intelli-HEAT Mini-Split Heat Pumps from Mitsubishi: A Closer Look
Our team at Save Home Heat Company is excited about the feedback we’ve been getting from our customers and our installers and service techs about the intelli-HEAT™ Hybrid Dual Fuel Heat Pump system from Mitsubishi. After introducing the system to our readers recently, here’s a deeper dive about this revolutionary heating and cooling system that’s also earning high grades in the field of “green” home heating.
What is intelli-HEAT?
Like all heat pumps, the intelli-HEAT system is a significant step for homeowners away from burning fossil fuels at home, toward “greener,” cleaner, electrically efficient home heating. What’s unique and ground-breaking is that the intelli-HEAT system is designed to be used as both a central heat pump in a dual fuel system with an existing gas furnace (or in some cases an air handler), and also as a zoned, mini-split system, supplying independent heating and cooling to individual rooms – and this can be done at the same time!
This unique, versatile, multi-zone, mini-split heat pump system provides simultaneous, zoned and whole-home heating and cooling, and can work in tandem with a central gas furnace or air handler, as well as a variety of indoor blower units. intelli-HEAT is available in a range of BTU ratings and configurations to suit many different homes and customer needs.
Key benefits of the intelli-HEAT system include:
- The option to heat or cool all or parts of your home with the heat pump, working simultaneously with a central furnace or air handler, and also with independent indoor blower units
- The ability to centrally heat or cool your entire home to a preset level, while boosting comfort levels in specific room/s that are being used
- Very high efficiency ratings for heating and cooling
- Superior comfort levels
- Significantly reduced natural gas or propane consumption – in some cases, with the heat pump taking over 100% of the home heating job
How intelli-HEAT Works
The intelli-HEAT system makes use of sophisticated controls, remote temperature sensors, and auxiliary control valving, operating in conjunction with a highly efficient, variable-speed, heat pump outdoor condensing unit.
The system is designed to provide the exact amount of heating or cooling needed for a wide variety of combinations of a central furnace, independent air handler, and/or indoor blower units. The BTU output of the variable-speed heat pump is automatically adjusted, in real time, to meet the total combined needs of all the indoor units being used. The refrigerant being circulated from the outdoor unit is directed only to the indoor units that are calling for heating or cooling from their respective thermostats, at the levels required to function properly with each particular zone.
intelli-HEAT Installations By Our Team
Here are a few examples of some installations that our team at Save Home Heat has performed, showcasing the versatility of the intelli-HEAT system:
- Dedicated central dual fuel system – Key components consist of variable-speed heat pump, intelli-HEAT indoor evaporator coil, intelli-HEAT control box, and existing forced air gas furnace. The system is setup to add independent indoor blower units at a later date
- Dual fuel central system (like above), plus independent blower units for the master bedroom and a second bedroom – Key components for this system are similar to the above, with the addition of two independent indoor blower units and a control branch box to accurately direct refrigerant to the indoor blower units
- Dual fuel central plus four heads for two bedrooms, home office, and den – Key components are also similar to the above, with additional independent indoor blower units and branch boxes
Unique Features & Fine Tuning Controls
The intelli-HEAT system is advanced in a number of ways, including the components and design features that allow it to break ground for homeowners.
Key intelli-HEAT components
The intelli-HEAT system features a number of state-of-the art design features, making use of the following components:
- Variable-speed INVERTER condensing unit – a variable-speed outdoor condensing unit allows the system to adjust heating and cooling output to match the needs of the home and the indoor units that the condenser is powering (please note, in the case of heat pumps, ‘variable-speed’ is analogous with ‘variable-capacity’)
- Advanced control system – a sophisticated, multi-purpose control that can monitor ambient temperatures in various locations, along with heating or cooling demand from multiple, independent thermostats. This control directs the operation and BTU output of the outdoor unit and the flow of refrigerant to each zone, as needed. It coordinates all aspects of system performance in a highly efficient manner, in real time
- Auxiliary branch boxes – branch boxes can be thought of as similar to the zone valves that are common in hot water heating systems. Their purpose is essentially to act as a valve, directing the flow of refrigerant in the system to an indoor blower unit when a call for heating or cooling comes from that zone, or closing when demand from that zone’s thermostat has been satisfied
- Remote temperature sensors – in addition to the thermostats in the system, intelli-HEAT features an additional in-duct temperature sensor that’s connected when it’s setup with a centrally ducted system. In addition, there’s an outdoor temperature sensor that provides accurate information that the controls use to optimize performance
Sophisticated fine-tuning controls
Below are some of the additional features of the intelli-HEAT system that allow it to operate so efficiently, and enable its performance to be customized for each homeowner:
- Comfort Control function – This ‘intelligent’ feature learns and adjusts settings based on actual system performance, ensuring the room temperature will not drop more 0.9 degrees F below the thermostat setpoint for longer than 24 minutes
- Economic Balance Point – When intelli-HEAT is installed in tandem with a central gas furnace in the dual fuel mode (a popular retrofit option), this adjustable control allows the system to be fine-tuned for the point at which the heat pump hands off the heating load to the gas furnace. intelli-HEAT’s advanced technology determines the most advantageous ‘switchover point’ from electric heat pump to gas furnace, and back again – achieving even greater overall system efficiency from a dual fuel system
- Capacity Balance Point – This intelligent control feature ensures that in cold climates (such as the Denver-Boulder area), in central dual fuel applications, the furnace will automatically take over the heating job without excessive delay if the heat pump cannot keep up with demand. It learns the conditions that makes this action necessary and adjusts future performance to best accommodate them
intelli-HEAT specification highlights
- Cooling efficiency ratings up to 33+ SEER (considered to be ultra-high efficiency)
- Heating efficiency ratings up to 13.5 HSPF (think of this number as the heat pump equivalent of the AFUE rating for furnaces; this number is near the top of the scale)</li<
- Heating and cooling range from 18,000 to 42,000 BTU/hour, currently (for cooling, 42,000 BTU is equivalent to 3 ½ tons)
Variable-Speed Performance, Low-Temp Operation & Versatile Components
All intelli-HEAT heat pump systems employ Mitsubishi’s exclusive, variable-speed, INVERTER compressor in the outdoor condensing unit. This compressor is designed to adjust the heat pump’s heating or cooling output in small increments, in real time, as needed. The INVERTER system is available in both the standard and the H2i outdoor unit models, the latter of which provides full heating output even when outdoor temperatures hit -13 degrees F.
The main control box and the refrigerant branch boxes can be installed in a variety of locations, to best suit the home and system, as well as to address potential future service considerations. It might be helpful to keep in mind that heat pumps, by their nature, contain a 3-way valve inside the outdoor unit, which switches the flow of the refrigerant in the system from heating to cooling mode, and back. This is an entirely different type of valve than what’s used in a branch box.
Is intelli-HEAT the Right Choice for Your Boulder-Denver Home?
Homeowners who are interested in heat pumps and mini-splits are taking the time to learn more about the intelli-HEAT system before making a purchasing decision. Whether as a complement for an existing gas furnace or providing zoned heating and cooling to specific rooms in your home – or both! – this could be a home comfort product that’s a good match for your home and your needs. For more information about innovative heat pumps such as this system from Mitsubishi, or for any of your home heating needs, please reach out to our team at Save Home Heat for friendly, low-pressure, expert advice and recommendations.