When Are Ductless Mini Splits A Good Option?

South End Plumbing, Heating, & Air Expert Tips

When Are Ductless Mini Splits A Good Option?

When Are Ductless Mini Splits A Good Option?


If you have a bonus room, garage, or addition to your home, that isn’t used often – sometimes they are the best option.

Mini Split System in a Small Room
Mini Split System in a Small Room

Ductless Heating and Air systems (or mini-splits) are wonderfully efficient and provide even room comfort. But the decision to install has a few different considerations for every homeowner.

The Benefits of a Ductless Mini Split System

A mini split heat pump or air conditioner typically consists of a ductless wall-mounted indoor unit combined with an outside compressor. They are most often used in a situation where a window AC unit or baseboard heating might be considered, such as an addition to a house. But unlike window units, ductless units require only a very small hole in the wall for the Freon line to run, making them less vulnerable to air leakage and security problems. As an added benefit they are less intrusive visually to a space and create less noise because the compressor is located outside.
Because they don’t have heat loss via air ducts, they are greatly efficient. “Most homes can lose up to 25% or more of your energy to ductwork,” says Eddie Murtoff, a 20+ year veteran of the Heating and Air industry. Ductless models also feature inverter-driven compressors which run at variable speeds based on thermostat settings and room temperature differentiation. This saves a lot of power as well since compressors that cycle on and off (single-stage compressors) aren’t as energy efficient.
Many of the ENERGY STAR ductless models can save you up to 30% on heating and cooling costs, and some may also qualify you for a federal tax credit which puts money in your pocket at the end of the year with your tax return.

Drawbacks of a Ductless Mini Split System

The up-front costs is probably the most weighted concern followed by regular maintenance and aesthetics. If you live in extremely cold climates you’ll likely want a backup heating source because some minis can’t quite keep the room temps up. There are newer models however that do just fine keeping a room warm even when temperatures dip below zero even. If you’re just installing a ductless in a single room, the cost is several times more expensive than a window unit or baseboard heating unit. We are talking thousands more vs hundreds more. Additionally, if you were to replace your existing central heating/cooling system with a complete ductless system, you may pay up to 3x as much vs going back with a new duct system. You may get some payback on how much you’re saving with your energy bill but a lot of that depends on your location, utility costs, and localized climate. 
To properly weigh in the cost considerations and savings you’ll want to consult with a reputable HVAC contractor. Our technicians will be knowledgeable about system sizing and whether ductless heat will require additional means of heat for the Charlotte, NC area. 
With maintaining your system you’ll have to wash each unit’s filter every month, perhaps even more if you smoke or have indoor pets. Being that the filters are much smaller, the ductless systems can’t handle as much debris in their filters and if you skip maintenance you’re likely to end up with costly repairs. 
One of the biggest drawbacks are hesitant to have a mini split installed because of how they look. The color options are limited and come in standard white or beige. They also can not be covered up. It’s certainly a more casual look, but in most cases, a sun room, bonus room, or garage is where you’re looking to have it installed, you’ll likely forget it’s there. 

Goodman mini split system
Goodman mini split system

Where Do Most People Install Ductless?

Depending on how your home is built they can be applicable, including whole-home heating and cooling. That being said there are many instances where only using a ductless mini-split would make sense.
  • Fighting over thermostat settings. If your family disagrees on temperature settings they can be a good option. Mini-splits can be an ideal solution for creating independent temperature zones in different rooms. For example, in an area like a bonus room, hot air rises. This causes a condition where you are likely to freeze out family members in the lower levels of a house trying to keep a bonus room comfortable and cool with a duct system. Even if you have zones and dampers in your ducts you’ll not be able to keep up with demand as efficiently.
  • Cooling rooms that have specific cooling/heating demands. If you have a small kitchen with a large oven that gets used often or a south-facing living room with a large picture window, a mini-split may be the best solution.
  • Keeping additions comfortable (garage apartments, bonus rooms, sunrooms). There may be some instances where you don’t want to share air space with the rest of the rooms in your home. You may have cooling need in your garage where you have occasional exhaust or smells, or you may have a man cave where you smoke cigars. The good thing about ductless is they are sized for that specific room and you don’t have to run them when you’re not in the room, which majorly keeps the energy costs down.
  • When a house has no existing ductwork. Mini-splits are expensive, but the cost savings will be great compared to adding ductwork.
  • Downsizing larger homes. Many empty nesters will not want to heat or cool rooms they no longer have family members using. Mini Splits can make sense in some cases where pressure imbalances and closing vents in unused rooms can cause mold issues.

Having Your System Properly Sized

Buying a properly sized mini split is crucial if you’re trying to have maximum efficiency. There are cases where you can make the calculations yourself, but it’s often if you DIY the install you’ll void the warranty. A mini split will never operate at maximum efficiency if the system is sized wrong for the area you’re conditioning, if the mounting isn’t sealed correctly, or if the electronics are handled improperly. After the ductless system is installed you also have to handle the installation of the refrigerates by EPA guidelines or you can lose valuable Freon or even worse, be subjected to large fines.
Most of the time for simple installations you’ll want to expect the installation to take around a half to a full day so make sure you block out your time accordingly.

If choosing what type of new mini split system you’d like to install relates to you, give us a call. We’ll evaluate your system and help make recommendations for optimum value. After all, we want to keep you cool all summer long and warm in the winter. Just schedule a visit with one of our technicians to talk about how we can help with your thermostat settings. Would you like to learn more options our techs can help you with? give us a call 704-684-5339


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