What Is a Ductless Mini Split: Everything to Know About This Energy-Saving HVAC Trend

There’s a hot trend when it comes to heating and cooling your house that doesn’t require a traditional heating system or outdoor air conditioning unit: The ductless mini split.

Over the past few years, homeowners have opted for the ductless mini split to cool and heat individual rooms in their houses because it allows for greater temperature control and better energy efficiency. The individual units can cool or warm a room in a matter of minutes, allowing a homeowner to condition the space only when it’s occupied—saving energy and cutting down on that utility bill.

So, how is this ductless device different from a traditional air conditioning unit or furnace? The pros at One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, who have plenty of experience installing ductless mini splits, have the answers.

What Is a Ductless Mini Split?

A ductless mini split is an air conditioning and heating solution that features two main components: An outdoor compressor-condenser and an indoor air-handling unit that’s typically installed flush to a wall in a room. The two units are linked together via a conduit that houses the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing, and a condensate drain.

The individual air-handling units have their own thermostat, allowing you to set a precise temperature in the room where it’s installed.

Depending on the system, one outdoor compressor-condenser unit can handle up to eight individual air-handling units in your home. Less powerful outdoor units are designed for a single indoor unit.

Why Homeowners Are Buying Ductless Mini Splits

There are plenty of advantages (and some disadvantages) to a ductless mini split system.

Advantages of a Ductless Mini Split H3

  • Doesn’t require costly duct work. This is especially important for people who own older homes that don’t have modern ducts to cool and heat upstairs bedrooms. A traditional HVAC system requires ducts that connect to vents in each room to condition those rooms. While a ductless mini split system does have a conduit that contains tubing and power cords, it’s installed on the outside of your home, making it a significantly easier job than installing air ducts.
  • More energy efficient. One of the biggest advantages of a mini split system is the energy efficiency. It’s estimated that more than 30% of a homeowners’ energy consumption is tied to losses as air travels through the ducts of a traditional HVAC system. Because mini split systems don’t have ducts, they don’t eat up as much energy. As a result, you’re consuming less energy and your utility bill will be lower.
  • Precise temperature control. If you want to sleep in a room that’s exactly 68 degrees in the summer, but don’t want to cool off the rest of your home to that temperature, you can do that with a ductless mini split system. It only takes about 5-10 minutes for a room to reach your optimal temperature. And when you’re not in the room, you can simply turn the system off to save energy.
  • They’re quiet. When your indoor air-handling unit is on, you can barely hear it running.

Disadvantages of a Ductless Mini Split

  • They can be costly. A ductless mini split system with multiple indoor air-handling units can cost 30% more than a traditional central air conditioning system. That being said, installing ducts to the upper floors of an older home would likely be more expensive, so it can be a trade-off.
  • They may clash with your room’s aesthetic. The indoor air handling unit isn’t invisible. Luckily, these units have acquired a sleeker look over the years, but it’s still a white, 3.5-foot rectangle that’s protrudes from your wall by about 10 inches. Still probably better looking, though, than a window AC unit.

Ductless Mini Split Frequently Asked Questions

Ductless mini split vs. window unit: What’s the difference? 

Both types of air conditioning units can cool down a room, but the ductless mini split is considerably more efficient in doing so. It’s also significantly quieter than a window unit. The main advantages for a window unit are cost (it’s considerably cheaper!) and ease of installation.

How big of a mini split do I need?

It’s best to have a professional HVAC technician help you determine the ideal size of your new mini split, but here are some general guidelines:

  • 400-650 square foot room: 12,000 British Thermal Units (BTU)
  • 500-800 square foot room: 15,000 BTU
  • 600-1,000 square foot room: 18,000 BTU
  • 800-1,300 square foot room: 24,000 BTU
  • 1,300-1,650 square foot room: 30,000 BTU
  • 1,650-2,000 square foot room: 36,000 BTU

These are good guidelines, but the overall power of your mini split system is also dependent on the climate where you live. If you live somewhere that’s consistently hot, for example, you’ll want a more powerful unit.

Do ductless mini splits dehumidify? 

Yes, today’s ductless mini splits reduce the moisture in a room. While the room is being cooled, the moisture is condensed and drains outside.

Can I install a ductless mini split myself? 

While some ductless mini splits are marketed as DIY-friendly, other manufacturers void the system’s warranty if it’s not professionally installed. So, it’s best to leave this job to a professional.

If you need a ductless mini split installed at your home, contact One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning today.