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Old 04-29-2013, 04:05 PM
 
121 posts, read 231,638 times
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I am looking for advice on the best (and hopefully cheapest) way to add HVAC to my casita, as well as some general pricing guidelines, and contractor recommendations.

I have been told my best bet is one of those Mitsubishi ductless systems, but I am open to anything... installing a swamp cooler and having my tenant use a space heater in the winter, for instance.

If anyone has any experience in this arena, i would be very grateful to hear your thoughts.

Room is probably around 15x15 (maybe a tiny bit larger) and has one window, a door to the outside, and a door to a rather large bathroom (which connects with the garage). The window opens side to side so I don't think it is a candidate for a window AC unit.

I have two contractors coming by for appraisals on wednesday but wanted to see what the City Data community had to say.

Thanks!
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Old 04-29-2013, 04:43 PM
 
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Who pays for the electricity, you or the tenant?
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Old 04-29-2013, 04:50 PM
 
121 posts, read 231,638 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBMW View Post
Who pays for the electricity, you or the tenant?
It's a friend of mine and I have offered a flat fee (he moves in next month), so I am on the hook for the extra power usage.

My house actually has two separate meters and the casita is on the secondary one with the pool equipment and garage, so it would be pretty easy to see how the bill was affected.

If the bill was bumped up by less than $100 per month, I would be fine with the situation. But I am worried the flat rate offer will end up burning me if it was much more than that. I would feel bad asking for more money after the agreement was made (but would if totally necessary).
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Old 04-29-2013, 06:42 PM
 
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The conventional method would be the split ductless unit you mention. That would cover heat also, likely.

I'm sure Scoopy will be along shortly, extolling the virtues of Swap Coolers. I don't know my way around those very well, but this could be a good application.

Not having him pick up the electric for the unit is a bad idea, especially in a town with a climate like Vegas. And especially especially since you have essentially a separate meter for the casita (you could credit him back for the pool usage based on average.)
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Old 04-29-2013, 06:51 PM
 
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One thing I would highly recommend is that friend or not, you still complete and have him sign a rental contract. Not one where you hand write something down on a piece of notebook paper but an actual GLVAR or similar contract. Believe me, if you don't, you will be sorry. Often things don't work out as well as planned and if you don't, then it can be much harder and more expensive to go your separate ways.

Also by having a contract, both of you know where you stand and what you are responsible for. I would recommend you make it no longer than 1 yr.

He could be a great friend but a lousy tenant or it could work out just fine.

On the other hand, worst case scenario, he spirals out of control you will have some options.
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Old 04-29-2013, 07:06 PM
 
Location: Sunrise
10,869 posts, read 13,647,071 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BBMW View Post
The conventional method would be the split ductless unit you mention. That would cover heat also, likely.

I'm sure Scoopy will be along shortly, extolling the virtues of Swap Coolers. I don't know my way around those very well, but this could be a good application.

Not having him pick up the electric for the unit is a bad idea, especially in a town with a climate like Vegas. And especially especially since you have essentially a separate meter for the casita (you could credit him back for the pool usage based on average.)
Swamp coolers only work well on dry days. And thankfully we have plenty of those. But on those rare July/August days where it's hot and humid, swamp coolers will add nothing but misery. Some sort of AC system needs to be used as a backup. I don't bother with evaporative cooling unless the humidity is less than 10%. And finally, they only work if dry air mingles with the moist air and then has someplace to escape -- so that means fans and open windows.

I would investigate some sort of "mini-split" AC setup. Retrofitting ducting to a casita could be prohibitively expensive.

And I also wouldn't throw in electricity in the rent. Lower the rent by $100 per month and let your friend take care of his own meter. Otherwise, you may find out the hard way that your friend likes it 68f all the time.

Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners | Department of Energy
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Old 04-29-2013, 09:30 PM
 
121 posts, read 231,638 times
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Thanks guys, I appreciate the admittedly sound advice about rental agreements, etc.

However this new roommate (and his brother and sister as well) are like family. When I first moved to Vegas for a job in 2009 he gave me a set all-inclusive price and I felt obliged to do the same. I have known his whole family for years, and his brother has been a business partner of mine for many years as well.

If the power bill gets out of hand I am sure we can have a talk about lowering usage or changing the agreement.

So my questions remain:

-Does anyone have any idea how much a ductless system for a room that size would cost to install (and average monthly run costs - obviously depends on time fo year).

-Also, I'm still not completely turned off of the swamp cooler idea. Because I am paying power personally at this point, it is a valid reason for me to go for the lowest cost available. How many days really is a swamp cooler ineffective. And on those days does it impact the temp at all - say even 5-10 degrees?

I have read that swamp coolers need to have windows and doors open... the casita is behind a locked gate and block wall around the entire property and has a window, door to the outside, and door to the bathroom and garage (all of which could be left open). So it could have great ventilation if thats what the swamp cooler needs.

-On the other hand.... by not going to ductless route which would include heating, am I saving money in the near term for a weak and temporary fix? Meaning if the swamp cooler cost $800 to install, and the ductless $1200, it might be stupid to go for the short term cheap fix...
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Old 04-29-2013, 09:46 PM
 
Location: Sunrise
10,869 posts, read 13,647,071 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbov View Post
I have read that swamp coolers need to have windows and doors open... the casita is behind a locked gate and block wall around the entire property and has a window, door to the outside, and door to the bathroom and garage (all of which could be left open). So it could have great ventilation if thats what the swamp cooler needs.

-On the other hand.... by not going to ductless route which would include heating, am I saving money in the near term for a weak and temporary fix? Meaning if the swamp cooler cost $800 to install, and the ductless $1200, it might be stupid to go for the short term cheap fix...

Yes, that's what it needs. You need vapor and dry air to mix, and then a way to exhaust the moisture. It is counter-intuitive to open up a bunch of windows to cool the house. And I suspect that's why people give up on them -- if used incorrectly, a swamp cooler is nothing more than a giant humidifier. Also, even when used correctly, they WILL raise the humidity in the living space -- set up is everything.

They are something to be used in conjunction with air conditioners. Not "either/or." With a good setup, they can drop bills significantly. But "a good setup" is key.
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:49 PM
 
121 posts, read 231,638 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScoopLV View Post

They are something to be used in conjunction with air conditioners. Not "either/or." With a good setup, they can drop bills significantly. But "a good setup" is key.
If thats the case then I think I need to abandon the swamp cooler idea. My budget certainly doesn't include two complementary systems....unless... I put in a swamp cooler and left it up to the tenant to provide a portable ac for himself if he got uncomfortable.

I will probably opt for the ductless unit, but does anyone have info on the different costs to run ductless and evaporative cooling units? And the typical cost of installation of either?
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Old 04-29-2013, 10:57 PM
 
1,681 posts, read 3,045,853 times
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I have a mini split on my casita. One ton heat pump cools and heats great (mine is around 500sf). I replaced a noisy through wall unit, so electrical was already there (220v 20 amp). I bought the mini split online (a LG) and installed it myself, everything including all the tools (vacuum pump, micron gauge, nitrogen tank, gauge manifold, etc.) was around $2,000. I got quoted roughly $4,000 from two guys to have a HVAC guy install it. Granted I have no warranty, but I could do the job for around $1,200 now that I have the tools, I figured it was a decent risk. It's been running for two years now no problem.

I can't believe the markup on this stuff. It literally took me two days to do the full install and I know it was done right with a triple evac down to 500 microns with nitrogen. That takes time and I know most of the HVAC guys don't bother doing that.

My buddy who is a licensed HVAC guy actually opened the valve to release the refrigerant (the units come pre-charged), since the EPA requires that, if anyone was wondering....
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