Local Ductless Mini Split Installation
Local Ductless Mini Split Installation
If you have a radiant heating system, space heaters or hydronic heat, a ductless mini-split installation might be a good option to add heating & cooling to your home. They are also a good choice when you’re adding rooms to a home that doesn’t have a traditional ducted system, or for spaces that are very energy efficient and only need a small boost. Ductless mini-split systems are similar to standard heat pumps as they have an indoor air-handling unit as well as an outdoor compressor/condenser. The conduit links the two parts of the system together and contains the refrigerant tubing, power cables, condensate drain and suction tubing.
Advantages & Benefits
Ductless systems work well in spaces that are considered too tight for ductwork, or when you need to heat or cool a relatively small space. The specific number of units that you’ll need depends a great deal on the zone that each unit will cover — all dependent on the overall insulation rating of the building. These systems are relatively easy to install as they only require a very small hole (around 3 inches) to run the conduit. Even more convenience is gained because there can be a significant distance between the interior unit and the external condenser, up to 50 feet or more depending on the length of conduits available for your particular system. This allows you to place the unsightly exterior pieces further away from your home or apartment for aesthetic reasons.
- Energy loss is generally less than with a ducted system, where losses can be up to 30%
- More flexible options for mounting ductless systems: flush-mounted on the ceiling, hung from the wall, or suspended from the ceiling
- Are more sleek looking than traditional systems, and often come with a remote control for added convenience
- Window-mounted units may induce intruders and are less secure than ductless systems, as mini-splits only require a small 3 inch hole in the wall
- Potential energy savings because the units are more cost-effective and efficient to run
- Highly customizable: can be programmed to only turn on when the building is occupied, or on a timed schedule
- Ductless systems run cleaner than a ducted system. Air ducts are one of the primary areas for a buildup of dust, dirt, pollen and other contaminants and require frequent cleaning to maintain interior air quality
Challenges to Going Ductless
While there are many benefits for using a mini-split system in the right space, there are some disadvantages as well. There is a fair amount of maintenance required such as a monthly washing of filters to maintain air quality and system efficiency. If you inherit an older system that hasn’t been well maintained and it requires professional cleaning, then the cost can be quite high. The installation cost of a mini-split can be higher than a traditional system, but this is balanced by an ongoing lower cost for energy due to efficiency. However, ductless systems often net homeowners a rebate because the systems are so environmentally friendly. Improperly placed systems can cause serious problems — from hot and cold spots throughout your space to inefficiency due to short-cycling. It’s important to always utilize a licensed and bonded HVAC professional when you’re considering a ductless mini-split heat pump. Finally, the outdoor condenser requires a nearby drain location, which can cause ongoing problems if space is a factor.
Successful Ductless Mini-Split Installation
As ductless mini-split systems gain in prominence, more contractors and technicians are comfortable with their installation. However, it’s still important to keep some key factors in mind to ensure that your installation goes smoothly and you continue to enjoy your space comfortably. Here’s some quick tips for successful installation:
- Wire power supplies directly from the indoor unit to the outdoor unit, without a junction box or disconnect switch between the two
- Control the voltage — only use the correct gauge wire for your installation
- Ensure that units are hung a minimum of six feet in the air for maximum efficiency
- Limit obstacles in the area that might impede or reduce air flow
- Check and double-check that the unit is rated for the room size
- Insulate both the liquid and suction lines to prevent lines from ‘sweating’
Even the most secure installations can run into problems, and ductless mini-splits are no different from traditional ducted systems in this regard. If you experience instances where there’s cold air coming through your heating vents, it’s time to call a professional. While the resolution may be quite simple, this can also be a harbinger of a more serious issue and should be resolved. If your system is short-cycling — or running for only a short period of time before turning off and then running again — you may be facing a problem. Short-cycling drives up your energy costs and puts a great deal of strain on the system overall, which can result in expensive problems in a very short period of time. Finally, if your energy costs are going up and there doesn’t appear to be a corresponding change in external temperatures, you might be having problems that require professional assistance.
Life Expectancy of A Ductless Mini-Split Installation
With proper cleaning and maintenance, your ductless mini-split heat pump system should last between 12 – 15 years. As long as you keep debris, vegetation, and snow away from your external unit (and keep your compressor relatively clean) you should have no problem extending the life of your unit. It’s also important to keep in mind that these systems work best between 14 degrees Fahrenheit and 109 degrees Fahrenheit. Outside that range, the unit may not be able to handle the load.
If you have a relatively small space or want to tightly manage the temperature of your home, a ductless mini-split system is a great option for homeowners. Ensure that you have the system installed by a qualified, licensed professional and as long as you continue regular maintenance on the system you should enjoy years of worry-free convenience and comfort in your home.