Everything You Want (and need) To Know About Ductless / Mini Split Systems
Ductless (mini-split) air conditioning systems are the most efficient HVAC systems you can have in your home. Making sure they make sense for you and your home is important.
What is A Ductless System?
Ductless systems have a split design without complicated ductwork.
Unlike central air conditioners, these systems are duct-free. These split systems (also called mini-splits or duct-free systems) usually have two parts:
One outdoor unit (the condenser) and at least one indoor unit (the evaporator) inside of your home.
Read more about what a ductless system is here.
They’re most often used in situations where a window AC unit or baseboard heating would be considered, as an addition to a house. Unlike window units, ductless units require only a very small hole to be drilled into the wall, making them less vulnerable to air leakage and security problems. Plus, they’re less noticeable and a lot quieter than window units.
Types of Ductless Systems
There are four types of indoor units. Wall mounted, ceiling recessed, floor mounted, and horizontal ducted. All four types of indoor units include cutting-edge technology and have comparable features. Multi-position air handlers are ideal for larger zones, entire floors, and as part of a larger, multi-room, whole home system, or Zoned Comfort Solutions.
Wall Mounted Mini-Split Systems
They’re hung on the wall and are designed to never take away from the beauty of your home.
With a sleek design, they’re the system that’s installed the most and the most popular among homeowners. They’ll work in most rooms in your house and can cool and heat a space up to 250 square feet.
Ceiling Recessed Mini-Split Systems
These units are concealed inside your ceiling to keep any bulkiness of the mini-split air conditioner from crowding your home.
With return air sensors on every unit, you’ll be able to monitor room conditions and automatically adjust to maintain the temperature you choose. Four-way airflow allows you to direct the air where it’s needed most and manage the unit through a variety of controller options. The most common installation is in a ceiling with attic access.
Floor Mounted Mini-Split Systems
Concealed inside your floor, they keep bulkiness crowding your home to maintain its charm.
The most common installation is in hotels and office buildings. They’re whisper-quiet and don’t take away from the appeal of the room they’re in. You‘ll never worry about making sure your system is on the right setting or temperature. You can monitor and adjust your system with a remote control, or right from your phone when using a wireless interface.
Horizontal Ducted Mini-Split Systems
For tough to reach spots in your house, these units are installed in the ceiling/floor.
New home construction is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of horizontal ducted units. They use less ductwork than traditional HVAC systems and can be hidden either above the ceiling or below the floor.
Many homeowners are reluctant to install a ductless system because of their style, but after the installation report that they forget the system is there.
When you’re considering a ductless system for your home, the style you choose depends a lot on the aesthetics, the application, and the price.
Ductless System Benefits – Pros and Cons
Why would you hook up a high-efficiency system to a leaky, inefficient duct system?
According to the US Department of Energy, “You can lose up to 60% of your heated air before it reaches the register if your ducts are not insulated and they travel through unheated spaces such as an attic or crawlspace.” Because your traditional central air system uses energy to heat and cool the air, you’re losing 25-40% when you’re forcing air through most ducts.
The reason some rooms in your house are always hotter or cooler than others is because of the ductwork. And just by removing ductwork, which ductless systems do, you’re saving up to 40% on your energy bills every month.
Conventional systems run either on 100% or 0% when they’re heating or cooling – causing a lot of strain. Ductless with inverter technology takes a different approach by only using the amount of energy needed to get your room to the right temperature.
One of the main reasons people switch to ductless systems is the energy savings. Ductless systems even qualify for a tax credit.
Very Flexible, Custom Solutions
Mini-splits can be installed in home additions, new construction, condominiums & apartments, or to improve temperature control in specific rooms.
If you’re building an additional room on your house and want it to be cooled with your conventional system, you’d have to rebalance the entire HVAC system. Split systems are independent of each other, so you’re able to heat and cool additional rooms without rebalancing your entire ac system.
Whether you’re adding an additional room to your home or renovating a hotel, ductless air conditioners can fit most applications.
Improved Air Quality
Because each system has their own multi-stage filtration system, each room’s air quality is equally enhanced over conventional HVAC systems.
With conventional systems, your air ducts need to be cleaned on a regular basis by professionals. Your ductless system can be cleaned (without professional help) in a matter of minutes.
Each room has its own air filters and isn’t circulated throughout the whole house, leaving you with cleaner air overall. Don’t skip cleaning your filters though, ductless fans aren’t built to handle debris build up.
Installation of a ductless system is usually quick and easy.
Traditional ducted systems can take several weeks and cause lots of disruptions in your home. But when you’ve found the right contractor, mini-split systems can be up and running in as little as one day.
Split systems run on small pipes that require a mere three-inch hole in the wall. That’s it for installation. You don’t need to rebuild walls or put in any ductwork.
Ductless System Drawbacks
Ductless system pricing can come with an initial shock – only because they’re usually installed after the house is built.
Most people maintain their current systems and don’t see the cost of installing a new heating and cooling system. And in most modern houses, ductwork is already installed.
Single-room systems will cost several times more than window or baseboard units. If you’re replacing your central air conditioning with all ductless units, expect to invest a little more than you would upfront to replace your conventional unit. But, those savings are quickly made up with your reduced energy bills all year round.
Financing can reduce the initial shock, and lower energy bills over the long-term will help pay you back for the investment in ductless.
Split-ductless heat pumps were made with people in temperate regions in mind.
Not until recently have their been systems with the capacity to heat effectively in climates that dip into the negative degrees. For example, the systems with Mitsubishi Hyper Heat can deliver heat in -13 degrees Fahrenheit.
For colder climates, it’s a good idea for you to have another source of heat that can provide a little backup.
Places Where Installing A Ductless System Make Sense
Ductless systems are versatile and can be installed in almost all homes, condos, apartments, or office buildings. Thinking through the application of your ductless units is key.
Because they can be added in as-needed, older homes and new additions make the perfect applications for ductless units – and where most single-zoned systems are installed.
Older homes tend to reduce their energy cost when mini-splits are installed. Plus, it can be surprisingly more cost effective to install a whole home solution when a compared to oil or propane heating.
New additions – like sunrooms, offices, in-law suites, and basements – make up the majority of single-zoned applications. Ductless air conditioners and heaters work well because rebalancing your existing ductwork can get expensive. If your current system can’t handle the added capacity your new addition creates, mini-splits are a perfect choice.
For Apartments & Office Buildings
Ductless systems uncomplicate HVAC maintenance for owners – as well as renters. Each room in each unit gets their own head (indoor ductless unit) which gives unrivaled comfort to your renters. Instead of having separate heating and cooling systems for each unit, all the mini-split units are controlled by a couple outdoor units.
Mitsubishi pioneered VRF (variable refrigerant flow) technology specifically with apartments and businesses in mind. Helping you building lower lifecycle costs on your HVAC equipment, giving you zoned comfort for each room in each unit, simplifying the design – installation – maintenance for the HVAC in your building, giving you whisper quiet heating/cooling and saving you space in each unit & the building as a whole.
Giving each classroom the option of their own temperature is a big benefit for your teachers and students. Plus, mini split units can help keep the large energy bills schools tend to have in check. And one of the biggest benefits is not worrying about the entire schools’ heat or air conditioning going out.
Each room is individually heated and cooled by the ductless unit inside, practically eliminating cold/hot spots in your school. When spring, fall, and summer come, each room will have their own temperature, keeping your students comfortable. If a unit fails or needs maintenance, since each room is a piece of the system as a whole, any issues can be easily fixed because they can be pinpointed quick.
Finding A Ductless Contractor
Although the do-it-yourself approach is possible, we’d advise against it. You’ll more than likely void the warranty, which is bad if something happens with your system.
Just like other HVAC systems, ductless air conditioners won’t work correctly if they’re sized wrong or the installation isn’t done properly. Finding a ductless certified contractor is important.
At Ductless America, our installers have to continually perform at an exceptional level and be recognized by the manufacturer as a certified ductless installer. To speak to one of our installers near you, submit a free estimate and the contractor in your area will reach out to you.
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