Certain areas of your home may require heating and cooling that a central heating and cooling system can’t provide. If that’s the case for your home, a ductless mini-split can be an effective and energy-efficient solution to that problem. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to consider before choosing a ductless mini-split over other options, such as a window unit or portable unit.
Below, we’ll go into more detail about what a ductless mini-split is and what things you should take into consideration before getting this cooling option installed in your home.
What Is a Ductless Mini-Split?
A ductless mini-split is a heating and cooling system that does not require any ductwork. The system is comprised of an outdoor unit (or compressor) and an indoor unit. The indoor unit is usually wall-mounted, although some can be mounted on the ceiling and operated by remote control.
Each indoor unit is meant to cool or heat up a specific room or zone, and each unit is also equipped with its own thermostat. That means that instead of having one thermostat for the entire cooling system, each unit can provide cooling/heating according to the specific temperature in its zone.
Advantages of Installing a Ductless Mini-Split
Minimally Invasive Installation
Installing new ductwork can be quite a process--and an expensive one. However, as their name implies, ductless mini-splits require no ductwork. That makes this type of system a smart choice for the following situations:
Rooms that are added to homes during a remodel
Old homes in which installing ductwork would be difficult, costly, and invasive
Installation usually requires a 3-inch hole through a wall in order to connect the indoor unit and outdoor unit. This results in fewer security issues than window units, as well as a lower possibility of air leakage. The conduits to connect the units can be fairly long, allowing units to be installed up to 50 feet apart.
Better Energy-Efficiency than Central Heating & Cooling Systems
Ductwork is a necessary part of a central heating and cooling system, but unfortunately, ductwork is responsible for a lot of energy loss. In fact, ductwork energy losses can account for 30% of the energy you’re using to cool your home. Since ductless mini-splits require no ductwork, that large amount of energy loss is taken out of the equation.
Things to Consider Before Installing a Ductless Mini-Split
Whether you intend to replace your central HVAC system or find a heating and cooling solution for a single room, a ductless mini-split will have a higher up-front cost. If you are looking for a whole-house HVAC replacement, get ready to spend double or triple the cost to go “ductless” that you would spend on a new ducted unit. If you are on a tight budget, window AC units, portable AC units, and baseboard heating units may be the best option for a single room’s heating and cooling needs.
It is possible for a ductless mini-split’s energy-efficiency to outweigh its up-front cost. Of course, this depends on your home’s layout, the climate in which you live, and how you use your heating and cooling system. It’s best to consult a heating and cooling professional to find out which type of system is most likely to benefit you.
As opposed to the built-in look of a central HVAC system, a ductless system requires that you have a unit in the room you want to heat/cool. In addition, the unit needs to remain uncovered in order to function properly. These units are usually white, off-white, or beige so that they can “disappear” into the background, but some homeowners find the look of the unit too intrusive.