A “split” system separates the condenser from the air handler, making a more efficient and quieter system. Just like a central split, the condenser will sit outside and the air handler will be mounted inside. They will connect together with copper lines and send refrigerant through those lines to one another. “Mini” means it’s much smaller than a normal central system. For instance, the air handler is a small system that looks very “hi-tech” when mounted to your wall. Ductless mini-splits provide a flexible solution for indoor temperature management and are a good alternative to central, forced air systems when installing ductwork is either not feasible or not cost-effective.
HOW DUCTLESS MINI-SPLITS WORK
Ductless Mini-Splits consist of three primary components
1. An outdoor condensing unit.
2. An indoor air handler/evaporator
3. A 3”-4” diameter conduit housing a power cable, refrigerant tubing, and a condensate drain.
HOW DUCTLESS MINI-SPLIT HEAT PUMP DIFFERS FROM CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONING
The condenser is installed outside the home or structure and the conduit is run from the outdoor unit to the individual rooms where a controlled temperature is desired. Wall-mounted interior units are then placed in the desired spaces to cool or warm air as needed by means of refrigerant flowing between the outdoor and indoor units through tubing in the conduit.
The amount of cold air entering the room can be controlled by a thermostat, or it can be regulated by an infra-red remote control. One room or area of a building can maintain a different temperature from another room or area in the same building. In a central air conditioning system, refrigerant is pumped from the outdoor condenser coil to a single indoor coil from which cooled air is distributed to each room through a system of ducts. In many houses and businesses, the amount of cold air in one room cannot be regulated without changing the temperature of every room in the building.
WHY DUCTLESS MINI-SPLIT AIR CONDITIONER SYSTEMS ARE MORE EFFICIENT THAN CENTRAL SYSTEMS
The easiest answer is the fact that you can lose up to 40% of your energy in your ducts. Estimates for energy loss in ductless systems range from 1% to 5%. If you factor in energy consumption, you can save up to 50% by switching to strictly ductless. Here’s how - in comparing a 2-ton Central System to a 2-Ton (24,000 btu) Ductless Mini-Split:
1. The central system requires 2-220v amp disconnects at 30 amps each. The Ductless system only needs one 220v 30 amp disconnect.
2. The central system will draw 20 amps inside and 20-30 amps outside while running. The Ductless system will only use 10-11 total amps while running.
3. Each component of the central system will draw about 2,000 watts (4,000 total). The Ductless system will only use 2,000-2,500 total watts.
4. A central system generally caps out at SEER-18. The Ductless system (most are ENERGY STAR® qualified), can achieve up to SEER- 30.5, greatly reducing utility bills.
Unlike forced air systems which distribute either warm or cool air throughout an entire house via ductwork, ductless systems manage environments individually with remote, handheld thermostats that control the temperature and air flow for each room or “zone.” In multi-unit ductless systems, which feature a single outdoor condenser connected to multiple indoor units, the heating or cooling is directed precisely where it’s needed, with less energy wasted to heat or cool unoccupied areas. This “zoning” capability also means temperatures can be simultaneously set according to individual preference, with one room warmer or cooler than another, as desired.
ADVANTAGES OF INVERTER TECHNOLOGY
Another key element contributing to the energy efficiency of many ductless mini-splits is the use of Inverter Technology in the outdoor condensing unit. Conventional ducted systems generally operate at fixed speeds, regulating temperatures by alternately running at maximum capacity and shutting off altogether. These starts and stops are controlled by a thermostat, which measures the temperature of the room. Condensers with Inverter Technology eliminate these harsh start/stop cycles with the use of variable frequency to drive the condenser, causing it to operate at a more steady revolution and increase/decrease power more gradually. The result is that the desires temperature is reached more quickly and maintained more evenly for better comfort, efficiency and energy savings. There is also less wear and tear on the components, adding to the product life overall.
NOISE FROM OPERATION OF DUCTLESS MINI-SPLIT SYSTEMS
Because it’s the noisiest component – the condenser – is installed outside and can be placed up to 100 feet away from the indoor unit. Because of this, Ductless Mini-Splits are much quieter than window mounted air conditioners. Additionally, the rumbling noises often associated with typical forced-air systems is missing in ductless systems whose controlled-air distribution is barely audible on the low setting.
BENEFITS OF DUCTLESS MINI-SPLIT SYSTEMS
IMPROVEMENTS TO INDOOR AIR QUALITY FROM DUCTLESS MINI SPLIT SYSTEMS
- Unlike bulky window air conditioners which block outside views and can present a security risk, the tiny refrigerant lines and wiring come indoors through a 3” hole in the wall. The indoor units of ductless mini-splits are compact and stylish and can be mounted high on the wall, out of the way. When properly positioned, three ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump indoor units can easily cool an entire house.
- Since each indoor unit is only responsible for the comfort of one room, it is typically equipped with convenient features like sleep modes and other customizable options to suit individual preferences.
- 3”-4” conduit is much easier and faster to install than ductwork, reducing overall project costs and allowing more flexibility. A professional HVAC installer can set up a ductless mini-split system in a few hours.
- The concept of Ductless Air Conditioning has been around for over 70 years, and they not only cool the area but they dehumidify also. The temp may be ok, but if the humidity is high, you will still feel hotter than normal. High humidity causes a lot of respiratory problems to older people and young children. In addition to cooling and dehumidifying, these mini-split air conditioner systems act as a filter for the indoor air, they will increase your indoor air quality and create a safe environment for you and your family.
Studies show that the ductwork in forced-air systems can be a source of indoor pollutant such as allergens, dust, and mold, liberally dispersing these contaminants throughout a house. By contrast, the interior units of a ductless system have advanced filtration capabilities and purify the air being emitted into individual living spaces. On some models, up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses can be eliminated for improved air quality overall. Models with built-in filters are often more effective than a central filter for removing larger allergen particles.
Because of their operational efficiency and zoning capabilities, ductless mini-splits waste less energy overall and thus have a smaller carbon footprint. Additionally, all of the newer systems use eco-friendly R410-A refrigerant, which does not deplete the ozone layer and is better for the environment than the old standard, R22.
INSTALLING DUCTLESS MINI-SPLIT SYSTEMS
ComfortUp strongly recommends that you have a licensed contractor install your mini-split system.
Your new cooling and heating system will only perform at optimal efficiency, comfort and safety levels if it is well installed. In fact, an improperly installed system could reduce the system’s efficiency by as much as 50%. In addition, any applicable warranties will only be valid if properly installed by a licensed contractor.
MAINTENANCE OF DUCTLESS MINI-SPLIT SYSTEMS
Ductless systems are easy to maintain, many of them featuring washable filters and only requiring periodic cleaning. Because of their outdoor location, the condensing units provide easy access for any contractors when scheduled maintenance is indicated.
WARRANTIES FOR DUCTLESS MINI-SPLIT SYSTEMS
Warranties for ductless mini-split systems will apply to all ductless products from ComfortUp provided that they are installed by a licensed HVAC contractor.