Are you at your wits' end about how to deliver practical, comfortable and efficient air conditioning to remodeled rooms, such as attic space or a garage? How to remedy stuffy or chilly rooms, or how to heat and cool a new addition without installing new or additional air ducts? If any of these issues have stalled your home improvement projects, consider going ductless with a ductless mini-split system, and experience for yourself why energy-efficient and versatile ductless mini-splits are a leading solution for supplemental and replacement heating and cooling.
What Is a Ductless Mini-Split System?
Ductless mini splits are air-to-air heat pumps and air conditioners that have been re-designed with space-saving components to deliver practical heating and cooling solutions for a multitude of applications and home improvement projects.
With high-efficiency and compact components on board, a ductless mini-split system bridges the gap between the convenient heating and cooling options which portable window and baseboard units provide (without the energy efficiency and capacity) and the comfortable and efficient heating and cooling power which whole-house systems deliver (with the drawback of installation of expensive, inefficient and bulky ducts).
How Does a Mini-Split System Work?
A ductless mini-split system is available in a cooling-only system (A/C) or a heating and cooling system (heat pump). Operating by the same refrigeration principles of A/C and heat-pump systems, ductless mini splits leverage great energy savings by using refrigerant to extract, move and release heat from one location to another, rather than burning fuel to produce heat like a furnace does.
A ductless mini-split system consists of three primary components located inside and outside the home:
- Outside cabinet: The compressor/condenser unit of the mini-split system is housed within a compact cabinet outside the home. The cabinet offers a modest footprint, being about the size of a small suitcase. It may be mounted to the home or installed on a small concrete slab. Ask your HVAC contractor about advanced technologies only available in ductless systems, such as inverter-driven compressors, and you'll reap the rewards with greater home comfort, energy savings and whisper-quiet operation.
- Conduit: A thin conduit connects the refrigerant tubing, condensate drain line and the power source between the outside cabinet and each indoor air handler. The conduit is a primary ingredient for convenient and practical installation options of the mini-split system. It only needs a modest opening (3 to 4 inches in diameter) in the outer wall of the home to link the outside and inside components. The conduit is routed through inconspicuous spaces inside the home, such as walls, the attic and/or the basement or crawl space. Depending on the mini-split system selected, the conduit may extend a great distance, nearly 250 feet, between the outside cabinet and each indoor air-handler, which offers homeowners multiple installation options for locating the outside cabinet in an inconspicuous area, if desired, for better aesthetics.
- Indoor air handlers: The indoor air handlers house the evaporator coil, fan and indoor air quality (IAQ) components. Whether you need heating and cooling for one room or multiple rooms, you may install between one and eight indoor air-handlers for each compressor/condenser unit to meet your project requirements. The air handlers are designed to save space while delivering comfortable, efficient and clean heated and cooled air. You have the option to install an air handler on the ceiling (either mounted or flush in a drop ceiling), mounted high on a wall or floor mounting. You may also choose to install a mini duct system, which enables you to heat and cool more than one space, such as a room and adjoining walk-in closet with only one air handler by using a short duct run.
Ductless Supplemental Heating and Cooling
If your forced air heating and cooling system is underperforming by creating hot/cold spots in your Chicago area home, or if your home improvement project is better served going ductless, a ductless mini-split system offers you a plethora of practical solutions for providing supplemental heating and cooling to meet your exact requirements.
- Hot/cold spots: Many factors contribute to hot and cold spots within the home, including the layout of the home, rate of heat gain/loss, inefficient duct design and leaky ducts, to name the usual suspects. A ductless mini-split system easily installs inside the living spaces to remedy hot/cold spot issues, delivering heating and cooling exactly where and when you want it.
- Stuffy rooms: Multilevel homes often suffer from stuffy upstairs rooms, as heat naturally rises. Temperatures on upper-level floors may be 10 degrees higher, or more, than lower levels. To comfortably cool the upstairs rooms, you need to cool the entire home with a conventional whole-house cooling system. This wastes a substantial amount of energy by cooling half or more of your home unnecessarily. A mini-split system is the perfect solution for this comfort and efficiency problem.
- Outbuildings: Going ductless in the pool house and workshop detached buildings is becoming more and more common these days. If you're searching for an alternative to wall/window heating and cooling units for better aesthetics in the pool house, workshop or anywhere else in the home, your project will look and perform great if you go ductless.
- Bonus rooms: If you have rooms in your home where you spend a significant amount of time while the rest of the home is unoccupied, such as a home office, media room or family room, a mini-split system is the ideal heating and cooling solution to save energy and to keep these areas at maximum comfort.
- Guest rooms: If you have a guest room, or other rooms and areas inside the home that are seldom used, a ductless system can reduce your energy bill by heating and cooling these rooms as needed.
- Closed doors: There may be rooms in the home where the door is often closed or always closed for any number of reasons. Closed doors are obstructions to free airflow in forced air systems, and they increase energy costs and wear on components and contribute to poor IAQ and reduced comfort. Make these rooms an independent zone with a mini-split system, and you'll get three cheers and bonus points for maximizing comfort and efficiency while maintaining privacy.
Remodels and New Additions
Home improvement projects involving retrofitting unused interior spaces and new additions increase home value and the quality of home living. You would be hard-pressed to find a better heating and cooling solution for the following situations.
- Remodeled rooms: Converting the basement, attic or other unused interior space into usable living space poses built-in issues for heating and cooling. If your home has existing ductwork, there are two issues with which to contend. Depending on the scope of the project, extending the ducts can be quite costly. The second issue is that the extra heating and cooling load placed on the existing systems may be too much, and may overwork the systems, leading to repairs and early failure. No matter where the remodeled space is located inside the home, a ductless mini-split system delivers. If the remodeled room is in the attic or basement, a ductless system has the power, coupled with efficiency, to maintain comfortable temperatures season after season, and help manage humidity on hot and humid days.
- New additions: If your new addition is an extra bedroom, a family room, converting a deck area into a sun room or other project, a ductless mini-split system can heat and cool the new space, remedying the same issues presented with remodeling for installing new or extended ducts and increased load on existing heating and cooling systems. Moreover, sun rooms and other rooms with expansive glass may require independent heating and cooling to maintain comfort in both the new space and the existing living spaces.
Primary Heating and Cooling Systems
Ductless mini-splits have rightfully earned a reputation as a leading solution for heating and cooling rooms in lieu of baseboard heating and window- or wall-mounted A/C and heat-pump units for remodels and new additions, and for conditioning rooms and areas with hot/cold spots. However, the versatility and heating and cooling capacity of mini-split systems doesn't end there.
Ductless systems can be designed to deliver ample and efficient heating and cooling to entire homes, whether it's for a new energy-efficient home or as a replacement for an aging and/or inefficient whole-house system.
If your home is heated and cooled without the use of ductwork, such as baseboard heating and window-mounted A/C units, you're a prime candidate for installing a ductless mini-split system. By going ductless, you'll save square footage by avoiding bulky ducts, which you may not have space for in the first place, if your home was designed without ducts. In fact, replacing a baseboard heating system with a ductless system pays back in energy savings year after year.
Most importantly, work closely with your HVAC contractor to install the perfect ductless mini-split system custom designed to meet your project requirements. Contact Comfort24-7.com to speak with an experienced and reputable contractor near your Chicago, Northwest Indiana or Southwest Michigan home.