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Splitting the Difference: What's a Ductless Mini Split?

Want more usable space in your home? Planning an addition but don’t want the cost and hassle of installing ductwork? Would the garage or storage shed make a great home office or kids playroom — if only it were air-conditioned? Fans don’t cut it in the Texas heat, and window units aren’t always a good solution, but a ductless mini split might be just the thing you’re looking for. So, what is it and how can it help you?

What’s a Ductless Mini Split?

A ductless air conditioner works just like a central one — there’s an indoor component that passes the warm air from your home over evaporator coils to cool it. Refrigerant in these coils absorbs the heat and runs it to the outdoor unit, where it’s deposited. With central AC, the indoor unit is located in a closet or other out-of-the-way spot and a system of ductwork throughout your house pulls the wam air to the central unit and delivers the cooled air back to each room. With ductless AC, the indoor unit is located inside the room being cooled, so no ducts are needed. Warm air still gets pulled into the unit, and cold air comes right back out — simple!

Why Would I Want One?

If you’ve been considering a window unit to cool your space, think about going ductless instead. While it’s a more expensive option, it’s also more versatile, less noisy, and more aesthetically pleasing. Ductless units can be hung from the ceiling or attached to a wall (they come with remote controls, so you don’t need to reach the unit to control it). Floor standing models are also available. A ductless unit only requires one small hole to be drilled into the wall, so it reduces air leakage and eliminates security issues — window units can leave your home vulnerable to intruders.

Mini splits are also masters of efficiency. In a traditional system, somewhere between 20-30% of your cooled air gets lost in the ductwork before it ever reaches you. With a mini split, all that cooled air goes directly into the room — no losses or leaks along the way.

Why Else Might I Want One?

In addition to cooling new additions or nontraditional spaces (like garages) without ductwork, ductless units can be helpful for individual rooms inside your centrally cooled house. Let’s say you just can’t keep your kitchen comfortable in the summer — it’s a small room that gets lots of light (and heat) from a southern exposure and that’s before you fire up the oven and stove to cook dinner. A ductless unit can provide some extra relief on hot summer nights. Or maybe your husband is constantly turning the AC down because he’s sweltering, while your daughter is wrapped in three blankets because she’s freezing. You can install ductless systems in multiple rooms, and everyone can set their own preferred temperature. Also, most mini splits can heat your space as well as cool it, so there’s no need for a separate heater.

What Else Should I Know?

As mentioned above, you’ll pay more for a ductless system than you would for a window unit. You’ll need to wash your filter each month (or face costly professional cleaning fees if you allow debris to build up). Finally, you’ll need a qualified professional to make sure you get the right-sized unit for your needs and that it’s installed properly. A unit that’s too big or placed in a bad spot can result in wasted energy and poor temperature and humidity control — leave this home improvement to the pros.

When you’re trying to cool a space that doesn’t have ductwork, a ductless mini split can be the solution to all your problems! Contact your HVAC professional for more details or to get a quote.

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