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Author Topic: First mini-split is installed  (Read 3477 times)
dukegrad98
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« on: May 24, 2012, 09:37:51 AM »

Yesterday we got the first mini-split heat pump installed and running in our coach.  I am doing three in the coach -- one in the rear bedroom (9k), one in the main living area (12.5k) and one up in the driving area (12.5k).  These are Soleus units that I bought at Bob Glines' recommendation.  I had no prior experience with this type of AC system.  (Some of you know that I bought Bob's '89 Prevost, and have been doing a pretty major remodel inside.)

So far, I can only say that I'm really happy with the one unit that is installed, charged, and running.  I went over yesterday evening, and it was still 88 degrees with the sun setting in the west.  The thermostat was set to 75, the unit was cycling properly, and that half of the bus was very cool.  It puts out plenty of cold air, and has built-in oscillators on the vent.  The condensor/compressor unit is in a vented bay under the bus.  Both the outdoor and the indoor unit are very quiet when running. 

If the other two installs go as well as this one, I should be able to have an ice cold bus for the Texas summer.  I'll update when we get the others in, and will try to get some pics.  I'm hoping to have her back on the road for a July 4 trip...

Cheers, John
« Last Edit: May 24, 2012, 09:49:05 AM by dukegrad98 » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2012, 09:47:06 AM »

This sounds like a good alternative to roof airs or basement air conditioners. I thought about this type for the house. Keep us posted on how it works and I would be interested in seeing some photos.

Gene
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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2012, 12:44:31 PM »

Dukegrad, how much time would you estimate it took to install one unit and what would you estimate the total cost to be, lvmci...
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2012, 01:55:02 PM »

I'll ask the AC guy.  It took about ten minutes to measure, level, and bolt in the interior air handler / evaporator unit on the bus wall, and probably about five minutes to bolt down the outdoor unit in the basement bay.  Add maybe two minutes to hole-saw through the bus floor for the power, refrigerant, and drain lines between the two units.  The rest I left to the HVAC professionals.

I don't have the bill from the AC guy for running the copper lines and charging the system yet, but will update when I know more.  I'm sure that's where the money is -- the rest is super-easy.  Copper and freon don't come cheap these days.

Cheers, John
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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2012, 03:23:29 PM »

Don't know about your unit but my Sanyo came pre-charged with Freon, just evacuate the lines, hold to check for leaks and open the compressor valves.   
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dukegrad98
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« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2012, 03:37:32 PM »

The Soleus was definitely not pre-charged.  That's an interesting approach, and sure handy/cost-effective for the amateur installer.  My only concern would be that it requires some assumptions about the distance between the outdoor and indoor units.  At least on mine, the manual specifies a base charge plus an additional charge per foot of line. 

I opted not to buy the fairly expensive pre-fab line sets online, because I wasn't certain exactly what length I would need.  I just used a local guy to cut, run lines, flare and connect everything, and evacuate and charge it.  I'll post up a price when I have the bill from him.  I think the Soleus unit itself was only about $700, plus or minus -- I bought three.

Cheers, John
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« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2012, 04:18:31 PM »

I'm running my electrical now, and buying the mini-splits this fall.  Does the power from the breaker get routed to the outside or inside unit?
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« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2012, 04:33:41 PM »

All the soleus units I have installed came precharged.

Evacuate --- check for leaks and open the valve.

Melbo
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« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2012, 11:32:51 PM »

While most of you are interested in the air conditioning side of these units, the Soleus brand units that I have seen listed have some serious limitations in heating applications. Most of the other brands don't seem to have those limitations when using heat pumps in heating mode.

I urge you to read the specs. There are good units that carry some serious heating ability down to below zero temperatures. We are happy with the performance of the ones that we use in apartments, some of which have been in service for three and one half years.

Good luck!

Tom Caffrey
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« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2012, 06:21:07 AM »

John, I'm gonna remove the MCI unit in the bay, lose the weight and open up the bay for storage,  I was going to install the window box unit and duct upwards to the defroster vents on the dash, but your idea sounds better, thanks, lvmci...
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« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2012, 07:12:45 AM »

The outdoor unit that you put in the bay, how much room does this need? I'm considering this route also, just don't know enough about it. Thanks, Craig
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« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2012, 05:51:30 PM »

John,

I (like others) would love to see the pics of the outside unit mounted under the bus and get the specs for the clearance that you need.  This is on my list of todo's!

Thanks for posting!  Super grateful!

-Sean
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« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2012, 06:01:28 PM »

 I (like others) would love to see the pics of the outside unit mounted under the bus and get the specs for the clearance that you need.  This is on my list of todo's!
Thanks for posting!  Super grateful!        -Sean  


      Please add me to this list.  I don't have bays so that's my first question - is the "outside unit" mounted in a bay?  But, even so, I'd like to see how you've done it.  (I'm thinking that two outside units will go right under my "upstairs windshields" in the area where the route display box was.  Air inlet will be easy (just a grille) but air outlet - probably on the sides - and water proofing is likely to be  difficult.



       The "white block" is where the route box used to be.  It's plain aluminum sheet now; it will get the blue and green stripe later.  That area is an empty box the width of the bus, about 30" high, and about 14" deep - should hold two outside units just fine.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2012, 06:06:21 PM by Oonrahnjay » Logged

Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
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« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2012, 09:41:42 PM »

I certainly don't mean to hijack John's (dukegrad98) thread! I just want to contribute a little to this thead! And I also got my crazy ideas from the great and famous Bob Glines.

If you want to get some more ideas, you can see my mini-split installs on my bus project page here:

http://www.busconversions.com/bbs/index.php?topic=22081.30
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« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2012, 09:57:03 PM »

This is only "overheard" comments:

At one of the BCM rallys MAK held back in the 90's, one of the busnuts who sat at my table during dinner was commenting on how he had to open the bay doors while parked so his mini-split's outside units wouldn't overheat in the summer.  No problem on the road.

Food for thought?

 Wink
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« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2012, 10:05:38 PM »

  (snip)  At one of the BCM rallys MAK held back in the 90's, one of the busnuts who sat at my table during dinner was commenting on how he had to open the bay doors while parked so his mini-split's outside units wouldn't overheat in the summer.  No problem on the road.

       There's got to be a spec for clearance, air flow, heat movement, etc. on these things.  If you're OK on the specs, they should work OK, right?
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Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
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« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2012, 10:20:42 PM »

... he had to open the bay doors while parked so his mini-split's outside units wouldn't overheat in the summer.  No problem on the road.

I am no expert, but I wonder if he vented the units both on the bay door and the floor?
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« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2012, 10:00:50 PM »

here is my outside unit, (240v) installed in my center bay,will make 64* in TX and SW FL.
since i have owned it I have replaced the squirrel fan blower motor and the compressor cap/run/start.
and the time delay on the air handler.
But thats the way i use my coach.

« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 10:06:37 PM by eagle19952 » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2012, 09:01:41 AM »

  here is my outside unit, (240v) installed in my center bay,will make 64* in TX and SW FL.   (snip)

    Nice install!  What's the size of the grille in the door?  And it looks like you exhaust into a plenum behind it that ducts out under the bus - is that correct?  What are the dimensions of that exhaust duct?  Thanks,  Bruce H,  NC  USA
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Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
1976 Daimler (British) Double-Decker Bus; 34' long
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« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2012, 10:37:10 AM »

No...The AC unit was made in Dallas TX,the enclosure is as you see it with the only "opening"as you see it,(the back,sides,top,and bottom are all sheet metal), that which is behind it is my black tank and one fresh water tank,which at the time of the photo were clad with plywood fabriced with boat fiber carpet.<Thats what I call it.. Grin
The wooden exhaust "channeling device" is zero clearance when the bay door is closed to prevent hot air from escaping into the baggage bay.It fits very snug to the expanded metal.
There is an air intake grill of expanded metal,below the hinge exhaust above.
The safety triangle box gives a relational idea of the units size.
the intake air grill is (lower<below the split piece) is about 16x10 and the upper grill isabout 20x23< too large..perhaps but works well parked or moving.
the exhaust "containing/directing" diverter is made of 1x4 pine because sheet metal would wear and rattle...It is 9"by 4 1/2" inside dimension.
This is the best pic i have (online) showing the grills.

Now my gen set does exhaust the radiator fan out the bottom of the baggage bay. the hole in the floor is only about 8x16 but again the radiator is completely "shrouded" again to prevent excess radiator fan air from escaping into the bay/enclosure.
I have made 'improvements from the original design. It all works very well.For me>i have spent LOTS of summers in FL AZ and TX and no heat "damages" to my set-up has happened.
Having said that I do not use my gen every day,but I did in Death Valley.
PS I have a custom built gen exhaust sys that is capped with a stock muffler from a 2006 Harley Davidson FLH.it goes about 20 inches over the top of my coach...but I only use it if the neighbor sticks around.... Roll Eyes


 here is my outside unit, (240v) installed in my center bay,will make 64* in TX and SW FL.   (snip)


    Nice install!  What's the size of the grille in the door?  And it looks like you exhaust into a plenum behind it that ducts out under the bus - is that correct?  What are the dimensions of that exhaust duct?  Thanks,  Bruce H,  NC  USA
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 10:59:12 AM by eagle19952 » Logged
Oonrahnjay
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« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2012, 10:55:33 AM »

No...The AC unit was made in Dallas TX,the enclosure is as you see it with the only "opening"as you see it,(the back,sides,top,and bottom are all sheet metal), that which is behind it is my black tank and one fresh water tank,which at the time of the photo were clad with plywood fabriced wiith boat fiber carpet.
The wooden exhaust "channeling device" is zero clearance when the bay door is closed to prevent hot air from escaping into the baggage bay.It fits very snug to the expanded metal.
There is an air intake grill of expanded metal,below the hinge exhaust above.
The safety triangle box gives a relational idea of the units size.
the intake air grill is (lower<below the split piece) is about 16x10 and the upper grill isabout 20x23< too large..perhaps but works well parked or moving.
the exhaust "containing/directing" diverter is made of 1x4 pine because sheet metal would wear and rattle...It is 9"by 4 1/2" inside dimension.   

    Thank you for this info.  I see now how it works.  I'm glad to hear this -- it appears that you can pass enough air with a grill that's a good bit smaller than the actual matrix material of the coil -- and that's good news for those of us with limited install room.
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Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
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« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2012, 11:00:59 AM »

SEE EDITS ABOVE>>>> Roll Eyes Shocked Huh Shocked Smiley
PS, THE LAST BAY ,, rear.....has been completely re-designed, it has little resemblance to that picture. Grin
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 11:11:39 AM by eagle19952 » Logged
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« Reply #22 on: May 30, 2012, 11:26:50 AM »

in this photo you can see the door/closet that contains my AC/Heat air handler unit,similar to one that you might find in a mobile home or often used in a vertical space vs one that would be horizontally installed in an attic space....
The handler intake is at the floor and you can see two AC/heat outlets
there is also "duct work" integral to the kitchen cabinets....the slide out is a pantry.
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« Reply #23 on: May 30, 2012, 11:45:09 AM »

and here are the remaining air outs...all are "ducted" thru the "furniture" so to speak...and no we did not use my "check booK" the interior remodel was part of a llease return "contract". I was just fortunate enuff to locate and purchase it .


PS sorry to have semi Hi jackt this thread, I would still like to see the mini splits.
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dukegrad98
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« Reply #24 on: May 30, 2012, 11:57:53 AM »

I'm still following!  And I'll still get some photos when I get a chance to get over and check out progress.  I think the second mini-split (unit in the driver area) is being installed today. 

The existing outdoor unit is in a vented basement bay, which I think I've said before.  Basically the outer skin of that bay door is slotted.  The last couple of days have been in the mid-90s, and the unit is working fine even with the bay door shut.  It does run a lot, but of course it is inadequate for a 40' bus.  It cycles properly at night (set to 68 degrees) when outdoor temps are down a little bit and it's not fighting the whole bus roof in the sun. 

I'll snap a picture or two next time I am there.  The available sizes and specs are all easy to find online.

Cheers, John
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« Reply #25 on: May 31, 2012, 12:48:41 PM »

Can anyone recommend a good 9k or 12k btu INVERTER, precharged mini-split?
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Michael & Gigi
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« Reply #26 on: May 31, 2012, 01:16:05 PM »

All the soleus units I have installed came precharged.

Evacuate --- check for leaks and open the valve.

Melbo

How does one evacuate these things?  What sort of tool is required?  And I assume soapy water will suffice for leak checking?
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Michael & Gigi
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dukegrad98
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« Reply #27 on: May 31, 2012, 01:47:00 PM »

How does one evacuate these things?  What sort of tool is required?  And I assume soapy water will suffice for leak checking?

Vacuum pump with a gauge to tell you when you've pulled a full vacuum.  One more reason I outsourced that part of my install and left it to the pros.  With two units in, I've got 30+ feet of copper line in the bus now.  One unit to go. 

Cheers, John
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« Reply #28 on: May 31, 2012, 02:37:37 PM »

  Vacuum pump with a gauge to tell you when you've pulled a full vacuum.  One more reason I outsourced that part of my install and left it to the pros.  (snip) 

     OK, it's obvious that they teach "good judgment" at the University of New Jersey at Durham!  That's careful, conservative planning, John -- and careful, conservative planning has prevented many a busnut's mishap.  You're correct that a sophisticated vacuum pump (with precision readouts) is needed.  There are two leak tests; 1) you pull the system down to absolute vacuum (OK, as reasonably close to absolute vacuum as you'll get outside a multi-million-dollar physics lab), stop the pump and let the system sit for a while (usually 20-30 minutes) - the vacuum readout must show NO increase,  2) pull a vacuum on the system and put in a small amount of the coolant (often called 'freon') and use a sensitive "sniffer" machine to check all connectors and any other possible sources of leaks.  Both of these require service machinery that's not practical for most of us to own, so another vote for a professional doing this part of the work.

(PS Midwil - The reason that you have to evacuate the system is that the chemical components of air (oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and the "fractional percentage" chemicals) will interact over time with the coolant fluid and the lubrication oil that are in the system.  A more immediate contaminant is water vapor -- even in Arizona, there will be enough water in the air to gum up the works of an air conditioning system if it's not removed during the complete evacuation of the system.  There is a "receiver/dryer" in the system that filters the coolant fluid during use and removes water but it's made to cope with the tiny bit that may leak into a system - not the big slug of water that's left in a system that's not properly evacuated.   John is right - unless a bus owner has extensive training, experience, and the correct equipment, leak detection and evacuation is best left to pros.)
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Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
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« Reply #29 on: June 01, 2012, 07:50:15 PM »

Thanks for the info.  Are you saying that those vacuum pumps from harbor freight wouldn't cut it? 
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Michael & Gigi
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« Reply #30 on: June 02, 2012, 04:38:19 AM »

I had one left over from trade and before I found It Duwayne loaned me.  his  with all  gauges.. I since found mine.  A refill kit on Ebay is 57 dollars including gauges and adapter the refiled is 37.  nice to have on have in case of a aw-shir striation.   pull vac close gauge if it holds 20 minutes 99% safe to go.   keep all lines fasten down and insulated.  you will be amazed..  Head is starting to clear a little.  Doc Kook had good drugs pulled staples yesterday and said walk more.   Bob   ps lots of returning soldiers from sthe gulf wars did this akk time es civilians cut lines and moved to differant room=gi you fix it
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« Reply #31 on: June 02, 2012, 08:47:02 AM »

  Thanks for the info.  Are you saying that those vacuum pumps from harbor freight wouldn't cut it? 


      I don't have any experience with them so I can only guess.  But the pump has to be high quality to pull the vacuum needed, it must not leak back through the pump during the "leak test" period, and the gauges must be accurate enough to tell you what the vacuum level is and whether it changes over the time period of the leak test.   

      My experience with Harbor Freight is that the tools fall into one of the following three categories:
1)  Work pretty well and last a reasonably long time ... (rare, IME),
2)  Work OK for a while and then fall apart,
3)  Total junk right out of the box.

      Since category 2) is the most common, I look at Harbor Freight as "rental" -- if what they cost is what it would be worth to you to use them twice and throw them away, then they're "worth it".  But generally, the more high-tech an item is, the more likely it is to be category 3).  I'm not saying not to try the Harbor Freight pump and gauges, but don't be surprised if they don't work for you (** in my opinion **, other people have had different results).
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Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
1976 Daimler (British) Double-Decker Bus; 34' long
6-cyl, 4-stroke, Leyland O-680 engine

(New Email -- brucebearnc@ (theGoogle gmail place) .com)
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