Ductless systems, also known as mini-splits, have become popular options in the HVAC world. They are ideal for new additions, homes without ductwork, and rooms that struggle maintaining temperature. Although there are many benefits, there are also some negatives to account for.
How Ductless Works
The very basic idea behind how a ductless system works is that you have 2 parts, an indoor handler unit and an outdoor unit. The handler unit sucks air from inside the house, passes it over a series of coils that contain coolant that changes from a liquid to a gas. This evaporation cools the surrounding air. The gas then goes to the outdoor condenser unit, which has a compressor that changes the gas back to a liquid, releasing warm air in the process. A fan then blows the warm air out. The process runs in reverse if heat is needed instead of cool air.
Pros of Ductless HVAC
- Flexibility: Mini-splits are used for individual rooms, meaning heating and cooling is flexible based on the preferences of the occupants, the temperature at the time, and whether or not the rooms are being used. Since each handler unit is for a separate space, you only have to heat and cool the rooms that are occupied. This is unlike a traditional forced air system where the air is dispersed evenly throughout the system.
- Energy Efficiency: Since mini-splits do not use any ducts to transport the air, you save an enormous amount of energy. Experts believe that approximately 30% of your energy is lost through leaky ducts.
- Easy to Install: If you do not already have ductwork in your home, a mini-split system may be the best option because they are very easy to install. You only need to create a 3 inch hole to place the conduit. No ducts are required, which means you do not have to tear up any walls in the process.
- Design Flexibility: Compared to a window air conditioner, mini-splits have many more options for design. They can be hung on the wall or suspended from the ceiling. They are also safer than a window unit because the install does not allow direct access to your home.
- Quieter: Ductless systems are much quieter than traditional systems. This is because they use an inverter compressor that speeds up or slows down based on your current needs. Regular systems have hard starts where the system uses a lot of energy to get going. These starts can cause clanking, banging, and other loud noises.
Cons of Ductless HVAC
- High Upfront Costs: Buying a ductless system is more expensive than simply replacing a traditional one. You must pay for each separate air handler. Experts have found that you will likely pay 30% more to convert to a ductless system.
- Aesthetics: While ductless systems offer more options than window units, many people do not like how they look in rooms. Unlike central air systems that are mostly unseen, the handler units must be placed in a visible place in your room. Design options are pretty limited with white or beige being the most common colors.
- Back-up May Be Necessary: If you live in a particularly cold climate, a ductless system may not be able to meet your heating needs. A fuel-based back-up may be necessary, adding to the costs.
- Maintenance: Filters in the units must be washed regularly (often monthly). Ductless systems can not handle a large build up of debris. While you should change the filter on your traditional system, it can often go much longer and is usually disposable.
Treasure Valley Heating and Cooling
If you want to know if a ductless system is right for you, call the experts at Snowflake Air. Our team of professionals can explain all of the details and give you a free estimate. For Meridian heating and cooling, you won’t find better than Snowflake Air.