Are split unit AC units a viable option for a theater ? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 76 Old 05-16-2014, 10:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Some of the new on wall units are pretty quiet and have a whisper mode- how do they compare to traditional?

Seems like they are quieter from my research and also easier to sound proof for since no big air ducts.

It's also pretty easy to get a dedicated zone for the theater space.

How come they are not more popular ? What am I missing?

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post #2 of 76 Old 05-16-2014, 10:54 AM
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Operating noise and appearance. The classic mini-splits indoor section are white plastic boxes about 2x2x4 feet.

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post #3 of 76 Old 05-16-2014, 11:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Could one go behind a false screen wall ?

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post #4 of 76 Old 05-16-2014, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

Could one go behind a false screen wall ?

No, you don't want to force air movement THROUGH the screen material. Unless you want a giant dust bunny for a screen. biggrin.gif

And if anything causes (unwanted) noise in the theater, you certainly don't want it in front of the listeners.


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post #5 of 76 Old 05-16-2014, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
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So the back wall then....

Assuming you don't care about seeing it- other drawbacks ?

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post #6 of 76 Old 05-16-2014, 12:27 PM
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Popular with me! I am putting a mini split in my room. I had the guy over the other day. He said he likes the Samsung units. So I guess Samsung it is for me. Certainly a vent from a central AC unit would be the correct way, but I cannot get any ducting to my room, so this is the next best thing. I have seen other theaters in here with them.

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post #7 of 76 Old 05-16-2014, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

No, you don't want to force air movement THROUGH the screen material. Unless you want a giant dust bunny for a screen. biggrin.gif

And if anything causes (unwanted) noise in the theater, you certainly don't want it in front of the listeners.

In the past I toyed with the idea of putting a ducted minisplit behind the screen wall (just attached to ceiling) for extra cooling when the theater is packed. Run flex for outlet and return to screen wall (perhaps opposite sides of screen near the ceiling). That should solve the asthetic issue and of course no air would be forced through screen but the potential noise is still a concern. I guess you could stick a ducted unit in some sort of hushbox behind the screenwall. I couldn't think of a reason why this wouldn't work but this is definitely not my area of expertise.
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post #8 of 76 Old 05-16-2014, 12:51 PM
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I'm planning a Mitsubishi 1-Ton ducted mini-split for my room, as well. Also, a deumidifer (Ultra-Aire XT105) with an outside air intake. The air handlers will be in the attic well away from the room itself, and ducted with flexible insulated ducting to minimize noise issues. There will be a 90-120 cfm fan exhausting air from the equipment closet, with an air intake drawing conditioned air from the theater room.


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post #9 of 76 Old 05-16-2014, 04:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm planning a Mitsubishi 1-Ton ducted mini-split for my room, as well. Also, a deumidifer (Ultra-Aire XT105) with an outside air intake. The air handlers will be in the attic well away from the room itself, and ducted with flexible insulated ducting to minimize noise issues. There will be a 90-120 cfm fan exhausting air from the equipment closet, with an air intake drawing conditioned air from the theater room.

You mean install the minisplit in the attic and then vent it into the room ?

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post #10 of 76 Old 05-16-2014, 04:47 PM
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You mean install the minisplit in the attic and then vent it into the room ?
Not exactly. The air handler half (Mitsubishi SEZ-KD12NA4) of the mini-split heat pump system is a conventional ducted air handler, rather than the wall-mounted in-room air handler you usually think of when you hear mini-split. But yes, the air handler will be installed in the attic and ducted to and from the theater room.


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post #11 of 76 Old 05-16-2014, 05:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Not exactly. The air handler half (Mitsubishi SEZ-KD12NA4) of the mini-split heat pump system is a conventional ducted air handler, rather than the wall-mounted in-room air handler you usually think of when you hear mini-split. But yes, the air handler will be installed in the attic and ducted to and from the theater room.

Is this quieter than a traditional design ?

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post #12 of 76 Old 05-16-2014, 05:28 PM
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Is this quieter than a traditional design ?
It's quieter than a "traditional" mini-split, since the fan is outside the room. But it's probably not significantly quieter than a "traditional" ducted central A/C system, as long as ducts are sized correctly to minimize velocity noise, and traps or flexduct is used to reduce sound transmission through the ducts. I'll be using 8" and 10" ducts, and 4" x 36" bar grille diffusers for the supply and return registers.

This approach is attractive in my situation because we don't typically air condition homes given the climate here, but the theater needs cooling because it's closed, with heat generating sources. So the rest of the house just has heating with whole-house vent fans for the few warm days we have. We just had a record high this week -- it was 88 deg. F.!


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post #13 of 76 Old 05-16-2014, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeBon View Post

I'm planning a Mitsubishi 1-Ton ducted mini-split for my room, as well. Also, a deumidifer (Ultra-Aire XT105) with an outside air intake. The air handlers will be in the attic well away from the room itself, and ducted with flexible insulated ducting to minimize noise issues. There will be a 90-120 cfm fan exhausting air from the equipment closet, with an air intake drawing conditioned air from the theater room.

Size it right. I use a 1 ton for my equipment room which is 4.5 X 7 X 8.


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post #14 of 76 Old 05-16-2014, 05:45 PM
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Given the cool climate here, we think we're OK at 12,000 BTU.


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post #15 of 76 Old 05-17-2014, 11:07 AM
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Few more reasons I can think of:
  • Cost. As the number of rooms goes up, price per room goes down much quicker with conventional splits vs mini splits. Most people have more than 1 room to cool, so mini-splits are usually only used when there are special circumstances.
  • The whisper modes don't move much air. It's meant to run while you sleep. If you have a bunch of people in the room or equipment running, you may need to use a higher, noisier setting. YMMV, but check your anticipated heat load and see if the whisper mode can handle it.
  • With conventional splits, there is time to absorb the fan & other mechanical noise before it gets into the room. It doesn't really matter if the noise makes it into the ducts, as long as it doesn't make it out.
  • Most mini-splits don't include fresh air intake, since not running ductwork is their main selling point. Doesn't really matter for spot cooling in an equipment room, but it's nice to have in a sealed theater. Conventional splits can cheaply bring in fresh air with a damper in the return which leads to outside. It's not very efficient, but with added cost of doing it efficiently, there is something to be said for keeping it simple.
  • I've also wondered about the potential for rattles or vibrations with deep bass. A couple people on the forum said it wasn't a problem for them, and I've never heard anyone say it was, but seems like it would be a possibility.

 

 

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post #16 of 76 Old 05-17-2014, 12:19 PM
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I have a Mitsubishi Mr. Slim cooling my ~ 1000 sqft basement.

With all of the equipment down there, it heats up fairly quickly - the minisplit does a pretty good job cooling down the space. It does get tested if there are 8+ people down there...

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post #17 of 76 Old 05-17-2014, 05:52 PM
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I'm looking at a mini split as well, but I'd hate to spend the $, just to defeat the sound isolation measures within the room. Are they loud?

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post #18 of 76 Old 05-17-2014, 06:03 PM
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I have one of these, installed last month. With the fan outside the room, noise shouldn't be a big issue, but didn't test it enough to know if it's REALLY silent.


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post #19 of 76 Old 05-17-2014, 06:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
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I'm looking at a mini split as well, but I'd hate to spend the $, just to defeat the sound isolation measures within the room. Are they loud?

They are 20db on most quiet modes so no they are not. Plus you could turn it off if it really mattered with remote.

My problem is I don't know how to get the theater it's own zone otherwise for a good cost, so I would need to share a zone I think due to budget but perhaps in future I could upgrade to dedicated zone. I have forced hot air and oil heat so the duct work is already going to be done either way. I was playing with idea of putting something in the attic above the theater to vent down, but I am confused how to get it in with the sound proofing intact.

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post #20 of 76 Old 05-17-2014, 06:25 PM
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I plan to penetrate the sound shell from the attic into the soffits (i supply, 1 return) then split each of those to two 36" x 4" registers. Run flexible insulated duct with at least a couple of turns, and you should be OK on sound transmission through the ducts.


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post #21 of 76 Old 05-21-2014, 04:53 AM
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I'm looking at a mini split as well, but I'd hate to spend the $, just to defeat the sound isolation measures within the room. Are they loud?
I am going with the Samsung and it says whisper quiet. Like another said the unit is outside, I am sure it cannot be much more than a regular forced air vent. I should have mine installed hopefully in the next few weeks. If you are still looking at that time I will give a report on how it sounds. Now this is what the guy told me, he said that Mitsubishi was a pioneer of the mini split, but the others have come further in tecno than the Mitsubishi. Just relaying what he said. I was concerned that the unit serves as heat, but considering that it is a heat pump I read that it would not work below 30 degrees. However I seen a video of a Fijutsu unit working at -12 in Minnesota and it was putting out heat and my AC guy said that it would be fine for heat. It never gets that cold here, but ranges in the low 30's to 40's at night in Jan and Feb, so hopefully the unit will indeed put out heat in the really cold stuff.

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post #22 of 76 Old 05-21-2014, 05:18 AM
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I am sure it cannot be much more than a regular forced air vent.

The inside unit has a motor and is typically blowing a lot of air at a high velocity so it can create noise. Whisper Quiet is a marketing term. In Data we trust, all others require a demo.


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post #23 of 76 Old 05-21-2014, 06:57 AM
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The inside unit has a motor and is typically blowing a lot of air at a high velocity so it can create noise. Whisper Quiet is a marketing term. In Data we trust, all others require a demo.

Jeff, is it possible to build a dead-vent behind the theater, also soundproofed, using the mini-split as a source?  Combining the best of both worlds to minimize sound?


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post #24 of 76 Old 05-21-2014, 06:58 AM
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I am going with the Samsung and it says whisper quiet. Like another said the unit is outside, I am sure it cannot be much more than a regular forced air vent. I should have mine installed hopefully in the next few weeks. If you are still looking at that time I will give a report on how it sounds. Now this is what the guy told me, he said that Mitsubishi was a pioneer of the mini split, but the others have come further in tecno than the Mitsubishi. Just relaying what he said. I was concerned that the unit serves as heat, but considering that it is a heat pump I read that it would not work below 30 degrees. However I seen a video of a Fijutsu unit working at -12 in Minnesota and it was putting out heat and my AC guy said that it would be fine for heat. It never gets that cold here, but ranges in the low 30's to 40's at night in Jan and Feb, so hopefully the unit will indeed put out heat in the really cold stuff.

I can't wait to hear your impressions!  I won't be purchasing mine for at least two months, so I'd love to see what the performance is like after yours is installed.


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post #25 of 76 Old 05-21-2014, 01:49 PM
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Quote:
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Jeff, is it possible to build a dead-vent behind the theater, also soundproofed, using the mini-split as a source?  Combining the best of both worlds to minimize sound?

Yes but they also make mini splits designed to attach to a duct which could be the dead vent, and by the way you need two, push/pull otherwise you are trying to blow air into a sealed space once you reach a certain pressure level that's it.


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post #26 of 76 Old 05-21-2014, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
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The inside unit has a motor and is typically blowing a lot of air at a high velocity so it can create noise. Whisper Quiet is a marketing term. In Data we trust, all others require a demo.
Yep, you are right. Again I have no options, so a mini split it pretty much what I have to go with.

We have them in a few rental units we have. They are Daikin's. I have to go over there tomorrow, I will post some video of them running and get an idea of the Daikin units. I never really took notice of them running before because I have never really been inside the homes in the summer because they are rented when it is hot.

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post #27 of 76 Old 05-21-2014, 05:55 PM - Thread Starter
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I metered my Dad's unit on low and it was below the noise floor from 6 feet away. His house was about 40db on my meter, and with the unit on or off the needle did not move. I could not hear it unless I really tried. My concern is that in a sound proofed theater things will be different. I think I could hear a 35db AC unit - where in a normal home you'll never notice it.

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post #28 of 76 Old 05-21-2014, 10:40 PM
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I'm really interested in HVAC for a theater and have only begun to research in earnest over the last few weeks. I break down the functions as:
1) Temperature control of course.

2) Air circulation in the room.

3) Controlling air exchange rate intelligently with outside air in a well sealed space.

3) Air filtration.

5) Humidity control

 

 

It seems traditional units aren't going to work because they are intermittent and blow too hard/loud when they kick on. I'm thinking of breaking it down into its components and having the above solved by:

 

1) A ductless unit like the Mr. Slim mentioned earlier. Mounted to the back of the theater with the condenser outside. An 18,000 BTU unit to supply the ~600 sq ft room. ~$1,400 to start.

 

2) Two ducted supply and return vents in the corners of the room,. 1 supply and return in opposite corners behind the AT screen, and 1 supply and return in the rear corners This will somewhat prevent the AT screen from acting as an air filter. I also plan on running two quiet 200mm exhaust fans that vent into the attic. One from a sealed equipment cabinet that has an air filter at the bottom of the cabinet and a fan pulling air up from the av cabinet into the attic. Then a similar fan coming from the projector hush box. $100 for ducting and and vents. If more vents make sense, it would be trivial to add a couple more supply and return into the soffit. So for example, run 4 supply vents along one long wall, and 4 return vents along the other long wall.

 

3) Fantech makes a series of  low priced ($300) HRV units that bring in outside air and then blow it through the house at a controlled rate. The interesting part though is that there is an option for it to run continuously at low flow rate for air recirc, and only pull outside air into the loop intermittently. The continuous low flow air circulation is said to be really quiet, but I don't have numbers to state so have to take their word for it for now. (I don't want to go beyond the focus of this thread much, but with the infinite baffle build I'm planning, I'm not sure how much to avoid front and rear wave interaction from the attic and the theater space and am worried about too many vent creating nulls in the sound stage.)

 

4) Fantech also makes an inline cylindrical style air filter that you can put in the duct, between the blower and the supply duct, so within the recirc loop, for about $80. They recommend replacing non-reusable $25 filters four time s a year though, so there is probably a cheaper option for air filtration I haven't found yet.

 

5) A dehumidifier. I've never seen a ventless attic in any construction and have been in and am assured that moisture isn't a problem if build correctly, but I still am considering a dedicated dehumidifier to run during the cold, rainy winters we get in Oregon. I haven't done real research on them yet, but a quick and dirty Google search shows 70 pint units starting for $200. I work in a semiconductor fab, and know that we don't over dehumidify because really dry air increases static build up and static discharge / shocks. With a plan to run up $10,000+ worth of gear in this room, I'm going to actively avoid that. So any insight into, "what is and optimal humidity" would be appreciated. One internet source says keep humidity above 30%, but it isn't a source I trust.

 

That's about $2100 to build that out. I'll talk to an actual HVAC guy at some point and see if there is a better / cheaper way to accomplish all of the above before I wing it.

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post #29 of 76 Old 05-22-2014, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

I metered my Dad's unit on low and it was below the noise floor from 6 feet away. His house was about 40db on my meter, and with the unit on or off the needle did not move. I could not hear it unless I really tried. My concern is that in a sound proofed theater things will be different. I think I could hear a 35db AC unit - where in a normal home you'll never notice it.
Great point !

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post #30 of 76 Old 05-22-2014, 06:33 AM
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I'm really interested in HVAC for a theater and have only begun to research in earnest over the last few weeks. I break down the functions as:

1) Temperature control of course.
2) Air circulation in the room.
3) Controlling air exchange rate intelligently with outside air in a well sealed space.
3) Air filtration.
5) Humidity control


It seems traditional units aren't going to work because they are intermittent and blow too hard/loud when they kick on. I'm thinking of breaking it down into its components and having the above solved by:

1) A ductless unit like the Mr. Slim mentioned earlier. Mounted to the back of the theater with the condenser outside. An 18,000 BTU unit to supply the ~600 sq ft room. ~$1,400 to start.

2) Two ducted supply and return vents in the corners of the room,. 1 supply and return in opposite corners behind the AT screen, and 1 supply and return in the rear corners This will somewhat prevent the AT screen from acting as an air filter. I also plan on running two quiet 200mm exhaust fans that vent into the attic. One from a sealed equipment cabinet that has an air filter at the bottom of the cabinet and a fan pulling air up from the av cabinet into the attic. Then a similar fan coming from the projector hush box. $100 for ducting and and vents. If more vents make sense, it would be trivial to add a couple more supply and return into the soffit. So for example, run 4 supply vents along one long wall, and 4 return vents along the other long wall.

3) Fantech makes a series of  low priced ($300) HRV units that bring in outside air and then blow it through the house at a controlled rate. The interesting part though is that there is an option for it to run continuously at low flow rate for air recirc, and only pull outside air into the loop intermittently. The continuous low flow air circulation is said to be really quiet, but I don't have numbers to state so have to take their word for it for now. (I don't want to go beyond the focus of this thread much, but with the infinite baffle build I'm planning, I'm not sure how much to avoid front and rear wave interaction from the attic and the theater space and am worried about too many vent creating nulls in the sound stage.)

4) Fantech also makes an inline cylindrical style air filter that you can put in the duct, between the blower and the supply duct, so within the recirc loop, for about $80. They recommend replacing non-reusable $25 filters four time s a year though, so there is probably a cheaper option for air filtration I haven't found yet.

5) A dehumidifier. I've never seen a ventless attic in any construction and have been in and am assured that moisture isn't a problem if build correctly, but I still am considering a dedicated dehumidifier to run during the cold, rainy winters we get in Oregon. I haven't done real research on them yet, but a quick and dirty Google search shows 70 pint units starting for $200. I work in a semiconductor fab, and know that we don't over dehumidify because really dry air increases static build up and static discharge / shocks. With a plan to run up $10,000+ worth of gear in this room, I'm going to actively avoid that. So any insight into, "what is and optimal humidity" would be appreciated. One internet source says keep humidity above 30%, but it isn't a source I trust.

That's about $2100 to build that out. I'll talk to an actual HVAC guy at some point and see if there is a better / cheaper way to accomplish all of the above before I wing it.
One other thing to factor in for a mini split is the electric. It runs on 220 and a 220 line is not cheap. Depending on where they can pick it up, I ran a 220 for my hot tub and it was around $600 or $700 a few years ago. The guy was a friend of ours so that helped because I heard it could have been $900. Prices here are inflated, so cannot go off that, but none the lee a 220 line can be costly.

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