Heating & Cooling – the Ductless AC Difference

PropertyTalk

Depending on how well you know HVAC systems, you may or may not be aware of another option to home heating and cooling — Ductless AC installations.

There are several key differences between a ductless mini-split system and a whole-house system. Depending on the particular needs of your home or office, you may be better served by switching your AC installations. In this article, we will discuss the differences between ductless mini-split systems and central air systems.

The Basics

Central air is the most common whole-home system. It treats the air at a central spot within the home, then transmits the air through a series of ducts. The air cycles through the home before winding up back at the central unit.

Mini-split ductless systems, on the other hand, have two parts: an outdoor compressor and an indoor air unit. The air is distributed through cooling lines in the home. Mini-split systems are a relatively new advancement in the heating and cooling world.

The Installation

Mini-splits require no ductwork.

The outdoor and indoor air systems are linked through a conduit, and that makes their installation far simpler compared to a central system which requires air ducts to be built. The air moves through conduits, not ducts.

Duct systems, meanwhile, are more difficult to install. This is especially true if your home was not built with ductwork as a part of the original design. A mini-split system is often less noticeable because it can go in an inconspicuous place in your home.

Energy Use

The energy usage of the two systems differs. Because central air cools the entire house, more energy is used. Mini-split systems cool each room, meaning that you can condition the room you’re in without “wasting air” on the rest of the unoccupied house.

Mini-split systems are generally organized into “zones,” with each zone having its own temperature-controlled function. According to the Department of Energy, duct losses through central air can make up 30% of all energy consumed in a household.

Sizing

Sizing a mini-split system can be tricky. The installer has to determine the size of each indoor unit and outdoor conduit. The risks associated with not sizing the installation properly include short cycling, which means that the air conditioner goes through its on-and-off cycles too quickly or frequently. This short cycling leads to lost energy and, ultimately, lost money.

Maintenance

Air ducts for a central system must be cleaned every 3-5 years, and the unit itself requires annual maintenance as well to make sure that system is in good working condition. A mini-split system requires far less maintenance, making it a good choice for someone who is frequently away from home or doesn’t use their air conditioner often.

Incentives

While taxes and rebates are not the same in every area, there is a chance that mini-split systems will be given a tax incentive. This is because, although more expensive than central air, they are also more energy efficient. Thus, a tax incentive is sometimes offered to help offset the initial cost.

Central systems and mini-split systems work differently. They are installed differently, and they transmit air through the home in their own way. Central air is best for homes that are looking to have the whole place air conditioned at all times, and that can accommodate the ducts if they need to be installed. Mini-split systems work well for homes that only require selective air conditioning, or cannot accommodate ducts. However, you should still consult with a licensed HVAC technician to determine the best cooling system for your home.

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