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Community and Q&A

Mini split commissioning and warranty conditions

Davor Radman | Posted in General Questions on

I like to compare USA and EU. Simply because I’m curious 🙂

So I am interested how does commissioning of mini splits and warranty conditions work in USA.

The situation here in EU is as follows:
I have to buy the mini-split from the HVAC contractor to get the warranty on parts AND labor.
Mini-split manufacturer only gives the warranty for parts, and HVAC contractor only gives warranty for labor, but only if you buy from him.

This means, I can’t buy a mini-split where I find the best price, then have the local HVAC contractor install it, and have the complete warranty.

If I find a particular minisplit model at a much lower price then my local HVAC contractor offers, and have the local HVAC contractor install it, I only have valid warranty for parts. I will have to pay for labor and any shipping costs in case of problems.

On the other hand, if I buy that same mini-split model directly from my local HVAC contractor and also have him install it, then lall abor is also covered by warranty.

This makes no sense to me. I see 3 main problems with this:
– I am limited to buying mini-split from a local company, which gets very expensive if I do not live in a major city, and is therefore discriminatory
– HVAC contractors have very inefficient sales network, compared to online stores, so I end up paying for their unnecessary business expenses like warehouses and logistics.
– HVAC contractors hike up the prices because, well, they have the bargaining chip

Is it like this in USA as well? Consumers are usually very well protected in EU, so this sound really strange to me, but all HVAC contractors that I have talked to claim this is the case.

Shouldn’t the labor and diagnostics costs be built in into warranty as well? If a HVAC contractor has, f.e. Toshiba certificate, why does Toshiba not pay for labor during the warranty period?

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Replies

  1. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Davor,
    The situation varies in the U.S., from manufacturer to manufacturer, and from region to region. Some jurisdictions look the other way when homeowners install a ductless minisplit; in other jurisdictions, you need a licenced HVAC contractor to do the installation.

    Different equipment manufacturers have different policies when it comes to selling to homeowners over the internet.

    It's true that in regions of the U.S. where minisplits are still unusual, installation costs quoted by HVAC contractors are often high. Some quotes, in fact, are so high that it's clear that the message from the contractor is, "I have plenty of other work and I don't want to install minisplits unless you pay me a bundle."

    But from the perspective of the contractor, a warranty is worth something, and the HVAC contractor has every right to charge a price that covers the cost of ordering the equipment, picking up the equipment, delivering the equipment to the job site, and covering the costs of callbacks and warranty work.

    In an ideal world, we want our contractors to make a profit. Every tradesperson deserves a fair living and a profitable business.

    From a contractor's perspective, the worst possible job is to be called in to troubleshoot and fix a problematic minisplit installed by a homeowner. That's not a job that any contractor looks forward to.

  2. John Clark | | #2

    The labor rate for warranty work is agreed upon between the installer and the manufacturer. The cost of covering that labor is factored into the "higher" price of the equipment. There's nothing discriminatory about it.

  3. Davor Radman | | #3

    So if I buy online, and if I buy with a contractor, there will be two different warranties?
    This is not communicated to the consumer at all clearly. I just see that the HVAC guy wants to rip me off by charging much more for the same thing :)

    It's like if apple offered a new iphone 100$ cheaper, but it has no warranty. Who would choose that knowingly? But even if they did, they would know it. And you say this is the case with minisplits.

    I don't get it.

  4. User avater GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Davor,
    I have no idea what the warranty situation is in Europe.

    But I know that contractors charge a markup for parts in the U.S. Here's why: if the homeowner buys a sink, and asks me to install it, I might accept the job. If I show up and the sink won't fit, it's the homeowner's problem to return the sink and get one that fits.

    If I provide the sink, I might mark it up. The surcharge covers the time it takes me to discuss the situation with the homeowner, drive to the supply house, and buy the sink. If the sink has a crack, it's my job to return the sink to the supplier and get one that works. For these services, the contractor charges the homeowner.

  5. John Clark | | #5

    @Davor,

    From your description it appear so. Under the higher price scenario the manufacturer assumes that the installer is competent and the installer knows they're on the hook for warranty repairs. Under the lower price scenario where only parts are warrantied the manufacturer has no control over you choose to hire.

    While I understand your frustration (in the US it can be difficult for the consumer to source parts when one isn't in a particular trade), but ultimately the power is yours because you are the consumer and if your demands are not met you look for an alternative.

    Rest assured that if the manufacturer paid for the labor on warranty repairs the mini-split would cost considerably more.

  6. Davor Radman | | #6

    Thanks for the explanations. I was under wrong impression.

    But, I still maintain that it's not fair, because consumers are not clearly made aware of this.

    Obviously, it is fair that installer should charge warranty. I just did not know it was separate. because afaict, this is different than any other electronics. But I guess just because there is a PCB there, I should not be considering it electronics.

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