Pre-charged mini split air conditioners

June 2, 2009 by Shawn Mack  
Filed under Savings Guide

Don’t get fooled by companies selling pre-charged air conditioners.  Over the past few years I have received many questions about purchasing pre-charged mini split air conditioners.  There are some companies that advertise that their compressors within the condenser are pre-charged with refrigerant.  This is a true statement.  Every manufacturer I know installs compressors that are pre-charged with refrigerant.  This does not mean that you can hook up a copper line set and the equipment will operate properly.  Pre-charged compressors usually have approximately 13 to 16 feet of refrigerant.  No matter what length line set you use, the refrigerant amount will have to be regulated and charged to ensure proper pressure settings.  A professional HVAC installer will have to hook up gauges and increase or reduce refrigerant for proper operation.  If refrigerant pressures are not within recommended levels, problems will ensue.  Also, before a refrigerant line set is charged, it will need to be vacuumed of any contamination that may have entered.  This is also done by a professional HVAC installer.  Finally, remember that warranties are void if mini split air conditioners are not charged by a HVAC professional.  To date there is only one system that is pre-charged with refrigerant and can be connected without the use of a HVAC professional, AmericAire’s DIY system.

The AmericAire ACEDIY12HP110/ACCDIY12HP110 has a pre-charged compressor and line set that is already connected to the indoor evaporator.  The system is vacuumed and charged at the warehouse and built with special quick-lock connecting fittings.  This fitting locks into place at the outdoor condenser and charges the entire unit for 25 feet of stainless steel line set.  The special stainless steel line set is made special to help prevent leaks that can occur with copper lines.  If you need to have a line set longer than 25 feet, the AmericAire DIY system is not recommended.  It is a great system and you can check out its specifications at this link.

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39 Responses to “Pre-charged mini split air conditioners”
  1. Peter Ambrose Says:

    Why is it that the ductless mini-split air conditioners are so expensive. There is absolutely no rationale for the prices to be so high except for greed, market share capture and preservation. The price structure across the board is so falsely high that the margins on these units must be enormous especially when a contractor cons an innocent customer as to the necessity of his services when it is not really required. With a little common sense the installation and set-up is so simple any handy man can do it.
    It is my contention that the prices will falsely remain high until such time as the general public will insulate themselves from gullibility and begin the greed squeeze on the middle men to adjust the pricing and reduce the margins and greed factors.

  2. Jeff Smith Says:

    As a tech I see quite a few handyman installs of minis. Usually it is a case of replacing the entire unit. These things are not for the handyman to install! They can be very dangerous.

    Expensive? Maybe. If you buy the lower end junk then guess what? You get what you pay for. Most lower end systems have a “Side walk warranty” Good luck.

    To do it properly there is $300+ materials needed as well as vacuum pump use etc. About 6 man hours should do for a single unit. And we are entitled to a retail markup and if you don’t believe that the big box stores don’t have a markup then you are dreaming.

  3. john Siebenbaum Says:

    I am a handy man and my install went fine. $300 in materials? for what? I bought a cyclinder of 410a for $200. Thats 25 #’s off refrigerant. First ac i called told me it would be $150 to top off my system once i vacced it down and realized the manafactures precharge was not enough. Jeff Smith is a con artist like all other refrigeration mechanics.

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  7. Steve Says:

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  8. Chris Says:

    Jeff, what exactly is so dangerous. I suppose there is some danager in alot of things , like driving a car , but as John says you are the typical tradesman, conditioned from birth to tell everyone to hire a tradesman.
    They could not possibly do it right themselves. I installed a gas furnace , then later a gas water heater, the first guy to inspect the furnace was a tradesman contracted out to the gas company, he couldn’t wait to try and cut up my job and say I was taking away work form his trade. The second guy to inspect the water heater was employee of the gas company and went out of his way to complement my job. It was BETTER than the “PRO” would have done, because I spent an extra $20 and bought unions and valves for both the hot and cold water pipes, so you could completely remove the tank without having to shut the water off or unsolder anything.

  9. Dennis Verrinder Says:


  10. Dennis Verrinder Says:


  11. mike Says:

    Hate to see u guys try to figure out any of the electronics that make the inverter mini-split so expensive. Then again all you have to do is call tech support. Against overcharging people but am also against “handymen” trash talking every refrigeration tech… lets see you walk into a machine room at your local grocery store or maybe just change the oil in a screw machine. Always cleaning up after “handy men”. Theyre are a few licensed in refrigeration that do ok work but many are hacks.

  12. Merv Says:

    If people were not being so ridiculously over charged then this page wouldn’t even be here. My mother had one installed. An LG $3600. Took them 1hr to put it in. I feel she was taken advantage of.

    I wish they could put out a pre charged system that anyone could use or sell them with a self install kit.

  13. wireless112 Says:

    I do communications work and know the electrical code better than most electricians. Did you know that most HVAC techs will run Romex on the exterior of the home. Not Good, especially in colder climates.

    I just ran the math on a particular system quoted by a pro, I can purchase all of the parts including a flaring tool, and still save 40%. I wouldn’t have a problem paying the pro, but according to my real estate agent, I won’t recover my investment.

    This pro would run all lineset on the exterior of the home, which would actually degrade value in my opinion. If I do it, it will be in the walls as much as possible while still retaining the ability to disconnect the indoor unit’s if needed. Yes I will have to patch some sheet rock and maybe install a couple access panels, but I still will be better off.

    I seen a Pro install a set in a Brand New building, and still ran it on the outside. This was in a richer neighborhood.

    So forgive me if I am a little hesitant to pay 40% for what I consider to be a half ass install. When I am done, it’s gonna look like it’s supposed to be there and not an after thought.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    “I spent an extra $20 and bought unions and valves for both the hot and cold water pipes, so you could completely remove the tank without having to shut the water off or unsolder anything.”

    Chris. You are not supposed to put shutoff valves on both hot and cold of water heater. This can lead to a tank explosion.

  15. Tom Says:

    I’m a contractor and I don’t install 2 valves on a water heater, but they all, by code have a pressure relief valve to keep the tank from “exploding”.
    A valve on the cold side will allow removal of the tank unless someone inside turns on a mixing valve. (both handles on a faucet or a single-lever faucet.)

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  17. steve Says:

    As an AC tech/installer, let me shine a little light. when we install ac, whether it’s r22 or 410a, there is a process in which we pressurize the system with nitrogen to ensure that there are no leaks. That takes a few hours. The longer we hold that test, the better YOU ARE for it in the long run. After that, we run a vacuum pump to remove any moisture down to 500 microns. ANY MOISTURE IN AN AC WILL KILL THE COMPRESSOR. I personally use the triple evacuating method, look it up and you’ll understand. When you make an investment in your home’s air comfort systems, spend the money and get a good job done. As a tradesman, I couldn’t care less who does your job, I care that it’s done right, so I don’t have to come clean up the mess.

  18. Dan Church Says:

    Nice to see a pro who practiced triple evac, as I was taught. No tools so I contacted A/C contractor to run lines, 10-minute leak test, single evac and weigh-in, with no check on sub or super. No wonder consumers howl. Alternative though was 6 hours by $135 by two techs. Seem only to travel in pairs.

  19. rumplestilskin Says:

    Ok guys quit whining, there are some excellent A/C techs out there but you need to do your homework to find them, some get in the habit of skipping steps in order to make more per hour, most installs are ” flat rate” meaning the quicker he gets done the more he makes. The longer a vacuum is pulled the better, the longer a nitrogen pressure test is done the better. I work with 20 ton units every day when we pressure test its for 8 to 12 hours at 2x working pressure, vacuum is pulled over night and checked over 8 hours, when you have a system running 60 pounds of r22 with 2 circuits you don’t want any leaks. That said a tech that is familiar with minisplit systems is better than one with no experience, you as the owner of the equipment have an obligation to know something about it as well, do your homework and vette your tech before allowing him to work on it.

  20. Scott AC Tech Says:

    Ok on top of all other points the “tradesmen” have offered here’s another. We work for a company with salespeople, supervisors, managers, customer service and down time. Good companies will charge more than a shitty fly by night 1 or 2 truck operation to avoid laying off good people. So we need to make in 8 months what it takes to pay people for 12 months. However like other guys said, go the cheap way and get what you pay for.

  21. Pat Says:

    I purchased a Mini split and the tools needed to install it myself. There is no reason to be raped by a HVAC contractor, The Vacuum pump, micron gauge, flaring tool, tube bender and a few other items I needed are readily available online or at your home improvement store.
    My system is up and running for a total cost of approx $1,200 that includes a 18,000 btu mini split. Not the $4,500-$6,500 quotes from HVAC robbers that I received.

  22. G Says:

    How to calculate how much 410a should be removed from the unit if i only use 8 ft out of the 25 foot line set??? Will it be overcharged?? Help lol

  23. MyOwnTrade Says:

    Consumers understands that a quality job takes time and that businesses have overhead. Neither here, nor there. You have a ton colleagues who do a poor job and rip people off. Guess what? Consumers can’t tell the difference until after the fact. In my role I’ve worked with hundreds of residential & commercial building system contractors.

    The idea from Scott that “you get what you pay for” holds no water. There is zero correlation between workmanship and cost in residential trades work. And if there is, its an inverse relationship. Most of the competent plumbers, electricians, HVAC techs, carpenters, controls guys I have encountered over the years have also been among the lowest costs. You know what sets them aside? They care about what they do and take pride in their work.

    That’s why with some light code reading, some you tube videos, and a little patience, even a moderately capable homeowner or handyman can do “pro” work. I wouldn’t let a tradesmen who doesn’t care about his work touch my house for any cost.

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