When it comes to installing heating and cooling systems, homeowners have two choices: you can either fit a ducted system – like the kind you frequently see in commercial operations where the air gets exchanged through a series of large pipes. Or you can choose the so-called ductless heating and cooling system or mini-split system instead. But which is best?
It’s a surprisingly contentious question. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, so the final answer depends on your particular circumstances.
The Advantages Of A Ductless Heating and Cooling System
You can think of a ductless mini split system as a compact version of a standard HVAC system. The mini split comprises two parts: an outdoor section containing the compressor and the condenser, and an indoor section which processes the air.
Ductless heating and cooling systems do away with the traditional giant “ducts” of conventional heating and cooling systems and replace them with a conduit: a small hole in the wall through which all the wires, tubes and cabling passes. This setup offers a whole host of advantages over traditional systems.
- Compact Design. When installing a new system, you’d prefer it if you could keep your house intact and not have to drill giant holes in the wall. But old-style systems used to require this kind of extensive work. Not so with ductless alternatives: like all heating and cooling technology, mini split systems need some mechanism to transfer heating, but do so with holes that don’t require major building work.
- Better Energy Efficiency. Mini split systems facilitate the direct transfer of heat through the wall from the air exchange unit to the compressor. Because there is no extensive network of ducts through which to lose heat, standard ductless systems are around 25 percent more efficient than their traditional ducted counterparts. Energy Star-rated systems can be as much as 30 percent more efficient, slashing your energy bills in the summer and winter.
- Quieter. Traditional HVAC systems were noisy. Sure, they provided you with plenty of heating and cooling performance, but at the cost of whirring and sometimes, grinding noises – not the sort of thing you want to listen to if you’re trying to sleep. Ductless systems, however, are much quieter, often to the point you forget they’re there.
The Disadvantages Of A Ductless Heating and Cooling System
Okay, now time for the bad news: ductless systems aren’t perfect. There are three main problems you’re likely to encounter.
- Ongoing Maintenance. If you operate a ductless heating and cooling system, you’ll need to change the air filter at least once per month, and more if you smoke indoors. The filter prevents gunk from getting into the condenser, which could potentially block the system from exchanging heat from the room to the compressor. Failing to change it at regular intervals will dramatically shorten the life of your unit and could lead to expensive repair bills.
- Some People Find Them Ugly. Nobody expects heating and cooling units to look great, but many mini-split systems leave a lot to be desired in the looks department. A big white box with a few vents at the bottom sitting on your wall does little to inspire the imagination or complement your lush interior design. What’s worse, thanks to the design specifications, you’re unable to cover these units to create a more beautiful living environment. Doing so could be a fire hazard and stop them from working as intended.
- Up-Front Costs. The final issue is the upfront costs: these units don’t come cheap. A single-room ductless solution comes in at several times the price of a window or baseboard heating unit. Expect to be set back thousands instead of hundreds of dollars.
Who Benefits From A Ductless Heating and Cooling System?
- People who want to install a standalone solution in a new bedroom, sunroom, or garage
- Those who need to cater to the individual heating or cooling requirements of a particular family member
- Those who would like to add air conditioning to their home but don’t want to pay for expensive ductwork
- Those who wish to downsize their homes and want to heat or cool one or two rooms
Contact D.E. Rink Construction your Central Oregon home builders to see if a Ductless Heating and Cooling System is a good solution for you and your family. We are happy to help. Call (541)-388-0719 for a free consultation.