An In-Depth Look into the Advantages of Ductless Mini-Splits

You may have heard about ductless mini-splits if you’re in the market for a new air conditioning system. They offer a distinct and unique cooling solution compared to traditional ducted central AC systems. However, even though they seem like a recent innovation, they actually have a long and successful history. Here is everything you need to know about ductless mini splits and all of the advantages they offer compared to other AC systems.

A Brief History of Mini-Splits

The first ductless mini-split went on the market back in 1959. Designed in Japan by Mitsubishi, it was a product of the unique needs of citizens there in the post-war period. In Japan’s big cities, space was tight, and walls were thin. Innovators realized that homeowners and apartment dwellers needed an efficient type of AC that was simultaneously efficient, small, and quiet.

As a result, Mitsubishi looked for a way to create an AC that didn’t require bulky and extensive in-wall ductwork since nobody had the room for that. What they came up with was an AC system that combined a slim, wall-mountable outdoor compressor unit that served one or more wall-mounted indoor air handlers. The small size of the outdoor units made them quieter than comparable central AC compressors. Additionally, the sleek indoor air handlers didn’t have high-powered blower motors since they didn’t need the power to push cold air throughout a home’s ductwork.

Mitsubishi’s solution proved so effective and popular that it caught on throughout Japan and eventually much of the rest of the developed world. Even today, mini-splits remain the dominant type of AC system almost everywhere you look, except for here in America. Here, homebuilders began preinstalling ductwork in homes, beginning right around the time of the invention of the mini-split. That led to central, ducted AC systems becoming entrenched as the most popular type of cooling system for homes in the country.

What Are the Advantages of Mini-Splits?

At this point, you may be thinking that if central AC is so popular here in the US, it must be for some good reasons. On the contrary, however, the main reasons are familiarity and the near universality of ductwork in American homes. However, ductless mini-splits offer a variety of advantages that make them well worth considering.

Energy Efficiency

The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that the average homeowner loses 25% to 40% of the conditioned air through their ductwork. This loss means mini-splits have a built-in efficiency advantage because they don’t rely on ductwork. Plus, the average mini-split AC system has a SEER rating of 20, putting it on par with the most energy-efficient central AC systems on the market.

Zoned Cooling

Mini-splits also offer zoned cooling by default. With a mini-split AC system, each indoor air handler has its own thermostat and temperature controls. This means you can customize your comfort to a greater extent with a mini-split versus a conventional central AC. You can even completely turn off individual air handlers if you wish. This saves money because it means you don’t have to cool spaces you’re not using, like a guest room.

Improved Air Quality

While it’s true that central AC systems have more effective air filters than mini-splits do, it doesn’t mean mini-splits offer inferior air quality. On the contrary, the lack of ductwork in a mini-split system prevents dust, dirt, and allergens from getting spread from one room to another. Plus, each air handler has its own air filter, which captures airborne pollutants in each room where a professional installs one. Additionally, the air filters in mini-splits are washable, so you don’t have to worry about buying new ones every few months.

Improved Scalability

Mini-splits are easier to scale up or down than central AC systems. For example, if you want a mini-split that only cools a single room or space in your home, you can get one. With a central AC, that would be impossible. Also, if you want a mini-split that cools up to eight rooms with a single outdoor unit, those exist too. You can even purchase a multi-room system to serve just a few rooms and then add to it at a later date. Many mini-split AC systems use variable-speed compressors, meaning they’ll be just as energy efficient at cooling a single room as they will be cooling your whole home at once.

Simplified Installation

Installing a new mini-split is also much easier than it is to install a central AC, particularly if your home also needs new or upgraded ductwork to support one. With a mini-split, an installer only needs to drill a single roughly three-inch hole through each wall where you need an air handler. That’s all it takes to permit the necessary bundle of refrigerant lines and electrical cables to pass through. Then, they use a mounting plate to put the air handler on the wall and make the appropriate connections. Mini-splits can also be connected to ceiling-recessed air handlers if you prefer them. These, while slightly more difficult to install, maybe more aesthetically pleasing and do a better job of cooling larger spaces.

Optional Heating Capacity

Another major advantage of mini-splits is that some models use heat pump technology. That means they’re also capable of highly efficient heating and cooling. A heat pump mini-split can be your home’s entire heating and cooling system. Plus, it’s the most efficient type of non-ducted heating system you can buy. That means you don’t have to settle for expensive electric baseboard heating or other inefficient alternatives.

Simplified Maintenance

Finally, mini-splits don’t require any complex maintenance and are more resilient against certain types of part failures. For example, if something goes wrong with one of your mini-split’s air handlers, an HVAC technician can disconnect it, and you can go on using your air conditioning elsewhere in your home. Plus, mini-splits mean never needing ductwork cleaning or repairs. As your home’s ductwork ages, it needs periodic air sealing to keep it from leaking conditioned air. It also needs thorough professional cleaning roughly every three years to prevent excessive dust and dirt buildup.

Your Local Ductless Mini-Split Experts

Since 2001, Air Max HVAC has served residents in and around Burbank, CA, with a complete array of HVAC services. We offer HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance, including working with the latest ductless mini-split AC systems. We also offer indoor air quality solutions and energy audit services to help you maintain a healthy and efficient indoor environment. We even offer financing options on approved credit to help you afford a new mini-split when you need one. Plus, we’re a Lennox Premier Dealer and Better Business Bureau accredited with an A+ rating. For these reasons, you will always know you’re getting the latest quality HVAC systems along with flawless workmanship and customer service when you work with us. If you’re interested in a ductless mini-split AC here in Burbank, contact our team of experts at Air Max HVAC today.

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