A ductless mini-split can be an excellent option for keeping cool during the summer. Compared to a central AC unit, a mini-split is easy to install and doesn’t require any major construction. However, ductless mini-splits do have their limitations and are only really a better option in certain situations. If you’re considering a mini-split, here is a quick overview of how they work and how to know whether ductless or central AC is the better option.
How Ductless Mini-Splits Work
A ductless mini-split is a smaller, self-contained type of heat pump system. Instead of relying on a central air handler to circulate cool air, a mini-split absorbs heat from one room or area and then pumps the cool air back out into that area.
Mini-splits can either be single-zone or multi-zone systems. A single-zone system has one mini-split heat pump located outside the home, which is connected to an air handler that works to cool a single room or area. This type of system is great for cooling a garage, shed, cabin, office or any other smaller building. If you have a room or area of your home that is always much hotter, a single-zone mini-split is also a great way to supplement your cooling to help both that area and the rest of the home stay cooler.
Multi-zone mini-splits still only have a single outdoor heat pump unit, and this can be connected to anywhere from three to eight air handlers located in different rooms throughout the building. This type of system can potentially cool an entire home, but it typically won’t be an option for larger homes. The reason is that the outdoor heat pump unit can only pump the refrigerant a certain distance, which means that all of the air handlers can typically be no further than 50 or 100 feet from the outdoor heat pump.
A multi-zone system can provide you with far greater control and improved comfort compared to a central AC system. The reason is that each air handler is independent, which means you can turn the temperature up or down without affecting the rest of the system. This is great for overcoming issues with hot or cold spots or if you have some family members that like their rooms much warmer or cooler.
Ductless vs. Central HVAC
The main factor when choosing between a mini-split system or central air conditioning is whether the building has an existing ductwork system. If the building already has a ducted central heating system, it is generally best to install a central air conditioner. If the building doesn’t have ductwork or you have any rooms that aren’t connected to the central HVAC system, then a ductless system is definitely a great choice.
Mini-splits are more energy efficient than central air conditioning and will cost less to operate. This is simply because they don’t have the same issues with energy waste as central cooling systems. Most central AC systems waste quite a bit of energy due to air escaping through leaks in the duct system.
The only issue is that mini-splits also tend to be quite expensive, and even a single-zone system will often cost about the same as a new central AC unit. If you’re looking to install a multi-zone system to cool the entire home, you could be looking at spending several thousand dollars more than you would for a central AC unit. This is part of the reason why central AC is still typically a better option if the building already has an existing ductwork system. If the building doesn’t have ductwork, a mini-split is definitely the way to go since trying to retrofit the building to add a ductwork system will be extremely costly and require major construction and renovations.
At Air Care Heating & Cooling, we carry a wide selection of both central AC units and ductless mini-splits, and our technicians can help you choose the best option for your home and ensure it is installed correctly. We also install furnaces and boilers, and our technicians can handle all of your HVAC repair and maintenance needs as well. We also specialize in geothermal heating and cooling, indoor air quality and a full range of commercial HVAC services for residents of Shawnee and the surrounding areas. Give us a call today to learn more about your options for staying cool this summer.