What is a mini-split?
Mini-Split systems use heat pump technology. They are basically a high efficiency air conditioner that can also run in reverse to heat the home. The condenser is usually located outdoors. Mini-splits are particularly efficient when compared to other HVAC systems, because they “recycle” energy, to some extent. Mini-splits also use electricity instead of burning gas, which, in some situations, can be beneficial.
Benefits and Setbacks
Mini-split systems do not work for every home. They perform well when the heating/cooling load is not too high. Generally, they should be used in conjunction with good sealing and insulation, and they are ideal for smaller homes and apartments, or homes where only certain rooms need heating/cooling (less than 1000 sq ft).
- High efficiency in the right application.
- No gas required.
- No ducts required! Mini-split systems distribute heat by blowing it into a room straight from the miniature heat pump coils located on any rooms’ upper wall or ceiling. No ducts mean less loss, no duct leakage, and no future maintenance associated with duct work.
- They can (if needed) use a forced air system instead, using a central air handler and a duct system. If designed right, they can be used to efficiently heat/cool very low load homes.
- Easier to Install: Mini-split systems are much easier to install than a well designed and installed forced air HVAC system. Since they are not limited by the existing duct system they can be directed to the rooms/zones that really need it.
- A single mini-split generally will not be able to handle a large, poorly sealed/insulated home in a hot/cold climate.
- Electricity tends to be a bit more expensive than gas, which can slightly offset the efficiency gain on your utility bill.
- Cannot be fine-tuned as well as expertly engineered duct systems.
- Any home larger than around 1000 square feet will benefit more from having a well designed traditional forced air system. Mini-splits should be considered for that one garage renovation or upstairs room that is hard to run a duct to. These situations are where they shine the most.
Making the Right Choice
Mini-split systems are great when you want to heat/cool a few select rooms, or a small, well insulated home, and you don’t want to have duct work done. They are especially great if you don’t have the space to install ducts in the building or in a room, or if you want to air condition a room or two that can’t fit properly sized ducts. In these situations, they are relatively convenient to install, and highly efficient.
Ellis Air Conditioning and Heating is here for all of your heating and cooling needs. If you have any questions or concerns whether a mini-split unit is right for you don’t hesitate to give us a call. We want what is best for you in your situation.