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Mini-split system in NYC co-op building

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lydia2023
lydia2023 Member Posts: 3
I am living in an old 35 unit 5 story co-op building in NYC. Recently we were told that they will install Mini-split systems for heating, replacing the old steam boiler, as part of the green initiative.

I have big concerns, and would like to know if anyone can explain or agree with me.
Is there any NYC co-op building with 20 or more units using the Mini-split system?

I’m told the project will cost more than a half million dollars, compared with an upgrade of the old boiler at less than half the cost. Is the additional expense worth it?

They need to install 35 outdoor units in back courtyard or on the roof. How frequently must we perform maintenance and how much does it cost? It looks like special technicians are needed. If the Mini-split system fails during the winter, what can I do?

If you are a shareholder, would you want this costly uncertain system for priority heating system in NYC?

Comments

  • Waher
    Waher Member Posts: 253
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    What's the thermal envelope of the building? Older buildings can be excessively expensive to heat even with the best heat pump equipment.

    What's the electrical infrastructure to the building? Do you have sufficient space for a transformer pad or a vault somewhere on the property if necessary?

    For a building of that size typically mini-splits aren't used in favor of a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) system where instead of multiple heat pumps, there are a few larger units (more efficient) with heat recovery.

    Does the building currently have kitchen and bath exhaust?

    Often in older buildings money is better spent improving the thermal envelope, modernizing/fixing the steam system with massive air venting/pipe insulation/a higher efficiency boiler, adding kitchen/bath ventilation for indoor air quality.
    lydia2023
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,883
    edited February 2023
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    What is in place for air conditioning?
  • Hot_water_fan
    Hot_water_fan Member Posts: 1,881
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    Heat pumps can use gas much more efficiently than a steam boiler can. They're well established with many technicians. Providing AC is a benefit a boiler cannot do. If it's too scary, you can keep the steam as backup. Not a big deal.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,426
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    More to the point -- in New York City, you may find you have no choice at all. Heat pumps or no heat.

    That many minisplits is going to be a maintenance nightmare (with a mean time between failure of 15 years -- good performance for such critters) you are not only going to be maintaining them every year, but replacing two of the 35 every year.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    lydia2023
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,074
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    Who will pay the electric bill for the mini's?

    Will each condo unit be responsible for upkeep, repairs and eventually replacement?
    lydia2023
  • lydia2023
    lydia2023 Member Posts: 3
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    Residents(tenants) will pay electric bills for sure. I guess shareholders will responsible for upkeep bills.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,883
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    pecmsg said:

    What is in place for air conditioning?




    lydia2023 said:

    Residents(tenants) will pay electric bills for sure. I guess shareholders will responsible for upkeep bills.

  • exqheat
    exqheat Member Posts: 185
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    The fins on the indoor units are very fine and NYC dirt will require frequent 45minute cleanings once or twice per years for each unit installed. Efficiency can drop 30% in short time without cleaning maintenance. Are the units replacing all radiators? Will comfort allow closing doors for privacy?
    John Cockerill Exquisite Heat www.exqheat.com Precisions boiler control from indoor reset.
    lydia2023
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 4,883
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    @lydia2023

    What is in these units for A/C Now?
  • lydia2023
    lydia2023 Member Posts: 3
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    @exqheat
    Yes, we will replace all radiators. Blowers are mounted in two main rooms, not the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,426
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    lydia2023 said:

    @exqheat
    Yes, we will replace all radiators. Blowers are mounted in two main rooms, not the kitchen or bathroom.

    You'll be sorry -- but you'll be green.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 16,888
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    With a project like this we can be sure of several things:

    1- It will probably cost twice as much as originally specified;

    2- It will take twice as long to complete as originally estimated;

    3- It will cost much more to run than originally estimated.

    If they're determined to go through with this, I'd look at moving.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Towson, MD, USA
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • GGross
    GGross Member Posts: 1,065
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    Eh Personally I would be happy enough to get A/C. Inverters work just fine in my climate and its a whole lot colder here than NYC. That being said any job with any type of equipment can turn sour, there are a whole lot of botched steam jobs out there as well, hence the reason this forum exists.
    reggi
  • exqheat
    exqheat Member Posts: 185
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    No landlord is going to pay for the damage done to put heat exchange units in every room to replace radiators. Holes, electric bills, equipment service schedules, leaks from jammed condensate drains, frozen drains, poorly installed drains, dirty clogged fine fins with NYC junk. And when the power goes out?? Please.
    John Cockerill Exquisite Heat www.exqheat.com Precisions boiler control from indoor reset.
  • The Steam Whisperer
    The Steam Whisperer Member Posts: 1,218
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    lydia2023 said:

    @exqheat
    Yes, we will replace all radiators. Blowers are mounted in two main rooms, not the kitchen or bathroom.

    You'll be sorry -- but you'll be green.
    Well, as you probably agree they won't even be green. You still have to generate the electricity and, as seen this past Christmas, the grid in the Northeast is already at capacity in extreme cold, so you are probably in for a heap of hurt. Thermal upgrades to a building almost always make the most sense, followed by improving the existing systems.

    Also, that $500,000 investment will need to be repeated about every 15 years, so the new system is actually costing $500,000 /15 = $33,000.00 per year. How much can your improve the existing building and systems for that much money.
    To learn more about this professional, click here to visit their ad in Find A Contractor.
  • exqheat
    exqheat Member Posts: 185
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    Have you the electricity usage estimate.. That will give you an additional punch, as rates go up to pay for the infrastructure changes needed for renewables. Government subsidies are to get the ball rolling. You will pay either way to the utilities or in taxes to cover the costs someday. Better keep the boiler as a back up. Future power loss could be more serious and longer lasting.
    John Cockerill Exquisite Heat www.exqheat.com Precisions boiler control from indoor reset.