Informational Guide

What Is & How Do Ductless AC Units Work?

Mini-splits are ideal for people who don’t need the same temperature in their entire house, want to save energy, and need a compact system.

by Josh M

Wondering what is a mini split system? It is a ductless heating and cooling system and an excellent way to maintain the cool and comfort of your home without the stress of cumulative electricity bills.

While most modern air-conditioning systems require a duct system, a mini-split works without ducts. These can fit in almost any space, making them one of the most cost-effective options for residential areas. Not only do they have a lower cost, but they also cumulate the cost of electricity bills.

If you are looking forward to getting a duct-less, compact air-conditioning system, a split AC is the best fit for you! This guide will help you understand what is a mini-split air conditioner and how does a mini split work. Read through to explore more.

Mini Split in Living Room with Grey and White Theme

A Mini-split air conditioner is a heating and cooling system which enables users to control temperatures in individual rooms or spaces. It is an easy, efficient, and highly advanced alternative to the standard Air Conditioning options.

A Mini-split system has two main components:

  1. .An outdoor compressor (condenser)
  2. .An indoor air-handling unit/units (evaporator)

It is a compact air conditioning system. You can install it by drilling a three-inch hole through any wall. The hole works as a conduit to place the power cables, copper tubing, communication cables, and a condensation drain line, linking the outdoor and indoor units.

This system is specifically designed to cool targeted rooms or areas separately. That is why it works best for residential spaces, separate rooms, and other places where you don’t want to place a duct system or a centrally air-conditioned system.

Mini-split systems aged back to 1954 and were popularly used until 1968, introduced by Mitsubishi Electric and Toshiba in Japan in the development of small homes. Considering the efficiency of mini-splits, Daikin invented a Multi-zone ductless system in 1973 and an improvised version in 1982. Both versions were first sold in Japan, as the houses are very small.

Benefits of Installing Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioning System

Let’s find out how a ductless mini split air conditioner works to benefit you. Suitable for entire homes, small apartments, community buildings, or commercial settings, Mini-splits can work well to keep indoors comfy by maintaining a cool temperature.

They are versatile enough to be both energy and cost-efficient. You can link 4 indoor units to a single outdoor unit at once, saving on the duct installation cost while creating a flexible cooling system that is also portable when needed.

All in all:

  • It has a compact size
  • Offers zoning Flexibility
  • Offers Ease Of Installation
  • Energy Efficient
  • Cost-Effective
  • Smart Interior Design Options
  • Noise Control

How do Ductless Mini Split AC Works?

A ductless mini-split air conditioner doesn’t require a complex and costly duct system to transport air from one unit to another or connect different spaces. According to its size and power, the compact system uses less power to maintain the temperature.

In general, ductless systems tend to be more cost and energy-efficient than standard HVAC systems and significantly reduce the home electricity bills.

The warm air is taken/sucked out from the room through the air handling unit. The air is then transported through pipes to the external unit – the condenser through refrigerant pipelines fitted to link both units.

This is where the hot air comes in contact will a series of coil containing coolant. When coils and warm air comes into contact, the air turns the coolant liquid into gas.

The gas then travels to the compressor, which is inside the condenser unit. There it is recycled with the use of electricity and turned back into liquid. The cooled liquid is then sent back to the air handler – internal unit, which throws it back into the room. The process goes on in a loop to maintain the cool temperature in any space.

To better utilize the technology, you can also connect up to 4 to 8 inner units to one outer to expand the cooling system to other rooms without installing more ducts. The number can be multiplied to expand the system to more rooms. However, unlike an HVAC system, all inner units have remote controls to set the temperature for each room.

Ductless System Graphics
Why Businesses And Homeowners should opt for Mini-Splits

Here are several reasons why a mini-split air conditioner may be a good idea for you:

  1. .It is an eco-friendly option as it consumes less energy
  2. .It is quick and easy to install; also moveable
  3. .It can improve air quality
  4. .It works silently
  5. .It costs less than other cooling systems
  6. .It has flexible controlling options
  7. .It can be re-installed after taken off from one place
How To Make The Most Of Mini-Split Air Conditioners
  • Mini-split air conditioner will benefit you the most when:
  • You don’t have a pre-existing ductwork
  • You have a room with unique heating or cooling issues
  • You want to downsize your air conditioning system
  • You like to move from one room to another
  • You live with people with special needs

A duct system often isn’t flexible enough to support all of these situations. Hence, a mini-split air conditioning system would work best.

Two Components Of Mini-Split Systems

The mini-split air conditioners are made of two primary components. These are:

  • An outdoor compressor – the condenser, which is the outer unit of the split, and placed outside of the building. The external unit receives the cooled liquid, turns it into gas, and returns to the inner unit.
  • An inner unit – the indoor air handler, is placed inside the room. It sucks the warm air from the room passes it through the refrigerant coils. In addition, it also throws the cool air back into the room to drop the room’s temperature.
How Do Ductless Mini Split Heat pumps Work

Where to Position Your Ductless Mini Split AC?

After going through all the complex information, you must be wondering how does a mini-split AC work and what is the best place to install the components? Well, here is all you need to know about the installation.

Indoor Unit

You can install one or several indoor units in different spaces that you want to heat or cool. It is mounted on the wall or a ceiling; requires at least a 2-inch accessible space above the indoor unit.

You need to place the indoor unit on the exterior wall of your house as the outdoor unit will be placed outside nearby the exterior wall.

If you are using more than one inner unit, you will have to follow the same approach. However, you will need to drill more holes for conduits and need more pipes and connections for connections.

Outdoor Unit

The best place to position the outdoor unit is obviously outside the house but in a shady area to save it from direct sunlight. It should be placed on the side or the backside of the house, away from any vegetation or shrubbery.

Another option is to mount the outdoor unit to an external wall with the help of mounting brackets. But, in this case, you must ensure that your condenser is at least five inches of space away from the wall and has at least 20 inches of space above it.

Best Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner Brands

Ductless mini-split ACs are an easy, efficient, and flexible way to keep your home cool and comfortable. Their impeccable features help you quickly replace, remove, or re-install the splits anywhere you want.

Moreover, its ability to heat and cool as needed makes the mini split AC ideal for all seasons while keeping it cost-effective for any household. Also, the noise-free operations of the AC save you from the annoying racket of the large air conditioners.

Different people in the house have different needs, i.e., they might need a different temperature in their rooms. You must ensure that all your indoor units come with separate remote controls, setup settings, and installation guides.

Now that you know how a mini split air conditioner works, you can go through several brands available on the market to find the best brands. Ensure that you find all these features in the AC you buy.

Most importantly, don’t forget to check out the reviews of each brand to get your hands on the best one!

Ductless Mini Split for Heating & Cooling

A couple of common questions that users have when buying ductless mini splits are: “Do mini splits heat and cool” and “how does a mini split heat pump work”?

Well, yes, many mini-splits are basically heating pumps, and they can do both heating and cooling. They have a fundamental mechanism to pull out the warm air from indoors and turn it into cool air. But, in winters, the process is reversed. It pulls out the heat from indoors and pumps it back into your home without cooling it.

If you are looking forward to enhancing your mini-split performance and saving more energy, you can add an inverter to it or opt for an inverter mini-split AC. It significantly enhances the humidity control, cooling, and heating, reduces the machine’s noise, and so much more.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

How Much Does A Professional Charge For Installing A Ductless Mini-Split?

Professional HVAC installation may cost you anywhere from $300 to $2,000; however, some complex installations and multiple-unit installation can exceed $2,000.

Do You Need A Mini-Split In Every Room?

Yes, you would need an indoor unit for every room you need to be cooled.

What Is The Difference Between A Mini Split System And A Traditional Split System?

Traditional split systems use a duct system to ventilate the warm and cool air. However, mini-split air conditioners are ductless. Moreover, the duct-less systems offer flexibility and convenience of setting different room temperatures for every room.

How Long Do Mini-Splits Last?

Depending on the usage and the surrounding conditions, it may last up to 20 years. With good maintenance, it can go beyond that.

Are Mini-Splits Cheaper Than Central Air Conditioners?

Mini-splits may cost cheaper depending on the number of rooms you need to be cooled. However, a central HVAC system with pre-installed ducts may cost less if you have ample space and more room to cover.

Conclusion

Ductless systems offer many more advantages over traditional HVAC systems. Mini-splits are ideal for people who don’t need the same temperature in their entire house, want to save energy, and need a compact system.

Mini-split air conditioners are a cost-effective and energy-efficient way to keep your home cool and warm as per the need. Going through numerous brands and their reviews is the best way to prepare yourself to get the best value for money.

Josh M

My name is Josh and I am obsessed with the HVAC industry. I created this website to help HVAC techs of all levels get the best out of their heating & cooling systems. I have spent thousands of hours studying air conditioners, heaters and home air products so you can learn & buy with confidence. Learn more about the team here.

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