Ductless heating and cooling systems get a lot of great press when it comes to comfort and energy efficiency. Are they too good to be true? Today, the local air conditioning contractors at H & H will take a look at the reality of living with a ductless system, examining its pros and cons to help you determine if this style of system might be right for your home.
What Makes a Ductless System Different?
A ductless ‘mini split’ system gets its name from its resemblance to more common split heating and cooling units. Like split systems, a ductless system is made of two parts, including a large outside compressor and one (or more) ceiling/wall-mounted units within the home. Unlike their split system cousins, which rely on large ductwork to distribute, ductless systems rely on tubing dispersed through the home via a few small 3-inch holes. This tubing accommodates refrigerant lines between the exterior and interior, where one or more interior units, each with their own adjustable thermostat, deliver conditioned air. This type of ‘zoned’ setup allows for superior efficiency.
The Advertised Benefits of a Ductless System
Mitsubishi ductless air conditioners offer a number of benefits over the typical ‘split system’ setup:
- Superior Efficiency
Top-performing ductless systems offer near 30 SEER performance, compared to the typical 14-17 SEER range of split systems. This could save you up to 50% on monthly heating/cooling costs
- No Heat Loss
Leaky ducts in unconditioned attics/crawlspaces can cause thermal loss of up to 25% in traditional systems. With no ducts, however, ductless systems eliminate heat loss, vastly improving comfort and efficiency and delivering substantial savings.
- Easy Installation
With no air handler or drainage, and minimal work necessary to run refrigerant lines, heating and air companies can install ductless systems quickly.
The smaller footprint of ductless systems makes them an ideal option for small and older, historic homes. No closet, utility, or basement space needs to be sacrificed for a ductless addition.
- Quiet Operation
Quiet as a whisper, ductless systems are only as noisy as common kitchen refrigerators.
Facing Reality: Ductless System Cons
Despite the stellar benefits of ductless systems, they aren’t for everybody. These realities of ductless systems can send homeowners searching for other options:
- Bulky Components
The interior units for ductless systems, of which there may be up to 7 based on home setup/size, look like large printers strapped to the ceiling or wall.
- Higher Initial Investment
These systems have a higher up-front cost (though this is easily recoverable via energy savings over the life of the system).
- More Involved Maintenance
In addition to the typical annual maintenance, the air filters of ductless systems require more frequent attention. Monthly air filter maintenance is advisable, but more frequent attention will be necessary in homes with children/pets. Fans must also be cleaned regularly and will not work properly with accumulated debris. This requires professional attention to prevent shortening the lifespan of the system.
- Limited Heating Performance
Though certain ductless models provide some heating, performance is limited to certain climate zones.
Which home comfort solution is best for your home? Get help from the HVAC installation service pros at H & H Heating & Air Conditioning today.