to add some low speed inline duct fans to move air through interior walls or overhead/underneath to move air between rooms. While individual mini-split heads could be installed in targeted room/wall locations to prevent you from cooling the entire house, since the whole house is a single conditioned space the overall energy savings may not be there (it would probably be better to increase the insulation and/or tighten up the house to minimize thermal exchange).

I assume the big advantage of a mini-split is a cheaper install. Since there is no ductwork to run, which could be difficult/expensive to retrofit into an existing house....above and beyond the baseline cost of an central air system.
 
@StillShaving when they built the addition on the house they made it impossible to install ductwork without major renovation to the joists and fire wall. My wife is not a fan of exposed duct work. So yes the lack of ducting is a big draw.

Sealing the house makes the cooler very ineffective you have to have air movement. And lots of it If we decide to go AC there is a lot of insulating to do.
 
Its another expensive thing in life. Ductless is less expensive though. They drill holes in the wall and run 2 small hoses and one wire. 10 plus grand! Ugh.four estimates were all within a few hundred of each other including a moonlight type guy who was going to do the job over successive nights. needless to say hes out. He took 22 days to get back with a price. Ill never understand how trades people work. Good luck with your project op.
 
@StillShaving when they built the addition on the house they made it impossible to install ductwork without major renovation to the joists and fire wall. My wife is not a fan of exposed duct work. So yes the lack of ducting is a big draw.

Sealing the house makes the cooler very ineffective you have to have air movement. And lots of it If we decide to go AC there is a lot of insulating to do.
Sounds like you have a big job on your hands. You probably know about spray foam insulation (closed cell) as well as those pink foam sheets that could be put up without taking up too much space in your addition (though this still might be like a renovation if you are removing drywall to install it underneath)....though I think I have heard of companies who can spray the insulating foam inside an existing wall void. If you were handy and had the time you might be able to do some of the basic work yourself, relying on professionals for the critical elements. If I were in your position I would likely go for ducless too, to save on the renovation work. Maybe you could also do it in stages...e.g. size the ductless A/C system so that you can add additional heads later on, or add extra insulation in stages as time and budget allows.
 
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Toothpick

Needs milk and a bidet!
Moderator
Kinda seems I am pretty dumb. I really had no idea ductless was an option. I’ve seen these ductless AC’s before but never gave them a second thought. So just to put some cost in to perspective - last year, right in the heat of the Summer, our central AC went out. For a replacement we went with a 3 ton Carrier Heat Pump (heat/AC). Duct work was already in place. Cost us 10g and change. Cost of the unit, labor/installation, more attic insulation, new thermostat, and some type of super warranty. I say we still got hosed pretty good. But whatever.

If you can install some wall units in the rooms you use at even half the cost it might be worth it.

BUT...I think that central heat/AC will increase your home value.
 
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