What Is a Ductless Air Conditioner?
When you’re looking for ways to stay cool in the summer or find a way to avoid breaking your budget during the warmer months, ductless air conditioners offer some of the best solutions.
A standard HVAC system for central heat and air conditioning consists of ducts inside a building’s walls through which air travels to warm or cool the whole building. However, a ductless air conditioner unit consists of an outdoor and an indoor unit. The outdoor unit contains hot or cool air, while the indoor unit gives you control over the temperature inside your home. Ductless air conditioning usually works best for small homes, especially when you only have one or two rooms that require cooling.
How Do Ductless Air Conditioners Work?
Ductless air conditioners take advantage of new technology that aims to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system. A standard HVAC system requires refrigerant that pumps through your duct work to keep your home cool during warm months. Ductless air conditioners use an outdoor condenser unit that sucks in outside air through an open window or wall, where it is then cooled down and becomes the cold refrigerant that runs through a closed system inside your home.
The condenser unit typically sits on a table or hangs from a wall. It extracts the heat from the air, sends it outside through cooling coils, and places the cool air inside your home through a small hole in your window or wall. The only additional equipment you need is an indoor unit with an exhaust vent, which attaches to a window. There are no ducts, wires, or pipes involved in this process, which keeps installation costs lower than standard HVAC systems.
Why Homes Change to Ductless AC and Heating?
Ductless air conditioners work in homes with open floor plans, where the air travels throughout your home. Ductless air conditioning is also beneficial for homeowners who want to keep their homes cool in the summer but don’t have the budget for an HVAC system. These benefits make ductless air conditioning one of the most popular types of new HVAC systems.
Options for Installation of Ductless AC Systems
Ductless air conditioning systems are available in several different forms. The most popular ways to install ductless air conditioners include:
- Ceiling suspension
- Ceiling flush mount
Components of a Ductless AC Unit
Ductless air conditioners consist of three main components, including:
1. An Evaporator/Blower Unit
The blower unit is the part of your ductless air conditioner in the room that the AC serves. It is a self-contained unit that consists of an indoor blower, an outdoor compressor, and an evaporator coil. Your home’s existing wiring powers the evaporator unit and provides refrigerant to the outdoor compressor. The outdoor compressor sends compressed refrigerant to the evaporator coil inside your home, where it expands into gas form and releases heat through a vent.
2. A Conduit
A refrigerant pipe is between the compressor and the evaporator coil. The conduit provides electrical power to the indoor and outdoor ductless AC. It keeps the heat from escaping before it reaches the evaporator coil and can be in any shape or size you choose. Although copper has better heat retention capabilities, you can also select plastic.
3. An Outdoor Condenser
The condenser unit is outside your home and connects to a refrigerant pipe. The condenser unit releases heat through a vent to the outside. It also absorbs cold refrigerant from your home’s return vent that returns to the compressor.
Multi-Zone Ductless Setups vs Single-Zone Mini-Split
Ductless AC units are effective in both single rooms and whole-house setups. You can install the AC in different setups based on these two platforms:
Multi-Zone Ductless Setups
This ductless air conditioner makes an individual room or area of a house more comfortable. It is for those who like to zone their systems and have the ability to change zones at will. The Multi-zone system is a split system. One ductless unit serves two rooms.
They can cool and heat areas separately and provide air conditioning to avoid over cooling in the regions that no one occupies. With mini-split systems, you can have window AC units work in independent zones inside your home without having to install duct work throughout your space. It allows you to cool and ventilate specific rooms through smaller openings like windows.
It is a single-zone system that expands on the primary single-zone AC. It cools small rooms and individual spaces of large spaces. Since it serves one room, it is perfect for bedrooms and kitchens. With this, you do not have to worry about how it will affect the areas on other sides of the room that you want to remain cool. It is easier to install and cheaper to purchase than the multi-zone.
Do Ductless Air Conditioners Have Adequate Cooling Power?
If you are looking for a model that can cool a whole house, consider cooling units with greater BTUs. If you only need to cool an area of one room, however, you should use the model with the lowest BTUs. For efficiency reasons, it is wise to purchase a smaller sized unit for a single room and make sure you have more than one window in each room where you want to use your Ductless AC unit.
Here are some standard sizes for ductless air conditioners:
- Rooms measuring between 400 to 650 square feet will need a unit that provides 12,000 BTUs per hour.
- Rooms measuring between 600 to 1000 square feet will need a unit that provides 18,000 BTUs per hour.
- For rooms measuring 800 to 1300 square feet, you will need a unit that provides 24,000 BTUs per hour.
Advantages of Ductless Air Conditioners
The most significant advantage of ductless air conditioners over traditional central air options is the ease of installation. In most cases, installing a ductless system only requires a hole for the indoor unit to mount in and either an accessible window or outside wall.
Here are other things that you will like about ductless air conditioners:
1. Integrated Zoning
The main reason for the popularity of ductless systems is the convenience of zoning. Zoning allows you to set different temperatures and cooling power for each room in your house. During the summer, it comes in handy when you can keep your bedroom nice and cool but have the rest of your home at a warmer temperature.
2. Energy efficient
Since a significant component of the indoor ductless air conditioner is the compressor, you should keep it as far away as possible from your rooms. The indoor units shouldn’t be in the sunlight, which allows them to remain cooler. Moreover, these units use a minimal amount of electricity and run silently.
3. Saves Space
Since they do not require ducts, you can install a ductless air conditioner almost anywhere in your home. It is a great feature for small spaces where you do not have the space for a central unit.
4. Easy Maintenance
Systems that require ducts are often challenging to maintain because they are tucked away in places that can be difficult to access. You will not have this problem with a ductless system. You can easily clean the coils and filters of these units whenever necessary.
5. Noise Control
Since they do not require any ducts or an additional fan, they make less noise.
Disadvantages of Ductless Air Conditioners
Flexibility is the biggest disadvantage of a ductless air conditioner. This cooling system is not adjustable. You cannot change the direction or angle of the vent to direct airflow. You must install it in the right place to ensure proper ventilation of the room.
Ductless air conditioners require monthly cleaning of filters and coils to keep them running smoothly. You should hire a professional for annual maintenance.
Ductless air conditioners are expensive. Installation is time-consuming and requires you to rent a particular unit for the job.
The size of the indoor mini-splits makes them prominent, especially when mounted on a wall which is often not visually pleasing.
4. Climatic Concerns
Ductless air conditioners work best in moderate to warm temperatures. In cooler areas where there is a lot of humidity, they do not cool as well as traditional central units.
The choice of an air conditioning system should base on the area’s climatic conditions, your budget, and the size of your room. Call a trustworthy expert like At Your Service Heating & Cooling LLC for further assistance in choosing the right air conditioner for your home in the Baltimore area. We also offer residential plumbing, backup generators, and commercial services. Our team of professionals will be more than happy to help you choose a unit that suits your needs perfectly.