- If you live in a cold climate with freezing weather then you should have a base pan heater
- If you live in an area that has little to no freezing weather then you do not need a base pan heater
- If you have a cooling only mini split then you do not need a base pan heater
What Does A Base Pan Heater Do?
For those that live in a cold climate you can experience a lot of chores due to the snow and ice that can damage many things, like ice dams on your roof and freezing pipe and more. For your mini split it’s ice accumulation inside the outdoor unit, which can sometimes happen and be unnoticed.
Ice is a powerful force that can break pipes destroy roofs amongst other things. In a mini split it can pile up high enough to contact the fan blade, totally ripping the fan blade apart or causing it to stick and burn up a motor. If allowed to form long enough, ice can do damage to the outdoor refrigeration coils.
The coils are the aluminum fins that you can see just inside the protective surround that goes around most of the outdoor unit. Kind of like a radiator in a car.
Their are two things that should be done to prevent this damage. The base pan of a mini split, also referred to as a drain pan, should be raised off it’s base by at least six inches so that water can drain out the drain holes in the bottom of the pan.
Every manufacturer of mini splits will make their own style of drain pan and the holes will be in different places on the pan, but they will be there just the same.
If your outdoor unit is placed directly onto a flat surface the drain holes can ice-over or freeze up easily and allow the ice to more rapidly form. Using a wall mount is the best fix for this problem and will let the water drain unrestricted.
The drain pan heater takes care of any ice that forms in the drain pan and keeps the ice melted thus protecting the fan blade, fan motor and the outdoor coil.
What Does A Drain Pan Heater Look Like?
Mini split drain pan heaters look a bit like the electric element in the bottom of an electric range only in the shape of the bottom pan of the mini split.
What Works Good In Addition To A Base Pan Heater?
Just so you know, I like the mini split wall mount bracket and have used them almost exclusively in my installations. I’m blown away at how many companies are manufacturing these brackets.
My preferences are those brackets that have a horizontal mounting bar because they are easier to install because of the various mounting holes offered so that you can find that stud in the wall and get the most secure attachment to the wall.
I looked up mini split wall brackets on Amazon just to get an idea of what’s available to you. I prefer the brackets that attach to a horizontal bar because they allow easier access for lags to hit studs in the wall. Take a look here.
Without the horizontal bar you are left to hanging the bracket with one bracket mounted to a stud and the other to the wall only, and having to use some sort of anchor to mount one or both. Just a hassle in my mind and experience.
Be aware that when mounting a mini split on a wall, some vibration can be transmitted into the residence. Mini splits are amongst the quietest heat pumps on the market, but some people are hypersensitive to noise and where your heat pump is mounted is super important. Stay away from sleeping areas.
If you have to locate your mini split near a bedroom, construct a raised pad that will isolate the noise form the house.
Along with mounting your mini split heat pump off the ground level to aid in draining water in the winter cold months, a wind diverter also help to keep you system operating at it’s most efficient capability. I found this universal wind baffle at Wind Baffle Direct. I’m not an affiliate or connected to them in any way, I just liked the idea that this baffle fits all.
Just a word of caution. I’d check with your manufacturer before installing to make sure that your warranty is still intact should you decide to install a baffle. Although, and this is not a recommendation, I’ve not had any manufacturers ask if a unit had a wind baffle when warranty issues have come up.
The main two things a wind baffle does are:
- Keep high winds from blowing the fan backwards
- Enable the heap pump to operate more efficiently at lower temperatures
LG make there own wind baffle which could offer you a small amount of comfort knowing that a major manufacturer allows the installation of of a baffle kit. Here’s a link to a PDF of their installation instructions.
Does My Mini Split Have A Drain Pan Heater Or Can I Add One?
Hard to tell sometimes without taking the unit apart. I’ve put together a short list of the customer support numbers of some of the major manufactures. Make sure you record your model and serial number off your outdoor units label located on the outside of the unit before you call.
If your brand is not on the list then just do a search with your favorite search engine for “manufacturers name” customer support.
- Fujitsu tech support (866) 952-8324
- Mitsubishi tech support (800) 433-4822
- Daikin tech support (855) 770-5678
- Gree tech support (888)850-7928
- LG tech support (866) 526-0152
- Mr Cool tech support (270) 366-0457
Ask them if your unit has a drain pan heater and if not can you get one and have it installed. Is your unit compatible with the addition of a heater? Is it a plug and play unit? Plug and play may allow you to install it yourself with the proper precautions.
Since you’ve read this far, why not travel just a bit further and scope out a couple of my favorite heating and cooling products and tools.
Thank you for reading my article. I hope the information has led to your ability to make good decisions in either working on or discovering how to solve problems in your home HVAC equipment. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them I do earn a commission. In all honesty they are products that I would use in my own home or the homes of my friends and family.
Fireplace remotes by Skytech Remote Control Products . My wife loves this and it probably took all of 30 minutes to install. Replace that wall switch or thermostat for your gas fireplace. Easy installation and instructions. In fact I wrote an article that covers the job pretty thoroughly I think.
Honeywell Thermostats. My favorite two Honeywell stats are the T6 Pro and the 8000 Pro series but their is a bunch to select from besides those two models. You can select WiFi that has the capability of operating your system from your smart phone no mater where you are. Honeywell tech support for homeowners is the best out there. Call them if you need at 800-468-1502 or comment below if you have questions.
Fieldpiece HS33 Expandable Manual Ranging Stick Multimeter for HVAC/R. I carry two of these in my service truck. Just like a spare tire, when I get out away from everything, it’s no time for a break down. The Fieldpiece HS33 gives me the ability to do any aspect of my trade. I can measure motor or element amps, check capacitors, and AC or DC voltages. Even different scales of OHMS for finding shorted windings or grounded conductors in motors or compressors.