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Apr 2, 2021 9:45:14 AM by Lauren Mangano

Unico High Velocity: An Expert's Take on What Makes it Unique

You might have heard of it: the high velocity home comfort system that so many home owners are switching to. But what does high velocity really mean? And why should you make the investment -- especially if you've got no complaints with your old system?
We spent some time with Ron Musser, co-founder of Comfort Media Group, to learn what exactly makes Unico high velocity unique. Ron is a Unico high velocity expert with more than 20 years of experience in the HVAC industry. His insight can give you the perspective you need to make an informed choice about your next home cooling solution. 
Q: What type of home is the Unico high velocity system geared towards?
A: It's an ideal fit for older homes without ductwork. Where it really shines is the retrofit because it's small, it doesn't need returns in each room, and it mixes the air better through the aspiration and the velocity. Anywhere you see older homes in more affluent neighborhoods - where people are upgrading the houses and bringing them up to modern standards - you will see a lot of Unico systems. You are also seeing them more and more in new custom homes.
In summary: High velocity systems are especially great for older homes, but can be installed in any home!
Q: What are the strengths of a Unico high velocity system?
A: One of the strengths of the system is that it doesn't take up much space; you can weave it through wall cavities and floor joists. It mixes the air really well. You don't have hot and cold spots because of the way it aspirates the air. And it removes 30 percent more humidity. People understand that a perfect day outside is 75 degrees with a little breeze. But when people put air conditioning on in their house they often find themselves pushing the thermostat down to 70, 71, or 72 to get rid of the humidity. [A conventional A/C system] has to run longer to pull out the humidity and then you get colder temperatures and have a chill in the house, whereas a high velocity system removes more humidity but it's got a balanced temperature. Our customers keep their thermostats set between 74 and 75 and it's extremely comfortable. Their homes don't have that chilled effect; they feel like naturally conditioned spaces. 
In summary: High velocity takes up less space, produces more even temperatures, and maintains humidity levels very well.
Q: A high velocity system is more expensive - or at least perceived to be more expensive - than a conventional system. Why?
A: If you compare a conventional system and hold it to the same standard, it's not more money. It's an apples-to-oranges comparison: if you have a bare-bones conventional system that has 30-40 percent duct leakage [so less efficient], doesn't have the same air mixture, and doesn't have returns in each room, that system will cost less. Also, with a high velocity you don't have collateral costs like soffiting and additional construction and loss of space. Your operational costs are lower too. So when you weigh it out, it's not more expensive. At first glance, it might appear to be, but it usually isn't. 
In other words, if you take a conventional system and say: I want it installed according to the Air Conditioning Contractors' specifications - which means I want the ducts sealed, I want a return in each room, I want it sized correctly, and I want it to meet a certain airflow standard - it will often be much more money than a Unico. But some contractors will put in a conventional system and take shortcuts and shortchange the job to reduce the cost.
In summary: If you hold a high velocity system to the same standard as a traditional system, it is not more expensive. It also has lower initial construction and future operational costs.
Q: There's a myth that a high velocity system is not quiet. If a high velocity isn't quiet, can't that almost always be traced back to an installation issue?
A: Yes, a lot of contractors may not be familiar with a high velocity or they are trying to break into that market; and because they don't necessarily have the experience or the résumé to show a homeowner, they try to get the job by lowering the price. And then they will try to cut corners. They will put less tubes in, and less tubes means more air going through the tubes that are there, which may cause noise. You can also save money by not putting the sound attenuator in, but that can result in noise. 
Any job I've ever come across where noise was an issue, it was because of improper installation or someone not putting in a sound attenuator or not putting enough outlets in. If you follow the manufacturers' specifications and guidelines the Unico system is extremely quiet. In fact, the air handler is made to a much higher standard than a traditional air handler. 
In summary: The Unico high velocity is known for its quietness. If it's loud, it was likely installed the wrong way or without important parts.
Benefits of Unico high velocity
Q: Why is a Unico high velocity so effective in terms of removing humidity?
A: A conventional system works on 400 CFM per ton. A high velocity, even though it is moving air faster, is moving less air - it's moving 200 CFM per ton. And it bottlenecks; you have the air coming into the box and it comes out an eight-inch round. So that air gets bottlenecked over the refrigerant coil and there is less air getting stuck over that coil. That gives the coil more opportunity to remove the moisture out of the air. That's really where the magic of the system happens, in that coil. The coil is thicker, has more tubes per inch, and it pulls the heat and moisture out of the air much more effectively than a conventional system.
Back in the day, people had resources built with stone and masonry because they conditioned the house better. They kept it cooler or warmer because of the thermal mass. A lot of the houses in the northeast will be fine for the most part in the summer, but when the humidity gets in there it will hold the humidity. A high velocity will pull the humidity out and cool it really well - and inexpensively. 
In summary: High velocity systems provide a 30 percent reduction in humidity. This means more comfort, more energy savings, and less related issues.
Q: Why is the Unico system an ideal choice if you don't have room for ductwork?
A: It's one-third the size and you have a lot more options of getting ductwork through cavities that you wouldn't have with a big conventional system. There are some houses where it would be too disruptive to put the proper ductwork in on a conventional - it would take up so much space and alter the floor plan and design of the house that a traditional guy would just put in less and it wouldn't work as well. With a high velocity you don't have to compromise. You can get the ductwork where you need to and it's much more effective.
In summary: High velocity takes up one-third of the space that's needed for a conventional system and allows for many more installation options.

Q: Tell me why the government seasonal energy efficiency rating is misleading in the case of the Unico system.
A: What I've been told is that it's such a niche market and such a small segment of the industry that the government has never tested it. Whereas with a conventional system all the efficiencies are on the outdoor condenser, on the high velocity all the efficiencies go back to that air handler. They don't have any real way to measure the system and its delivered efficiency because there is no duct loss and because it's 200 CFM and not 400. Since everything else in the industry is based on the 400 CFM per cubic feet per minute standard, to retool their standards and test it would be a huge investment and they are not going to do it.
In summary: The airflow in high velocity is very different than a conventional system and cannot be measured to the same standards/ratings.
Q: What is the typical cost of a Unico system - installed?
A:The average cost is anywhere between $25,000 to $30,000, depending on factors such as the degree of difficulty and size of the house and size of the unit.
Cost of a Unico High Velocity System
In summary: The cost depends on different factors -- but it's worth it!

Click the buttons below to download the high velocity product guide and/or schedule a free high velocity consultation!
Get the High Velocity Product Guide
Schedule Your Free High Velocity Consultation

This entry was posted in Save Energy, Temperature Regulation, Home Improvements, Older Homes, Unico High Velocity

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