Mini split systems typically function as an air conditioning unit but some, like heat pump systems, can provide heating as well. They rely on both an indoor and outdoor unit. The outdoor condenser unit installs outdoors while the indoor unit, the air handler, installs in the room you want warmed or cooled. These units connect to each other using line sets charged with refrigerant.
To cool, the air handler uses the refrigerant to absorb heat from the room. The refrigerant then flows to the outdoor unit, which uses compression to release the heat outdoors. To warm the room, the heat pump system reverses this process, pulling heat energy from the outdoor air and moving it inside.
Mini splits differ from traditional central air systems. While central split systems also use an outdoor condenser and either an air handler or furnace, they differ in how they transfer the conditioned air. Ductless mini splits use an air handler to distribute air right into the room while a central system uses ductwork to transfer air throughout the building. Mini splits can offer a cheaper alternative to installing duct work.
Mini split air conditioners come in either single or multi-zone options. Single-zone mini splits consist of one outdoor unit and one indoor air handler. They can adjust the temperature in a single zone. Multi-zone options consist of one outdoor unit that connects to multiple indoor air handlers. This means it can control the temperature of multiple zones at once.
The outdoor unit, the condenser, controls each air handler. The indoor air handler installs in the room you want to heat or cool. MRCOOL’s DIY series offers multi-zone units that can control the temperature of either two, three, four, or five zones.
Multi-zone mini splits offer an effective way to control the temperature in your home. They often provide higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings than central AC units. SEER measures the cooling output for an average cooling season divided by the total electrical energy used during that period. It rates the amount of energy and money the unit requires to operate during a single year. The less energy used, the higher the rating.
Since mini splits don’t use ductwork, they avoid losing heat through ductwork like central air systems. Additionally, their high SEER ratings make them an efficient alternative to central air. MRCOOL’s 4th generation DIY units offer higher SEER ratings than their 3rd generation. You can learn more about the difference between the 3rd vs. 4th generation DIY series with our blog!
Not all mini splits can provide heating, many options can only cool. However, you can find multi zone heat pumps that can provide both heating and cooling. However, these units can’t heat and cool at the same time. Instead, they work well to provide cooling in the summertime and heating in the wintertime.