Many ductless and mini-split manufacturers, including Daikin U.S.A. Corp., are ready for the 13 SEER challenges ahead. Pictured here is a ductless commercial application at a Dallas Metroplex. Brian Jilek of Daikin AC inspects the installation of one of the company’s 96,000-Btuh VRV heat pumps, Model RXYQ96MTJU. (Photos courtesy of Daikin AC.)
"The handling of the ductless product with the U.S. Department of Energy was not great because we all thought that the ductless product was classified as a ‘space constrained' product in the ruling, providing an exemption" - until a few months ago, said John Miles, director, engineering and technical support, Quietside/Samsung. "That kind of caught us all on the hop trying to put product together" to meet the 13 SEER requirement.

Initially, ductless products were being considered as niche products, but the consideration seems to have been dropped.

"Documents from DOE's own analysis says that for ductless products, standard technologies would yield 12 SEER as the maximum viable efficiency. ‘Viable' is the operative word," explained Paul Doppel, brand manager, HVAC Division, Mitsubishi Electric.

"Just because you can do something, that doesn't make it viable. Most products we ship are less than 18,000 Btu in capacity, so we're competing against room air products and PTACs." Mitsubishi Electric applied to the DOE for a variance from the 13 SEER mandate last December, but that decision is "still in the works," said Doppel. The exception is being sought because room air and PTAC products will remain the same in their required efficiency.

"We had support from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)," said Doppel. "They felt that ductless products are different from unitary products, and that the ductless products at the 12-SEER level provided an excellent economy."

"Probably like everyone else, we do have kind of a mad dash to meet the Jan. 23, 2006, deadline," said Tom White, Carrier's product business manager, Duct-free Systems, North America Residential, who noted that until last April, Carrier and other manufacturers "were planning on having at least a 12-SEER system."

Publication date: 08/15/2005