What Is a Mini Split or Ductless Air Conditioner?
Is your current home climate system leaving you sweltering in the heat? A mini-split air conditioner is one cooling solution that can work in a variety of settings.
A mini-split AC unit is similar to a central air system in many ways. The main difference is that it’s ductless — meaning you don’t need to install expensive ductwork in order to put one to use in your house.
A mini-split air conditioner is a two-part system with an outdoor condenser and one or more indoor evaporators or air-handling units that connect via wiring and tubes. This is a similar setup to central air, except the air blows directly into the room from the evaporator instead of traveling through ductwork to different parts of your home.
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Yes, a mini-split air conditioner is the same as a ductless system. The terms are used interchangeably. Ductless systems can also include a heating component, which allows you to use them year-round for your heating and cooling needs.
A ductless air conditioning system is the same as a mini-split air conditioner. These systems use air handlers in individual rooms, instead of using ductwork to direct the cooled air to different areas of your home. You can use a ductless air conditioner for your entire home or certain areas. For example, if you build an addition to your existing home, you might use a mini-split system in the new portion, instead of connecting it to your existing ductwork.
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A mini-split air conditioner can be a good alternative to central air in some situations, but these systems also have some limitations.
- Flexibility: A mini-split air conditioner lets you decide how many air-handling units you need, allowing for a single or multi-zone system based on your needs.
- Easy installation: Installing a mini-split AC is much easier than installing central air. You only need a small hole cut through the exterior wall to connect the interior units to the outdoor condenser. While the process is easier, it's still a job for a professional.
- Cheaper: A mini-split is more affordable than a central air system.
- Zone cooling: You can set different temperatures in different areas of your home. Many systems offer remotes and other convenient controls.
- Energy efficient: These systems are typically more energy efficient than window AC units. They also don't lose energy in ductwork like central AC, so more cooled air reaches your room.
- Quiet operation: Since the condenser is outside, a ductless air conditioner is usually quieter than a window unit.
- Visible air handlers: Unlike discreet vents in a central AC system, the air handlers in a mini-split setup are more noticeable. They typically mount near the top of the wall and are larger than vents. Some people don't like the look of the air handlers.
- Expense: While a ductless air conditioner is significantly cheaper than a new central air system, it's a lot more expensive than window units.
- Size limitations: A single condenser can operate up to four air handlers. If you have a larger home, you might need more than that, which requires additional condensers. A large, open room with high ceilings might need more than one air handler to keep it cool.
- Installation requirements: While a ductless air conditioner is easier to install than central air, it still requires professional installation. It can be difficult to find an experienced mini-split installer to do the job correctly.
Weighing the pros and cons of ductless air conditioner systems can help you decide whether it's the right solution for your cooling needs.
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