April / May 2015 ESPCO Newsletter

One of the most common questions I get when conducting mini split training classes is…”can you put electric back-up heat in a mini split evaporator?”

The answer is YES!

My newest “training partner” are the fine people of ECR International of Utica, NY who, among a variety of hydronic oriented products, offer a complete line of mini split products under the EMI brand and possibly the most unique among them is the E-verter mini split product.

The E-verter evaporator is available in a traditional wall mount unit, a ceiling cassette and a universal mount unit. Capacities are 9, 12, 18, 24, 30 and 36K all utilizing inverter compressor technology so for example; the 9K unit actually has an operating range of 3,000 BTUH on the low end and 9,000 BTUH on the high end. Reference the September/October 2012 ESPCO newsletter if you need a refresher on inverter technology…you can read it in the ESPCO archives at this address;


The E-verter is limited to single zone applications and has a maximum lineset length of 100 feet…enough to get you just about anywhere you need to be. All capacities and evaporator choices are available in cooling only or heat pump with cooling down to 32°F Outdoor Air Temperature ODAT and heating down to 0°F ODAT. All models are 208 – 230 volt with SEER ranging from 14 to 17, three models eligible for ‘Energy Star’ benefits.

OK…all good stuff but I bet I know what you’re thinking right now…”so what?”

In my opinion, what sets the E-verter product apart from ALL other mini splits is the E-boost heating option. Check this out…

E-boost is a 3kW, (10,236 BTUH), or 5kW, (17,060 BTUH), electric heat option built right into the E-verter evaporator unit…no matter if it’s a wall hung, ceiling cassette or universal mount. The only change this option makes for the installer is a separate 230 volt circuit is required for the indoor unit IDU.

Possibly the most common objection to mini splits as heating appliances has been the heat pump’s operating ODAT limitation…in this case 0°F. But, what if the IDU had an electric back-up heat element factory installed…well, here it is!

I believe the E-boost option is valuable wherever a mini split will be used for heating but in areas where there is a low kW/hr cost, it is in my opinion, a no brainer!

According to the US Energy Information Administration EIA website, as of January, 2015, there were 11 states with kW/hr rates in the single digits and 22 more states with kW/hr rates lower than the national average.

You can see the data at the this address;


According to the Ontario Hydro website, as of May, 2013, there are three Canadian provinces with kW/hr rates in the single digits and another two just over the national average.

You can see the data at this address;


Although EMI has primarily marketed the E-verter product for “light commercial” applications, I see the E-verter having a place in many residential applications.

OK, I will admit that the wall mount IDU is a bit obtrusive compared to mini split evaporators without back-up heat capability but, the benefit of the E-boost option in areas where heat is needed and temps drop below 0°F far out ways any initial esthetic objection. I guarantee you on a sub-zero night in Vancouver the E-verter will look downright beautiful!

I see a great market for the E-verter with E-boost in vacation homes…cabins, cottages and chalets where esthetics is substantially less important than performance and comfort.

Sure, the E-verter does indeed lend itself more toward the light commercial market but many great products and applications have been brought from one market segment to another with great success over the years. Our goal as HVACR installers and technicians is to provide our customers with options…economical, efficient and versatile options for all their comfort needs.

You can see the E-verter product and all the great EMI mini split products at the following address;


Check out the ESPCO website for upcoming EMI sponsored mini split classes in Michigan and New York coming very soon!

The five most common statements you hear about Variable Refrigerant Flow VRF systems….truth or urban legend?

Over the next five newsletters, I want to address each of the following common perceptions and misconceptions about VRF systems.

  • VRF is strictly for commercial applications…

  • VRF requires special training…

  • VRF needs to be installed by big contracting companies with an engineer on staff…

  • VRF equipment is very expensive…

  • VRF is new to the U.S. market…

OK…let’s start with “VRF is strictly for commercial applications.”


As I address the five issues individually, I will try to use a different VRF manufacturer…let’s start with the Mitsubishi Series S.

The Series S ODU comes in a 36, 48 or 60K capacity…very typical residential sizes I would say. ODU’s are 208-230 volt, single phase so their electrical requirement is no more than a typical unitary or non-VRF ODU.

IDU’s offer a variety of capacities, (6K – 54K), a variety of configurations, (wall mount, ceiling cassette, ceiling suspended, ceiling concealed and floor standing), all which can be mixed and matched for a maximum of 12 IDU’s on a single ODU, (8 more than most ductless multi-zone mini split systems).

You can install as little as 50% of the ODU capacity or as much as 130% of the ODU capacity in IDU’s…for example;

A 48K ODU can have as little as 24K in IDU’s installed, (4 X 6K IDU = 24K), or it can have as much as 62.4K in IDU’s installed, (one 18K, one 15K, one 12K and two 6K IDU’s = 57K).

VRF in residential applications can be a win / win for both home owner and installer…let’s start with you…

VRF greatly simplifies both the lineset run and electrical wiring for the installing contractor. You read it correctly…SIMPLIFIES!

Instead of running 12 separate and unique lineset runs to each IDU, the VRF system gives the installer the choice of either running a singular loop of refrigerant with each evaporator installed in series along the loop, or you can use a header within the home with the header connected to the ODU via a singular lineset and then all IDU’s connected to the header in a tentacle type of configuration. Both approaches allow for a total lineset length of 492’, (this includes vertical differentials).

Either way, lineset installation is greatly simplified and more easily managed and concealed.

Electrical wiring is similar, and as simple, as the lineset. A singular circuit runs from the ODU to power each IDU in series.

Possibly the greatest advantage to both the system designer and installer is the lack of ductwork. Think about this…with the ability to install up to 12 IDU’s, now you can retrofit an entire home with central cooling and heating with NO ductwork if that is what you design, (concealed IDU’s will require minimal ducting)…and beyond retrofit, now new construction is a real option!

Designing and installing ductwork for many of us has been the scariest aspect of central air systems…a mistake on the design side is difficult to correct once installed and for most of us it’s a different trade…I’m not a tin knocker!

Residential VRF systems take the source of the greatest concern for most of us right off the table…ductwork!

Now for the homeowner…

Besides the obvious benefits of zoning, concealed IDU choices and a single ODU instead of the “condenser farm” some larger homes unfortunately have to deal with…possibly the most interesting benefit to the homeowner is the Mitsubishi City Multi Controls Network CMCN.

Homeowners like “bells and whistles”…we all like bells and whistles! CMCN gives the homeowner the ability to remotely control their home’s climate via laptop, pads / tablets and smarts phones…NICE!

You can see two VRF residential case studies at the Mitsubishi website at theses addresses;



Look, as business owners we all need to constantly be expanding our repertoire so we have new and profitable revenue sources available as the economy both rises and falls…VRF can, and should be a revenue source for you no matter how big or small your company is and no matter if you are strictly residential or not. There is NOTHING to be afraid of here….really!

Remember the TV show, “The Waltons”?

Have you noticed there is virtually nothing on TV which either has every other word bleeped, has content so violent it makes you nauseous and  / or is interrupted every 5 minutes by  pharmaceutical ads so disturbing that that you would rather have the ailment than live with the side effects?

I will share with you one of my latest guilty pleasures….it’s “The Waltons”!

The Hallmark channel re-runs the show from the ‘70’s, “The Waltons”, every evening between
5 – 8PM.

Look, I’m no prude and I admit I discovered the Hallmark channel while surfing from the Discovery channel to the Velocity channel, but it is refreshing to see a show based on life during and after the depression with characters that care for, and help each other rather than a show based on a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies.

Give “The Waltons” a look…it will be our secret!


Patrick McDarby of Pyramid Designs passed away on March 14 at the age of 57.

You may not know Pat by name by I guarantee you his work is in your home, on your kid’s back and in virtually every store in the US.

As a graphic designer, Pat designed the logos for virtually every professional sports team that changed its logo in the ‘90’s. The Rangers of the NHL, the Nets of the NBA and the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL…just to name a few.

Pat designed product packaging for foods that are in your kitchen pantry right now.

You can read an article the NY Times ran about Pat’s life and accomplishments at this address;


My personal connection with Pat is that he designed all my company logos including ESPCO’s. He had the unique ability to take a few ideas that I had and make them real…and better than I had imagined.

Pat was also my cousin.

I love the ESPCO logo and now every time I see it I will think of Pat…

See you soon!

The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ESPCO’s sponsors and training partners.