May 15, 2017
Mini-split, or “Ductless” air conditioners are becoming more and more popular in Las Cruces. If you are considering installing a mini split here in Las Cruces, it is important to know and understand the advantages and disadvantages of installing these system over traditional “ducted” systems.
At Sun City Plumbing & Heating, we are a “Diamond Dealer” contractor for the mini split brand Mitsubishi (http://www.mitsubishicomfort.com/contractors). Please note that the information in this article though, is not brand specific and is only to be used as a general guide. Every building is unique and we always recommend that a qualified professional conduct a thorough assessment before a decision is made (HVAC estimates from Sun City P&H are always free in Las Cruces, NM).
A mini split is very similar to a conventional heating and cooling system. It has two main components: Indoor and Outdoor. The indoor component houses the blower assembly and evaporator coil which usually mounts on the wall in the area to be conditioned; or it can be mounted in a closet, attic, or ceiling with some models. The outdoor unit houses the compressor and condenser and can be installed on the ground or on the roof. The two components are connected to each other via insulated copper tubing and a power/communication cable. The most common type of indoor unit is a wall-mount style as shown in the picture on the left (top). This style of indoor unit does not require any duct work to be installed, thus coining the term “ductless”. Most mini-split systems that we install are heat pumps and provide “refrigerated” cooling as well as heating via a heat pump compressor. Mini split system can also be installed as “cooling only” with no heat function.
Benefits of mini split systems may include:
- CONTROL. This is what you are really after when you buy a mini split. By installing individual mini splits at separate areas of your home or business you are able to set an exact temperature for that area. This is also known as zoning. For instance, you may have a room that you don’t use often, but you really want it comfortable when you do. Theater rooms, game rooms, man caves, hobby rooms, are just a few examples. If you have a mini split system installed, you can leave that “zone” off until you are ready to occupy. You can also use your mini split the opposite way by leaving a zone on that you use often such as a living room or master bedroom, while other zones are OFF, thus not using energy.
- With some systems, WiFi connectivity can be added for remote monitoring and ability to control temperatures remotely. This is a great feature for vacation homes or for monitoring air conditioning of auxiliary spaces.
- ENERGY EFFICIENCY.
- Many mini split systems operate with variable speed compressors and fan motors. With variable speed technology, your mini split AC will only use the power that it needs to heat and cool your space. So, for instance, if you had a 2 ton (24,000 BTU) capacity mini split, this unit would be sized for the hottest day of the year. Most of the year, you would not need all of the 2 ton capacity. Variable speed air conditioning might operate at 1/2 ton capacity if that was all you needed to cool or heat on that day. Compare this to a conventional AC system that will operate at full capacity at any time of year.
- Another way mini splits are more efficient is by not requiring duct work. Most duct work is installed in un-conditioned spaces such as attics or crawl-spaces. Cold air, hot attic. This can result in energy losses of up to 30% which you would not lose with a mini split.
- NOISE. Mini splits are very quiet when compared with the large blowers and vent noise of conventional systems.
- FLEXIBILITY. Mini split systems can be installed almost anywhere. Since it is not a gas appliance, venting is not an issue. Ductwork location is also not an issue or a factor of installation.
- AIR QUALITY. No ductwork = No debris or dust from duct. Also, your mini split can be equipped with special electronic air filters that run constantly to clean your air.
THINGS TO CONSIDER…….
Location of indoor unit – We prefer mounting on outside walls or walls with plumbing. The indoor unit produces condensation that needs to be disposed of. We also recommend installing
Type of indoor unit – Wall mounts are most common, however, ceiling mounts or “cassette” units may be the best option for your space
Location of outdoor unit – Unit can be installed on the ground or on the roof. Try and locate unit where it can be serviced easily and try to keep away from pets that might cause damage to wiring or cabinet.
Single zone or Multi-zone – How many spaces do you want to condition and how far apart are they?
Up-front cost – This can only be determined by qualified professional. There are times when it makes financial sense to install a traditional ducted system though.
Operating Cost – This is a function of your fuel source, your home efficiency, and the efficiency of the unit you are installing. Mini Split systems are definitely among the most efficient means of heating and cooling available today.