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The Ductless Mini Split: An Ideal System Add-On

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

If you’re looking to add heating or cooling to a hard-to-reach space like an addition to your home or an enclosed porch or if you want to bypass the costs that extending ductwork entails, ductless mini splits offer homeowners access to a unique solution to heating and cooling problems, as well as new spaces.

Not-so-new technology

While the ductless mini split is relatively new in the U.S., it’s been used for decades in Japan and Europe as the go-to heating and cooling source for the entire home. As awareness grows, and homeowners learn about its innovative technology, the ductless mini split has gained ground, accounting for an increasing number of installations over the years.

How it works

Ductless mini splits are available as an air conditioner only or as a heat pump. The latter offers significant advantages, as it’s both a heating and cooling system, making your newly conditioned space usable year-round.

Both types of ductless mini splits operate using refrigeration principles; however, the heat pump reverses the refrigeration cycle during the heating season. Using a condenser, compressor and evaporator, the typically A/C or heat pump employs a centrally located indoor unit and an outdoor unit. The ductless mini split employs the same components, however, instead of one larger air handler/evaporator installed indoors, the mini split allows homeowners to install smaller air handlers in individual rooms throughout the home. The air handlers connect to the single outdoor unit, connected via a conduit that houses critical components like the drain lines, power and refrigerant.

Where to use ductless mini splits

Because mini splits only require a small hole typically drilled in the wall to connect the air handler to the condensing unit, installation options are endless — and homeowners aren’t limited to installation dependent on ductwork — or extending it. Many homeowners choose to install these nifty systems in the following locations:

  • A great room, boosting heating and cooling in hard-to-condition spaces
  • A room above a garage, which is susceptible to extreme temperatures if the garage isn’t conditioned
  • A remodeled attic
  • An addition to the home

Benefits of the mini split

Multiple benefits exist for the homeowners who turn to the ductless mini split when adding heating and cooling to the home, including:

  • Ease of installation – Adding ductwork requires significant adjustments to the home, causing inconvenience, a longer project time and increased costs. Mini splits require insignificant changes to the home and install quickly, usually within one day.
  • Visually pleasing – The indoor air handlers are small, sleek and install on the wall or ceiling. Floor-standing models are also available.
  • Zoning – Each air handler is individually controlled, giving homeowners the option to zone heating and cooling. If one space requires a higher heating temperature, simply make the adjustment on that zone’s thermostat.
  • Savings – Controlling each air handler on a case-by-case basis also encourages savings. Shutting off the air handler when the room isn’t occupied decreases energy consumption and homeowners avoid running the unit unnecessarily. Additionally, not relying on ductwork leads to further savings. Experts estimate that the average home loses quite a bit of energy through inefficient and leaky ducts. Ductless mini splits aren’t subject to those losses, so their performance capabilities are attainable, especially if your home is very efficient, and/or you’ve taken steps to improve the structure.

To discuss the ductless mini-split option with one of our experts, just contact any of the contractors on this site.

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