Air Conditioning without Ductwork: The Mini-Split

If you don’t already have ductwork, installing it through a remodel may not be the best option. There may not be enough space to get proper airflow, or you may have to lower ceilings and have obvious rectangular extrusions from your walls. If you can’t have ductwork, you can’t have central air! The tragedy!

Don’t let the inability to have central air get you down. You just have to find a suitable alternative, and the mini-split is one answer that will give you the convenience and quality climate control of central air without a big box hanging out of your window or wall.

What is a mini-split?

Central air is generally called a split system because it has indoor and outdoor parts. This is typically a heat pump or air conditioner on the outside with a furnace and/or ductwork on the inside. Mini-splits are essentially the same thing, but with much smaller parts.

How does it work?

An outdoor condensor powers the air handler indoors and chills refrigerant, which travels through a line set (or “mini duct”). Each room has an air handler, and cool air can be controlled with the touch of a remote or via a thermostat if desired.

Why choose a mini-split?

Typically mini-split systems are less expensive, more efficient, take up less space, and are very customizable.

Mini-split systems will cost a significant amount of money up front, but they start paying for themselves immediately because they are more efficient than traditional ductwork split systems. While a decent split system will achieve a SEER rating of 18, a mini-split system will get as high as 26. Traditional ductwork can lose heat or cool air if not insulated, and that doesn’t happen with the mini-split. Look for mini-split units that are Energy Star rated.

The space savings are the main attraction when it comes to mini-splits. When you don’t have the space for ductwork, people are often reduced to window-mounted air conditioners or units that hang out of the wall. Mini-splits give the benefits of central air without the tacky appearance of window or floor air conditioning units. They are perfect for older homes and remodels.

Lastly, mini-splits are very customizable. They can cover multiple rooms in a house or just one. If you have central air but want to add air conditioning to an outbuilding, a mini-split is a solution.

Many Options for Air Handlers

There are many options when it comes to the type of air handler, and they can be visible or hidden. Wall mounts are the typical thought when it comes to standard mini-splits. They are not unattractive, but they are visible units that can be seen. Ceiling mounted units may be visible, but ceiling cassettes are okay for commercial installations and will blend into ceiling tiles. Floor mounted units are also visible, but concealed units can be installed within ceilings or walls. There is an option to fit nearly any space, unlike other air conditioning options.

The options for different rooms are also varied. One or many rooms can have air handlers installed, and each has separate controls. Therefore, each room can have customized temperatures. Rooms that aren’t used as often can be turned up or down to decrease energy costs. These features can limit the impact that the system has on the environment.

Mini-Splits are Easy and Utilitarian

Mini-splits are the simple solution to getting air conditioning to any room in the home even when there isn’t space for ductwork. They are typically installed by professionals, but they don’t require any major remodeling because they don’t require large ducts to be installed to carry air. Because of this, they are a top choice for renovations, remodels, and apartment buildings.

Not only can mini-splits be installed nearly anywhere, but they are also very customizable. They are not an eyesore when visible but can be concealed if that is the preference of the homeowner. Have a home with lots of bedrooms? Mini-splits allow each room to have different temperatures set via remote or thermostat. The person who is always warm and loves those sub-arctic settings can set his or her air handler to cooler settings in his or her room, while the person who is always cold can keep his or her room warmer. This is very nice when you have a large home with multiple people.

When you have a room that doesn’t have good temperature control because it doesn’t have access to central air, you do not have to rely on window air conditioners, and the qualities of central air are available with the addition of a mini-split. These are excellent additions to homes with central air that have outbuildings that don’t enjoy the comfort of heating and air conditioning systems. The point is, if you are uncomfortable with the temperatures in any enclosed space on your property, a mini-split may be able to fix it.

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