Before the summer’s hot weather makes your home sticky and miserable, take time now to prepare for – and prevent – the annual discomfort!
Sure, window-mounted air conditioners can do the trick – sort of – but they are often inefficient. They are prohibited in some areas due to both the noise – they are loud both inside and outside – and their appearance. Many condominium associations, for example, consider them to be bulky and unattractive. Dripping water and loss of window use are other disadvantages, as well as the cumbersome hassle of taking them in and out of storage each season.
Central air conditioning systems can be equally problematic, as installation can be quite difficult and costly. The ducting is a big problem since some homes have no ducts, or no space for ductwork, and without it the contractor cannot install the system.
This is where ductless comes in.
Ductless, mini-split air conditioners make good retrofit add-ons to houses with no ducts. They can also be a good choice for room additions – where extending or installing distribution ductwork is not feasible – and for very efficient new homes that require only a small space-conditioning system. Because ductless mini-splits also supply heat in the cold weather, they are great for houses with non-ducted heating systems, such as hydronic (hot water heat), radiant panels and space heaters such as wood, kerosene and propane.
The main advantages of mini-splits are their small size and flexibility for zoning or cooling and heating individual rooms. Many models can have as many as four indoor air-handling units (for four zones or rooms) connected to one outdoor unit. The number depends on how much cooling or heating is required for the building or each zone. Each of the zones has its own thermostat, so you only need to condition occupied spaces. This will save energy and money.
Ductless mini-split systems are easier to install than some other types of space-conditioning systems. For example, the hook-up between the outdoor and indoor units generally requires only a three-inch hole through a wall for the conduit.
Again, mini splits have no ducts, so they avoid the energy losses associated with the ductwork of central forced air systems. Duct losses can account for more than 30% of energy consumption for space conditioning, especially if the ducts are in an unconditioned space such as an attic.
In comparison to other add-on systems, mini splits offer more interior design flexibility. The indoor air handlers can be suspended from a ceiling, mounted flush into a drop ceiling or hung on a wall. Floor-standing models are also available.
Split systems can also help keep your home safer, because there is only a small hole in the wall, whereas window-mounted room air conditioners can provide easy access for intruders.