If you're looking to install a mini-split air conditioning system in your home, you've probably come across a lot of information, which can make it hard to decide whether a ductless system is right for you.
To help you decide, we'll go over the pros of mini-split ACs:
- Easy installation
- Better efficiency and air quality
- Built-in zoning
- Good for additions and renovations
And the cons of mini-split ACs:
- Performance in extreme temperatures
First, we'll give a brief overview of how ductless ACs work.
Need a quote to install a ductless mini-split AC in your home? Call Reliable Heating & Air at (770) 594-9969 or schedule an appointment for a free in-home estimate.
Our HVAC experts can come to your home to discuss the pros and cons of ductless mini-splits, and whether a ductless AC is right for you. Then, we'll give you several options for which mini-split system to install and a free, upfront estimate for how much the job will cost.
How Mini-Split ACs Work
Like traditional forced air heat pumps, which can both heat and cool your home, ductless mini-splits air conditioners have two main components:
- Outdoor condenser, which contains the compressor.
- Indoor air-handling unit (the evaporator) that houses the refrigerant tubing, suction tubing, and condensate drain. Depending on the model, you can have up to 4 indoor units per outdoor unit.
Mini-split systems heat or cool your home by:
- Pulling in the hot or cold air inside a room.
- Running the air over warm or cold refrigerant coils.
- Pushing the air back into the room.
- Sending the refrigerant to the outdoor unit to expel the heat or cold.
Mini-splits, which are more efficient than AC window units and safer than space heaters, are most commonly used for spaces where it's not possible or economical to extend ductwork, including:
- Multi-family homes with small apartments
- New additions or renovations
- Existing spaces like basements, attics or garages
- Supplementing homes with non-ducted heating (radiators, space heaters, etc.)
Now, we'll go over the pros and cons of ductless mini-split systems.
The Pros of Mini-Split Systems
Pro #1: Easy installation
If your home doesn't have ductwork, a mini-split HVAC system will be easier to install than installing ductwork for a forced air HVAC system. Installing ductwork is an invasive, not to mention expensive, process for your home.
With ductless systems, the outdoor unit only requires a small (about 3-inch) hole to connect to the indoor wall units. This makes them much easier to install than going through the expensive process of installing ductwork.
Plus, the small area of outdoor access mini-split ACs require offer better security than window AC units. While window units are also easy to install, they require an open window, which grants intruders easier access.
Pro #2: Better efficiency and air quality
Mini-split systems are consistently more energy efficient than traditional HVAC systems because they don't lose conditioned air to leaky ducts.
Over time, ducts can tear or separate at the joints. When this happens, some of the air you're paying to cool or heat your home leaks out of the ducts into areas you don't want it to. This causes your system to run more to keep up with the lost air.
Since ductless HVAC systems directly supply the room they're cooling or heating, they don't lose any efficiency to leaky ducts.
Also, some manufacturers offer a cleaning feature on ductless systems (like Trane's "Auto Clean" feature), which filters the air multiple times to help reduce moisture and provide cleaner air. With forced air systems, you have to install a separate air filtration system to improve air quality.
Pro #3: Built-in zone control
Since each unit in a mini-split system is designed to only cool a small area, you can keep different areas at different temperatures if needed. Each unit has its own thermostat, which means ductless systems essentially come with HVAC zone control. This gives you more flexibility on cooling and heating individual areas to help save on utility bills.
For example, you can:
- Keep areas that get more traffic or direct sunlight cooler than other zones.
- Reduce heating and cooling in rooms that aren't used as often to save on electric bills.
Pro #4: Good for additions and renovations
Since mini-split systems cool single areas, they're great for supporting forced air HVAC systems with cooling and heating
- New additions. Garages, sunrooms, and other new additions that might not have ductwork are great candidates for ductless HVAC systems.
- Areas that have heating/cooling problems. Mini-split systems are an efficient way to make rooms that struggle to stay cool or warm (like upstairs bedrooms) more comfortable, without having to freeze or roast the rest of the house.
- Spaces with unconventional layouts. The indoor air handlers of mini-split ACs can be mounted just about anywhere, as long as it's flush into a drop ceiling or hung on a wall. As opposed to forced air systems, which need to connect the ductwork to the existing HVAC system.
Now, we'll get into some ductless AC cons.
The Cons of Mini-Split Systems
Con #1: Cost
Ductless HVAC systems cost roughly 30% more than forced air HVAC systems. How much you'll pay for your mini-split system will increase with the:
- Number of rooms you want heated or cooled
- Size of the system
- System's efficiency
That said, mini-split systems with the ENERGY STAR label are designed to save energy—and so save you money on monthly bills. Plus, you may be able to get a tax credit or rebate for installing an ENERGY STAR-certified system.
Con #2: Appearance
Mini-split systems need an indoor unit for every area they're cooling or heating, which means you'll need several units on walls or ceilings throughout your home. While the indoor air handlers aren't massive, some people don't like the way they look in their home.
Forced air HVAC systems, on the other hand, have the more discreet vents that are smaller and sit flush against the floor, wall, or ceiling. These vents can also be painted to match the wall or floor color, while you're more limited to color options with ductless ACs.
Con #3: Maintenance
With forced air systems, you should replace the disposable filter every 1, 3 or 6 months depending on your filter type. But with mini-split systems, you need to clean the reusable filter monthly to keep them running efficiently.
Like forced air HVAC systems, ductless ACs require good airflow to effectively cool and heat your home. If the filter is clogged, it restricts airflow and forces the system to work harder than it needs to.
Con #4: Performance in extreme temperatures
Ductless HVAC systems work well in moderate temperatures, but start to lose efficiency when temperatures get below freezing or above 95°-100°.
Once the outdoor temperature gets more than 20° warmer or colder than what you keep your home at, the system starts to lose efficiency because it's constantly running trying to keep your home comfortable. Extreme temperatures usually require a more powerful forced air HVAC system that can more efficiently heat or cool your home.
Commercial Ductless Mini-Split Systems
Mini-split systems are a good investment for many commercial buildings as well. They allow spot heating and cooling that operates independently of a central system, allowing efficient, economical control for only those occupied areas. With a mini-split zone system, each office can have its own temperature control, eliminating employees arguing over thermostat control.
Need a quote to install a mini-split system in your home or business? Call Reliable Heating & Air at (770) 594-9969 or schedule an appointment for a free in-home estimate.
We provide the most reliable mini-split HVAC service in Atlanta. We'll go over your ductless system options to help you find the best one for your home.