Ductless Mini Split AC FAQ
Answering Your Most Common Questions
Ductless mini split AC systems are exploding in popularity! Do you have any questions about these systems, including how they work and whether they are right for you? The answers to some of these questions can be found right here. If you need more information, call our team at Hi-Tech Plumbing & Air and we’d be glad to help you!
What is a mini-split system?
A ductless mini-split air conditioner is a fully-functioning air conditioning system, only in a smaller package. Whereas your central air conditioner consists of two large units, a mini-split system contains everything from the compressor and evaporator into two small boxes, usually no more than a couple of cubic feet in size. They’re sort of like a window-mounted cooling system, only they split the indoor and outdoor sections apart and connect them with specialized refrigerant and electrical lines.
How do mini-split systems work?
The simple answer: exactly like a central air conditioning system would. In fact, their operating principles are exactly the same: they use refrigerant to move heat from inside your home to the outdoor environment. However, because they are at a much smaller scale compared to a central cooling system, they cost less and fit into much smaller spaces. This also makes them much quieter and more energy-efficient too.
What are ductless mini split air conditioners for?
Ductless mini split air conditioning systems serve a variety of purposes. They can add additional cooling power to an area of your home that struggles to stay cool during certain hours of the day (or even throughout the day). They can provide cooling to an area of your home that was not constructed with cooling in mind, such as a garage, guesthouse, or workshop. They can even provide precise temperature control for new additions to your home such as new bedrooms or extended living spaces. Want to finish your attic? Add cooling with a ductless system!
However, modern ductless mini split systems go beyond just single-area use and can even be used to cool entire homes. For example, if you live in an older home that was not built with air conditioning in mind, then a ductless mini split can allow you to air condition your home without the cost and frustration of building air ducts.
How many rooms can a mini-split cool?
In short, we wouldn’t recommend cooling more than one room with a mini-split air conditioner. However, Modern mini-split systems are actually designed to work together to cool multiple zones through the use of several different systems.
Several systems can typically be connected to one compressor for optimal energy efficiency and space-saving, and adding these systems offers great temperature control and flexibility by only requiring you to use your cooling system in rooms you are actually using.
A single unit does not have the cooling capacity of a typical central AC system, but by combining several units together in unique, individual zones, your entire home can be more comfortable and cooler while you could save tremendously on your energy bills!
What size mini-split system do I need?
This answer will vary depending on what it is you want to do. If you’re just trying to cool an office space or bedroom, then you probably won’t need a big one. If you’re trying to cool a large living area, you will need a large unit or even multiple units to work together. Because your situation is as unique as you are, we recommend talking to one of our AC installation pros for an assessment.
How long do mini-splits last?
A mini-split system will last around the same amount of time a central cooling system will if you take good care of it: as long as 20 or 25 years. Because these systems are smaller, they are typically less prone to problems than their full-size central cooling counterparts. However, we do recommend maintaining your mini-splits with annual AC maintenance services. Doing so will improve longevity.
What is needed to install a ductless AC system?
Ductless mini split systems generally have much lower installation requirements than a full central air conditioning system. Most of the time, all you really need is a nearby 120-volt electrical connection that can be tapped into and an exterior-facing wall that can be drilled through. For your electrical system, you will need at least 15 amps but a 20-amp circuit is often the better choice if available.
Your technician will need to put a hole in your exterior facing wall to allow power and refrigerant lines to travel out to your outdoor compressor unit. This hole will be sealed to prevent energy loss and pest intrusion, and in most cases, this hole is no bigger than a tennis ball. Likewise, this hole can often be hidden by mounting your air conditioner’s indoor unit on the exterior facing wall.
How much is a ductless air conditioner?
Ductless air conditioners vary in price based on a number of factors. A single unit is substantially more affordable than a full-size central cooling system. However, keep in mind that they serve a different purpose. If you’re looking to cool your entire home with a ductless mini split air conditioner, then you will need to purchase and install multiple systems. With that being said, however, many contractors offer discounts to those who purchase and install multiple systems at the same time.
Also, combining installations where you connect multiple indoor units to the same outdoor unit can cut down on costs even further. When all is said and done, a whole-home ductless mini split setup can have a very comparable price tag to installing a new central cooling system. This is one of the reasons why ductless mini split air conditioners are becoming so competitive in the marketplace.
Do Ductless Systems Heat?
The short answer? It depends. Some systems are heat pumps that can reverse refrigerant flow and provide heating in colder months. However, these are more expensive systems. The majority of ductless AC systems are for cooling only. However, for homes and structures that already have an alternative heating system installed, such as a boiler and radiator system, this lack of a heating function isn’t a problem at all.
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