What is a mini-split?
A mini-split system, often referred to as a ductless split, consists of an outdoor condensing unit that houses the compressor, and an indoor unit, or multiple indoor units called air handlers. The air handlers in a standard application are often mounted to interior walls and are approximately 12” tall by less than 36” wide. They protrude from the wall approximately 10” and are connected to the outdoor unit with copper tubing that carry the refrigerant requiring but a 3” hole through which that tubing attaches to the air handler and through which power, communication and condensation drain lines are installed. If installed in a new home construction the refrigerant lines will be installed inside the wall, generally strapped to the framing studs. If installed in a remodel, the connecting lineset (another word for refrigerant lines), would most often mount down an exterior wall and be covered with either sheet metal or plastic U-channel fastened to the wall. Each air handler head is controlled by its own remote thermostat, thereby making air conditioning and heating each room independent from the others. A single condensing unit can have up to four air handlers connected, each air handler conditioning its own zone (i.e. two bedrooms, great room, and an office). Mini-splits that both heat and cool are called heat pumps, those that provide only cooling are called straight cool.
Uses for mini-splits are infinitely varied due to design flexibility, capable of being installed in new home builds, whole home renovations, and room additions. They can supplement an existing central heating and cooling system that is working well without the need to resize or replace that existing system. Other applications benefiting from mini-split installations are offices, garages, craft rooms, basements, data storage rooms where temperature control is necessary, and applications where ductwork cannot be installed.
With new inverter technology, mini-split systems have become extremely efficient. Because air handlers are controlled separately, only rooms in use require conditioning, reducing duration of operation and increasing energy savings. In addition, ductless systems avoid the energy losses associated with ducted systems, which can often account for as much as 30% loss, especially when compared to systems whose ducts are in an unconditioned space such as an attic.
While this article has focused primarily on the ‘ductless’ aspect of mini-splits, because they also have some ducted applications, a new definition describes them as ‘multi-zoned comfort solutions’. This is when duct free and ducted applications are simultaneously powered by a single outdoor unit.
So, just what is a mini-split heating and cooling system?
One whose time has come, and is now providing limitless comfort solutions changing otherwise unlivable space into sought after areas in your home that are climate controlled, quiet, peaceful and usable. For more information and to explore how a mini-split system can convert that formerly unused space into something special, call Goettl’s High Desert Mechanical at (928)772-2751.