Product Review: Pioneer Mini Split Ductless Air Conditioners

Pioneer Mini Split Ductless Air Conditioners

8.4

Quality

9.3/10

Price

8.2/10

Shipping

7.0/10

Durability

8.5/10

Warranty

9.0/10

Pros

  • Product Comes In A Variety of Sizes Capable Of Cooling Rooms Up To Twelve-Hundred Square Feet
  • Air Conditioner Comes With Heat Pump Allowing Heater Functionality As Well
  • Consumers Have Stated That These Are Some Of The Quietest Systems They Have Ever Owned
  • Two Year Parts Warranty & Five Year Compressor Warranty

Cons

  • Can Be Difficult To Install, You May Need Professional HVAC Help
  • The Cost On These Units Can Deter Some Consumers.
  • This Is The In Between Option For Users Unsure If They Want A Window Unit Or A Full AC System
  • Some Complaints Of Unit Not Working Out Of The Box, But Warranty Will Cover You

Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to RefrigerantHQ! Today we are going to be doing a product review on a ductless air conditioner. Ductless air conditioners, also known as mini-split systems, are a great overall compromise for the consumer who wants the efficiency and power of a traditional split system air conditioner but also wants to save the money on routing duct work and buying a whole new air conditioner. On the inverse of that, mini-split systems are also a great solution for those of you who are wanting to take a step up from window or portable air conditioners. The ductless system gives you more power then a window unit while also looking aesthetically pleasing in your home.

Today we will be looking at the Pioneer ductless mini-split air conditioner. Now, this is going to be an all encompassing review as the actual Pioneer product comes in a variety of sizes depending on the room or home that you wish to cool. Also, at the end of this article we’ll do a quick breakdown of each model number, what they offer, and which one you should choose.

Pioneer

Now before I ever make a big purchase I always like to take the time and consider the brand and the company behind the product. I do this especially on something I haven’t dealt with before. As an example, I’m a Toyota guy, and when I buy a Toyota I know what to expect, quality. That is their brand and they have earned the recognition that comes with it. The question is what and who is Pioneer? Are they a reputable brand? Let’s take a look.

The Pioneer brand and company has been around for nearly twenty-five years. The brand is owned by a company called ‘Parker Davis.’ (Their website can be found by clicking here.) They specialize in HVAC equipment, especially in ductless mini systems. Their products can be found throughout the US as well as numerous other countries throughout the globe. Over the decades they have been innovating and improving their ductless designs so that with today’s model you get one of the most efficient and effective design available.

Pioneer Mini-Split Ductless Air Conditioner
Pioneer Mini-Split Ductless Air Conditioner

If I was going to be buying a new ductless system I would want to purchase from a company that is dedicated to HVAC, or even moreso, dedicated JUST to ductless systems. That is what you get with Pioneer. Other companies may manufacture ductless units but it is just another product that they sell. The dedication just isn’t there. Pioneer’s mission statement is “To provide you with top quality HVAC equipment at affordable prices and with instant availability.” They are a secure and always improving brand that I would have no problem spending my money on.

Before You Buy

Ok folks, so now that we’ve gone over the company behind the product let’s take some time now and take a look at what this product has to offer to you the consumer.

The first point that I’m going to mention, and probably the most important, is what sized unit that you need. You may have noticed by now that when looking for an air conditioner that they all come with a BTU number. BTUs, also known as British Thermal Units, are a measurement of the cooling capacity of your air conditioner. The higher the number the larger the space the unit can cool. Don’t fall for the trap though that bigger is always better though. It is always best practice to find the closest fit unit for your needs. If you end up purchasing a unit that is too big for your area then you will be wasting energy and you may even end up with hot and cold spots due to dehudmification issues. On the inverse, if you purchase a unit that is too small for your area then the system will be running constantly trying to keep up and you will never get to that desired temperature.

So, what size BTU unit should you get? Before you make that decision it is best to know the square footage of your room. This is a simple equation that can be done just by taking the length and width of your room and multiplying them together. Once you have that number you can begin to see the amount of BTUs that you need. The standard rule of thumb is thirty BTUS per square foot of the room. So, let’s say you have an eight-hundred square foot area you want to cool. Eight-hundred times thirty BTUs equals out to twenty-four thousand BTUs. Now the Pioneer ductless system comes with a variety of sizes. It is up to you to determine what the perfect size is for your needs. Your options are below and by clicking on these links you’ll be taken to the Amazon page where you can do further research.

Now, something you may have noticed is that when clicking on one of the above links is that there are two options for the smaller BTU systems. The only difference between these two is that one requires a standard one-hundred and twenty volt outlet and the other ones require a two-hundred and thirty volt outlet. This option only exists on the smaller units but even if you were going with a nine-thousand BTU system I would still recommend the two-hundred and thirty volt option just due to the increased efficiency.

I want to mention one more thing before we get into the actual product features. Yes, yes I know, this isn’t the fun part but it is necessary so that you understand what you’re getting into before you purchase. Mini-split systems are not easy to install, especially if you are a laymen when it comes to air conditioning work. Ductless systems like these aren’t as simple as a window unit where you can mount and forget it. No, with a system like this you have to mount the interior air handler in your room, drill a two-three inch hole, route the copper refrigerant tubing/draining pipe through the hole, install and mount the condenser on the outside of your home, connect the tubing (Flaring the tube if needed), check for any possible leaks, and even after all that we’re still not done. You will need to wire the unit, setup an electrical outlet box on the outside of your home, vacuum out the pre-filled nitrogen from you system, and then input the actual refrigerant.

This is a huge undertaking, especially if it’s your first time doing something like this. A lot of people who purchase mini-split systems like these buy online from stores like Amazon.com to save the mark-up they would see from their local HVAC contractors. Then, once they have their unit in hand they call the technician to come out and install. This is what I would advise. I would not advise you try this on your own unless you know exactly what you are doing. Otherwise, you risk damaging the unit by installing it correctly, or it could be something as simple as the tubes weren’t fitted right and the unit is leaking refrigerant. There are so many variables when it comes to this that it is best to hire an expert.

Speaking of experts, Amazon has a great feature I just discovered where you can actually add professional installation when you are purchasing the unit. As an example, let’s look at the thirty-six thousand BTU Pioneer unit by clicking here. As you can see just under the sizing there is a box to select for professional instillation. This works just like how it would if you were to go to a Home Depot or Lowes and pay for installation. Amazon contracts this out to a local professional and they then co-ordinate everything with you. It’s a great feature that a lot of people just don’t know about. My family recently used this feature for a new garbage disposal we bought. It was quick and painless and didn’t cost much more to have the project done professionally.

Product Features

Pioneer Air Handler
Pioneer Air Handler

Ok folks, so now that I’ve bored you with the sizing, electrical, and installation options let’s take a look at the actual product features you’ll be getting if you purchase this unit. There are a whole host of features to be aware of and I may end up missing some here and there but here is what I have found throughout my research on the product. The first, and biggest selling point to me, is that this product comes with a heat pump as well as an air conditioner. Along with that, most air conditioners that come with heat pumps do not have a matching BTU. Typically, you’ll see the heat pump attachment having a few thousand BTUs lower then the air conditioning system. That is NOT the case with this Pioneer brand ductless system. In fact, your heat pump BTU is right in line with the air conditioning BTU no matter what size you choose.

One thing to mention is that this unit comes with a heat pump. A heat pump is only effective up until a certain temperature. If it begins to get too cold then your heat pump will no longer be as efficient. Now, depending on who you ask, this temperature range can vary. Most people say around forty degrees is when the peak performance begins to drop. Instead of the unit taking heat from outside of your home and transferring to the inside of your home, you will now have electric heating coils activate to give your home heat. The difference here is that these coils are not as efficient as the standard process. This will result in two things: The first is that the BTU heating capacity of your air conditioner will fall slightly. Secondly, you will end up paying more in energy when you begin to use electric coils. If you live in an area that gets rather extreme winters then you may consider buying an infrared unit as well to heat the room. (I prefer the infrared fireplaces.)

Speaking of heating and air conditioning, the Pioneer system comes with an automatic switch mode that allows the unit to switch between cooling, heating, dehumidifier, and ventilating. Having this feature enabled allows you to have the most efficiently run air conditioner. You also get what’s known as an auto-restart function. What this does is simple, it remembers the settings that you have on the unit and then, if the power goes out and comes back on, your unit will power back up with the exact same settings that you had before. Now if only my alarm clock could do that.

Another setting this comes with is a timer. The timer can be great for programming your air conditioner to turn off and on during set times of the day. A lot of people use this to shut their unit off during night hours and have it kick back on again during the morning. This saves some energy and only has to be programmed once. On the indoor air handler you get an LED display showing you the temperature and any other readings you would like to see. You also get automatically swinging louvers that allow the air flow to be optimized. (They move up and down directing the air flow to the appropriate parts of the room.) The air handler itself runs VERY quiet, so quiet in fact that most people don’t notice it. This is a big selling point when comparing to a window or portable air conditioner as a lot of people complain about the noise level from them. Along with all of that you get a wireless remote control that will allow you control your settings.

Many of you may not care about this, but the refrigerant that this unit takes is R-410A, or Puron. 410A is now the most common used refrigerant in the United States when it comes to home or commercial air conditioners and it is readily available in case you need a recharge down the road. The refrigerant line set ranges between ten feet upwards to twenty-five feet depending on the model you buy. What’s neat about this unit is that if your system develops a refrigerant leak you will see a ‘EC’ error code be displayed on the system and the unit will not run until the hole is patched. (Remember, refrigerant flows an endless cycle and you should never have a leak.)

Pioneer Ductless System Remote
Pioneer Ductless System Remote

Last thing I’m going to mention on this product is the weight. A lot of you may expecting this to be heavy, but I want to alert you anyways. Depending on the model you purchase these units can weight between one-hundred and twenty pounds up to three-hundred and fifteen pounds. Please be sure that you have help when you begin to setup the unit. Remember, safety first… and I’d hate for you to drop it accidentally and damage the unit.

Pros

The biggest Pro we have here with these ductless systems it that it gives the homeowners an in-between alternative to a traditional split system air conditioner or a window mounted system. Along with that, it gives you a nice clean looking mounted system that blends in with your room. Many people aren’t happy with the look a window air conditioner gives a room and a ductless system will give you that second option. Lastly, ductless systems give you the option to install air conditioning in your house even if you don’t have ducts routed throughout your home.

The next big point on these mini-split systems is their energy efficiency. Air conditioner efficiency is measured by two numbers. The first is known as their Energy Efficiency Ratio, or EER. The second number is known as Season Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER. The only difference between these two numbers is that EER looks at performance based on one solid outside temperature whereas SEER looks at the wide varying range of seasonal temperatures. The higher EER or SEER number the more efficient your system is. A typical window air conditioner will have an EER rating between ten to twelve. Now, the average EER/SEER rating on this Pioneer branded unit is between sixteen and eighteen. That is quite the difference and that heightened number means more money saved in your pocket month to month.

A quick Pro on these Pioneer systems is that they run VERY quiet. I mentioned this above in the product features, but I wanted to bring it up again as it’s a big deal to a lot of people. If I am going to have this product installed in my living room I am going to want as quiet as possible.

The last Pro that I want to bring up before we move on to the Cons is the warranty. These Pioneer units come with a two year limited parts warranty and a five year limited compressor warranty. Their limited warranty policy can be read about by clicking here.

Cons

I mentioned install in our ‘Before You Buy,’ section but I’m going to bring it up here again as well. It’s a big deal. If you don’t know what you’re doing then you are going to need to hire a professional. The worst thing you can do is to guess your way through this. Some homeowners have gone through and mounted the air handler and condenser. They also drilled the appropriate hole, but ultimately they left the electrical work and the refrigerant work to the professional. Remember, you may need to end up flaring the refrigerant piping for a perfect fit, you will need to vacuum the system out, charge it with refrigerant, and lastly you will need to route a electrical box to the exterior of your home. (Most likely a two-hundred volt outlet.)

This next con is going to relate to instillation, but I’m going to bring it up anyways. Many users have complained that the unit was leaking refrigerant and that the unit would not cool their home. Ninety percent of the time their unit was leaking due to improper installation. If during the install you bend one of the copper refrigerant lines or you do not attach the line correctly to the air handler/condenser then you are going to have a refrigerant leak. The other ten percent of the time it may be an actual defect in the air handler or the condenser. If this is the case then the Pioneer warranty should cover you.

The next common complaint I read about was the heat pump not working correctly. Remember earlier in our ‘Product Features,’ where we mentioned that heat pumps are only designed for warmer winter areas? Well, some people do not realize that. One reviewer said, “The unit isn’t meant for Michigan winters.” Well, yes… of course it’s not! It’s a heat pump. It’s going to work up until that forty degree mark and then it will begin to supplement it’s heat with electrical heating coils, but in very cold winters it may not be enough. Again, I would recommend purchasing an infrared fireplace. These things work great, keep your room warm, and can be put away in storage once the winter is over.

When you purchase something online there is always the risk of it arriving to your home damaged. That risk increases with the bigger and heavier the package. On top of that, the risk increases even more when dealing with a machine like an air conditioner. Now, I’m not going to lie to you here. The chances of your unit arriving damaged is rare, but there is a chance folks. The good news though is that if this does happen you can always file a claim with Amazon.com and they will take care of the return process. Something that you’ll notice is that some of the ‘bad reviews,’ on this product are a direct result of the product arriving damaged to the consumer’s home. This is not Pioneer’s fault and frankly shouldn’t be attributed to them.

Conclusion

Well folks, what do you think? Will you be getting a ductless unit? Or, are you going to end up going the window air conditioner route? If you have decided to go the ductless route then I can honestly say that you will NOT be disappointed with the Pioneer brand name and the options that they have to offer. While the installation may be difficult it is worth it once you have it up and running and have a nice cool home to come home to. Again, as I mentioned earlier, this product comes in a variety of sizes. If you are interested in purchasing then I suggest you click on the appropriate size below. Also, if you’re looking for help for installation don’t forget that Amazon offers their own professional install as well.

However, if you find that you want to go the window air conditioner or the portable air conditioner route then check out our best of buying guides:

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

You may also like