Most people are unaware that there are 2 ways to connect the copper tubing for a ductless mini split installation. The two methods are: 1) a flare connection and 2) a braze connection.
The most common method for a ductless mini split installation is the flare connection or the flaring method. Using this method, the contractor uses a tool to stretch the outer diameter of the copper tube to create a flare (see below).
Once the flare has been created, the contractor will connect the bolts together to lock in the two copper pieces together.
Advantages of the Flaring Method
The flaring method is the most commonly used method in the industry because it is fast and easy to do. There are many great tools to help the installer create flares and it typically does not take much training to get started.
The second method for connecting copper tubing with a mini split installation is the braze or brazing method. The technical term for joining copper is known as brazing but some people are more familiar with terms such as soldering or welding. Similar to welding, the copper is joined together with a high-intensity torch and a brazing alloy. The brazing alloy creates a strong bond between the copper tubes leading a stronger and more durable connection.
Advantages of Brazing
The key advantage with brazing vs. flaring lies at the strength of the connection, the durability of the connection, and the decreased likelihood of refrigerant leaking. No matter how skilled an installer is with creating flares, all flare connections have microscopic opens that will leak out refrigerant. The brazing method is the only way to ensure a "completely" sealed connection that will eliminate the possibility of a refrigerant leak.
Disadvantages of Brazing
The main disadvantage of brazing is the skill required to perform it properly. Most HVAC installers are not properly trained in this method and even fewer installers have the right equipment to perform the task. In addition to the skill requirement, brazing a connection also takes longer than flaring one. A flare connection can be completed in 5 to 10 minutes while a brazing one can take 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
Why We always Braze Our Copper Connections
We believe in giving our customers the highest level of service and are willing to go the extra mile to ensure that all of our installation projects meet the highest standards of quality, reliability, and durability. Although it takes us longer to perform a brazing connection, we do so because we know that it will save our customers money in the long run. With a flare connection, the customer will need to refill their refrigerant every 5 years while a brazing connection will hardly ever leak. We think that it is worth spending an extra 10 to 20 minutes on each installation if our customers can save hundreds of dollars in the future.