What Is A Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner?

At HVAC.com, we often receive questions from our customers the difference between a “ducted” air conditioning system and a “ductless” air conditioning system. In this post, we’ll explain the difference and discuss pros and cons of ductless air conditioners.


What Is A Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner?

The most common form of air conditioning system in the United States is a ducted system. In this application, there is a system of air ducts connected to a central furnace or air handler that blows air through the ducts into the various parts of the home and pulls air back in a constant circulation.

In recent years the concept of ductless heating and air conditioning, which has been popular in Asia and Europe for decades, has gained momentum in the United States. A ductless air conditioner also called a ductless mini split air conditioner, does not have a system of air ducts to move air throughout the home. Instead, the most common application employs a wall-mounted evaporator, or “indoor unit”, connected via a refrigerant line to an outdoor condensing unit. Many times these ductless systems are actually heat pumps, meaning they can provide heating or cooling depending on the season.


Where Do These Units Need To Be Installed?

In order to heat and cool an entire home, wall-mounted evaporators need to be installed in several locations throughout the home.  One popular approach is to install an evaporator in each bedroom and also position a couple of indoor units in the common areas of the home.  Each indoor unit operates independently based on its own thermostat “control” to provide heating or cooling to separate sections of the home based on the needs of the occupants.


Are Mini Split Air Conditioners Effecient?

Ductless air conditioners can be extremely energy-efficient for a few reasons.  First, many of the most modern systems are built with variable-speed technology that gradually ramps up or down the intensity of the heating or cooling from each evaporator based on the needs of each space.  Second, rather than running all the time to heat and cool the entire house via a central duct system, a ductless system can be turned on when occupants enter the room and turned off when the room is unoccupied.


How Expensive Are Mini Split Air Conditioners?

Ductless HVAC systems can vary widely in price, but in some applications they can be less expensive to install than a central HVAC system. Ductless air conditioners are a great tool for cooling homes where it is not feasible or cost-effective to install ductwork.  Ductless systems are also used regularly in commercial applications such as offices and server rooms.

If you have any questions about ductless heating and air conditioning systems, send us an email at [email protected].