Ductless air conditioning and heating split systems have been popular in Europe and Southeast Asia for many years, but U.S. consumers are just beginning to appreciate the many benefits provided by ductless technology. Ductless mini splits and multi zone systems provide targeted heating and cooling in areas where traditional HVAC equipment is too expensive or impractical to use.

How Ductless Split Systems Work

Conventional central HVAC systems are complicated, unwieldy and inflexible. Many building designs are modified due to the cumbersome nature of the air distribution network that accompanies central heating and air conditioning units. Ductwork often degrades the performance of the equipment because of leakage, inaccurate sizing and accumulated debris and dirt.

In contrast, ductless air conditioners and heat pumps completely eliminate the need for ductwork and registers. Every self-contained unit includes all the components required to heat and cool a specific area. An indoor fan coil is housed inside an attractive cabinet, which can be installed in a ceiling or hung on an exterior wall. A separate condensing unit is set outdoors, usually next to the garage or in an area away from the living area.

Unencumbered by ductwork restrictions, architects and engineers are given the opportunity to expand building design options. Placing ductless air handlers in strategic positions creates point of use cooling and heating, which will reduce moving air noise, increase comfort and lower power costs.

For new construction applications, using ductless equipment eliminates the entire rough-in portion of the project. Most installations are finished in less than two days, so the disruption to the family’s lifestyle is minimized. Single zone indoor units are suitable for room additions, media rooms, garage conversions, basement conversions, recording studios, data centers or any area requiring supplemental heating or cooling.

In whole house applications, multiple air handlers can be connected to a single condenser equipped with matching compressor circuits. Each air handler has a separate remote control for true zoning comfort. Family members can set the temperature in the different rooms to meet their personal comfort expectations.

Benefits of a Ductless Split System

Ductless split systems offer a variety of important benefits that appeal to those looking to condition new space, replace an existing air conditioner or heat and cool an entire building.

* Reduced Energy Costs: Ductless mini splits regulate compressor operation through advanced inverter technology, which is not available on conventional HVAC equipment. An inverter ensures that the unit is providing the exact capacity required to meet the indoor load in all weather conditions by regulating the operation of the compressor. Ductless split systems offer the highest efficiencies available among all current air conditioner models, including SEER ratings ranging from 13-26. Replacing a conventional 10 SEER system installed in the early 2000s with a 26 SEER ductless unit can save up to 60 percent on monthly cooling costs.

* Quiet Comfort and Better Control: Ductless air conditioners and heat pumps operate at lower velocities when compared to traditional furnaces and air handlers. As a result, they tend to be much quieter, and the sound of rushing air noise is virtually eliminated. Ductless units are especially effective in bedrooms where homeowners appreciate their low profile and quiet operation. Temperature settings can be changed from the comfort of the homeowner’s bed by simply using the standard remote control included with every unit.

* Effective Heating in Low Temperatures: Conventional central heat pumps are only recommended for areas with relatively mild climates where the temperature rarely falls below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Certain ductless models incorporate a special Hyper-Inverter technology, which allows the unit to provide warm comfort in temperatures down to -13 degrees Fahrenheit.

* Ideal for Older Homes: Older homes often have thick walls and tight spaces, which makes installing large conventional HVAC systems difficult or impossible. Ductless indoor and outdoor units can be located up to 50 feet away from each other without a significant loss of efficiency. This flexibility provides HVAC contractors with the ability to position the unit for optimal performance and visual aesthetics.

* Improved Indoor Air Quality: After several years of operation, the air duct system in a home accumulates a substantial quantity of dirt, debris and other indoor contaminants. The central blower continually recycles these pollutants into every room of the home. Poor indoor air quality can lead to a variety of respiratory ailments including asthma, allergies and chronic lung conditions. The air in a ductless system passes directly through the air handler without traveling through any long, dirty duct runs. The air is cleaned by a series of media filters and blown directly back into the same room.

The Ductless Split System Advantage

Ductless heat pumps and air conditioners are emerging as a viable alternative to noisy window units and inflexible central heating and cooling systems. Homeowners who install ductless equipment experience better comfort, low installation costs, maximum efficiency and ultra-quiet operation. Optional features include advanced filtration systems, hard-wired thermostats and enhanced remote controls.