When looking for a heating and cooling system for your residence, it’s crucial to choose one that balances efficiency, operation and the impact on your wallet. That’s why many homeowners explore the possibility of mini-splits to heat and cool their home.
Mini-splits—often called ductless mini-splits—have many advantages that make them a popular choice for both homes and businesses. They're extremely energy efficient, reducing energy consumption and saving on utility bills, because they eliminate the energy losses affiliated with the ductwork found in traditional HVAC systems. They also allow users to tailor the temperature in each room, improving overall comfort while conserving energy.
If you’re thinking about mini-split installation in Lawrence, it’s worthwhile to first find out if these devices are recommended for your living situation. Here, we’ll examine how mini-splits compare to other heating and cooling systems.
What a Mini-Split Is and How It Works
A mini-split, or ductless mini-split, is a heating and cooling system that doesn't need ductwork to function. It's a good option in homes that don't have any air ducts and for homes with rooms that aren’t served well by the residence's existing HVAC system.
A mini-split system consists of two major components: an outdoor compressor/condenser and an indoor air-handling device. These are linked by a conduit housing the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing and a condensate drain.
Here's how it works: the outside compressor distributes the refrigerant necessary for heat exchange within the coils and the air handler. The interior component brings in air from the room, cools or heats it over the coils and sends the conditioned air back into the room.
Mini-Split vs. Central Air
Mini-splits provide targeted cooling in specific rooms or zones of your residence. They are known for energy efficiency because they only heat or cool the areas you desire. However, they sometimes don't blend seamlessly into every decor due to their wall-mounted indoor units.
On the other hand, a central air system uniformly cools your entire home, generating consistent comfort levels throughout. Its ductwork is hidden away, preserving the aesthetics of your home. But it will likely not be as energy efficient as a mini-split, especially in larger homes or residences where certain spots may not need continuous conditioning.
Mini-Split vs. Window AC/Window Unit
Mini-splits are often more energy efficient and not as loud as a window air conditioning unit and are useful for cooling air in multiple rooms. This is why mini-splits are a flexible choice for numerous homeowners. They also use a type of refrigerant that is more environmentally safe, reducing their environmental impact. These systems can even add value to your home due to their sturdy nature and remarkable cooling capabilities. However, they come with a greater initial investment.
On the contrary, window AC units are less expensive up front. They might be a good fit for homes that are not able to accommodate a central air system or for families with budget constraints. Despite these advantages, window units can utilize up to 40% more energy than ductless mini-split systems and often are louder.
Mini-Split vs. Portable AC
The answer to what is better, a ductless mini-split or a portable air conditioning unit, depends on your goals. If your main focus is energy efficiency and ability to quickly cool a room, a mini-split is much more effective than a portable AC unit. However, if finances is a key concern, a portable AC has a lower initial investment.
Mini-Split vs. Gas Furnace
Deciding between a mini-split system and a gas furnace depends on a variety of factors which can include the climate in your city, home size, energy efficiency needs and how much you plan on spending.
A mini-split system most of the time is more energy efficient than a gas furnace. It can heat and cool targeted areas in your home, providing custom climate control in targeted rooms. Mini-splits also are generally quieter and have a higher up-front cost, but their operating costs are usually less due to their improved energy efficiency.
However, a gas furnace can be an extremely effective heating remedy, particularly in colder climates where mini-split heat pumps may struggle to maintain comfort levels in the bitter cold. Although they are less energy efficient than mini-splits, gas furnaces likely are not as expensive. However, their operating costs can be higher, especially if natural gas prices skyrocket.
Mini-Split vs. Heat Pump
Mini-splits and heat pumps operate using the process of heat transfer. They are both energy efficient, but a heat pump's ductwork can be less efficient. This difference aside, the choice between a mini-split and a heat pump often depends on individual needs and circumstances.
For example, if you live in a warmer climate and mostly need cooling, a mini-split system might be a good choice. On the other hand, if you require both heating and cooling and already have ductwork in place, a heat pump could be a more efficient option.
Mini-Split vs. Space Heater
When it comes to heating and cooling a household, mini-splits and space heaters each have advantages. However, for total efficiency, versatility, comfort and safety, mini-splits come out on top. Mini-splits provide superior energy efficiency simply because they deliver conditioned air directly to different zones and can serve several rooms at once.
Space heaters are far less expensive to buy but are typically recommended for heating a limited area or just one room. They also are usually less energy efficient. Unlike mini-splits, space heaters do not provide cooling. The most significant drawback for space heaters is the risk of fire. Experts say some 1,700 fires annually involve space heaters.