The best time to install a ductless heating and cooling system is when a new home is being built. Mike Cappuccio, owner of N.E.T.R., Inc., details how his team determines the heating and cooling needs of a new home.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here with Mike Cappuccio, owner of N.E.T.R. Inc., a heating and cooling company in, Massachusetts. With a focus on Mitsubishi Ductless Heating and Cooling products, today we’re talking about ductless installation in new homes. Welcome, Mike.
Mike Cappuccio: Good morning John. How are you?
John: Good. Mike, do you prefer to do ductless heating and cooling installations at new homes as opposed to having their retrofit in older home?
Mike: We can do both. I mean, what we’re seeing in today’s market, John, we’re seeing a lot of new homes now with their high-performance homes. What we mean by that is a lot of these homes that are being built now are net zero energy homes. They’ve got spray foam in the walls, they’ve got triple-pane windows, there’s virtually no leakage in these homes and these homes are perfect for our systems. Some of these homes we get into, our product just works superior in these homes.
Net Zero Energy Homes
John: Explain what a net zero home is.
Mike: A net zero home is it doesn’t use a lot of energy to use that home. It uses zero energy. There might be solar panels in that home that are creating the stored energy for that home to put it into batteries, and they’re not using any additional energy. There’s no additional energy cost to run what they’re doing. We’ve done homes where there’s been solar in the home where they store the electricity into the batteries in the basement into the cells, and then we put in one 12,000 BTU system into a home that I would never have thought it would even work.
The insulation values and they’re just running one unit that’s being powered from the solar system. So, they’re not using any additional energy. Some of these homes are building so tight today, insulation in the walls and windows and just no leakage in the homes at all.
John: That’s what that takes in order to have that kind of a net zero home. You have to have that home really sealed up tight.
Mike: It’s got to be sealed up tight as you … a hertz rater that comes in and checks the home after, to make sure there’s no leakages. There’s certain tasks at these homes [that] need to pass to verify them as net zero homes.
When to Install a Ductless System
John: When is the right time to install a ductless system in a new home?
Mike: New home … is while the home is being built. Before the spray foam is going in, the line sets are going into the walls. That way there’s no lines going all over the outside of the house. It’s much easier to do when the home is down at the studs and there’s open studs in there — we’re going in there roughing in drains, roughing in refrigerant piping, getting the inside of the home ready to accept the indoor units when the dry wall is completed.
Then, [it] allows the spray foam people to come and do this spray foam, do their things and we pressurized our pipes, leave them under pressure so when we come back we want to make sure that this pressure is still on those pipes to make sure that no one hit those pipes with a dry wall screw or anything like that. We leave those pipes pressurized and make sure they’re at 500 when we leave; that they are 500 when we come back, because sometimes you get the dry wall guys put a screw into a refrigerant pipe or something like that. We want to make sure that doesn’t get done.
Determining Heating and Cooling Needs in New Construction
John: Are there any unknowns when installing a ductless system in a new home like maybe you don’t know where the family is really going to spend the most time or what their needs are going to be or that sort of thing that might influence what type of system you put in?
Mike: You’ve got to really look at the whole home from the new construction standpoint. You’ve got to have heating and cooling at all the spaces in the home. You really can’t assume that someone isn’t going to be in there. You’ve got to assume that someone will be in there in the living space. We’ve got to really zone off those homes, look at the open areas, figure out how we’re going to do it. If there’s a living room and a dining room, you’ve got to assume that people are going to be in there. You’re going to have to put certain BTUs in those areas.
Determining Ductless Heating and Cooling BTUs
John: Okay. Speaking of the BTUs, how do you that? I know you do a load calculation on a house to figure out what size of system that you need. How do you do that on a house that’s still under construction?
Mike: Well, you’d have plans. You’d have plans from a builder, whoever is building the home in this certain construction stand is that they need to follow as far as how thick the walls [will be]. I mean, most homes being built today are two by six construction, I would think two by fours are allowed on the outside of a home anymore. Then there’s certain parameters of amount of insulation that they have to put in there from a minimum standpoint.
If it’s a net zero home that the builder is building, we would need to know: Okay, what kind of spray foam is going in the walls? What are the R Values of this insulation that you’re using? What are you doing in the ceiling and the basement? Things like that, ceilings and the attic, because if they’re putting additional insulation we need to know. We can get the insulation values and the window values and we know what the home is facing north, south, west. We can run that little calculation on that home before a team. We can run that before there’s even a stick put on the foundation.
John: Right. Anything else that a new home owner, or an owner of a new home would want to know in terms of installing a ductless system?
Mike: They really probably want to know if the homeowner had some say on what was happening there. They definitely want to be looking at the controls. They want to know, “Hey, how am I going to control this system?” You know, I’m putting in a new home now and you know, do I want to be able to operate this from handheld remotes or do I want wireless thermostats mounted on the walls. Do I want to be able to operate this from a Wi-Fi standpoint, you know, from somewhere else? Because there’s a lot of different types of controls you can use when you do that
John: All right, that’s really good information. Thanks again for speaking with me today, Mike.
Mike: You’re welcome, John.