Ductless Heating and Cooling Systems in New Construction in the Pacific Northwest
April 13, 2020
Ductless heating and cooling will soon become the standard for new home construction in Washington. With the adoption of Washington State's new energy code change on July 1st, 2020, a contractor will be required to get a certain number of energy credits based on the size and type of home being built in order to receive a building permit.
The energy credits will be given to appliances and systems that don’t rely on the use of fossil fuels. In an effort to move away from heating with fossil fuels, no energy credits will be given for gas or propane heating equipment regardless of how efficient it is.
Whole house ductless heating and cooling systems on the other hand, will earn 1.5 of the energy points required. So, if a 2,000 square foot home needs 6 energy credits for a permit, installing a whole-house ductless system makes more sense than ever.
Options for Ductless Heating and Cooling in New Construction
Ductless heating and cooling systems consist of one outdoor unit and one or more indoor heads, or units, that circulate the air. These indoor heads come in many types. While most people are familiar with wall heads, (mounted on the wall near the ceiling), there are other options. Floor units (mounted on the wall near the floor), ceiling cassettes (flush-mounted between the trusses or floor joist), and concealed ducted (usually in an attic or closet and can supply air to multiple rooms), are three other types of heads. With new construction, you have even more options for product and placement than if the system was installed as a retrofit.
Installing a Ductless System in New Construction
With new construction, installation is typically done in two parts. Part one is the rough-in stage when the line sets (electrical wires, drain lines, and copper pipes that carry the refrigerant between the indoor and outdoor unit needed for each head) are installed.
Once installed, the line sets should be protected so they do not get damaged during the other stages of construction. At the outdoor unit location, since the line sets are exposed outside of the wall, it is best to secure the lines, so they do not get damaged or kinked. Also, the line sets should be sealed and pressurized with 600 lbs. of nitrogen. This way if a line is damaged during construction it will make noise and the line set can be repaired. Finding these leaks after drywall and paint can be very expensive.
Part two is the trim-out. This is when the outdoor and units are installed, typically after the exterior and interior finishes have been completed. Because ductless uses fine metal coils to transfer heat energy from the line set to the air, we don’t recommend using the system during construction.
Getting the Right Size Ductless System for Your New Build
One misconception about Ductless Heating Systems is that you need a head in every room. This simply isn’t true. If the airflow from the indoor head can reach the space being heated, the ductless system will work very nicely. We have often installed systems with just one head per floor. Generally, one head will take care of 1500 to 1800 sq. ft, depending on the layout of the home.
One of the many advantages of installing ductless in new construction is the ability to really size the system to the size of the home and plan how the system will work with your layout. Getting the proper placement of the heads is also critical to having a properly functioning system. When done correctly, the whole house system that you’ve chosen will be amazingly comfortable and economical.
Partner with Alpine Ductless for your New Build’s Ductless Heating and Cooling Needs
We are available to add our expertise early in your new build’s design process to ensure you are planning for the right Ductless System to earn your required energy points in your new Washington New Build. And we will use our expertise as Master Installers to ensure the Ductless System is properly installed.
Contact us today to start the conversation about Ductless Heating and Cooling Systems for new builds like yours in Pierce County including Tacoma, Puyallup, Gig Harbor, Fox Island, University Place, Bonney Lake and more.