If a home does not have central air, or if the current air-conditioning system does not provide the desired level of comfort in certain rooms inside the home, the ductless mini-split system is an efficient solution.
While there are many viable options for air-conditioning, we’ll discuss what a ductless mini-split system is, how it compares to central air systems and window units, and other useful information when considering it for a home.
What is a ductless mini-split system?
Ductless mini-splits are inverter-driven air-conditioning and heating units. This means their compressors can change speed depending on the load demand or temperature requirements of a room. Their convenient size and shape make them a great option for any room that needs cooling.
Even if your customers have a functioning central air system, mini-splits can be great additions to areas that need extra cooling or an additional room not reached by a central air system (such as a bonus room). They’re also more efficient than window units for spot cooling.
Mini-Splits Are a More Efficient, Cost-Effective Alternative to Central Air
Most central air systems rarely meet the SEER rating — or maximum efficiency rating — because the ductwork tends to leak, depleting efficiency. Ductless units have little to no efficiency loss, as mini-splits carry coolant through copper tubes directly connected to the outdoor air handling system. A properly installed mini-split system provides better value for homeowners. While central air systems are controlled by one centrally located thermostat, a multiple mini-split system will cool each room to the preferred temperature for that space. The temperature is sensed and run through numerous thermostats rather than one.
Unlike central air, which will kick on and off when a set temperature is reached, the compressor in a ductless mini-split system runs continuously. By staying on, it provides the exact amount of cooling required to keep a set temperature. While that may seem inefficient at first, think of it in terms of a car: When you keep your car in cruise control, it’s more fuel efficient than pushing down and letting off the gas pedal. Because a central air system constantly turns on and off, it uses more energy than an efficiently running multi-split compressor.
In addition to greater efficiency, a mini-split outdoor air handling system is much smaller and quieter than the large, loud condenser units of central air systems.
Mini-Splits Are More Attractive and Cost-Effective Than Window Air-Conditioning Units
A ductless mini-split can be used in any kind of home, whether a new build or an existing home with or without central air.
For years, many homeowners have chosen to complement their central air system with a window air conditioner in a room that needs added cooling power.
Here are three reasons a ductless mini-split system may be a more suitable choice:
- Window units tend to run continuously rather than on temperature-based settings. Mini-splits only run when they’re needed, making them more energy efficient and cost-effective.
- Ductless mini-splits increase curb appeal by eliminating the need for a bulky, unsightly unit and keeping windows clear and visible.
- Mini-splits create less noise than window units. Unless the fan is on its highest setting, owners will hardly recognize it is running — and even while on high, the sound is minimal. Thanks to a slow start-up and efficient engineering, homeowners won’t even hear the inside unit or outside air handler kick on.
With a sleek, unobtrusive design, mini-split wall units can be placed anywhere in the home. While it’s easier to place them on an exterior wall of a house to run piping directly through the wall and down to the outdoor air handling unit, placing them on an interior wall is the better option because it increases efficiency.
While the indoor wall units are the most commonly purchased models, there are indoor units to choose from, including floor consoles, small-ducted units that can efficiently connect two rooms using minimal ducting and a cassette for drop ceilings. All of these options create more usable space, as the air only needs to travel through small tubing. More space adds more value to a building or home, especially if it eliminates the need to contend with a large furnace or outdoor condenser.
Are ductless mini-splits good for heating?
While many consider them as options for cooling a space, ductless mini-splits have heating capabilities as well. With a solid heating coefficient of performance, they are three times more efficient than a baseboard heater.
Mini-split systems offer unmatched heating capabilities at temperatures most traditional heat pump systems can't reach. This is done by using the inverter-driven variable speed compressor. As the temperature drops, the compressor can speed up to collect outdoor heat and move it inside. Some models can even provide 75 percent of their rated heating capacity at temperatures below -22°F.
How long do ductless air conditioners last?
With proper maintenance and cleaning of the indoor and outdoor units, customers should enjoy reliable cooling power for more than 10 years and, in some cases, up to 30 years. Mini-split te technology is advancing rapidly. Even if a system has been running great for 15 years, the homeowner may choose to replace their system to take advantage of the newly developed features and energy savings.