In this podcast, Matt Torre from Jones Services talks about the factors that affect the cost of ductless HVAC equipment. Then, he explains why DIY installation doesn’t usually save homeowners money
John Maher: Hi. I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Matt Torre of Jones Services, a service company in Goshen, New York with a focus on ductless heating and cooling systems. Today we’re talking about the cost of ductless. Welcome, Matt.
Matt Torre: Hey, John. Thanks for having me.
What Affects the Cost of a Ductless Heating and Cooling System?
John: Sure. So Matt, what are some of the factors involved in calculating the cost of a ductless heating and cooling system?
Matt: That’s a great question, John. So there’s really a number of factors that are going to go into determining what the cost of the solution is going to be for you. The first thing that I like to do when I’m sitting down with a customer in their home is to find out what they’re looking to achieve.
Are they looking to do this primarily for air conditioning? Are they looking to use this for both air conditioning and supplemental heat? Or are they looking to use it for air conditioning and to fully replace their existing heating system in their home? Depending on that and the answers to those questions, then we’ll start to talk about, “Okay. Well, what are our priority rooms and our goals with them?”
Some people may want to do just their main family space and one bedroom, because their kids are off to college and they don’t really feel they need to condition those spaces anymore. Some people want to be able to have every room in the house covered and comfortable. So once we’ve decided that and started to look at the design for it, then it really comes down to, “Well, what type of equipment do we need? What type of capacity is that equipment going to have? What connecting parts are there?” And that could have differences in how far is the run between that indoor unit and where the outdoor unit is.
John: Right. So if it’s on the second floor, that’s going to take more of that piping than it would be if you’re on the first floor?
Matt: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So you’ll have more piping, you’ll have more electrical to run, you’re also going to have more wait time and labor involved. So those are really the major factors… picking the right equipment that’s going to meet the need of the home or the need of the customer within the home, determining what additional parts, like line sets and the stands that go into the outdoor unit, and all those other components.
And then how much time is it going to take to actually have people on your property installing all of this stuff. So really I think the place to start is to figure out what your goals are for the system, and then meet with a qualified contractor like somebody at Jones who can show you what the breakdown would be and what type of equipment you’re going to need.
Should You Install the System Yourself to Save Money? No.
John: Right. If people are just looking to install one or two of these and they’re handy, they might think like, “Well, I can save a lot of money. I can just buy one of these ductile systems online, get it delivered, install it myself.” Would you encourage that? Or is that not a good idea?
Matt: I could never really encourage that. I mean, I think if some people have a certain comfortability with gambling and they find themselves to be very, very handy, then they may decide to take a crack at doing something like that themselves. But there’s a lot of misinformation out there online and a lot of different products, some better than others, and some that come with a more complete kit than the other ones that you find online.
So a lot of times what we’ve found is somebody will buy one of these systems online, and they’ll get it to their home, and they’ll open it up, and they’ll open up the box, and they’ll think it’s going to be, “Hey, I put a couple screws in the wall and I can hang this thing. And I stick an outdoor unit somewhere out in my yard and connect the two things, and that’s that easy-peasy.”
But what they often realize is that, one, most of the kits that are on the market today don’t have all the tools and the connecting pieces to actually put these things in correctly. So homeowners find themselves making multiple trips to Home Depot, going by trial and error to pick, “Is this the right tool for the job? And do I have all the pieces that I need?” And a lot of times they call us saying, “The kit came with this, but I actually need that.” One other thing that I think is important to mention is that with a lot of these kits, they come with what’s called a precut, pre-size, pre-charged line set. And what that means is that if it’s a 25-foot piece of line set that’s given with this particular kit. That if you’re not exactly 25 feet away from the unit, you’re going to have a lot of line set just hanging out in your backyard, whooping up.
And I’ve seen people try to tape it to the side of the house or bracket it to the side of the house, and aesthetically it just doesn’t look like anything that we do when we put them in ourselves. Then you got to factor in the actual safety of it. So are you comfortable soldering and brazing using a blow torch and soldering pipe together? Are you familiar with that? It’s not easy if it’s the first time you’re doing it and trying it. And most systems are also going to run on 220 volt electricity, which is obviously very dangerous if you’re not a qualified electrician.
So I always recommend people, before they take that leap of faith and buy that system, meet with a company like Jones and see what it would be to have us install something similar. Because a lot of times, unfortunately, what happens is somebody invests that $2,000, $3,000 into one of these online pre-made, prefab systems, and find it doesn’t work or it gets installed missed correctly. And there’s no returning it, no getting your money back, and now you’ve just added $2,000 or $3,000 more of an expense to a project that we’re going to be able to quote and get it done, and get it done right the first time.
DIY Installation Often Void Ductless Warranties
John: Right. Absolutely. Yeah. You probably would void a warranty too by installing something like that yourself. No?
Matt: I don’t know what warranties come on that type of equipment. And what I’ve also found is that people who have installed them have a very difficult time finding parts or finding people to work on them. Because they’re all proprietary and you don’t have a local connection or a local distributor who’s going to be able to help you source any replacement parts that you may need, or come out and service and diagnose it. Because most companies or bigger companies are just not going to be familiar with that type of equipment.
How Rebates and Tax Incentives Affect the Cost of Ductless
John: Right. What role do rebates and tax incentives play in the overall cost of a ductless system?
Matt: Well, that depends. Here in New York state, there’s a very aggressive program out right now through NYSERDA that can greatly reduce the cost of the overall project. To maximize your rebates, typically though you are looking at a complete home system, and even more enhancements when you are replacing your existing fossil fuel system, there can be even greater rebates for that. But just about any ductless system is going to have some form of rebate on it.
The one thing I will say is that the money that NYSERDA has put up for that isn’t going to last forever. So last year we experienced a small decrease in the rebates. So far this year, knock on wood, everything is holding steady. But right now is the best opportunity to take advantage of those rebates, because the anticipation is that they’re more likely to go down than up in the future as more people take advantage of the program.
Contact Jones Services About Ductless HVAC
John: Right. So is now a good time then to get a ductless system installed if it’s something that I’ve been thinking about or that I’m interested in?
Matt: Well, Like I said, John, with the way the rebates are trending towards going down and in the world that we live in right now with inflation, it seems like everything is going up. I’d say absolutely. There’s no better time than now to start looking into and moving forward with that purchase of a ductless unit or a heat pump.
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information, Matt. Thanks again for speaking to me today.
Matt: Yeah. No problem, John. Thanks for having me.
John: And for more information, you can visit the website at jonesservices.com or call 845-294-1010.