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From one room to several, ductless mini split systems deliver affordable cooling and heating with some of the most efficient SEER ratings available. Users get room-by-room temperature management with minimal fluctuation, improved air quality and a wide variety of features.
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 neither feasible nor cost-effective. They provide an excellent option for remodels, room additions and as a supplement to existing HVAC systems.
The condenser is installed outside the home or structure and the conduit is run from the outdoor unit to individual offices, bedrooms, living rooms, computer/server rooms, basements – anywhere 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.
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.
Because they do not rely upon long stretches of ductwork (which can often be leaky) to deliver heated or cooled air, ductless systems are generally more efficient overall. In fact, distribution energy loss in typical forced air systems has been estimated to be as high as 40%, while estimates for energy loss in ductless systems range from 1% to 5%. Whereas typical systems generally cap out at 18 SEER, ductless systems, most of which are ENERGY STAR® qualified, can achieve up to 26 SEER*, greatly reducing utility bills. Additionally, because indoor environments can be managed by individual zone, less energy is wasted heating or cooling unoccupied areas.
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 compressors 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. Compressors with inverter technology eliminate these harsh start/stop cycles with the use of variable frequency to drive the compressor, causing it to operate at a more steady revolution and increase/decrease power more gradually. The result is that the desired 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.
Because its noisiest component – the compressor – is installed outside and can be placed up to 100′ ** away from the indoor unit, ductless mini splits are much quieter than window mounted air conditioners. Additionally, the rumbling ductwork noises often associated with typical, forced air systems is missing in ductless systems whose controlled air distribution is barely audible on the low setting.
Studies show that the ductwork in forced air systems can be a source of indoor pollutants such as allergens, dust and mold, liberally dispersing these contaminants throughout a house. By contrast, the interior units of ductless systems 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.
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 R410A refrigerant, which does not deplete the ozone layer and is better for the environment than the old standard, R22.
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 contractors when scheduled maintenance is indicated.
*Efficiency ratings vary by unit size by brand. Please review manufacturer’s technical specifications for your selected models.
**This information can vary by unit size by brand. Please review manufacturer’s technical specifications for maximum line run (Ft.) by unit size.