by Gerry Wagner
115 VOLT VS 230 VOLT: The GREE mini split product line offers 115 volt single zone mini split systems
in the VIREO and the LIVO models.
What exactly is the advantage of the 115 volt vs 230 volt system, if any?
Well, let’s take a close look…we will use the LIVO as our reference point.
Above we see the performance (capacity), data for the LIVO 9 & 12K 115 volt models vs 230 volt. The
performance is similar with the 115 volt having a slightly lower low end and a slightly higher high end. All
in all, a wash I would say.
Above we see the efficiency ratings…they are identical other than a slight difference in EER. Once again,
I’m calling it a wash.
Above, we see the cooling and heating temperature range and it is identical for both the 115 volt and
the 230 volt LIVO.
Above we see the electrical characteristics and finally we see some tangible differences between the
115 volt and the 230 volt equipment.
But do we?
At first glance, it would appear that the 230 volt equipment has a sizeable advantage in “rated current amps” in both cooling and heating. What we must remember here is that the 230 volt equipment has two “hot” legs from the power source so we must X the 230 volt amp rating by two. For example…
Power bills use Kilowatts / Hour as their unit of measurement. The formula to figure Watts usage requires both volts and amperage: Watts = Volts X Amps
So, using the LIVS09HP115V1B as the reference point…
115 (volts) X 11.3 (amps) = 1299.50 Watts
Let’s look at the LIVS09HP230V1B…
230 (volts) X 5.8 (amps) = 1334 Watts
All of a sudden, all advantage is lost and the “rated current amps” are a wash as well. Same goes for the Minimum Current Amps MCA and the Maximum Over-Current Protection MOCP. The cost of operation is essentially the same.
You can go to the DOE webpage for APPLIANCE & EQUIPMENT STANDARDS PROGRAM and see that the estimated annual cooling and heating cost are identical for the 115 volt and 230 volt LIVO models.
I found a great article written by Matthew Simmons of INYO Pools that addresses one advantage the 230 volt system has…here is an excerpt:
“Most houses in the US have access to 230 volts as you may have noticed when installing heavy duty appliances such as a washer and dryer or electric range. In the pool industry, pool motors with a horsepower output of two or above almost always are 230 volt hook up only. This is because with high voltage comes great amperage.
When we flick the switch on a monster of a 3 HP motor, that mechanism demands amps to be able to fire the capacitor, switches and windings. If there is a delay in amps reaching the motor, it may cause the motor to overwork and overheat to compensate. This extra work put in by the motor means it is more likely to fail earlier than it should.
X 2 = 11.6
X 2 = 12
X 2 = 12
X 2 = 13.4
X 2 = 18
X 2 = 18
X 2 = 30
X 2 = 30
Think of it as if we were sipping a thick milkshake but all we have is a thin straw. When you begin to sip on the straw no matter how hard you try, you will go red and eventually quit with your thirst not quenched. That is essentially what happens to a big motor using 115 volts. It’s got a fever, and the only prescription is more amps. Now switch that tiny straw with a hefty wide straw, your work load lessens. Voltage is the straw, and the amps are the milkshake. Voltage is just there to help convey the amps to the unit.”
I love the milkshake analogy…BRILLIANT!
So, the 230 volt system holds an advantage with getting more amps to the equipment quicker and it does so with a smaller diameter wire. I think Matthew’s milkshake and straw analogy might have been better understood if he said 230 volts is like using two straws as opposed to one. The 230 volt system can utilize a smaller diameter wire which will be less expansive then that used for 115 volts…here lies a possible cost savings when the power source is a fair distance from the equipment.
The above is from page #5 of the LIVO installation manual. Note the larger wire required for the 115 volt systems (the smaller the number, the larger the wire, i.e., 10/3 is larger than 14/3).
I think the difference between 115 volt vs 230 volt lay in the application…not the equipment.
What I mean is…take the residential home with an old, outdated electrical service. It may not have the space available in the breaker / fuse box to accommodate a 230 volt circuit, (requiring two breakers/ double pole as opposed to one). Not every homeowner right now can afford to upgrade the home’s electrical service and have a GREE mini split system installed…choices must be made and luckily, there are choices!
DOUBLE POLE BREAKER SINGLE POLE BREAKER
In this scenario, the 115 volt product allows the installer to offer the homeowner all the advantages the GREE product has to offer…inverter compressor, onboard diagnostics, 23 SEER (VIREO) and more!
So, that all said, I think the difference between the 115 volt vs 230 volt equipment is limited to the following…
115 volt 230 volt _____________________________________________________________________________________
Wire size ✓
Breaker size (single vs double pole) ✓
Larger BTU capacities ✓
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gerry Wagner is the Vice President of HVAC Technical Training for Tradewinds Climate Systems. He has 38 years in the HVACR industry working in manufacturing, contracting and now training. You can contact Gerry by email: firstname.lastname@example.org and also please visit our website: www.twclimate.com
by Gerry Wagner