In this podcast, Brett Rogenski, general manager of NETR Inc, talks about the differences between ceiling cassettes and wall mount ductless units. He explains the pros and cons and talks about why homeowners gravitate toward one or the other.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Martin. I’m here today with Brett Rogenski, general manager of NETR Inc, a heating and cooling company in Massachusetts with a focus on Mitsubishi ductless heating and cooling products. Today, we’re talking about mini split ceiling cassettes versus wall mounts. Welcome Brett.
Brett Rogenski: Hey. Thanks a lot, John. I appreciate you having this.
John: Sure. So today we’re going to be talking a little bit again about what is the more typical installation for a ductless unit or a mini split unit, which would be these wall mounted units that go up above your windows or something or on the top of your wall in your house. And then comparing those to these ceiling cassettes where you have this option to have the heating and air conditioning blowing out of this ceiling unit that sort of goes flush against the ceiling. So let’s first talk a little bit about the sort of more traditional style of the wall units. And tell me a little bit about those and what they look like and how those work.
Brett: Sure thing. With a traditional wall mounted unit, there are different sizes based on how many BTUs they support, but kind of a common dimension is about 12 inches high and roughly 32 or maybe even a little longer, 40 inches. It all depends on the size of the unit.
And really what those do is they house what is the evaporator, a drain pan. All the stuff that helps do that cooling inside. And of course then they’re piped using refrigerant lines and drain lines back out to your outdoor condenser. So they’re kind of what most of us have seen before in that they’re three feet longish, about a foot tall, offset from the wall, maybe nine inches and that sort of thing to house all that equipment to cool your home.
John: Why might some homeowners not want a wall mount unit?
Brett: Yeah. That’s a great question. Well, there can be a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s a lack of walls space. So the way different homes are configured, sometimes there’s a lack of walls space on homes between windows. Some older homes, especially if you get into maybe capes where there’s a second floor, they actually have low walls. So it’s sloping down to maybe a five or a four or a six foot wall on the outside. So now that thing that in a newer construction home would be up near the eight foot level, suddenly it’s mounted at the four and a half foot level just because you have an older home.
John: Yeah. And you don’t want that really.
Brett: It’s not really pleasing. So definitely there are some spaces where it’s not a good match. The other really big reason that people maybe are not always enthusiastic about those is the form factor. The ceiling cassettes offer something that’s kind of hidden away in the ceiling and it gives a much cleaner aesthetic compared to a wall mount. The other part of that can also be where we have to run refrigerant lines.
So remember, all the stuff that is running to a wall mounted unit on the outside of the house, that’s all going to be contained in a line hide. But maybe there’s no good way to get to a certain spot and we all don’t want a piece of line hide running down the front of our house or something like that, but maybe we can access that and put it in the ceiling by going through an attic or something like that.
John: Before we go on and talk about the ceiling cassettes, maybe just talk a little bit too about how far the wall mount units have come in terms of their style. You mentioned that some people might not want this thing on their walls. And I think in a lot of the older cases they were kind of ugly looking honestly, but a lot of the newer models are quite stylish and nice looking.
And I know that some brands even have silver ones that kind of match your stainless steel appliances if you put it in a kitchen, or some of them are black to match your television and things like that. Just maybe talk a little bit about that.
Brett: Sure thing. Great point, John. And listen, wall mounts have come a long way. You’re right. Years ago they were kind of this big rectangular box that was on your wall. They were always in some sort of beige neutrally white type thing, but they looked like an appliance stuck up on your wall. Now they’re much more elegant. They’re much cleaner, smoother lines. When not in use the louvers automatically close and it just gets a much cleaner look. And you’re right, they often come in multiple colors.
There’s again still some neutral white colors, there’s black which is popular in some situations, there’s some silver to your point that kind of resembles an appliance, kind of gives that stainless steel sort of look. But they’ve also become smaller. And again, the lines are much rounder, they’re much softer and they’re designed to blend away. In some brands they even have other things such as… One particular brand has something that’s essentially a picture frame that is mounted into the wall. And then you can literally put a picture in that thing and behind it out is coming air. So there are a lot of different options. They’ve come a long way.
John: So let’s move on and talk about the mini split ceiling cassettes. And maybe tell me what different types of ceiling cassettes are available.
Brett: Sure. In a real general format, there’s basically two form factors to choose from. One is square, which is typically about two feet by two feet that is recessed into the ceiling. The other one is rectangular. So it’s typically… They’re about 43 inches long by about 15 inches wide. The reason they’re about 15 inches wide is again so they can fit between the rafters in your home and slide up into that space, but that’s also why they have to be longer is to accommodate the equipment in a rectangular fashion as opposed to a square. So about two feet by two feet for one model. The other one that’s made to kind of slide in easier is about 43 inches by 15 inches.
John: And tell me a little bit about what’s involved in installing both of those different form factors of ceiling cassettes.
Brett: Sure. So the rectangular one, which is the most popular model, it does involve us cutting a hole in your sheetrock of your ceiling, but it’s designed to fit between those rafters. So if we were up in your master bedroom and it’s on the second floor, that’s going to be able to fit between the rafters in your room and slide up in there. So there’s not a lot of modification actually needed aside from obviously cutting the appropriate sized hole to recess that into your ceiling.
And then all the rest of the work, shall we say, the mechanical work is then done above that up in your attic. That can even be done on our first floor as well, as long as we have good access to be able to get the refrigeration line into there. So each situation’s a little different.
The square model, I guess we’d call it, the one that’s 24 by 24, two feet by two feet, that typically has to have some carpentry done, which we can help arrange that, where we actually have to create a box for that, because most people’s homes, whether you know this or not your floor joists and your rafters are 16 inches on center, so they’re 16 inches apart. So hence why the first one can slide in but with the second one at 24 by 24, we have to basically build a box so that everything’s still nice and structurally sound, and then we can slide it up into that box that we’ve now built to recess it into your ceiling.
John: Okay. And do mini split ceiling cassettes cost more than the wall mounted units?
Brett: Every situation’s slightly different. In general, I would say, yes, they do cost a little more. And that’s because they are a little more complex system, both physically the components to make it all fit in that form factor as well as they’re a bit more labor intensive to put them in. So I would say they’re a little more expensive than a wall mount, but the situations where they work, most people find that to be a good value.
John: And then the installation cost maybe is a little bit more cause they take a little, a little bit more to install.
Brett: Yeah. Exactly. So the hardware itself is slightly more expensive and exactly that the labor cost to do it is a little higher because there’s just a bit more involved.
John: Do you think that there are any advantages or disadvantages of ductless ceiling cassettes versus wall mounted if I’m just comparing them in terms of how well they heat or cool my home?
Brett: Well, in terms of BTUs you can get all essentially more or less matching sizes. So they can all kind of heat or cool very similarly. I actually think that in the right situations, ductless ceiling cassettes actually offer an advantage because for instance, the square model that we are talking about.
That actually is sending out conditioned air in four directions. So if you were to, again, picture maybe your master bedroom and that thing mounted in the middle, that thing is actually sending conditioned air out all four directions around it as opposed to being on one wall, say, I always say blowing in or across the room.
The narrower one that we discuss that fits between the rafters, that is a dual direction. So again, that even has an advantage that a wall mount is blowing essentially one way and then oscillating. The ceiling mount can be blowing two directions simultaneously and kind of helping evenly cool that room. So I think that’s a great advantage that they do offer.
John: Would those square models of ceiling cassettes that you said blow in all four directions? Is that a good option for one of those kind of an open concept to family/kitchen type of rooms that a lot of modern homes have for that reason? It kind of blows air in all four directions.
Brett: Absolutely, it is. It’s a great option for that. The aesthetic is much… Typically, those sort of homes have a nice clean aesthetic to them as well. Now with that recess into the ceiling, just a two foot by two foot grill basically showing in the ceiling gives it a clean aesthetic. And functionally, you’re now cooling in all directions. Those also come with something that’s called an auto vein capability.
So not only are they sending air conditioned air out in all four directions simultaneously, they can oscillate in each of those directions as well. So it helps eliminate warm spots or cool spots in your home by not only going out all four directions, but taking each of those directions and kind of making the air wave around if you will. So it hits all the nooks and cranny, so to say.
John: The wall mount units I know can be controlled remotely with sort of a handheld remote control or… I know you can get sort of a more traditional sort of wall type of mounted thermostat that controls those as well. And I know you can also have smart devices where you could actually use your phone to control them. Do the ductless ceiling cassettes have all the same types of options in terms of remote controls?
Brett: Absolutely. They offer all three of exactly what you’re saying about. You can control them using a more traditional thermostat, smart thermostat typically, you can control them using a remote as well that’s very similar if not identical, depending on the model, to the type that you would use for the wall mount.
And to your last point, you’re able to control it with a smart device as well if you equip it with that option. So you can simply be using your iPad, your iPhone, whatever device it is that you choose to control that as well. Yeah. Absolutely. There are no limitations there.
John: Any final thoughts on mini split ceiling cassettes versus wall mounted units?
Brett: Yeah. I really think that a lot of folks aren’t terribly familiar with ceiling cassettes. They’re a little newer product. The first products that were out there were the wall mounts, so people have seen more of those. And also honestly, a lot of contractors don’t talk about the ceiling cassettes as much as we do, because they’re a little tougher to install.
They’re more concerned about how that job is going to turn out as opposed to the aesthetics for the customer. And again, we’re really about customer satisfaction, so we want to be able to show people all the options and show them an option that has that nice clean aesthetic if it applies to the construction of their home so they can enjoy that.
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information, Brett. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Brett: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me.
John: And for more information, visit the NETR website at netrinc.com or call 781-933 NETR. That’s 781-933-6387.