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What is a Ductless Mini Split?

Posted on: October 8, 2014

Why a Mini-Split?

Ductless mini split heat pumps make a good retrofit add on to any “non-ducted” home heating systems such as hydronic (hot water heat), radiant panels and space heaters (wood, kerosene or propane). They can also be a good choice for room additions where extending or installing ductwork is not possible.

Like standard air source heat pumps, mini splits have two main components, an outdoor compressor/condenser and an indoor air unit. A conduit, which houses the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing and condensation drain, links the outdoor and indoor units.

How They Work

Like standard air source heat pumps, mini splits have two main components, an outdoor compressor/condenser and an indoor air unit. A conduit, which houses the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing and condensation drain, links the outdoor and indoor units.

 

Advantages

The main advantages of mini splits are their small size and flexibility for zoning or heating and cooling individual rooms. Many models can have as many as four indoor air handling units (for four zones or rooms) connected to one outdoor unit. The number depends on how much heating or cooling is required for the building or each zone (which in turn is affected by how well the building is insulated). Since each of the zones will have its own thermostat, you only need to condition that place when someone is there. This will save energy and money.

Ductless mini split systems are often easier to install than other types of space conditioning systems. For example, the hook-up between the outdoor and indoor units generally requires only a three-inch hole through a wall for the conduit. Also, most manufacturers can provide a variety of lengths of connecting conduits which means, if necessary, you can locate the outdoor unit as far away as 50 feet from the indoor evaporator. This makes it possible to cool rooms on the front side of a building or home with the compressor in a more advantageous or inconspicuous place on the outside.

Since mini splits have no ducts, they avoid the energy losses associated with ductwork of central forced air systems. Leaking ductwork can account for more than 30% of energy consumption for space conditioning, especially if the ducts are in an unconditioned space such as an attic.

In comparison to other add-on systems, mini splits offer more flexibility in interior design options. The indoor units can be suspended from a ceiling, mounted flush into a drop ceiling, or hung on a wall. Floor-standing models are also available. Most indoor units have profiles of about seven inches deep and usually come with sleek, high tech looking jackets. Many also offer a remote control to make it easier to turn the system on and off when it’s positioned high on a wall or suspended from a ceiling.

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