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What is a mini-split?

Mini-split systems are A/C and heating units that are increasingly popular, mainly because most installations don’t require duct work. Similar to conventional HVAC systems, mini-splits have an outdoor condenser and one or more air handlers inside. Mini-splits somewhat like a window A/C unit split in half—hence the name. A ductless mini split is a type of heat pump designed for single rooms or small areas of the house. They can be very helpful if you're adding a new space or room onto your home that isn't connected to your regular HVAC system. Here are five important things to know about the ductless mini split. 

  1. They save money. Particularly when you get an Energy Star-certified model, installing a ductless mini split can save a significant amount of energy over traditional HVAC systems, which in turn lowers your energy bill.

  2. They allow for zoning. A traditional HVAC system is controlled by a single thermostat, which sets the temperature for the entire house. Traditional systems don't heat or cool evenly and don't factor in individual household members' comfort levels. Ductless mini splits have their own thermostats which can be controlled separately from the rest of the house and set to any temperature you like.

  3. They're good for multi-family homes. Due to their zoning capabilities, if you have a duplex, or multiple people or families rent space in the same home, ductless mini splits can keep everyone comfortable on their own terms. If each family has their own mini split, they can adjust the temperature for their area of the house without disturbing other household members.

  4. They don't need ducts. As the name implies, rather than ducts, mini splits have an indoor and an outdoor component, with the indoor unit mounted directly on the wall of the area it serves. This eliminates the heat loss from traditional HVAC systems, which lose an average of 20 percent of the air (and energy) flowing through them due to leaking duct work.

  5. They provide heating and cooling. As previously mentioned, ductless mini splits are heat pumps, which can either heat or cool your home from the same system. Although, on the coldest days of the year, it's recommended that you still have a supplemental heating system as backup.

How Does a Mini-Split Work?

Like a conventional A/C unit, a mini-split uses copper tubing to carry the refrigerant from the outdoor unit, which contains the compressor and condenser, to the indoor air handler. But with a mini-split, the conditioned air blows directly out of the indoor air handler into the room, rather than being routed through duct work. A typical compressor can run four or five air handlers, which are mounted in different zones (or rooms) throughout the house. The indoor units can be mounted on the wall, floor or ceiling.

In the winter, the refrigerant absorbs heat from the outside (because the refrigerant is far colder than the air) and carries it to the air handlers. In the summer, the refrigerant absorbs heat from inside the house, carrying it out to cool the house. Don’t have A/C or your A/C isn’t working? Here’s how to cool down a room without A/C. 

A mini-split is a viable option for a house with no existing duct work, such as one with a boiler and radiators. You won’t have to install duct work, which can be both expensive and difficult to accommodate. A mini-split can also be a good choice for a large house with rooms that don’t get used often. Rooms that aren’t served well by existing forced-air systems also make good candidates.

Manufacturers claim that a mini-split system can cut your heating and cooling costs by up to 50 percent. However, the savings vary according to the square footage of the conditioned space and the efficiency of the equipment you’re replacing.

They can also be great compliments to existing ducted types of HVAC systems.

Ductless mini-split units are installed directly into the zones of the home that need heating and cooling. You can have as many as four indoor air handling units (four zones or rooms) for each outdoor unit.

Ductless mini-split systems will have the following:

  • The heat pump unit outdoors that contains the usual compressor, condenser, and fan.

  • A fan coil that is compact.

  • Wires and tubing for the refrigerant (only requires a 3-inch hole), connecting the outdoor unit to the fan coil.

  • The thermostat (aka control panel).

  • Optional accessories to clean the air and make it more pleasant before its distribution through the house.

Call Birdwell A/C and Heating for your free estimate on a new mini split for your home!

Mini-Splits: About
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Air conditioning and heating repairs and replacements by Birdwell A/C and Heating in Corpus Christi.
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