The air conditioner market has seen a lot many changes in the past few years. Earlier your only option was the window AC, then came the split air conditioners with an indoor and outdoor unit, and then the central heating and cooling systems or the HVAC systems. Even by a long shot, we have still not covered all the possibilities. The market is ripe for more innovations and technological changes. However, the one air conditioner making waves right now is the mini-split system.
What Is A Mini-Split System?
When you need more concentrated cooling in individual rooms or spaces, mini-split systems are your answer. Mini-split systems are primarily made up of two main components. These are:
1. A compressor or condenser that is positioned outside of the house
2. An air-handler unit that is installed indoors.
Both these components are connected to each other through a conduit or a pipe. This conduit consists of the following:
1. Power cable,
2. Condensate drain,
3. Refrigerant or coolant,
4. Suction tubing.
If the number of air-handling units is more, each of them will have a coupled thermostat. Individual thermostats help maintain distinct and desired temperatures in each individual room where the unit is positioned.
Difference Between A traditional Split System And A Mini-Split System
At Aztil AC, we have received many queries regarding mini-split systems, wanting to know how they are different from the traditional split systems.
The traditional split systems used in homes also have an indoor and outdoor unit. But the key differences lie in these two facts:
1. Where the traditional or conventional system occupies a lot of space, the mini-split system being small and more compact does not.
2. The traditional split system relies on ducts to deliver the warm and cool air while the mini-split systems are ductless and throw the air into the room directly.
Advantages Of Mini-Split System
Here are the main advantages of the mini-split system:
1. Improved Heating And Cooling – When each air handler is placed in specific rooms or zones, it makes for improved heating and cooling of those areas. Add to that the fact that you control the temperature of these zones separately, and you have the perfect living environment for the kids, adults, and the elderly. Each can adjust the temperature of their area as per wish and enjoy the comforts of home. You can also switch off the air handler units of those rooms which are not in use. Ultimately, with mini-split systems, you heat or cool only the desired zones and that too at different temperatures ass per the liking of the residents.
2. Flexibility In Placement – Mini-split systems give the flexibility of placement, which is not the case with most add-ons. You can install the air handler in the false ceiling, suspend it from the actual ceiling or affix it on the sidewall depending on the aesthetics of the room.
3. No Need Of Ducts – Mini-split systems are ductless, so they are a perfect fit for heritage homes and buildings. You don’t have to install expensive ductwork, which happens to be difficult for old homes, for being able to live in a temperature-controlled environment.
4. Easy To Install – Since no ductwork is needed, the installation of mini-split systems is hassle-free. It also happens to be less invasive as only an approximately three-inch hole is needed to join the two units via a conduit.
5. Better Energy Efficiency – Mini-split systems give more flexibility to the homeowners in terms of energy efficiency. Since they are ductless, there is no scope of losing warm or cool air through cracks and leaks in the ducts. Similarly, the complete system does not have to run continuously to maintain the temperature. Instead, just turn on the air handlers of those rooms that are in use and reduce your carbon footprint. With limited use of power, even your savings will be more significant.
Disadvantages Of Mini-Split Systems
The typical downsides of a mini-split system are:
1. Costly Installation – Installing a mini-split system is costly. It is more expensive than installing the traditional split system. Many homeowners are put-off by this expense.
2. Improper Placement Can Cause Short Cycling – Though there is flexibility in installing the air handler, yet it needs to be installed in the correct place to prevent short cycling. You need the help of a trained technician to work out the most appropriate location.
3. Aesthetically Unappealing – The presence of the air handler unit cannot be ignored. Even though small, it is still substantive in size and cannot be concealed and may spoil the aesthetics of the room.
Benefits Of A Mini-Split Air Conditioning System
1. They Require No Ductwork – Ductwork may not always fit well into everyone’s plans. It could be because they are expensive to install and maintain or because the house may not be ideal for its installation. Whatever be your reason, with a mini-split system, you need not worry about the ductwork because it requires none. So straight off, that is tremendous savings in itself.
2. Flexible Temperature Settings – One prime benefit of the mini-split system is that you no longer need to compromise on your comfort level. If you want the temperature higher or lower in your room, you can do that without affecting anyone else’s settings. Everyone can now set the temperature they desire on their respective air handlers and enjoy.
3. Quiet Operations – Traditional HVAC systems consist of several components, due to which they are not always quiet. On the other hand, mini-split systems are much simpler, and as a result, they make for quieter operations.
4. High-Efficiency Systems – Not many people know that mini-split systems are high-efficiency systems. So when you use them, you can rest assured they will not lead to excessively high energy bills. A core fact highlighting their efficiency is that ducted systems lose 25% or more of the air conditioning energy by pumping air through the ductwork. Since, in mini-split systems, no ducts are required, there is no concern of losing any efficiency.
Things To Ponder When Picking The Best Mini-Split AC System
Let us now talk about how you can choose or pick the best mini-split air conditioning system. So here are some questions that you need to answer, which will help you make the right choice:
1. Do You Want Only Cooling Or Heating As Well – If you opt for a mini-split system that provides cooling, it will cost less than a system that provides both heating and cooling. As a result, the first consideration is being clear about what you are looking for in a mini-split air conditioning system.
2. How Many Individual Rooms Need Heating And Cooling? – In a mini-split system, one air handler will cool only one room. Therefore, the first consideration is the number of rooms in your residence that require cooling. Also, keep in mind one compressor can support between 5 to 8 air handlers. This number may vary from brand to brand and model to model, so you must confirm before buying.
3. What Is The Size Of The Rooms? – The size or tonnage of the mini-split system is a vital consideration. An oversized or undersized AC will both lead to problems. In the former case, the system remains underutilized, and in the latter, it works overtime and under pressure. Both situations are bad for the health of the system and result in high power consumption and frequent problems.
4. Does The Design Of The Mini-Split Fit Your Home And Expectation? – We all go for a certain feel or decor in the house. Anything that does not match will make for a glaring difference. Consequently, it is necessary to ensure the air handlers blend seamlessly with the design of the home. Unless your expectation of its looks is fulfilled, you will not be satisfied with it.
5. Is There A Mini-Split System That Fits Your Budget? – Depending on the features and its SEER value, the cost of a mini-split system will vary. A top-end model with the highest SEER will cost more than a mid-range (feature-wise) model with the same SEER. Important here is to strike the right balance between the essential features (those you must have) and SEER value.
6. Which Brands Are Reliable? – Not all brands are on the same level. Some rank high, some mid-level, and others are poor. This could be related to one feature or the overall quality of the product. It would be best to choose a reliable brand only, for it will give you peace of mind later. Choosing a sub-standard brand will mean a never-ending cycle of complaints and repairs. It is always better to buy a basic model of a good brand than a high-end model of an inferior brand.
7. How Good Are After Sales Services? – Buying a good brand is not enough because air conditioners need looking after in the form of repairs and preventive maintenance. Hence, after-sales service should also be of crucial consideration. The manufacturer’s customer care should be prompt in query resolution. They should be able to handle warranty issues without much fuss. If you are unsure where you can get this information, you can always check the manufacturer’s website. Do check reviews and customer feedback posted by other users as well to make a well-informed decision.
Mini Split Cost Breakdown
A decentralized mini-split air conditioning system can range anything from $2,000 to $14,500, having a 12,000 BTU model costing around $3,000 in aggregate. According to the manufacturer, kind of interior installation, and difficulty of the setup, a one-ton system including one external and one interior unit with a 21 Seasonal energy efficiency ratio costs from $1,300 to $5,000.
Some acceptable systems price around $700-$800; however, do not be compelled to get the cheapest one just because it does not cost much. You must purchase from a prominent mini-split heat pump brand, such as GE, LG, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, or Fujitsu, because there is a higher probability the equipment will work well and that repairs and warranty servicing will be possible later. While this may give the impression to be more costly at first, it will benefit in the long run.
Should You Get a Mini-Splits AC?
Before deciding on a licensed installer, it’s better to ask about and obtain quotes from several providers.
Mini-splits are far more cost-effective than centralized air and heat systems. They provide more flexibility and convenience than a traditional entire heating system. It’s wise to note that the price efficiency ratio is determined by the right mini-split model size, positioning, and expert setup. If all of these criteria are fulfilled, your system should value the initial investment well.
Many models have sleeping schedules and timers that you may tailor to your needs. Wireless remote capabilities are also beneficial because they enable the unit to be controlled from any place in the area.
Furthermore, while purchasing a mini-split may appear to be more expensive than typical heating and cooling systems, it is a cost-effective way to heat and chill troublesome areas of your home such as:
1. Add-ons spaces of the house
3. conservatory or repository
5. House areas where you do not visit normally
ENERGY STAR also applauds Mini-splits for households that face particular obstacles, for example:
1. Expensive power heating from thermostats, wall lamps, or vents.
2. Expensive central heating, either due to high energy costs or inefficiency.
3. Old homes with no ducting because they use a furnace or baseboard heating.
According to ENERGY STAR, a mini-split can spare you up to 30% on chilling and up to 60% on warming compared to traditional electrical air – conditioning.
And the paramount thing is that you can regulate the temperature of every space owing to the zonal cooling system of the mini-split AC.
Installation Cost Of A Mini-Split System
The cost of installing a mini-split unit is expected to be between $1000 and $1500 in general. However, the true amount will differ based on the system’s capacity, the labor involved, and the items necessary. The cost of fitting a multi-zone system varies. Many technicians will bill an hourly labour rate of $100-$180 per hour based on the area. Multi-zone setups often require 1-4 working days to complete, resulting in setup costs ranging between $1000-$5000+. As previously stated, it may be enticing to do your installation. Still, it is best to get your mini-split fitted by a professional that is HVAC trained to guarantee adequate positioning and couplings between the refrigerant and coolant.
Before we talk about the best place to install a mini-split AC, it’s best to learn a little bit about the system.
Number Of Units Involved
Like any other heating and cooling system, a mini-split system consists of two units. These are:
1. The Indoor Air Handler – This unit is installed inside the house. Typically, you will need one air handler per room. If the room size is large, you may need even more.
2. The Outdoor Compressor – The compressor is installed outdoors. Every home needs just one outdoor unit for the house. You can connect it to multiple air handlers.
The Way A Mini-Split System Works
In a mini-split system, individual indoor units or air handlers are installed in each zone or room. This allows each room to do its own heating and cooling through a dedicated fan and evaporator coil assembly within the air handler. Each air handler is connected to a common compressor unit via a tubing of refrigerant lines which passes through a hole in the wall, two to three inches wide. The outdoor unit compresses the refrigerant, and the subsequently cooled air is sent indoors through the air handler.
Installation Of The Mini-Split System
1. The Indoor Unit – The air handler is usually installed on the wall of the room or zone. The only consideration is that it should be on one of the exterior walls. It means the wall on which the air handler is installed, its opposite side should face the outside.
2. The Outdoor Unit – The outdoor unit should be installed in an open area over an even surface. An imbalanced unit will never work optimally.
The Ideal Place To Install A Ductless Mini-Split AC
Let’s now talk about the ideal place to install the mini-split system. Location matters because the efficiency of the complete system depends to a vast extent on where it is installed. Even a tiny miscalculation can have a dramatic effect on both comfort and power consumption.
1. Installing The Indoor Unit – The indoor unit can be mounted on the inner side of any exterior wall. Now, two critical things need to be taken into consideration here.
A. The first is the height at which you mount it on the wall. If it is placed too low, the air circulation will not be proper because furniture and furnishings will come in its way. Similarly, placing it too high will mix cold treated air with the warm air that rises above, which is a wastage of energy. An HVAC technician can tell you the height at which the air handler will work the best. The minimum requirement is that the air handler should have at least two inches of free space from the ceiling, and it should be eight to ten feet from the floor.
B. The second thing is that one should not install the air handler in a corner. Installing it in a corner will lead to hot and cold areas within the room. If you desire equal cooling throughout, you should mount it at the center of the wall. This will ensure equal distribution of the treated air. So your room will have an even temperature throughout.
2. Installing The Outdoor Unit – The outdoor unit needs to be installed in an open space where air movement is unrestricted. To that effect, you should consider these things:
A. Never cage the outdoor unit in a fully closed structure. If you must, to protect it, construct a solid cage-like structure from which the air can pass through easily.
B. The compressor unit should be mounted on even ground or roof, as may be the case. If there is no flat surface, the first thing a technician must do is construct a flat platform-like structure over which the unit can be mounted. The compressor is heavy and, hence, the platform should be strong enough to bear its weight.
C. There should be no trees or bushes growing around the compressor. They will not only act as an impediment in the free flow of air but may also be a hazard to the unit’s safety in case of strong winds or heavy rainfall.
D. Lastly, the place where the outdoor unit is installed should be easy to access. This is important from a repairs and maintenance point of view. If it’s difficult to access, it is also difficult to work upon. So even an easy job may become challenging. Also, the HVAC contractor may charge you extra to cover for additional time spent and safety measures adopted due to its tricky location.
Life Expectancy Of A Mini-Split System
If you take good care of your ductless mini-split system and see to its periodic maintenance, it will last for around 20 years. A conventional heating and cooling system will last for only a period of 10 to 15 years. So, it’s safe to concur that a mini-split system gives a better value for money deal.
Will A Mini-Split System Heat And Cool The Whole House?
Yes, using multiple air handler units, you can effectively maintain the desired temperature in your entire house. On top of that, you also get the flexibility to maintain distinctive temperatures in different rooms.
Aztil AC Your Partner For Mini-Split System
Homes with ideal indoor temperatures make for a comfortable indoor space. It gives peace of mind and makes for a nice and soothing atmosphere, which improves the quality of life, gives good sleep, and improves focus. If ducts are indeed the bane of your existence, then the answer to your prayers is a mini-split system. Nonetheless, the big concern is choosing the right kind of mini-split system for your home. It needs to meet your budget as well as the requirements of the house. In addition, it should be a perfect fit (size-wise), have all the features you desire, and blend in with the design of the house without being an eyesore. Needless to say, there is bound to be a system that meets all your expectations. It’s just about doing proper research and finding it.
Aztil AC is an HVAC company that is a forerunner in all things related to heating and cooling systems. Our technicians are not only well trained but also have extensive knowledge and experience to help you. We shall be glad to be of service. Our offices are always open, so you can contact us anytime at +1-888-729-8452 to book an appointment.