Ductless cooling is a relatively recent innovation, and we find that it is the fastest-growing topic of interest among our customers. Based on that increased intrigue, we thought we’d go over the 5 most important advantages we think that ductless air conditioners have over their more traditional cousins.
First, though, let’s be clear: this article isn’t a conversion attempt. Mini split AC units are not for everyone, and there are situations in which they won’t be the best option for you. Instead, our purpose will be to cover the situations that will be best suited to these handy units.
While other manufacturers make ductless systems, the Mitsubishi Split AC is the original, and is, in many ways, still top of the heap. In fact, they’re so well-known at this point that many of our customers call us asking about the Mitsubishi by name, much like someone might refer to any brand of copier as a Xerox machine, or any liquid corrective as White-Out.
So, let’s assume you’ve heard about ductless mini-splits. What do you really know about them?
Well, I’d have to say the first and most obvious advantage is …
1.Ductless cooling and heating systems are inherently flexible and adaptable.
Unlike a traditional split system, ductless air conditioners are … well … ductless! That takes a lot of the error potential out of installation and maintenance. Where a traditional system has to force air through a network of ducts, a mini-split pumps it directly into different zones or rooms.
They’re called mini splits for a reason, though. They are, essentially, stripped down versions of the larger central air conditioners with which you may be familiar. Like traditional AC systems or heat pumps, ductless systems consist of a small outdoor “condenser” unit and an indoor “blower” unit.
What makes them so flexible is the simplicity of installation and positioning. Instead of connecting to an elaborate series of ducts, the indoor and outdoor units connect merely to each, through a three-inch conduit. Then they are simply plugged in and left to do their work. The conduit allows moisture to be carried outside of your home through a condensate drain, and also facilitates temperature exchange. This allows the Mitsubishi Split AC to be installed in a matter of hours, and makes them the obvious solution for buildings without traditional ductwork, including new construction, additions, garages, workshops, and so on. They are also excellent supplementary cooling systems for homes which experience hot spots in certain rooms.
These mini-splits (also called multi-splits or split-ductless systems) are thus an extremely attractive alternative to a noisy inefficient window unit.
Not convinced? Well …
2.They’re also money savers.
When we brought them up as alternatives to central air and window units, the cost-effective nature of the mini-split was bound to come up. They’re one of the biggest reasons homeowner interest in these elegant cooling systems has gone through the roof. The overall cost saving can be significant, particularly when you consider not only installation cost, but also ongoing energy costs, as compared to other cooling systems.
When your home’s air conditioner isn’t efficient, your bill is going to show that. If your electric bill is spiraling completely out of control, a ductless system is a very appealing option for you. They are smaller than traditional forced-air systems and operate on a smaller power scale. Furthermore, because they’re operating within the room being cooled, there is zero heat loss, which keeps the efficiency at peak levels.
Multi-splits, or a ductless system where a single condenser is connected to multiple indoor blowers (most systems allow up to four) also make it incredible easy to create cooling “zones” in your home. Not using the guest bedroom? Don’t waste any energy cooling it off!
If you tried that via vent closures with a larger forced-air central system, you might throw things out of wack and cause the system to underperform or even short cycle. With a ductless Mitsubishi Split AC, you’ve got the practical flexibility required to spend the way you want.
Ductless mini-splits, due to their high efficiency, are also often eligible for tax credits at the federal, state, or local level. If you give us a call, we’ll talk you through your options.
There is no comparing the installation costs of a ductless system to installing a forced-air system, particularly if the home’s ducts need repair or if the home doesn’t have ducts yet.
There is also no comparing the quiet efficiency of a ductless air conditioner to a noisy, unattractive window unit.
3.They’re good for the air quality in your home!
Indoor air quality is a big concern for Florida residents. Incredibly high humidity, paired with a high concentration of allergens in spring and summer, can lead to compromised air quality. With traditional HVAC systems, your ducts can actually contribute to that.
They gather dust, mold, mildew, and other unwanted particles, no matter how often you change your filters. That means that, annually, you have to pay someone to clean your ducts, which is time consuming. Sure, the most expensive systems find ways to overcome that with ultraviolet light filtration and high-efficiency filters, but that adds to your upfront and ongoing costs.
With a ductless system, the multi-stage filtration is at the point of intake, and thus they can drastically reduce dust and other particles, with absolutely zero risk of picking up fresh particles as air circulates.
4.They’re environmentally friendly and great for your conscience.
Because ductless Mitsubishi mini-split air conditioners are so easily zoned, and are comparatively small, they are capable of greater energy efficiency than equivalently priced central air systems.
Like most appliances, mini split cooling systems adhere to ENERGY STAR guidelines. That makes them the cream of the eco-friendly crop, insofar as climate control goes. Mitsubishi systems greatly exceed federally mandated minimum energy efficiency requirements. That has a two-fold effect on you: it will save you money on your monthly energy bills, but – perhaps more importantly – will also reduce your home’s carbon footprint.
Ductless systems also use a refrigerant called R410A, which is much more environmentally friendly than the outdated (and vanishing) R22. R410A poses absolutely no threat to the ozone layer. That means you can rest easy, knowing that even after it’s retired, your ductless mini-split will not pose an environmental risk.
In polls and studies within our industry, it has become clear that energy efficiency and overall “greenness” of HVAC equipment is a rising factor in homeowner’s decision-making process. If that matters to you, drop us a line, and we’ll run you through all the ways a Mitsubishi mini-split can help you go greener.
5.They’re far easier to install.
We went over this in brief up above, but it deserves its own place in this list. Installing a forced-air system from scratch can take a week or more, and will disrupt your home activities while it’s happening. It can involve construction projects, plastic sheeting, loud noises, and a crew of people you don’t know traipsing through your home in work boots.
If that doesn’t sound appealing, we’re not surprised. However, that’s another distinct advantage of a ductless cooling system. They’re not nearly as invasive.
Installing a ductless system requires a single three-inch hole for the conduit that will connect the blower to the outdoor unit. Instead of needing to rebuild a wall or ceiling around ductwork and losing footage to ducts that may need repairs before long, you have a simple conduit in the wall, directly by the blower unit. It’s unobtrusive and allows a home to maintain the same kind of understated elegance that vents do.
In fact, they’re so easy to install that you can ask us to recess the unit into the wall or ceiling, or even conceal it entirely. While they’re attractive enough to blend seamlessly into most homes, there’s nothing stopping you from keeping it completely covered. We’ve seen (and done) everything from units concealed in recessed pockets in a ceiling, or suspended within an attractive wicker or mesh shelf frame that allows air to pass while improving the home’s décor.
Also, as we’ve mentioned, you can easily place a blower unit anywhere you might need cooling!
6.BONUS: How do they compare to window units?
Ah, yes. Ductless systems can’t possibly be as easy to install as window units, right?
That’s completely true. A ductless installation is not a DIY project. On the other hand, they have many advantages over window units:
Ductless cooling systems (and ductless heat pumps, which do both!) are energy efficient, eco-friendly, budget conscious, and customizable. They offer a homeowner a far easier path to climate control than traditional systems, and they allow a degree of flexibility that no other cooling system can.
Here’s a scenario:
You’ve been looking for a cost-effective way to cool your Tallahassee home. Florida summers are stifling and unbearable, and all the fans in the world aren’t going to cut it. Window units are too expensive to run. On top of that, they’re noisy, and they don’t look the way you want. Unfortunately, central air isn’t a cost-effective option. Perhaps your home doesn’t have the ductwork to handle a split system– or perhaps it does, but not enough of it.
Maybe you’re even looking for a way to cool off an addition or new renovation, but you’ve been told that adding ductwork to that part of the house will overstress your current HVAC system, which is tailored to the size your house used to be. We’ve seen all of that, and more.
Whatever is going on, the right answer just doesn’t seem to be there. It’s frustrating, and you’re asking everyone you know for answers. You’re hoping someone knows something you don’t. Something that will solve all of your problems.
Then, you hear about the Mitsubishi Split AC, or, generically, the ductless mini-split. They sound, at first listen, like exactly what you need, but you’re not sure. Maybe they’re just fancier window units, and that’s not what you had in mind.
Then you do what any red-blooded American would do in that situation: you Google it.
Luckily, you’ve found your way here. Lots of our friends in Tallahassee and neighboring Florida towns have questions about mini-splits, and we’re just the AC repair and installation experts to answer them. We’ve sold, installed, and repaired ductless mini-split air conditioning systems since they first hit the market, and – without sounding like braggarts – we definitely know our stuff.
Over the years since mini-splits gained prominence in our industry, we’ve answered dozens of questions about these innovative alternatives to window units. For this article, we’ve distilled it down to the five that we think matter the most.
These matter the most because they all affect your bottom line. The will they/won’t they of buying HVAC equipment almost always comes down to that.
Buckle up, and let’s tackle these thorny questions one at a time. We’ve got some great answers for you!
What It Is
A ductless mini-split doesn’t have the most creative name. It’s really on the nose. It’s a ductless, miniaturized version of a split system, or what most of you think of as central air. A central air conditioner uses a condenser unit and an evaporator unit. A ductless mini-split does the same.
The primary difference, obviously, is the lack of ductwork in the Mitsubishi Mini Split AC. That’s potentially one of it’s biggest advantages over central air, as well. It removes leaky ductwork as a potential risk factor that could affect your monthly bills.
The three major components of a ductless AC are:
Because the condenser is outside the home, a ductless mini split is quiet – like central air. But because there is no ductwork involved, they’re simpler to install, like window units.
They can be placed differently than window units, as well, making them much more flexible and effective, and they come with a remote control that functions quite like a thermostat in traditional central air conditioners.
When is a Mitsubishi Mini-Split the Right Answer?
Ductless units are great for situations where a window unit is not desirable and a central air unit is cost-prohibitive. Their relatively simple installation makes them perfect for a variety of applications, including:
How Mini-Splits Differ From Window Units
Because both are designed to cool a single space without the use of ductwork, it’s easy to assume that mini-splits and window units have a lot in common. In reality, they are quite different. Mini-splits have much more in common with central air conditioners.
First, a window unit is a one-stop shop, condenser and compressor all in one. Because of that they’re noisier and less efficient. Cheaper to buy upfront, but more expensive to operate and less aesthetically pleasing to the home.
Mini-splits can also be expanded. A single condenser unit can power up to four evaporator units, allowing a single mini-split system to cool up to four rooms. In homes with open floor plans, that could be all or most of the living and sleeping areas. And because mini-splits allow such simple zoning, a second condenser unit could easily be installed, allowing two mini-split condensers to cool an entire home with multiple evaporators.
Lastly – and this is one many people don’t think about – window units are a natural safety hazard. In Florida, there have been reports of burglars and home invaders removing haphazardly installed window units (which is most window units, let’s be honest) and entering the home through the exposed window.
How Hard is it to Install a Ductless AC Unit?
It’s not something we’d recommend doing as a DIY project.
However, for a qualified contractor, like any of the expert technicians on our own team, it’s a cinch. An installer will enter the home and plot the most advantageous location for the evaporator unit and mount it. Then, they will install the condenser outside. Last (and this is the tricky bit), they’ll drill a three inch hole straight through a wall to the outside for the conduit to connect the two.
Part of the installation process is, of course, sealing and insulation the hole after the conduit is installed.
There isn’t a practical limit to the length of conduit, so it is quite simple to place the evaporator unit near the front of the home and the condenser at the back, out of sight.
Part of the installation process is also selecting the tonnage, or power, of your unit. Too small, and the system will be overworked. Your energy bills will go up. Too large and it will do what we call “short cycling,” where it will cool things too fast and shut itself down. This is hard on the compressor, which is the most expensive part of your system. Also, it won’t have time to dehumidify the air before the target temperature is reached.
However, a perfectly sized system will keep your home very comfortable at a price window units simply can’t match.
Call us today for a free consultation!
How Much Does a Ductless Mini-Split Cost?
Several things go into your final price, including the SEER (energy efficiency) rating of the unit, the size of the system, the number of evaporator units installed, and the brand. Personally, we highly recommend the Mitsubishi Ductless Mini-Split, which is the pioneer and remains at the forefront of this subset of the HVAC industry.
Installation will, of course, add to the final bill as well. However, a good ballpark range is something like $1500-$2000 for every 12,000 BTU of cooling power. Central air is a bit lower than that per cooling ton, but that doesn’t factor in the cost of ductwork, which is considerable, to say the least, and often requires some construction projects within the home.
Window units are less expensive, but we’ve gone over the pros and cons of that already. Essentially, mini-splits are a comfortable middle ground, and a great option for homeowners that can’t install central air.
Get a FREE In-Home Estimate from Our Team of Expert Installers
That’s just an estimate, and it’s hard to get specific.
If you want straight answers on how a ductless mini-split would fit your home, and you’re anywhere in the Tallahassee, Florida area, we can help you. We’ll send a Mitsubishi Diamond Dealer installation specialist out to see your home and give you a tailored estimate.
All of our installations come with our hassle-free guarantee and the industry’s most competitive warranty. We even cover the compressor, which, as we’ve told you, costs more than any other component in an AC system.
Contact us online, or give us a call. We’re available 24/7/365, and we’re anxious to help you get the answers you need!