What is a Multi Split AC System?
With a split or multi split air conditioner system, there’s no need for ductwork. They rely on a set of pipes with copper tubing that connect the outdoor compressor unit to the inside air unit. Its a complete system designed specifically for individual interior areas, so its meant for homes that lack ductwork—or for individual rooms that don’t have ducting. See more in our overview of ductless air conditioning systems here. Here are the most common split ac system types:
- Mini Split AC System – Single indoor unit connected to one outdoor unit. One temperature across the home area covered.
- Multi Split AC – Multiple indoor units connected to single outdoor unit. Allows for different temperatures for each room with separate controllers for each.
- Single Split AC – meant for only one room such as a garage or sunroom.
Both multi split air conditioners and mini split air conditioners can heat and cool multiple rooms or areas of your home. The main difference between them is that you can have different temperatures for every room with multi split air conditioners. A mini split HVAC system will keep the same temperature across all rooms where the thermostat is connected. If you need a more powerful HVAC system for heating during the colder seasons, some people will choose to install a new furnace unit as well.
Whether you need to cool a single room in your home or the entire house, a ductless split air conditioner or a multi split air conditioner is an ideal alternative to a traditional forced air system.
Multi-Split Air Conditioner vs. Mini Split?
Whereas a mini split air conditioner consists of one compressor and one air outlet and cools only one room at a time, a multi-split air conditioner system lets you cool multiple rooms at a time. A multi split ac uses a single compressor to power up to five air outlets. Unlike a conventional system that works off one thermostat to control temperatures, a multi split provides individual control of each room’s temperatures. In addition to having unique temperature regulation, it also provides a money saving advantage, since you can heat or cool only those rooms you are using versus the entire house. Multi split AC units are more affordable than the overall cost to install a full HVAC system with ductwork.
What is a Single Split Air Conditioner System?
If you rely on central cooling at home but also have one ductless room that you’d like to make more comfortable (like a garage or sunroom), you’ll want to use a split AC system air conditioner. Because the split air conditioning system consists of just one compressor and one air outlet unit, it works for a single room only.
Unlike a central air conditioner system installation that requires a series of ductwork networked throughout the ceiling, split air conditioners rely on a set of pipes to connect the outdoor to the inside air unit. Refrigerant is dispersed through the copper pipes that cycle through the split HVAC system to generate either heated or cold air.
Multi Split AC Installation
A multi split installation must be done by a certified HVAC split air conditioner technician to maintain the validity of its HVAC warranty. Many of the best ac unit brands offer multi split AC installation options.
Installing a multi split system requires drilling a hole of at least 3-inches in diameter to run copper tubing to transport refrigerant. A certified local HVAC contractor will then run lines for the coolant, along with electricity and drainage.
You will need to buy the tubing, also referred to as line sets. The amount of tubing you’ll need is determined by the distance from the outdoor compressor to each individual indoor air outlet. A condensate pump may also be necessary for drainage of accumulated indoor condensation.
If you only need to cool one room in your home, a split air conditioning system is the answer but it you want to air condition two rooms or more, a multi-split air system is the right choice. The initial cost for the system and materials may be as much as or more than a conventional central air conditioning unit, but the benefits of such a versatile, flexible, and energy efficient system will more than pay for itself over time.
Benefits of a Multi Zone Split Air Conditioner
- Split and multi-split AC systems are flexible and easy to install, requiring less labor than traditional systems.
- Because they are ductless, split and multi split units don’t lose energy the way a central ac system does. According to Energy.gov, more than 30% of wasted energy in a traditional unit can be attributed to duct loss.
- Split air conditioner systems are designed with interior compatibility in mind. The air outlet that disperses the air is relatively small and can be easily installed flush against a wall.
Choosing a Multi-Split Air Conditioner Unit
- SEER rating: Also known as the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER), this measures a unit’s efficiency. You’ll want to select a unit with the highest possible rating for the most efficient air conditioner.
- EER rating: Also known as the Energy Efficiency Rating (EER), this measures the energy usage per square foot of cooling, and a higher rating signifies better efficiency.
- BTUs: The British Thermal Unit (also known as BTU) measures the amount of cooling a particular unit is capable of dispensing. The larger your room, the higher the BTU count will be necessary to keep it cool. You can estimate your BTU number by using an online calculator or simply ask your HVAC contractor.
- ENERGY STAR rating: These systems have been tested and passed the rigid standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. The ENERGY STAR rating validates that each product bearing the label is cost effective, energy efficient, and environmentally friendly.
Of course, a higher rating in these categories will increase the cost of the system—anywhere from $1,400 to $3,400 for a split unit and $1,700 to $3,600 for a multi split unit—and but it’ll pay off over time since the system will cost less to operate. In fact, you can save up to 30% on your monthly cooling bills with a ductless split or multi split air conditioner.