There are multiple ways to add cooling to your Beckley, West Virginia home. However, if your home lacks HVAC ducting, installing a ductless air conditioner or heat pump is the most efficient choice. Fast-increasing in popularity, these systems are flexible enough to meet a variety of needs. Ductless air conditioners work well as whole-house cooling systems and they’re equally effective for remote, single-room cooling. Read on to learn more about what they are, how they work, and whether or not they’re right for you.
What a Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner Is
Ductless air conditioners or mini-split air conditioners were first introduced in 1959. They’ve been gaining traction in recent years due to their high levels of efficiency and their highly adaptable designs. These systems have outdoor condenser units that are installed on small concrete pads in back or side yards. These condensers are connected to one or more indoor air handlers via tubing for refrigerant and electrical wires.
The indoor air handlers for ductless mini-split systems are often installed on the upper portions of walls. However, these features can alternatively be mounted on ceilings or positioned in other areas that are convenient for homeowners, conducive to optimum airflow, or least likely to impact indoor aesthetics. Each air handler comes with a remote control and is governed by its own thermostat. When mini-splits are used for whole-house cooling, this arrangement means that each air handler can be set and operated independently of the others.
How Ductless Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps Work
When used for cooling, ductless heat pumps and air conditioners are functionally identical. These units extract warm air from building interiors. As this air passes over their evaporator coils, chilled refrigerant within these coils absorbs its heat. The conditioned air is then disbursed directly into rooms via air handlers, and warm refrigerant is pumped to outside condensers where its heat is released. Minimal energy is required to drive this process. Moreover, given that conditioned air isn’t forced through long channels of HVAC ducting before distribution, there’s little to no energy waste.
Using a Ductless Mini-Split for Whole-House Cooling
Despite their compact size, ductless mini-split air conditioners and heat pumps can supply reliable, whole-house cooling. In fact, ductless mini-split heat pumps can even provide whole-house heating by reversing their operations in winter to bring warm outdoor air in. Depending upon the size of your home, you can have between one and eight air handlers installed. This could mean having an air handler in every room or having your home divided into separate cooling zones.
For homes that lack HVAC air ducts, this eliminates the need to have post-construction ductwork put in. Although ductless mini-split air conditioners cost a bit more than central air conditioners, they can be cheaper overall when accounting for the substantial costs of retrofitting buildings with ducting.
There are multiple benefits that ductless ACs provide when compared to central cooling systems. The absence of ductwork prevents energy waste, but it also lends to a higher indoor air quality (IAQ). When conditioned air is moved through central HVAC air ducts, it often picks up allergens and contaminants along the way. Conditioned air from a ductless mini-split passes over the unit’s evaporator coils and then moves directly through the air handler’s filter into the room. This makes these units an excellent choice for households in which asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions are a constant concern.
One of the most popular attributes of ductless mini-split systems is their ability to provide zoned cooling. With each zone or room having its own air handler and each air handler being controlled independently of the others, everyone in the building can customize temperatures in their immediate areas to suit their preferences. This also means being able to turn air handlers off entirely in spaces that aren’t occupied and don’t need temperature regulation.
Using a Ductless Mini-Split for Single-Room Cooling
If you already have whole-house cooling from a central air conditioner, you can still benefit from a ductless mini-split. There may be one or more areas throughout your home that don’t get adequate cooling from your central system. In fact, some spaces might never get conditioned air at all. For instance, most garages aren’t connected to central HVAC ducting and they lack HVAC air vents for air distribution. If you use your garage as a workshop or workout room, there could be times of the year when this space is too hot to enter.
Many new home additions are much the same. If you recently refinished your basement or attic, you’ll have to add heating and cooling to this space to ensure year-round viability. Garden rooms or sun rooms, home offices, and remote bedrooms are all spaces that can be enhanced by the addition of a ductless mini-split. Ductless mini-splits also ventilate remote, closed-off spaces. If you work with solvents, glues, or other hobby-specific solutions, you can use a ductless mini-split to clear out the resulting fumes. Given that ductless mini-splits also provide humidity regulation and air filtration, they can make dusty or overly moist rooms more comfortable and less likely to develop problems with mold.
How Ductless Mini-Splits Compare to Window ACs
When comparing ductless mini-splits to basic window air conditioners, ductless ACs are the clear winner. While a ductless mini-split system can cool either a single room or an entire house, a window air conditioner can only cool a very limited amount of space. Most window air conditioners are only sufficient for cooling small-sized bedrooms. They’re also heavy, noisy, and prone to causing structural damage.
Comparatively, ductless ACs offer quiet operation. They’re also minimally invasive installations. HVAC companies drill a single three-inch hole in the wall of each room that will have its own air handler. This hole is used to pass refrigerant tubing and wires through to indoor air handlers and to connect them to outdoor condenser units.
If you have a window air conditioner, the window that it’s installed in can never be shut and secured. Small openings around your window AC create a point of ingress for spiders, ants, flies, and many other insects. These installations also leave homes vulnerable to intruders. If you plan on taking a summer vacation, you’ll have to take your window air conditioner out before leaving to enjoy lasting peace of mind. With a ductless AC, your home can stay locked up tight while you’re away, and your cooling system will be ready for use as soon as you return.
Maintaining a Ductless Mini-Split
Part of determining whether or not a ductless mini-split is right for you is learning more about the requirements for ductless mini-split maintenance. With central cooling systems, just one to two HVAC air filters must be replaced. Central HVAC air filters should be inspected monthly and changed about once every 30 to 90 days.
In ductless mini-split systems, each air handler has its own filter. If you have eight air handlers installed throughout your home, you’ll have eight different filters to care for. However, ductless mini-split filters are washable. They should be inspected and washed per manufacturer instructions once every two to four weeks, and replaced annually.
Much like central air conditioners, ductless ACs should receive professional tune-up service every year. If you choose to install a ductless heat pump for year-round heating and cooling, this unit will require professional service twice annually.
Since 1951, we’ve been helping residents of Beckley, West Virginia make informed decisions about their home heating and cooling equipment. We offer heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical services. We also provide ductless mini-splits and indoor air quality services. Get in touch with Childers Air Plumbing & Electric today to find out more about ductless cooling or to have a new mini-split installed.