Today, air conditioning is an integral part of any living or working space. According to the U.S Department of Energy, households across the country spend nearly $29 billion a year to power their air conditioner.1 Keeping this staggering amount in view, selecting the best AC for your space can be quite daunting. Nowadays, the ductless air conditioner rules the market and is preferred over traditional AC units due to the comfort level, flexibility, and energy efficiency it provides.
What Is a Ductless Air Conditioner?
As relatively new technology, ductless air conditioners, or mini splits, offer a more customizable cooling and heating experience. As the name implies, these systems work without any ductwork being involved. The ductless AC, in its most basic form, includes an indoor air-handling unit and an outdoor compressor, connected by refrigerant lining and electrical wiring. These are available in single- and multi-zone units to provide cooling/heating comfort to one or multiple spaces.
Ductless air conditioning uses a similar process to traditional AC units for cooling down spaces. The one key difference is that ductless air conditioning doesn’t use any ductwork.
On the other hand, ducted air conditioners provide cooling or heating through a series of ducts and vents spread out all over the space. Due to the use of ducts, these systems have higher installation and operating costs, require regular upkeeping, and are less energy efficient. According to the U.S Department of Energy, living spaces with central air conditioning uses up to 30 percent additional energy due to duck leakage.2
Benefits of Ductless Air Conditioners
Higher Energy Efficiency
Ductless systems have a higher Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating, meaning they are more energy-efficient than their ducted counterparts. Since these units have greater efficiency, they can save up to 30 percent of energy costs due to the absence of ductwork. The incorporation of inverter technology into the ductless air conditioner enables its variable-speed compressor to speed up or slow down as needed, resulting in lower energy consumption.
No ductwork means that ductless cooling systems can be installed in minimal time with minimal hassle. Most of the ductless air conditioners simply require a small hole behind the indoor unit, which will not be noticeable in operation.
In summary, ductless units can be installed in substantially less time, with minimum effort, and up to 50 percent lesser installation costs than ducted systems.3
Multi-zoning can be achieved through the use of ductless air conditioners. These systems can be configured with up to six or more individual indoor units powered by a single outdoor compressor. Each indoor unit can provide individualized cooling and heating in each conditioned space, adjustable through remote controls and smartphones.
Though some ducted systems also provide similar functionality, they are usually pricey.4
Lower Carbon Footprint
As discussed earlier, ductless air conditioners offer higher SEER ratings. This increased efficiency greatly helps in lowering your carbon footprint. Also, the use of r410A, an eco-friendly refrigerant, in mini splits decreases the effect that air conditioning has on the ozone layer.
Better Air Quality
Improved indoor air quality can be achieved with ductless air conditioners. The absence of a duct eliminates any potential for dust and pollutants.
Mini splits come with quite comprehensive filtration options. The top HEPA filters are designed to filter nearly 99.9 percent of all small invisible particles.5 Moreover, newer models of ductless air conditioners can block out a greater amount of dust and contaminants through built-in air purifying technology.
Unlike the noisy whir of the typical air conditioner’s indoor blower and outdoor compressor, ductless units are quieter than a whisper. The outdoor units with inverter-controlled variable-speed compressors function on considerably longer and silent cycles.
Installing an outdoor unit farther away from the indoor unit using long refrigerant lines also contributes to quieter operation.
In addition to providing cooling, ductless air conditioners can also heat up a room without any additional adjustments. These systems operate with heat pumps that can provide both cooling and heating.
It is another plus point when compared to many ducted air conditioners that can only cool down the temperature. Therefore, needing a separate system for heating in the winters.
Unlike ducted units, mini splits need minimal maintenance. Of all the parts, only the filters require regular cleaning. Also, it is important to keep the indoor vents unblocked and outdoor unit fans free from obstructions.
Apart from these things, no special treatment is required as there are no ducts or leaks to be checked. As such, saving a lot of maintenance costs than ducted systems.
How to Save Money on Ductless Air Conditioners
The cost for a ductless air conditioner usually varies, depending on several factors. However, the average price is $3,500 for a single zone system and $7,200 for a multi-zone system, inclusive of installation cost.
To help offset this cost, many utilities offer rebates and tax credits for installing ductless AC systems.6 Incentives are also offered by local or federal governments, totaling over $1,000 per system, depending on your location and the kind of system bought.7
When compared to traditional cooling systems, ductless air conditioners offer matchless comfort, control, and energy savings. If you are planning to get a new air conditioning system for your space, a mini split should be your prime choice, considering all the advantages it provides.
Though the ductless AC has a higher upfront cost, its flexibility, room-by-room zoning, convenience, and enhanced efficiency make it a cut above the rest. So, without more ado, find a suitable ductless AC unit for yourself and enjoy the comfort it has to offer.