Ductless split systems, also known as mini-splits, have been around for about 40 years. Largely because of higher up-front costs, they haven’t been widely used in the U.S. However, more and more people who lack ductwork in their homes are starting to take a closer look at this type of heating and cooling. We feel that, because of its energy-efficiency and flexibility, ductless splits are going to play a large role in the future of HVAC. So just what is this system, and is it a good solution for you?
Ductless, mini-split system heat pumps make good retrofit add-ons to houses with non-ducted heating systems, such as hydronic (hot water heat), radiant panels, and space heaters (wood, kerosene, propane). They can also be a good choice for room additions, where extending or installing ductwork is not feasible.
Like standard air-source heat pumps, mini splits have two main components: an outdoor compressor/condenser, and an indoor air-handling unit. A conduit, which houses the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing, and a condensate drain, links the outdoor and indoor units.
Mini split systems offer several advantages for homeowners:
- Ductless mini split systems are small and flexible for zoning or heating and cooling individual rooms. Many models can have as many as four indoor air handling units (for four zones or rooms) connected to one outdoor unit. The number depends on how much heating or cooling is required for the building or each zone (which in turn is affected by how well the building is insulated). Since each of the zones will have its own thermostat, you only need to condition that place as needed. This saves energy and money.
- Ductless mini-split systems are often easier to install than other types of space conditioning systems. For example, the hook up between the outdoor and indoor units generally requires only a three-inch hole through a wall for the conduit. Also, most manufacturers of this type of system can provide a variety of lengths of connecting conduits. If necessary, you can locate the outdoor unit as far away as 50 feet from the indoor evaporator. This makes it possible to cool rooms on the front side of a building house with the compressor in a more advantageous or inconspicuous place on the outside of the building.
- Since mini splits have no ducts, they avoid energy losses associated with ductwork of central forced air systems. Duct losses can account for more than 30 percent of energy consumption for space conditioning, especially if the ducts are in an unconditioned space such as an attic.
- Ductless mini splits offer more flexibility in interior design options than other add-on options. The indoor air handlers can be suspended from a ceiling, mounted flush into a drop ceiling, or hung on a wall. Floor-standing models are also available. Most indoor units have profiles of about seven inches deep and usually come with sleek, high tech-looking jackets. Many also offer a remote control to make it easier to turn the system on and off when it’s positioned high on a wall or suspended from a ceiling.
- Ductless mini-split systems can also help to keep your home safer since there is only a small hole in the wall. Through-the-wall and window mounted room air-conditioners can provide an easy entrance for intruders.
Ductless mini split HVAC systems offer an economical, flexible option for homeowners who lack ductwork, need to heat or cool an addition, and/or want to condition their homes room by room. If you want more information about ductless mini-split systems, give us a call. We’ll help you determine if it’s right for you.
T.F. O’Brien services the Long Island, New York area.
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