If you’re thinking about upgrading your HVAC system, you may have heard people mention a ductless mini-split system. This type of unit is still relatively new, so many people are not aware of how they work. Learning a little about what ductless mini-split systems are can help you figure out if one is right for you.
What Is a Ductless Mini-Split System?
A ductless mini-split is a type of HVAC system that helps adjust the temperature of your home. Some solely provide cooling, but many provide both cooling and heating. The majority of mini-split systems are electric, but you can find some systems that operate on gas or fuel oil. The effects of a ductless mini-split system are similar to those of traditional central HVAC systems. It can fully cool down your air on a hot day and potentially warm up your home in winter. However, it has a slightly different layout.
As the name implies, a ductless mini-split system doesn’t have ducts. Unlike a traditional AC, it doesn’t need to have large pieces of ductwork run through your ceiling, walls, or floor before hooking up to an AC supply vent. Furthermore, a ductless mini-split doesn’t have one big outdoor air compressor unit and one big indoor air handler unit. Instead, the air handler system is split up into several smaller devices. Each small air handler is installed in an individual room, where it provides heated or cooled air. All of the small air handler units are hooked up to a large air compressor outside with refrigerant lines. This compressor unit then transfers heat away from or into the house to maintain your desired temperature.
Benefits of Ductless Mini-Split Systems
More and more people are switching to ductless mini-split systems because these HVAC systems have some unique benefits. One of the biggest is that you don’t need to install ducts. Instead of cutting massive holes in your walls and finding space to run big ducts through everything, you just need a 3-inch hole for each air handler. This hooks up a drain line, refrigerant line, and electric line to the outdoor unit. The less invasive installation makes ductless mini-splits ideal for:
- Add-ons to your home
- Mother-in-law suites
- Historic buildings
- Rental units
- Small or unconventional homes
Eliminating ductwork does more than just make installation easier. It also improves efficiency. In the average central air system, about 20% of air is lost in its journey through the duct system. Since the air handler for a ductless mini-split system delivers treated air directly to the room, there is no chance for leaky ducts to waste it. This results in plenty of energy efficiency savings for you.
Since each room has its own air handler, you don’t have to keep your entire home at the same temperature. Instead, each air handler can be set to whatever your desired temperature is for that individual room. This gives you complete control over your cooling. If one household member prefers vastly different temperatures, they can customize their bedroom to match their preferences. You can also turn the AC way up in rooms you don’t use, resulting in even more energy savings.
A final perk of going with a ductless mini-system is that they are usually very quiet. The compressor unit, with all its noisy fans and moving parts, is placed far away from the home. Most mini-split air handlers are designed to operate as quietly as possible. You may not even notice when your AC turns on and off.
Potential Downsides to Ductless Mini-Split Systems
There are all sorts of perks to ductless mini-split systems, but they are not likely to replace central AC altogether. There are a few potential downsides to installing a ductless mini-split system. Though these cons may not bother many people, it is still important to be aware of them before making the switch.
For many homeowners, the main concern is cost. A mini-split system can be a little pricier than traditional central air. This happens because the individual components themselves are pricier and the installation is a little more complex. You need to find a company that actually has experience mounting and hooking up the indoor handlers, so you may pay a little more for a highly qualified company. Though they do cost more upfront, you end up saving in the long run due to lower utility bill costs.
Another potential problem is the fact that indoor air handlers are visible. Unlike central air conditioning, you will see the unit mounted inside. They are usually mounted high on the wall or in an out of the way corner, so they are not too intrusive. However, if you are used to the lower profile of the traditional supply vent, a ductless mini-split handler can seem a little bulky. Something else to consider is whether or not you want a smart thermostat system for your home. Keep in mind that connecting the multiple air handlers to a single programmable thermostat is slightly more complicated. You may need to purchase extra accessories or consult with an electrician to do so.
How to Choose and Install a Mini-Split System
As you can see, there are all sorts of great benefits to a ductless mini-split system. If you think it is right for you, you will be happy to hear the installation process is fairly quick and easy. The first thing you need to do is divide your home into zones and figure out how many indoor units you need. People typically do one per bedroom, one in the kitchen, and one in the living room. However, if your home has an unusual layout, something else might work better. You should always consult with a mini-split installer to find the right number and size of air handlers for your house. You also need to consider if you want just an air conditioner or if you want a heat pump model that will also supply your home with heat in the winter.
Next, you will need to pick out the actual model. There are all sorts of brands that have their own unique perks. To compare different styles, take a look at the unit’s SEER rating. This will tell you how much power it uses to cool your home. You may also want to check out the decibel level of the unit if you want an extra-quiet air handler. Finally, consider the indoor air handlers themselves. Select an option that comes in your preferred dimensions and has the type of controls you prefer.
Whether you want to install a ductless mini-split system now or still need to learn more about it, we’re here to answer all your questions. Honest Air Conditioning has the experience and know-how needed to assist with Mesa HVAC installations. Our friendly and highly-trained technicians can also help you out with any repairs or maintenance needed for your HVAC system. Go ahead and give us a call now to find out more about our services.