There has been a lot of hype about ductless air conditioning systems. We get calls at Von’s Heating and Air in Orange Park, FL, asking us if ductless air conditioning systems work well in our climate. That is one really important question you need to ask about any air conditioning system. There are other important questions that you need to consider when purchasing any air conditioning unit. You need to also determine if the system is more energy efficient than what you have today. Will the system put out enough cooling air in your home with its particular floor plan, ceiling height, size and number of rooms? Do you already have ductwork installed? Will your electrical panel handle the load, or will it need an upgrade? Will the change in systems save you money on your energy bill? Will the change improve any undesirable situations you have with your current unit?
What Is Ductless Air Conditioning?
Ductless air conditioning systems have actually been around longer in countries like Japan than in the US. They do not have any ductwork whatsoever. Instead, there is an outdoor unit that is working in concert with one or more indoor units. These units are tied together with a condensate line that expels water outside, an electricity line and a refrigerant line. That whole package of lines only takes up a 3-inch diameter space inside walls, floors and ceilings. That is quite a bit smaller than the 12-inch by 6-inch ducting that central air uses.
Ductless air conditioning, or mini-split systems, work their magic with refrigerant lines, evaporative coils and heat exchangers. Central air brings the outside air inside, using powerful blowers and fans. Mini-split systems convert the current state of the refrigerant in a heat exchanger. Indoor fans blow over evaporative coils. Thus, the indoor air is cooled and circulated in the room. Then, the refrigerant is circulated back to the outdoor unit for more heat exchange.
Why Ductless AC Is Energy Efficient
There are a few reasons why mini-split systems are incredibly energy efficient.
- They only pump refrigerant; don’t blow forced air
- AC to DC inverter technology
- Zone system
It takes a lot of energy to push enough air through ducts to cool your entire home. Also, according to the Department of Energy, about 30% of the energy consumed by central air conditioning systems is lost through the ducts. This is especially true if they are placed in an attic or other unconditioned space. Mini-split systems eliminate these losses by eliminating the need for ducts, saving energy and money.
In your home, you have alternating current supplying your electricity needs. Ductless air conditioning units take that alternating current and turn it into direct current, DC. This lowers the amount of energy used by each indoor unit, saving on system energy usage.
With mini-split systems, you can also save on energy through zone cooling. Each indoor unit is placed in a cooling zone. You can set up the zones however you desire. Each room that you want to cool will make up a zone. If no one is in their bedrooms on the weekdays, you can turn that zone’s cooling down or off to save energy. Each zone has its own thermostat. Zoned cooling also works well when some people in your home prefer a different temperature than others.
Pros and Cons
As you can see, mini-split air conditioning systems are really great in terms of saving on your electricity bill in the summer. They also have the capacity of providing zones of cooling in your home.
Ductless air conditioning systems can be an option for an existing home with no ductwork already installed. If you try to put ductwork into an existing home, it can be an expensive and possibly messy retrofit. The ductwork will take up space that maybe you don’t want to lose. Large holes will need to be cut in ceilings, floors and walls. You will likely lose some upstairs closet space to get the ceiling vents placed for the first floor. An older home with the right floor plan can benefit from ductless air conditioning.
There is a big issue that prevents some homes from whole-house ductless air. It is not the best alternative if you have an open floor plan. The same goes for larger rooms. These units do not pump out enough cooled air in larger spaces. They don’t supply enough BTUs of energy. It is not usually energy efficient to have two indoor heads in one room. If you have a home with smaller rooms and a closed floor plan, ductless air is a great whole-house option.
One additional con on the side of choosing ductless air conditioning as a whole-home solution, even in a home with a suitable floor plan, is the initial cost. The cost of ductless air conditioning can be more than the cost of a central air system. Higher costs come in the form of multiple indoor units. This is unnecessary in a central air system. If you already have ductwork installed in your home, it is cheaper to upgrade your central air system. The newer central air units must at least be at an energy rating of 14 or higher. If your unit is 20 years or older, it likely is only at a 9 or 10 energy rating. The upgrade will save you money and allow you to recoup the cost of the new unit over time.
How You Can Use Ductless AC in a Larger Home With Central AC
Many people are using ductless air conditioning for those areas of their homes that have no central air vent. In the past, people may have just installed a window or through-the-wall air conditioner in those areas. The box air conditioners tend to be unsightly, block your view and present a security risk. There are also those portable air units on wheels that expel their hot air through a tube in the back. Portable units often admit hot air into your home where the tube exits, defeating its purpose. Mini-split systems don’t have any of those negatives.
There are some great locations in homes for a mini-split system with one indoor unit.
- Granny house
- Sun room
- Finished basement
- Utility room
A single-unit mini-split system can make more of your home usable in the heat of the Florida summer day. Maybe you don’t work on your car as much as you should during the summer because the garage is too hot. You can turn a zone off entirely when you are no longer in that room or area. Thus, a mini-split system saves more energy in the long run compared to adding more ductwork to your existing home.
Expert Air Conditioning Installations in Orange Park
At Von’s Heating and Air, we are your local, trusted experts on air conditioning installations in Orange Park and the surrounding areas. We have been providing heating and air conditioning installations, repair and maintenance for the past 20 years. We also provide indoor air quality services. High-quality workmanship is our hallmark. We will give you a detailed, free estimate on any of our services. If you call us before 3 p.m., we almost always come out for service the same day that you call. We understand the critical need for our services, especially air conditioning here in Florida.
We provide financing on approved credit on installations. We also run specials here on the website. First-time customers get a discount on air conditioning installations. Our team serves as leaders in our community by helping with volunteer activities.
Call us today at Von’s Heating and Air in Orange Park for all of your air conditioning installation questions and needs.