How Do Ductless Mini Splits Work


Prior to the 1960s, central air was not common. Now more than 100 million homes in the United States feature ductwork to circulate air through heating and cooling systems. Homes adapt over time. Today, there are many older homes and remodeled spaces where a complicated duct system is not feasible or would require complex changes to your entire home.

Ductless mini split systems are a revolutionary system that provides heating and cooling solutions without the need for ducts. Modern mini split units are extremely flexible, easy to install and operate like a traditional central air system. These devices are based on the mechanics of a heat pump. Individual indoor units can be mounted on walls or ceilings to deliver air directly into each room. N.E.W. Plumbing and Heating installs and performs ongoing maintenance of ductless air conditioning systems for homeowners in Warsaw and the surrounding area.

Explanation of the Mechanics of a Mini-Split System

If you convert a space in your home like an attic or garage, heating and cooling can be a challenge. For some spaces, adding ductwork is not practical. In other cases, the additional square footage can strain or even damage existing HVAC equipment. Ductless systems are perfectly suited to these situations.

Ductless heating and air conditioners consist of two main components: an outdoor unit and one or more indoor units (depending on how many rooms you want to heat or cool). The outdoor mini split unit contains the compressor, condenser and expansion valve. These systems remove heat from the refrigerant and pump it to the indoor air handler. The indoor unit contains an evaporator and fan to distribute air throughout the room. The two units are connected by a small conduit that contains refrigerant lines, power cables, and communication wires.

In terms of air conditioning system, cool liquid refrigerant is transferred into your home to the evaporator coil. As air blows over the coil, a heat exchange occurs where the warm air is cooled and the refrigerant transfers this energy to the outside unit. Heat is released into the air and the cycle repeats.

In terms of heating, the cycle is reversed. Energy from outdoor air is compressed and liquid refrigerant is heated. The evaporator coil is heated so air circulating is warmed. Cold refrigerant returns to the outdoor unit.

Both the indoor and outdoor units are controlled by a thermostat. Just like a conventional HVAC system, ductless mini split units are easy to control and energy efficient. These systems can be installed very quickly, sometimes in as little as one day. This means if you need heating and cooling in a new space, ductless mini splits are a great value.

Do Ductless Mini-splits Run All the Time?

Unlike a window air conditioner or space heater, ductless mini split air conditioners do not run all the time. While you can operate the system manually, most installations integrate a thermostat. This helps to conserve energy and provides an incredibly safe method of heating and cooling your home.

How Many Rooms Can a Ductless Mini-Split Cool?

Every home design is unique so ductless systems will be customized to suit your needs. An outdoor unit can be paired with a number of indoor air handlers. The number of rooms that a ductless mini split can cool depends on the size of the outdoor unit and the number of indoor units that are connected to it. Some outdoor units are capable of supporting 4-8 indoor units. Each indoor unit can be controlled independently with its own thermostat.

What are the Pros and Cons of a Ductless Air Conditioner?

Ductless air conditioners have several pros and cons that you should consider before installing one in your home. The main benefit is providing an efficient, cost-effective way to heat and cool your home.

Additional benefits of ductless systems include:

  • Energy efficiency: Heat pumps are very energy efficient. In comparison to traditional air conditioning systems, ductless systems do not lose energy through air ducts and – since they operate on electricity – they provide a more eco-friendly solution.
  • Flexibility: Ductless air conditioners can be installed in any room. The ability to control each unit allows family members with different preferences to control their own comfort. In the case of a sunroom, room addition or converted garage, ductless mini split systems may only be needed when the room is occupied. As an on-demand source of comfort, mini split units are very valuable.
  • Quiet operation: Ductless air conditioners are much quieter than window units and large room fans. In many cases, you don’t even notice when the heating and cooling system is running.

There is no perfect system, and there are a couple of cons:

  • Cost: Ductless mini split heating and cooling units are more expensive because they are a more permanent solution.
  • Aesthetics: The outdoor unit can easily be concealed out of sight, but the indoor units can disrupt the look and feel of a room.

Are Ductless Mini-Splits Worth it?

Ductless mini splits are a highly efficient and flexible way to cool and heat your home. This means monthly operating expenses are not excessive. Certainly, for spaces that do not have ductwork, a ductless heat pump is a great solution. Beyond temperate comfort, ductless mini split heat pumps improve indoor air quality. They help maintain a comfortable humidity and reduce allergens in the air. Eliminating air ducts eliminates the risk of mold, bacteria and dust collecting in your indoor air.

For those who want to control the temperature in different rooms without having to rely on one central system, a ductless mini-split is an excellent choice. Ultimately, the question of whether a ductless mini split is right for you depends on your personal preference and the needs of your family.

When you consult with a professional HVAC technician at N.E.W. Plumbing and Heating, we provide clear and easy-to-understand solutions. We quickly help you determine if a ductless mini-split is right for your specific needs and to ensure proper installation.

How Long Do Ductless Mini-Splits Last?

The lifespan of a ductless mini-split will depend on a number of factors, including the quality of the unit, regular maintenance, and proper usage. On average, a ductless mini-split can last well over a decade, and with proper care, far longer.

When N.E.W. Plumbing and Heating installs a ductless mini split system in your home, we help you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance, including regular cleaning and checking of the air filter. We also walk you through the best way to use your system. Avoiding overuse and running the system when you are not home reduces wear on your ductless mini-split. If you ever have issues with your ductless system, our team is ready to assist.

Hire a Local Ductless Mini Split Expert

Learning how a ductless mini split system works is the first step. Once you understand the benefits, contact N.E.W. Plumbing and Heating for the next steps. We take the time to answer all of your questions and design the best solution for your home. For homeowners who need help with an existing system, we provide consultations including maintenance, repair and replacement. As a local company, we understand that great customer service builds our reputation, and we are always eager to meet new neighbors.