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Case Studies

Oct 21, 2021 2:01:35 PM by Joe Berardi

Chestnut Hill and Unico High Velocity: The Perfect Match

PROBLEM: Our homeowner, Alex, recently purchased this charming new Chestnut Hill home. It needed some updating, which was to be done while maintaining its historic value. But the biggest issue in an older home like this is the lack of air conditioning -- something Alex and his family were not going to live without. 

SOLUTION: ECI Comfort installed a Unico High Velocity system with a Bosch Heat Pump Inverter and Green Series Air Handler. This system will provide even and comfortable temperatures through each room, drastically reduce humidity, and create the perfect comfort solution, while minimizing any changes to the interior! 

Historic Chestnut Hill PA Home

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Welcome to the Chestnut Hill Historic District section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - where nineteenth-century Philadelphian architecture created some of the most beautiful homes. Originally a link between the city and its surrounding farmlands, Chestnut Hill did not become part of Philadelphia until 1854. The area features larger homes with unique classical styles, resembling a Late Victorian look.  Alex's new home is no outlier, as you can see! 

Back in the late 1800s, these homes were not designed or built with air conditioning in mind. Most are comfortably heated by a boiler and radiator system, which does a fantastic job at keeping them comfortable in the colder months. Unfortunately, this still leaves homeowners stranded in the hot summer months, unless they opt for window units. But, like most homeowners, Alex did not want these bulky, unattractive units in his beautiful historic home. That's where we came in!

The tricky task for this home was installing an air conditioning system that would minimize the invasive construction requirements typically needed. For example, installing a conventional ducted system results in large soffits and the elimination of closets, which are very small in these older houses. Moreover, installing a ductless mini-split system would have its benefits, but adding a unit onto a wall can sometimes alter the appearance too much. That leaves us with high velocity -- the perfect match to retrofit air conditioning into an old home.

Check out this video to learn more about how a high velocity system works, and continue reading below to see how the installation went.

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Alex's High Velocity Comfort Consultation

The first step when you are looking for a new high velocity system is scheduling a comfort consultation with ECI Comfort.

Once scheduled, one of our comfort specialists, such as Darren or myself, will make our way to your home. Or, we will set up a call/video call if you prefer to start out with that. From there, we will discuss the different comfort solutions we see fit in order to finally turn your home into a paradise!

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In Alex's situation, we looked at a few different routes to do so. Alex's goal was to provide an air conditioning solution to the second and third floors of his home. He had previously lived with ductless mini-splits, so knew how they worked and that they worked well. This time around, however, he was not interested in having the units on the walls of this historic home. The second option that we discussed was a conventional ducted system. While this would have been possible, the addition of large ductwork and unsightly soffits was an immediate turnoff. The conversation finished with high velocity and why it was the perfect match. 

For an older home, either a conventional system or high velocity system can meet cooling needs. But the unique benefits of a high velocity system are what make the retrofit match so perfect. For one, high velocity has a much smaller footprint. It uses smaller ducts that are flexible and easy to conceal within walls and closets. This means no bulky metal ductwork and huge soffits! A high velocity system is also much quieter, mostly due to its sound-deadening properties.Why Unico High Velocity is Ideal for Older Homes All you hear is slow airflow sounds, versus the rumbling of window units or a conventional system. Continuing, a high velocity system removes up to 30 percent more humidity than its conventional counterpart, meaning a more comfortable home. Lastly, these systems have better airflow. In a conventional system, one vent pushes out air while another across the room pulls in air. With high velocity, 'aspiration' is used, creating a better spread and mixing of treated air: 


The last piece Alex and I discussed was the outdoor unit to match his indoor equipment. Efficiency and comfort were very important to him, so we reviewed the options with this in mind. With his home currently being heated by a large gas boiler and radiator system, I introduced the idea of a heat pump. A Bosch Inverter Heat Pump paired with a Unico High Velocity system creates one of the best comfort systems on the market. Not only do we introduce variable speed air conditioning, but we also generate a supplemental heat source.

The home's existing boiler and baseboard radiator system works great in the cold months but is very inefficient during the milder seasons. The addition of a heat pump will allow the system to be used for a more efficient heat source by easing the use ofthe boiler and preventing short-cycling, resulting in less heat loss. These systems operate anywhere between 25 and 100 percent capacity, meaning they slow down or speed up as needed. By doing so, they deliver precision comfort and increased efficiency!

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After going over all the details, Alex was enthusiastic about the game-plan and ready to move onto the next steps. As most people know, the biggest hurdle within home improvement right now is equipment availability! A lot of equipment across the HVAC industry is experiencing significant lead times, causing delays in installation timelines. For Alex, the Bosch Inverter Heat Pump, was our biggest delay.

So, after discussing different options while waiting to receive the equipment, we decided upon a two-phase installation to save some time. ECI's install crew completed the indoor components, such as installing the air handler, supply tubes, and line set while we waited. A few weeks later, we received the outdoor unit and were ready to finish the install process! 

The Install

Prior to any new installation, our install supervisor and the comfort specialist stop out to the home one more time to conduct a pre-installation walkthrough. In this short visit, we walkthrough the equipment locations and the supply tube and outlet locations, and we answer any last questions. This provides the homeowner (in this case, Alex) with the clarity and certainty of what the install entails. 

For Alex's home, we focused on tube locations and where each supply outlet would land. After confirming those to Alex's preference, we moved to the indoor and outdoor equipment locations. After all pieces were confirmed, we were ready to begin! Take a look below at some of the highlights: 

Unico High Velocity Philadelphia PA

Very happy with the outcome, Alex told us that "the installers were great. They confirmed everything that they did, answered all of my questions, and made sure I was okay with each location." Great work by our team! 

On that note, one of our lead installers, Jim, known for figuring out unusual solutions, pulled out one of his tricks! Alex was concerned with how a line set coming down the side of his stone home may look, and we discussed options on covering it up. During the install process, Jim somehow found a way to get the line sets down a cavity of the wall from a fourth floor attic to the basement, and take them outside there. Nothing visible on the exterior! I may have been more impressed than the homeowner himself! 

We look forward to hearing how much Alex loves his new Unico High Velocity heating and cooling system, and can't wait to check in on every tune-up. Thank you for choosing ECI Comfort, Alex! 

For every comfort concern, there is always a comfort solution! ECI Comfort specializes in installing Unico High Velocity heating and air conditioning. To learn more or schedule your free consultation, click below!

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This entry was posted in Heat Pump, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, Unico High Velocity