Final Stages of Mini-Split Installation?

I have been considering purchasing a single-evaporator, split A/C system over the Internet (Hitachi/Soleus 9000BTU.) I plan to do everything I can to install the units and wire them, up to the point where a professional will need to pressurize and test the system. (I keep hearing I can't do that myself.) What can I expect the service cost to be for this final stage? (Assume I will do everything properly up to this point.) A rough estimate will suffice. (I am assuming I can find someone who will be willing to do this although I suppose some in the trade might refuse.) Your answer is much appreciated, as I will not go ahead with the purchase until I have an idea of this cost. Thanks. Frank
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frank1492 writes:

I would expect $100 to $200 for a minimal service call.
Some years ago I decided to spend the $1000 on equipment and an EPA license to do this sort of thing myself. I don't regret it. Depending on how many units you have around to maintain (house, cars, refrigerator, icemachine, pool heater, summer home, etc.), it can be quite economical.
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Most HVAC guys stay away from customers like you. While it is true, you might get the work done right, they have no way to know.
Look at it for a moment, from the HVAC guy's point of view.
1) You don't know if the HO got the right size equipment for the job, and if he didn't, the HO is going to want you to tell him (for free) what size to get. One of the things Ac guys sell is their wisdom. We don't give wisdom away for free.
2) You don't know if the equipment is installed right. If it isn't, the HO is going to want you (for free) to tell him how to do it right. This is "on the job training". We do OJT for new hires, if we think the new hire is going to work for us for a year or more. We don't do OJT for customers for free.
3) The AC guy has some markup built into the price, cause the AC guy has to pay for his tools, insurance, license, and so on. You are trying to avoid paying the AC guy the markup, and so you're trying to pay the AC guy as little as possible. This sets you up as adversaries from the beginning. If you were paying retail, you'd be working together as a team.
4) Since you're such a penny pinching bargain hunter, you're probably going to expect the AC guy to come over for free (or tell you what's wrong) when your mini split doesn't work right.
I really doubt you'll get anyone out. If someone does come out, he'll have to charge a good price for his time and wisdom. I suspect it will be far less expensive in the long run to be an upstanding guy and call a couple AC guys to quote on doing an install with their equipment.
--

Christopher A. Young
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Hi- Thanks for your long and thoughtful reply. However, I detected a slight tone of animosity, which I try to avoid by going to AHR as opposed to AHVAC! First of all, most people who are on this group are penny pinchers. They try to save money by doing things themselves. (I assume you've noticed this.) If an HVAC guy will do this for, say $100 (as some have estimated), and I can get the unit for $600-$700 (which I can), I will have saved a substantial amount over a fully- installed price. Like everyone else, I have a budget. If I can do it for this price, I get a mini-split. If I can't, I stick with my window unit. I have no doubt that the work I will do will be good work, because if I am out of my element, I don't do the work. I don't take risks. I have tackled hundreds of household projects, some rather unusual and sophisticated. Failure is rare. Why do you guys always assume that the customer is out to cheat the service person if he doesn't want the SP to do the whole job, including purchase of the hardware??? The SP will charge the customer whatever he thinks the work is worth, whether the work is a little or a lot. He can even add on a little extra if he is unhappy dealing with people "like me." As for being unreasonable about expectations after the installation I can only tell you that I would have no intention to look for free "anything." I would expect I could call the guy and ask for his opinion if it didn't work right, and would expect him to fix things at N/C if there was refrigerant leaking from his connections, but I wouldn't expect anything beyond that. I may not be a Mormon, but I can tell you he will be dealing with a person who prides himself on fairness. I truly feel that another fair and decent person would not mind helping me out and might well understand the "budget" concept. Frank
On Wed, 19 May 2004 08:17:27 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"

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Dear Frank, Yes, you do hear a slight animosity. I do my best to be polite in all situations. But I've had at least a few customers want me to install equipment they have bought. A few of these have been decent people, who realize what's going on. A couple have turned out to be problem people who expect me to make perfection out of a shoebox full of used parts. So, I tend to be suspicious from the start. Been in too many bad situations.
As for your comment about you doing good work. Well, if you're not an experienced HVAC installer, you might not know all the little things that installers know. And I'm not going to let you bait me into telling you (for free) on a public news group. People who think they are skilled sometimes are, but often are not. Your writing brings me reason for concern.
I'm not "you guys". Why do "you customers" try to get us to operate our businesses in a way we find unsuccessful? I woulnd't walk into McDonalds and tell them that they should cook meat that HO's bring in. Why do "you customers" tell us to do the hookup of equipment you buy?
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Dear Chris- I don't know how these things get contentious so easily. It amazes me. I suppose it is just a coincidence but the only time this has ever happened to me on the Net is when I'm talking to an HVAC person. It's puzzling. Of course you have no way of knowing whether I'm bluffing when I tell you I do good work. You also have no way to tell how smart or clever I am, so it was pointless for me to even bring it up. Lesson learned. I have found folks who have no trouble at all doing the "hookup" of things I buy. But I will admit that there have only been a couple, because it is so rare that I don't do my own installation! It happens in those rare instances when I find I don't have a piece of special equipment, or when there are licenses involved, such as in this case. I still need to ask: What do you lose if you perform work and charge a price for that work that you find fair and reasonable? So you don't get to make a markup on the hardware itself. What keeps you from charging a little more for the labor to compensate? If I were in the trade, I would certainly not feel angry if someone asked me to do the labor only. Why is this any different from a service call on a piece of already installed equipment that the person didn't buy from you? Also, the customer doesn't set the prices you charge. You charge what you want. I don't understand why the customer should be disliked for this. I can understand you have dealt with some unreasonable people, but let us not all be condemned for the sins of a few! Frank
On Thu, 20 May 2004 11:26:14 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"

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wrote:

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Well finally a person of good will with some good explanations! Here is what I envisioned: (1) Mount the evaporator. (2) Mount the compressor. (3) Do the electrical wiring. (4) Route the tubing, leaving it unconnected. (5) Let the professionals do the rest. Perhaps you could comment here. I am about to give up on this, BTW. As I mentioned earlier, I am on a budget. It would be nice to have a mini-split, but I am prepared to stick with my window unit. And I thought this was really going to be a "fun" project for the summer! Frank .
On Thu, 20 May 2004 22:27:56 -0400, "*CBHVAC*"

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Perhaps you could give me an estimate of what you would charge to install a 9000BTU mini-split system, soup to nuts.
On Fri, 21 May 2004 03:30:20 GMT, frank1492

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wrote:

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wrote:

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Thanks again for the good info. You would surely get the job if I were in NC, but unfortunately I'm in MA! (LOL) Anyway, I posted the description of what I would be doing to let you (and others) know that there would be plenty left for you to do! I really think at this point that I will forget the whole thing. One huge problem is that I really don't have a great place to mount the evaporator. (My GF is most concerned about appearances.) The only place that she'd be happy with is UNDER one of the windows, and I know these are designed to be mounted near the ceiling. I could change my mind and be back here if I do! Best wishes, Frank from MA P.S. I have heard many good things about the Mitsubishi units you sell.
On Thu, 20 May 2004 23:37:09 -0400, "*CBHVAC*"

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As for your comment about you doing good work. Well, if you're not an experienced HVAC installer, you might not know all the little things that installers know. And I'm not going to let you bait me into telling you (for free) on a public news group. People who think they are skilled sometimes are, but often are not. Your writing brings me reason for concern.
It is considerably easier to do the job right the first time than to try to correct (honest, admittedly) mistakes. Very often, the re-do is more expensive than doing it all one time, and then people get irritated.
--

Christopher A. Young
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Chris wont let you "bait " him for free advise at alt home repair, thats a good one. So why are you responding to him Stormin. Duhhhh no work.
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