Mini split air conditioning, or ductless air conditioning, is a type of add on air conditioner used where installing ductwork would not be feasible. This can happen if you add on to your house and cannot attach the room to your existing ducted air conditioning unit or if the house in question is older and has never had ductwork of any kind installed.
They are better than a window model condenser air conditioner in the fact they are quieter and do a better job. They also offer a lower installation cost than a new ducted air conditioning system. “Mini split” describes the use of smaller indoor units that are in each room or area of the house.
Advantages of a Mini Split Air Conditioner
The maneuverability and small size of the indoor units is the main advantage of a mini split system. The cooling ability will be affected by how much insulation your home has as well as how much cooling it needs.
Each indoor unit has its own thermostat so cooling need only be turned on when someone is in the room or zone.
The ease of installation is another advantage. Where a home or building needs to be uprooted to install a regular ductwork air conditioning system, the mini split need only have a three inch hole drilled into a wall for the conduit. Mini split manufacturers usually have a variety of angle and elbow conduits so it will not look as intrusive in your house.
The outside unit also does not need to be right up against the house to operate. It can be place up to 50 feet away from the indoor evaporator. The energy loss associated with ductwork does not apply to a mini split system.
Mini splits also provide a wider interior design option due to the fact the indoor unit can be placed anywhere you want them to be. The added advantage of security is another mini split plus. Wall mounted units only need to be knocked out to provide access. The small hole of the mini split is tiny enough to discourage even the smallest thieves.
It all sounds good but what are the downsides?
Cost seems to be the only major downside to a mini split air conditioner. Mini splits cost around 30% more than central air system (not including ductwork) and twice as much as window units. Finding someone to install your mini split system correctly is the other main disadvantage.
Qualified installers are few and far between. This is because training involved in duct systems is costly. A contractor may not even let a customer know that mini split air conditions even exist. A qualified installer is important to make sure your installed mini split doesn’t waste energy due to short cycling or having too large a system for the space needed.
Appearance in the home may be another issue with a mini split. It tends to stand out in a room. They do make mini splits that look sleek and decorative but it still takes up usable space.
All in all, a mini split is a great system to utilize if your home is too old or too difficult to install a duct work air conditioning system. But due to the cost and lack of professional installation assistance a mini split may not be the best system to have if you are building a new home.