No Ductwork, No Problem with a Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner
A split system air conditioner is a generic term that describes any air conditioning system that has an outdoor unit and an indoor unit. A central air conditioner is an example of a split system because it has outdoor and indoor components. It works by circulating cooled air through a home using a network of ducts installed behind the walls, under the floors, and in the attic.
However, if your home or office has no ductwork, the ductless mini-split air conditioner may be the perfect choice for you. The mini-split system is ideal for small spaces or spaces with no ductwork. It is also a great choice for older homes or buildings where installing ductwork for a central air system is simply not feasible. These mini-split systems are low profile air conditioners that usually mounted on a wall inside the room or in the ceiling. As its name indicates, the mini-split systems operate with two primary components: an outdoor compressor/condenser, and an indoor air-handling unit. The power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing, and a condensate drain are housed in a conduit that links the outdoor and indoor units.
Advantages of a Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner
One primary advantage is these systems provide cooling in homes and office spaces without using ductwork. In older homes, ductwork was not installed like it is in modern homes. In addition, many older homes do not have space for new ductwork to be installed. If you have an older home that needs to be retrofitted with air conditioning, a mini-split may be the answer for you.
These air conditioning systems take up very little space for the comfort they provide. In addition, they pack a lot of power in the smaller unit. A single outdoor compressor/condenser can support up to four indoor air-handler units. That means one outdoor unit can cool up to four rooms. A mini-split air-handler takes up such a small amount of space that it works well in small areas such as single or multiple room additions to your home or office.
The initial cost of a ductless mini-split air conditioner is about twice that of a window-mounted unit. However, each zone is controlled with its own thermostat, and you only pay to cool the space when it is occupied. Also, it provides heating as well as cooling, so you get a lot for the money.
Installation is fairly straightforward. The connection between the indoor and outdoor units requires no more than a three-inch hole through a wall for the conduit. In most cases, the outdoor unit can be located up to 50 feet away from the indoor air-handler. With that flexibility, you should be able to cool rooms on the front side of a building and tuck the compressor away in a less conspicuous location outside.
In addition to using less space, the absence of ductwork provides another benefit. It also avoids the energy losses associated with the ductwork of central air systems. When air conditioning ducts are in an uncooled space such as an attic, they can account for losses of more than 30% of the energy consumption used by the system.
The mini-splits are fairly easy to install. Like most cooling systems, it is important to make sure you have a qualified installer who can help you buy the correct size unit for the space to ensure optimal comfort.
Alternatives to Mini-Split Systems
If the initial cost of a mini-split system is a problem for you, less expensive alternatives are available:
Room Air Conditioner
A room air conditioner can be a window mounted unit or a portable unit. It is a budget-friendly way to cool a room or addition to your home. If you have it installed in a window, make sure you have a knowledgeable technician do the installation or you will have problems with air leakage.
Circulating the air makes the room more comfortable by creating a slight wind chill effect on your skin. Use a ceiling fan, table fan, or floor fan when you are in the room. Fans are the least expensive to purchase, the easiest to install, and the most energy-efficient way to make a room feel more comfortable. A whole house fan will pull air in through the windows and push it out through the attic, providing good ventilation throughout the house. It needs professional installation to ensure proper sizing and operation.
Evaporative Cooler, aka Swamp Cooler
Swamp coolers work by cooling outdoor air using evaporated water and circulating it throughout your indoor space. They are suitable only in arid climates and not where humidity is high.
Contact a Professional HVAC Contractor for More Information
If you need to do something to make your home or office more comfortable this summer and mini-split system sounds like it might work for you, call a reputable HVAC contractor for more information. A qualified technician can come to your home before you buy and help you get the right unit for your needs. Don’t suffer through another hot summer; call soon to talk about a mini-split system or another air conditioner for your home.