A ductless air conditioning system uses individual units to deliver cool air to your rooms instead of ducts. Also known as mini-split systems, they consist of indoor units, a single outdoor unit, and some form of remote control. Here we look at how they work and when they are recommended.
How is a Ductless Air Conditioner Different?
As the name implies, the ductless air conditioner cools air without using ducts. Because of this, they tend to be more energy-efficient and effective at maintaining consistent, comfortable temperatures. The air does not have time to warm while traveling through the ducts and instead is delivered directly to each room. The system is easier to install without the need for knocking out ceilings and walls. The outdoor unit provides cool air for up to four indoor units and is connected to the indoor units with a small 3” hole. It is the ideal solution for many situations including homes with low ceilings, for additions, or for rooms that tend to be warmer than the rest of the home.
As already mentioned, the ductless AC unit consists of three main components:
- The Indoor Units: The cool air is delivered to individual units located in each room. These units have their own controls allowing you to reach the ideal comfort level for each room.
- The Outdoor Unit: Your indoor units are all connected to a single outdoor unit to generate the cool air in your rooms.
- The Remote Control: The remote controls the temperature of each room.
The three components are easy to install and take up very little space.
How Does a Ductless Air Conditioner Work?
In a ductless system, the heat and air go through a cycle to heat and cool your home. Using a heat pump, the cycle transfers heat from evaporation and condensation, using a refrigerant substance that moves through the system with a compressor pump. There are two heat exchanger coils: One used to condense the refrigerant and the second to evaporate it. The air is cooled because the refrigerant absorbs heat around it as it goes through the evaporation process and during the condensing process the previously absorbed heat is released.
As a result, you can maintain the ideal temperature whether it is to heat or cool your home. In other words, the heat pump used in a ductless system cools the air by reversing refrigerant flow between the indoor and outdoor units. While it might seem odd that a “heat” pump is used to cool your home, it is the way the heat pump cycles hot air and turns it into cool air that makes it so effective and efficient.
Why Choose a Ductless AC?
The ductless system is ideal for homes with:
- Low ceilings or low ceilinged rooms
- Areas where ducts cannot be accommodated
- Rooms such as garages
- Rooms that are used less frequently
- Repurposed rooms without traditional heating and cooling supplies
They offer an easy option when undergoing renovations, or for areas where you wish to have temperature control separate to the rest of the home.
How are the Indoor Units Mounted?
Indoor units are very flexible offering many options for installation including:
- Ceiling suspension
- Mounted flush for drop ceilings
- Freestanding floor units
All models have a reasonably narrow profile, making them easy to fit in any space.
Why Choose a Ductless AC System?
There are many advantages to ductless AC systems including:
- Size and flexibility
- Allows you to “zone” your cooling for each room
- Minimally invasive installation requiring just a 3” hole in the wall
- Energy efficiency due to minimized loss of cool air commonly lost through ducts
- Allows for individual room control that lets you shut off units in rooms not being used, and make adjustments based on factors like sun exposure for further energy and comfort improvements
While the systems tend to cost more upfront compared to traditional AC systems, the benefits can be seen over the life of the system through improved energy efficiency.
Compatible with Traditional Systems
One last point is that a ductless air conditioning system can be added to your home even if you have a traditional system in place. It is the ideal solution for easy installation for all kinds of scenarios, including renovations for awkward spaces such as workrooms, sheds and garages, as well as providing more efficient heating and cooling for rooms that have difficulty maintaining comfortable temperatures.