Every homeowner has different needs when it comes to cooling or heating their home. Ductless air conditioning is an alternative to central AC systems that require ducts to be run throughout a structure. Relatively new in the U.S., ductless mini-split systems have been popular overseas. They consist of an outdoor unit connected to indoor air handlers that serve individual rooms. Here, we’ll explore the pro’s and con’s to help decide if a ductless system is right for your home.
Ductless Air Conditioning Pro’s
- Simple Installation: The compressor is installed outside and connected to indoor air handlers without ductwork or drainage. There’s no fuss with installing ductwork and no significant home modifications are required. Installation is quick as well. Refrigerant lines are inserted through a 3-inch hole in the wall, minimizing air leakage and security issues, while interior units mount on walls or ceilings.
- Energy Efficiency: Ductless air conditioning can save you a great deal on energy costs. Just look at Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). Some of the most efficient models achieve up to 30 SEER, far exceeding split systems that range from 14 to 17 SEER. You also avoid efficiency issues related to ductwork leakage.
- Temperature Control: A ductless system uses a compressor that’s inverter-driven and speeds up or slows down according to demand. It doesn’t need to shut off completely. When you need it, the system can be turned up without an energy-consuming start-up process. Also, each unit serves its own room allowing zoned temperature control. If you’re not in a room, turn that unit off to save energy.
- Don’t Use Much Space: If you have a small home or an older one with not much room to spare, a ductless system is convenient. You don’t need a spare closet, attic, or crawlspace. The absence of ductwork and related components simplifies installation and means bulky equipment isn’t needed throughout your home.
- Little Noise: Window units, split systems, and even central ACs emit some noise, but ductless systems run quietly. The sound of a ductless AC running isn’t any louder than a refrigerator. It’s, therefore, less distracting and you get comfortable air while hardly knowing the system is on.
Ductless Air Conditioning Con’s
- Space Needed for Indoor Units: In individual rooms, central ACs just require vents. Ductless indoor units require some wall space. For some homeowners, this may not be appealing, especially in rooms with low ceilings or tight layouts. A ductless mini-split looks like a large printer on the wall, although some models come in stylish colors and sleek designs.
- More Costly to Install: While operating costs are lower than other systems, up-front costs are higher, so you’ll need to factor that into your budget. On the plus side, your energy bills may be lower. The long-term payback depends on how you use the system, the cost of electricity, and your climate.
- Limited Heating Capacity: A ductless unit can heat a room depending on the model. Some are designed for heating and cooling. But depending on your climate zone, the system might not do so effectively. If you live in a cold climate, you may have to invest in a backup heating system.
- Maintenance Demands: Ductless air conditioning doesn’t come without its maintenance requirements. All ACs must be properly maintained. However, mini splits must be cleaned often (at least once a month). A ductless fan is vulnerable to debris buildup and costly professional cleaning will probably be necessary if you don’t clean the filters. Poor maintenance risks damage to the system and reduces its lifespan.
- Electrical Requirements: A separate electricity source is required for the outdoor condenser and compressor. This is fine if you own your home and can modify it as you like. But a ductless AC may not be suited for a condo or property where a landlord has strict rules about exterior modifications.
Contact Oregon Ductless
We install, repair, and maintain single-zone, multi-zone, and whole-house ductless AC systems throughout the Portland area. Our technicians specialize in all brands of ductless air conditioners and heat pumps as well as traditional systems. Each system is properly sized, calibrated, and installed to make sure your investment pays off. Financing plans and payment options are available for installation or repair services. For more information on ductless air conditioning and to schedule service, call 503-832-4161.