Your Guide to Ductless Air Conditioning

Put all your ducts in a row… to be thrown in the dumpster! Thanks to ductless air conditioners, also called mini-splits, you can enjoy comfortable temperatures year round without needing a complicated, bulky duct system in your attic. These systems are whisper-quiet and very efficient, making them an attractive option to homeowners — especially those who are not fans of window unit A/Cs. Talk about a cool idea!

ductless air conditioner

How they work

Much like a typical central air conditioning system, a ductless system works by having a condenser outside that pumps and cools refrigerant through copper lines that lead to an indoor evaporator unit that distributes the cool air with a fan. The difference is, of course, that mini-splits don’t have ducts. But you already knew that.

Design

The slick design of these units means they’ll be anything but an eyesore in your home. Depending on which model you get, ductless air conditioners can be mounted on the wall, usually towards the top, or on the ceiling either recessed or suspended. Some even come with front panels that look like pieces of art.

What are BTUs?

When you’re shopping around for units, you’ll notice a lot of mention of BTUs. It stands for British Thermal Units, a unit of power. The bigger your room, the more BTUs you need to keep it cool. An HVAC professional can help you decide on a unit that will provide adequate BTUs for your home.

Advantages

The major advantage to having one of these systems is the energy savings. Because there are typically multiple units installed in a home, the temperature can be set higher in unoccupied rooms during hotter months, giving the advantage of zoned air conditioning. Other advantages: these systems are much quieter than other HVAC system options, and they usually have air quality-improvement features like built-in filters.

Cost

When compared to a central air system or window units, ductless air conditioners will likely be higher in cost up front, but it’s important to remember that their energy-efficiency means substantial savings in the long run. The price depends on the area in which you live, as well as the amount of units you’ll need, which depends on the size of your home. Typically manufacturers recommend installing one unit per room and just one outside condenser unit. There’s also the cost of installation, which must be done by a certified HVAC professional. For a 2,000 square foot home, the average cost for a ductless air conditioner system is $3,000-$8,000.

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