As recently as 40 years ago, air conditioning was considered a luxury rather than a necessity. However, times have changed, and so has the climate. What was once considered a nice but expendable feature to have in your home has become essential not only for comfort in warm weather but for the health and safety of your loved ones. High heat and humidity can lead to overexertion, heat exhaustion and heatstroke: medical conditions that can be potentially dangerous for more vulnerable members of your family including the elderly, children and pets.
With that being said, the options available for air conditioning have not always been user friendly. Window units are noisy and can only cool one room at a time; you are limited in where you can put them by the availability of windows, and they present a potential security risk as a burglar could remove the unit from the outside and crawl in through the open window. Central forced-air systems are an improvement in some respects but also present some downsides in that they require complicated and expensive installation. Not only that, but they are inefficient because they only operate on a whole-house basis. That means every room in the house is cooled at the same time whether it needs it or not. While it is possible to add a zoned component to your central forced-air system, it is considerably more expensive.
You may not be aware of it, but there is a third option available to you. It's called multi-split air conditioning, and it allows you to be selective about which rooms you cool and when. It can also be installed almost anywhere in your home. This article will look specifically at one multi-split air conditioning system from Fujitsu General.
All air conditioners function on the same basic principle, and the Fujitsu air conditioner is no exception. Liquid refrigerant in the system absorbs heat and water vapor from the air inside the building which cools the air. A fan then blows the cooled air around the house. As the refrigerant absorbs heat it transforms into a gaseous state. This gas or vapor is then collected in a component called a condenser. The refrigerant releases the heat that it had absorbed, returns to a liquid state and the process can begin all over again.
In most air conditioners the condenser and evaporator are all housed in one unit. In a split-type system, the condenser is housed in one unit which is stored outside, and the evaporator is another unit that is housed inside the building and also contains the fan to blow the air around. The two units are connected by tubing for the refrigerant and electrical wires. Ductwork is not involved, which is why this type of air conditioner is sometimes called a ductless system.
A simple split air conditioning system has only one evaporator that is strategically placed somewhere in the house. In a Fujitsu multi-split system, there is more than one evaporator installed within the home, all of which are attached to the same outdoor unit, and you can customize the system so that the evaporators are placed where you feel you need them the most. Each evaporator operates independently so you can choose which areas of the house you wish to cool at any given moment.
The Fujitsu multi-split air conditioning system is customizable to have from two up to eight indoor units placed throughout the home. The outdoor unit is compact but powerful and designed for energy saving. Its DC fan motor and twin rotary compressor are designed for efficiency and quiet operation. The system is programmed to perform minimum heating operation at 10 degrees Celsius in order to maintain room temperature, and heating and cooling modes switch automatically.
Evaporators come in several different designs, and you have options as to where they are mounted. The evaporators are often hung on walls, but another popular option is to mount them into drop ceilings. The area covered by each evaporator is known as a cooling zone, and each zone has its own thermostat that can be programmed individually. The easy-to-use controls include remotes as well as the wall-mounted thermostat. Each controller features large LCD displays and ergonomic design.
The price of a multi-split air conditioning system depends upon the contractor that you choose to install it. If you are interested in installing a multi-split system, you will want to get estimates from several different contractors. The average cost of a split air system – that is, one condenser and one evaporator – is approximately $1,900. A multi-split system with more than one evaporator could cost anywhere from $3,500 to $6,700 to install.
Fujitsu is a premium air conditioner brand, which means when it comes to cost it tends to be on the higher side of the scale, but it also has a longer life expectancy than standard brands. For our purposes, we will compare the Fujitsu system with other premium brands of multi-split air conditioning systems, judging based on installation costs, efficiency and warranties for both the compressors and the general parts.
Air conditioning efficiency is measured according to the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, or SEER. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy efficient the air conditioner is. Most multi-split air conditioning systems range from 15 to 38 SEER.
The installation costs and SEER values will vary depending on which model and system you choose. The following ratings are intended to give you an idea of what you can expect from each brand.
Estimated Cost of Installation for Multiple Indoor Units: $4,000 to $12,000
Estimated SEER: 25.5
Compressor Warranty: 7 years
General Parts Warranty: 5 years
Mitsubishi models boast some of the highest efficiency ratings with SEERs of approximately 26. Apart from the system's energy efficiency it is also constructed largely from recyclable materials, so it is environmentally friendly in that way as well. It has an infrared sensing feature that senses either hot or cold areas in the room and directs the air where it is needed the most. However, cost may be prohibitive as the Mitsubishi can cost almost twice as much as the Fujitsu to install.
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Estimated Cost of Installation for Multiple Indoor Units: $3,000 to $7,700
Estimated SEER: 20
Compressor Warranty: 12 years
General Parts Warranty: 12 years
Daikin has the lowest efficiency of any of the air conditioners reviewed here. Nevertheless, it holds an A++ European rating of seasonal efficiency. If you encounter difficulties it will stand behind its products for up to 12 years, which is the longest warranty length of any of the air conditioners reviewed here. Like Mitsubishi, Daikin also has infrared sensing technology as well as Wi-Fi capability for remote control and monitoring with a smartphone or similar device. Another desirable feature is the weekly timer which is good for people who live according to a predictable schedule from day to day. Daikin is a good choice for people who are willing to sacrifice some power for quiet operation.
Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Estimated Cost for Installation of Multiple Indoor Units: $2,000 to $7,200
Estimated SEER: 22
Compressor Warranty: 5 years
General Parts Warranty: 5 years
Gree may be the best option for consumers on a budget as it has comparable efficiency with Fujitsu and Mitsubishi brands but can cost almost half as much. Gree systems also have Wi-Fi control capability. A downside to Gree is that it only offers wall-mounted indoor evaporators, not providing the variety of style and placement options compared to other premium brands. Also, a larger outdoor unit may mean a drop-off in efficiency; the bigger the unit, the worse the drop-off. The short length of the warranty is another significant drawback to Gree systems.
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Depending on the system, Fujitsu systems run an average of 23 SEER. Warranties are 7 years for the compressor and 5 years for general parts.
Unlike the Gree systems, Fujitsu offers multiple design and placement options when it comes to the indoor units. Fujitsu systems are sleek and unobtrusive indoors and out; the outdoor unit is designed to be discreet, and they offer outdoor conduits of multiple lengths so that you can position the outdoor unit farther away than you can with other split systems – as far as 50 feet. The fact that it is a ductless system means less air leakage and lower energy bills than you would have with a forced-air system. Another benefit to cooling costs is the zoned cooling feature that allows you to choose which rooms to cool and when. This feature can be programmed into central forced-air systems as well, but it costs more.
Fujitsu is a trusted name in the HVAC industry with over 40 years of manufacturing cooling systems.
Cost is always a factor in installing HVAC systems. A single split-type air conditioning system can be installed for approximately one-half the cost of installing a central forced-air system, but a multi-split system is comparable to the cost of a forced-air installation due to the need to install multiple indoor units. In some cases a central forced-air system may be more cost effective for your home. Installing a central forced-air system increases your home's value as well.
No matter how discreet the indoor units in your multi-split system, some people just do not like the look of the internal evaporators, especially the wall-mounted units. Different designs and placement options may help to mitigate this aesthetic complaint, but homeowners who are particularly concerned with a cohesive interior design would probably prefer a central forced-air system.
The efficiency of the system can be compromised if the system is not sized correctly or the units are placed improperly. Air conditioners must be sized just right in order to cool the home efficiently; systems that are too big or too small will not function satisfactorily. In order to ensure correct sizing, be sure that you choose an installer who is qualified to install multi-split systems.
Fujitsu systems consistently get high-rated reviews online, but while it is rare to see a rating lower than 3 out of 5, it does happen. There have been some reports of premature system failure after five years (one-third to one-fifth of the expected life span) and a lack of support from the manufacturer. However, those reports are four or five years old. Experts in the field report that newer Fujitsu systems are sturdier and more reliable, and Fujitsu has demonstrated greater confidence in its products with updated warranty policies.
Generally speaking, a multi-split air conditioning system offers multiple benefits over its window-mounted or central forced-air counterparts in terms of placement flexibility, customized zoned cooling, energy efficiency and quiet operation. However, it can be expensive to install upfront, although the long-term energy savings may make up for the initial cost in the long run. As is often the case there is no one air conditioning system that is the best for every home and every situation, and it is always a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable professional about your specific needs before you decide on the system you want to buy.
However, if you have decided on a multi-split air conditioning system, the top of the line brands are Fujitsu and Mitsubishi. The two brands offer similar benefits in terms of efficiency and warranties, but installation of a Fujitsu system can cost almost half as much as a Mitsubishi. If quality is all that matters and money is no object, either a Mitsubishi or Fujitsu system is probably a good choice for your home. If cost is a major consideration, however, Fujitsu has a slight edge over Mitsubishi.
Overall Rating of Fujitsu Air Conditioner: 4 out of 5 stars