Adding air conditioning to a home with forced air heating is simple. Your HVAC technician simply installs a central air conditioner and connects it to your existing ductwork. But when you have some other sort of heating system that does not require ductwork, like boiler heating or baseboard electric heating, things get more complicated. If you were to get central air conditioning, this would require running ducts through your walls and adding air vents to each room. This is an enormous undertaking -- and it's not even possible with the way some homes are built. Thankfully, there's another air conditioning option for homes without ducts: ductless mini-split air conditioning.
What is ductless mini-split air conditioning?
This type of system is sometimes simply called "ductless air conditioning." Basically, these systems consist of two pieces of equipment. A compressor unit is located outdoors next to your building, and an air handling unit is mounted on the wall inside your home. The compressor cools the air, and the air handling unit pulls it through a pipe and blows it into your home. Depending on the size of your home, there may be several air handling units, but they will all be connected to the one compressor.
As the name suggests, there are no ducts required for a ductless mini-split air conditioning system. The tubes through which air travels between the compressor and air handling units are all located outside. Therefore, your HVAC technician won't have to do excessive renovations to accommodate this style of air conditioning system. The most complicated part is making a small hole in the wall so that the air can feed through to the air handling unit.
What are the other advantages of a ductless air conditioning system?
In addition to minimizing the need for renovations, this style of system offers a number of benefits for homeowners:
- You can control your air temperature zone by zone. If you have several air handling units, they'll have separate thermostats. So you can set one area of the house to 72 degrees F and another area to 76 degrees F if you wish. This isn't possible with standard central air.
- Your home will be well ventilated. Air is continuously being brought in from the outdoors, so your home won't feel as stuffy.
- Your utility bills will be lower. Generally, ductless mini-split air conditioning units operate on less power than traditional forced air systems, so your energy bills will be lower. Setting your temperature by zone will also let you conserve energy by keeping rooms you're not spending time in warmer.
How much does a ductless mini-split system cost?
If your home is 1,000 square feet or less, you can expect to pay between $2,000 and $5,000 to have one of these systems installed. For larger homes, the cost can range between $5,000 and $7,000. While this is more than the cost of installing central air in a home that already has ducts, it is likely much less than you would pay to have your home retrofitted with ductwork as well as having a central air system installed.
Are there any downfalls to ductless mini-split systems?
The presence of the air handling unit on the wall is annoying to some homeowners. It may interfere with your decorating scheme or the placement of your furniture. Also, the compressor unit will take up some space outside and may interfere with your landscaping. However, these are small prices to pay for having a cooler, more comfortable home.
To learn more about ductless mini-split air conditioning and whether it's a good choice for your home with no ducts, talk to an HVAC contractor in your area, such as those at Mike's Bremen Service Inc.