Mitsubishi air conditioners are sold under the Mitsubishi Electric Company, one of several independent core companies that share the Mitsubishi name. Mitsubishi Electric is itself a global company that does business in the United States under Mitsubishi Electric and Electronics U.S. Inc.1
The genesis of Mitsubishi air conditioners in the Japanese market has given their products a distinct look and feel. Compared to traditional U.S. manufacturers, the Mitsubishi line is sleeker and more aesthetic. They use these features to market to businesses and residential use in Japan where unobtrusiveness is valued. An example would be their in-ceiling mounted unit (a split system type) that is hidden except for the vent openings.
The Mitsubishi line focuses on split systems – several indoor units running to a single outdoor compressor with refrigerant lines connecting. Mitsubishi uses its own branded refrigerant, R410A which boasts zero ozone depletion potential2.
M series – These feature inverter equipped models (AC to DC conversion) that produce energy savings and powerful, yet quiet operation.
S series – cassette air conditioners (compact wall units) and concealed ceiling air conditioners.
P series – wall mounted air conditioners, ceiling mounted and ceiling recessed.
In each category there are multiple models to choose from with an extraordinary range of features. Some of the highlights include fresh air exchange in some cassette models, air filtration/humidity control built in and remote control operation.
Prices range from about $1,000 for a single, ductless, split unit at 12,000 BTUH (British Thermal Units per Hour) up to $6,000 or more for a 42,000 BTUH system3. Commercial applications with multiple indoor and outdoor components go up to the hundreds of thousands.
Products are not available for purchase directly to the consumer. Mitsubishi sells through trained independent contractors – licensed installers in the U.S. can be found by zip code here. Used equipment can be found on the net. Mitsubishi products have strong secondary market sales and many used systems are available through eBay and HVAC contractor sites.
Ratings and reliability
The key selling points of Mitsubishi air conditioners are their innovation and attention to environmental concerns. By offering features unavailable in other product lines, Mitsubishi can compete with GE, Frigidaire and other giants in the U.S. marketplace. One example is a built-in heat sensor that can monitor a room for hot spots and direct cool air to those areas. Another is their 4-way system that simultaneously monitors and controls for humidity, temperature, filtration and odor removal4.
Warranties are automatically set at 2 years for parts and 6 years on the compressor but jump up to 6 years on each if a qualified HVAC technician does the installation (qualified means someone who has received training from Mitsubishi). Because their systems are very energy efficient, most qualify for rebates ranging from $50 to $150 dollars under the U.S. government’s Energy Star program. Specific products can be checked at their website: http://www.energystar.gov/
Consumer Reports, in a 2009 survey, ranked Mitsubishi split air conditioners well, commenting on the quiet operation, energy savings and reliability5. The only complaint about Mitsubishi products revolves around initial cost which is high compared to window mounted units6.
To get an idea of how small and quiet the outdoor units are, look at a YouTube video posted by one amazed customer. The ambient noise (clothing rustling and background street noises) overwhelm any noise made by the compressors.
Dual function units
Japan, the birthplace of the Mitsubishi air conditioning line, has a varied climate because of its latitude and elevations. This makes a combination product, one that can both act as an air conditioner and a heater, very attractive. Mitsubishi has taken advantage of this demand by manufacturing units that act as heat pumps either pumping heat out of or into a room. Units in the M Series come with up to 8 indoor, ductless wall mounts that run off of a single outdoor compressor7.
The same zone control features that come with the air conditioning are applicable for the dual function units. In heating mode, they can easily supplement a forced air heating system and either allow less use of a ducted system or provide “spot heating” only in those rooms where it is needed. Savings are generated in the same way that a zoned system for cooling. By focusing heat where (and when) it is needed, waste is reduced.
Controls for dual function units are available as either wireless remote or fixed thermostat. Mitsubishi has also been working with U.S. manufacturers to make their systems compatible across brands. An example is the adoption of Honeywell’s RedLink protocol for wireless thermostat control8. This system uses radio links between a central controller and up to eight different units – allowing a single central control and monitoring station. By adopting Honeywell’s standard, Mitsubishi can marry its systems to existing HVAC systems that use the popular controller.