Basics of Ductless Mini Split Systems
Details you need to know about ductless heating and cooling units before you consider getting one installed in your residential or commercial space
If you are unfamiliar with the ductless mini-split system, don’t feel bad. Split-system heaters and air conditioners are relatively new to this side of the world, even though the Japanese have been using them in their homes and office spaces for many years.
Duct-free systems have lots of residential and commercial applications, but are mostly used as retrofitted add-ons to houses with “non-ducted” heating systems, such as hydronic (hot water heat), radiant panels, and space heaters. They can also be an ideal heating and cooling solution for room additions where extending or redistributing existing ductwork is not feasible or desirable.
How does a ductless mini-split A/C system work?
Similar to standard heat pumps, mini-splits have two main parts: an outdoor compressor and an indoor air-handling unit. There is also a conduit, which holds a power cable, refrigerant tubing, and a condensate drain, and links the outdoor unit to individual rooms, offices, basements, etc.—anywhere a controlled temperature is desired. The wall-mounted inside units are then installed in the desired spaces to provide cooling or heating as needed by means of refrigerant.
Advantages of ductless split system over central units
There are several reasons why people prefer the mini-split over central units or other temperature control methods. The most obvious alternative benefits are:
Unlike forced-air systems, mini-splits give you the option of managing the comfort level for individual spaces within your home or office to establish “zones” for controlled temperature. Besides reducing energy waste, this zoning capability means that temperatures across one building can be varied based on personal preference, with one room cooler than another, if so desired.
Since ductless systems avoid potential leaky ductwork altogether, they tend to be more energy efficient overall. In fact, estimates for energy loss range from 1% to 5% for duct-free units, whereas forced air systems can lose up to 40% by some estimates. Most standard air conditioners and heaters top out at 18 SEER level, but mini-splits can reach up to 26 SEER, which greatly reduces your energy costs and waste.
The noisiest component of a heating and cooling system is the compressor. On mini-splits, the compressor is installed outside, typically well out of hearing. Also, the rumbling you can get from old ducts is absent from the ductless system, so the unit is virtually silently when it’s running.
Due to their zoning capabilities and efficiency, duct-free mini splits waste less energy than most other heating and cooling methods. Many newer units reduce your carbon footprint even more by using eco-friendly refrigerant that does not deplete the ozone layer.
Lastly, one of the best things about ductless systems is that once they are installed, they require virtually no upkeep. Generally speaking, mini splits only need a periodic cleaning, and because of their outdoor location, the condensing units are easily accessible for contractors when scheduled maintenance is needed.
Even with these benefits and more, there are a handful of factors to keep in mind when deciding whether a mini-split is right for your residential or commercial space. The most common concerns over ductless systems are:
Although mini-split systems are fairly easy to install, their primary disadvantage is the initial expense, which is usually higher than central systems and window units. However, this can be offset some by lower operating costs, as well as rebates or other financial incentives offered in certain areas. Talk to a contractor in your area to find out what discounts you may qualify for.
Some people do not like the appearance of the air-handling unit in their home. While less obtrusive than a window unit, they do not have the built-in look of central systems. Also, if not properly placed, the condensate drain outside the building can cause stains on concrete or building materials.
Finding a Qualified Mini-Split Installer Serving Metro-Atlanta
Locating a contractor who has the experience and skill needed to correctly size and install a mini-split system can be tough. The installer must not only determine the best location for the indoor and outdoor units, but also find the right size unit for the desired space. An oversized unit costs more, while an undersized system won’t be sufficient.
Gagne’s team of exceptional HVAC contractors provide residents and businesses of Buckhead, Duluth, Roswell and other communities in the metro-Atlanta area free estimates for duct-free mini split systems, as well as installationand repairs . Not only will we keep your initial costs as low as possible, we will make sure to find the best system for both space and heating & cooling needs. In other words, we take care of everything, from start to finish!
Set up a free appointment with one of our technicians to get started today.