MINI SPLIT DUCTLESS AIR CONDITIONERS
Traditional central air conditioning is not always the best fit for every home. If you have an older home, installing whole house air conditioning may not be possible due to lack of space for ductwork. Fortunately, there’s a popular, flexible solution: a mini-split ductless air conditioner.
Proper system sizing and installation is absolutely critical to getting the touted benefits from a ductless air conditioner. Although a DIY approach is possible, we advise against it as you’ll likely void the warranty. A ductless air conditioner will never work properly if the system is the wrong size, the wall penetration isn’t sealed correctly, or the sensitive electronics are mishandled. And you have to be able to handle refrigerant according to environmental guidelines. The extra money you spend to have a pro do the job is worth it.
A ductless mini-split air conditioner works like a regular central air conditioner but without the ducts. The indoor unit blows warm air from your home over cold evaporator coils. The refrigerant running through these coils absorbs the heat from the air and brings it to the outside unit where the refrigerant dumps all the heat pulled from your home’s air.
Ductless systems are highly efficient, using 25%–50% less energy than electric zonal heaters, such as baseboard, wall and ceiling heat or electric forced-air systems.
In window ACs, a single unit contains compressors, motors, connecting pipes and heat exchangers, and the entire air conditioning unit rests on a single base. A split type AC incorporates two units: an indoor unit and an outdoor unit. Copper tubing provides the connection between the indoor and outdoor unit.
A ductless air conditioner or heat pump typically consists of a wall-mounted indoor unit combined with an outside compressor.
It’s most often used in a situation where a window AC unit or baseboard heating would be considered, such as a new addition to a house.
But unlike window units, ductless air conditioners 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 visible and audible.
They’re also exceedingly energy-efficient.
In the average house, you’re losing 25 percent or more of your energy to ductwork.
Simply by removing the ducts, you end up with a more efficient system.
Ductless air conditioners also have inverter-driven compressors, which speed up and slow down based on the needs of the system instead of shutting off entirely like traditional HVAC compressors do.
In fact, if you purchase an ENERGY STAR® ductless air conditioner, you can save up to 30 percent on heating and cooling costs for the space in question, and you may qualify for a federal tax credit and local utility incentives as well.
Depending on your home’s construction, ductless air conditioners can make sense in a variety of applications, including whole-house heating and cooling. But there are certain situations where ductless has a clear advantage:
New additions: garage apartments, bonus rooms, sunrooms, man caves. If you smoke cigars in there, you don’t want be sharing ductwork with the rest of the house. The main benefit of ductless here is that it will be properly sized for the new space and won’t steal air from other rooms or overload older HVAC systems.
Downsizing efforts for larger homes. Most people don’t want to heat and cool rooms they aren’t using. But shutting HVAC grilles in empty rooms creates pressure imbalances and mold problems. It’s far better to install a ductless system in, say, the master bedroom and set the house’s main thermostat to run minimally.
Serving multiple needs under one roof. Does your family constantly fight over the thermostat? Ductless is ideal for creating independent temperature zones in different rooms, and although you can install zoning in a traditional ducted system, it won’t be as efficient.
Giving support to a room with specific heating/cooling problems. If you have a small kitchen with a giant stove, a southwest view and big picture windows, a ductless unit can make your summer party far less sweaty without having to install new ductwork.
Adding AC to a house with no existing ductwork. Ductless isn’t cheap, but it’s less expensive than adding ductwork to an existing house.
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