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4:28 AM Fri, Dec. 14th

Ask the Contractor: Mini-split heating, a/c growing in popularity

Not quite taking the market by storm, however, widespread popularity is rapidly gaining. Unmatched energy efficiency, performance and control to home cooling and heating is available. It has never been easier to keep your entire household comfortable. And, you do not have to spend a fortune on your energy bill.

What is it?

A mini-split ductless air conditioning system. The phone calls have come in this week, six to be exact on mini-split systems. They are often known as split systems and are considered an alternative to central air or window units.

A mini split system — also known as ductless systems — is a two-part system in which half of the system is outside and the other half is inside. The unit that is installed outside is the condenser (cooling models only) or heat pump (for units that cool and heat). The part that gets installed inside your home on a wall on the ground or in the vent is called an air handler.

These mini-split systems provide heating and cooling. They are a great equipment choice for home additions, or selective area heating and cooling, such as one floor or wing of a home or multi-level homes. The advantages of a mini-split system over other types of cooling-and-heating equipment are: they can provide heating and cooling in homes that do not have air ducts, and they provide independent temperature control for specific areas/rooms of the home.

The room temperature is set and changed by convenient remote control(s). Mini-split systems are available to operate with one, two or three indoor air handlers, depending on the model. Each air handler is referred to as a “zone.”

Ductless systems offer highly flexible solutions; while traditional heat pumps and central air conditioning systems force cooled and heated air through ducts, ductless systems deliver air directly into different zones.

Ductless systems have various names, sometimes referred to as split systems, multi-split systems, or split-ductless systems. Ductless cooling and heating offers home and business owners a cost-effective way to replace inefficient window units, space heaters and electric baseboard heaters. We are seeing these units installed in home additions, remodels, and new construction. Currently a contractor building an 8,000-square-foot home in the American Ranch is installing eight mini-split systems, and many homeowners are installing these systems to improve temperature control in specific rooms in the home.

Ductless systems save you money. One of the biggest reasons why homeowners switch to ductless cooling and heating is overall cost savings. As we know, utility costs across the country have skyrocketed and when a home’s temperature depends upon an inefficient system, monthly bills can quickly climb out of control. Ductless systems operate on less power — they are smaller than traditional forced-air systems, and because the temperature-controlled air is delivered directly into a room, there is no loss in efficiency. Multi-split systems also allow homeowners to create “zones” in their home, which means they no longer have to cool or heat rooms that aren’t occupied.

Ductless systems also improve air quality. Often times, the quality of indoor air can actually be lower than the quality of outdoor air. With traditional HVAC systems, air ducts must be professionally cleaned on a regular basis, and even after cleaning, dust and allergens are left behind. Ductless systems, on the other hand, offer multi-stage filtration that can drastically reduce dust, bacteria, pollen, allergens and other particulates in the air.

In addition, ductless systems are quick and easy to install. Installing a traditional, ducted system can take several weeks, while ductless systems are far less invasive to install, and depending upon the number of indoor and outdoor units required, can be up and running in as little as one day.

And, ductless cooling lowers your carbon footprint. The small size of a ductless cooling system and its zoning capabilities allows for greater energy efficiency. Ductless cooling and heating systems follow Energy Star guidelines, which means they are far more energy efficient than the minimum standards set by the federal government. Improved efficiency saves money, of course, but it also helps reduce your total carbon output.

Additionally, ductless systems take advantage of advances in chemistry to reduce effects on the environment. Ductless systems use a refrigerant called R410A, which is known for its zero ozone depletion potential. This means the system will have less impact on the environment throughout its lifecycle.

Ductless cooling and heating systems are energy efficient, environmentally friendly and completely customizable. They offer homeowners the ability to cool and heat specific zones of their home to the exact temperature they desire, providing consistent and exceptional year-round comfort.

So easy breezy, following is more on mini-split systems:

1 - Mini-split systems are an economical way to add heating and cooling to problem rooms/areas of the home.

2 - Most mini-splits consist of one indoor unit that hangs high on a wall and a condenser outside that wall. The two units are connected by the refrigerant line. That’s it!

3 - They are great solutions to Arizona rooms, room additions, etc.

4 - They come with a variety of options: built-in air cleaners and dehumidifiers.

5 - There are models on the market that can be installed with up to four different heads on one outdoor unit, which can also solve potential “whole home” heating and cooling issues without the added cost of new ductwork or existing ductwork repairs.

6 - There are homeowners who are building new homes and are choosing to heat and cool the entire home with mini-split technology, rather than the traditional ducted systems.

7 - The majority of units are heat pumps which also provide the necessary heat for the home.

8 - Sometimes installing new HVAC into “Historic Homes” can prove to be challenging due to construction techniques in older homes. Mini-splits are solving a lot of those problems as well!

9 - Some larger facilities like hotels, libraries — the Prescott Library has mini-splits! — are opting for a mini-split when aging equipment is coming up for replacement due to the lower cost of both installation and operation.

10 - They also offer solutions to a variety of interior design problems, rather than a unit that hangs on the wall, many manufacturers also unit options that can be suspended from the ceiling or even ceiling, flush mount options as well.

11 - Most manufacturers make units that can be controlled by either a thermostat or a hand held remote.

Remember to tune in to YCCA’s Hammer Time every Saturday and Sunday morning at 7 on KQNA 1130 AM, 99.9 FM, 95.5 FM or the web at kqna.com. Listen to Sandy to Mike talk about the construction industry, meet your local community partners, and so much more. What a great way to start your weekend.