Should I Switch to a Ductless Heating and Cooling System?

By Danielle Abram on 08/17/2018

indoor unit in living room 

Ductless heating and cooling systems, also referred to as a ductless heat pump or ductless mini split system, are easily installed into primary HVAC systems for electrically heated homes.

Not only do these heating and cooling systems evenly distribute heat throughout your space, but they also do it at a fraction of the cost compared to baseboard, wall and ceiling heaters, or electric furnaces.

So How Does It Work?

Ductless heating and cooling systems are made up of 3 main components: an outdoor unit (condenser), an indoor wall or ceiling mounted unit, and a remote control (thermostat).

A ductless air conditioner or heater has two-way heat pumps that transfer heat between the outdoor and indoor air. This happens by compressing and expanding refrigerant (high-pressure liquid).

By collecting heat from outside, the unit can deliver that air inside the house for a heating cycle and vice versa for cooling! There are variable speed compressors with interior technology that will help the heating and cooling work smoothly by transferring from the AC (alternating current) to DC (direct current).

Even though this ventilation system sounds perfect, there are both pros and cons that come with it.

indoor unit in living room

PRO

  • Can reduce your electrical heating cost by 25-50%

saving moneyHaving a ductless air conditioner can be more cost efficient over time by helping you save on heating costs. Yes, the initial cost to install a mini split system is through the roof, but the HVAC system eventually pays for itself when looking at long-term solutions!

Not only this, but you are also saving on heating costs because you don’t have to use a furnace! Those units take up a lot of energy, but now that you have an electrically heated home, you will be happy to make the switch!

CON

  • Very high initial cost to install or replace

Though they are easy to install, you are looking at spending thousands up front instead of hundreds on a baseboard heater. First, you must get an initial quote from a contractor for both the unit and installation expenses.

This includes costs for the system itself, the labor for installing the unit, and all the logistics and extra components that go into it.

In total, the amount you have to pay is based on the size of the mini split system, the quality of components, all of the features and capabilities of the HVAC unit, the specific application (such as for a single room or for multiple), and the number of units needed for the amount of zones you have in your home.

individual room temperatures

Keep in mind: Even though the initial cost is very high and a lot to think about, the system will practically pay for itself in the long run if you are willing to take the initial leap!

Your bill can also adjust based on several elements, such as climate, how much you use your system, as well as the cost of your local electricity rates.

PRO

  • Are ideal for replacing or supplementing baseboard, wall and ceiling heaters, wood stoves, electric furnaces, and electric plug in heaters

A mini split AC system is a perfect addition to any house. Whether you are adding a new HVAC system to new construction or wanting to replace an old system that is already installed, these energy efficient ductless heating and cooling systems will help you save money and are safe, durable, and quiet!

Baseboard heaters often are a safety concern for children and pets, because of their low location, but these HVAC units are high and out of the way.

In addition, technology has improved in air flow because you don’t have to worry as much about heat rising if you are working top to bottom instead of vice versa.

cleaning indoor unit

CON

  • Requires regular maintenance to run smoothly

The only struggle that you might have, after installing a mini split air conditioner or heat pump, is the maintenance time and cost. To keep everything running smoothly, you will have to clean the filter of the mini split ac monthly, if not more regularly if you have pets or smoke.

These heat pumps can’t handle accumulating debris, so if you ignore the cleaning of your system, professional cleaning will be required.

Once you reach this stage, it is more money out of your pocket and you risk shortening the life of the unit. This can also be a problem because a lot of times technicians don’t install or clean these systems properly because they don’t know fully how they work.

PRO

  • Only requires you to make small holes (3) and is pre-charged with refrigerant

Indoor UnitThis pro and con relationship may not seem necessary for some, but the aesthetic of your place can mean a lot.

Sometimes people do not like “the look” of the mounted mini split, but if you are living with an ac unit in your window, it’s time for you to update your style anyways.

Ductless HVAC units also come pre-charged with refrigerant which also cuts down on the amount of energy it needs to function.

 

CON

  • Are not always aesthetically pleasing

The indoor units for the ductless heating and cooling systems aren’t always design friendly, but they don’t require as much space as other HVAC systems, such as a baseboard heater or an air conditioning unit in the window.

Mini-Split systems are usually white or beige, which may cause an issue, but honestly, most people don’t even notice or pay attention to the ductless ac/hvac unit once it is installed.

Also, if you choose to use a single-zone unit, it can only produce and moderate the temperature in one room. Make sure you use a multi-zone HVAC unit if you want the air to spread evenly throughout the entire home.

PRO

  • Has optimized airflow and is less vulnerable to air leakage because it doesn’t use ducts

This is a great advantage to have because you will have NO heat or air loss when you need it most. Many people stress over losing air during the summer and winter, but ductless heating systems don’t have any ducts for the air to escape from!

Mini-split systems are some of the most efficient systems, rated up to 26 SEER, and can be smaller to help heat and cool an entire house.

heat distribution

CON

  • Your heating options are somewhat limited with single zone systems and take up a lot of space

The only problem with this is that a mini split heat pump has a certain heating capacity in certain climate zones. Some ductless models only have heating OR cooling, so make sure you know that both are not always a guarantee.

You may need to have a backup heating system, such as a fuel-based backup for the ductless heating. Duct systems tend to take up a lot of space, such as in attics, basements, inside, and outside of a house, so make sure you have enough room for it all!

PRO

  • Custom climate control in individual rooms

A ductless heating and cooling system has incredible temperature control in individual rooms! This is a great advantage because it means you can keep the rooms you are in the most, such as a living room or bedroom, at optimal temperatures with no problem!

This is also beneficial because you save energy by heating or cooling the entire house from separate remote locations.

CON

  • Temperature might not spread as far as you would like

ductless in bedroom

The only trouble you might find is that it won’t be the exact temperature you want if the unit is not in the specific room. Wall units are only good for heating one individual room at a time but can alter multiple rooms at the same time.

The unit will project heat and air throughout the house, and will still expand more evenly than other systems, so you can appreciate the benefits of multi-zone systems instead of single-zone!

It seems that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to mini split systems and you can definitely see the benefits of upgrading your HVAC system!

Ductless systems replace your old furnaces, reduce your electrical heating cost, save on the amount of space the unit takes up, are less vulnerable to air leakage, and you can control the temperature for individual rooms!

If you don’t think it will ruin your aesthetic, upgrade now to start saving!

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