Refrigerated Air Conditioning Install

Hiya, I live in the desert southwest where swamp coolers are prevalent. Lately, more and more homes are being built with refrigerated air (due to water concerns, efficiency, etc...) and I'm wondering just how hard would it be to retrofit my house with a refrigerated air unit? There are probably a million details to be understood but I'm really looking for any advice on this. Most companies are charging a fortune for the unit and install labor so I was thinking that maybe I could do the install myself and save some $$. I assume it would tie into the existing ductwork but I'm wondering if these things require return air or do they just pull from their location outdoors? Any other gotcha's with this project? Thanks much, jlc
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Lately,
unit
into
outdoors?
The gotchas start with you thinking that you can do it yourself. Do you have the training, equipment, and appropriate licenses? Most repuptable wholesalers will not sell to an non CFC-EPA client.
Assuming that your swamp in on the roof. A new drop into the duct work will need to be fabricated. Then a new stand designed for the pitch of the roof. New electric circuit for the compressor, usually requires a permit from the local authority. Probably a new t-stat wires and for sure a new t-stat.
I have not even touched sizing of the unit and the return air grill. Lastly the duct work may have to be replaced as you do not mention how old your home is. I live in Phoenix and I have not seen a home built with just swamp cooling in 20 years.
In your situation it MIGHT be better to get window units for the rooms you want to cool. My old girl friends home was that way. She just closed the door and a/c'd the bedroom when it was necessary.
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The house where I grew up in Las Vegas was built this way (1963) and my dad put an Amana heat pump on it. The existing ductwork was fine to the rooms (he built the ductwork for the builder) so the unit was hoisted up on the roof, with appopriate mounting stand, ductwork dropped thru the roof, connected to the original plenum, return vent put in the ceiling of the hallway, wiring installed for the unit and new Tstat wire dropped..Worked great and was still pumping away when my mom and I sold the house in '79. He also moved the old swamper over and dropped it down into the garage..Made a neat workshop! (note: He managed a mechanical shop so knew what he was doing, I would not recommend DIY here)

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This is Turtle.
Well Cubby , I did not read what i would normally read from a person that would or may have the ability to do it yourself. If you was near any of the way to do it yourself. The tie in's would not be a problem at all and you would be asking about the your thoughts on the ducting to be laid out and wiring of the system.
The 3 Most important things that would be need attention on installing this system was not addressed. Manual J , Manual D , and Then the type system you would want in that part of the country. With these three things resolved you could move to installing the system. Until then you just guessing at the installation. Check on these three thing and then come back to get started.
TURTLE
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So here's a little more detail. The current swamp cooler is not on the roof. It's on a pad on the side of the house and is a downflow model. Mounting/supporting the unit would be simple. I didn't ask about wiring because quite frankly, that should be pretty simple as well. My panel box and subpanel is just down the wall on the other side in the garage and permits are not an issue. I suppose where I'm a bit curious is my recollection of refrigerated air units was they had a return air from the interior of the house. I'm seeing units go up here that are retrofits for swamp coolers and it doesn't appear they are doing any sort of return air. Otherwise, they'd probably be putting in new ductwork etc.. which doesn't seem to be happening. Hence I was wondering if the newer units for this climate are designed to use outdoor air only (which doesn't seem all that efficient to me but anyway...)? I'm not sure what Manual J and Manual D are but I'll look around. I think I'm more than capable to install such a beast providing I didn't have to get into too much ductwork. I installed my own forced air heater and ductwork etc....without any issues (that wasn't much fun as it was in a crawl space of a cabin at about 0 degrees!). As for sizing, I've got a friend in the business of design that would be able to tell me what size I'd need quite easily. I was really just trying to understand the return air situation on the newer units. The fact that I don't have a CFC-EPA cert may be the showstopper unfortunately. Cheers, cc
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On Thu, 10 Mar 2005 20:47:33 -0700, "James \"Cubby\" Culbertson"

What you are seeing when you say you aren't seeing any return is a LARGE duct that is carrying both the return air AND the cooled/heated air. The most typical retrofit in Arizona was to remove a roof mounted cooler and install a roof mounted AC unit. The main difference was that a return duct had to be provided so the duct opening in the roof that was already there was simply enlarged to accommodate the large double duct.
Keep in mind two things. The swamp cooler blows a LOT of air and the ducts were sized for that air volume. When you retrofit you don't need to use as large a connection between the actual blower in the AC and the existing ductwork in the house compared to what was needed for the swamp cooler. So the space taken by the original swamp cooler cooled air duct is already oversized. That allows the AC connecting duct for the out air to be reduced to something smaller then what the swamp cooler had and helps make space for the return duct the AC will need and that the cooler didn't have.
The setup you have is obviously different since the swamp cooler is slab mounted. You'll still need a return duct but without knowing your exact setup now there's no way to say what options you might have. Ideally the return duct will be ceiling height and in the hallway. You could accomplish that by simply running an entire new duct up the side of your house, thru the upper side of the house/roof, and over to where your hall ceiling is.
In some ways your setup would be easier for a DIYer as you would not need to hoist the AC up on the roof and make a stand for it nor patch a new double duct into the roof and connect it to the existing duct in the attic along with the new return.
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