Chances are, you may not be familiar with the term “mini split system”, but you may have seen one. You could have seen one while you were at the gym, the grocery store, or even in the server room at your office. These systems have been popular in Europe and Asia for years in both commercial and residential applications and have been used in America as well, (usually in a commercial rather than residential setting). Recently however, there has been a surge of mini split systems being sold for residential applications and once you read this article you may see why. Their size, efficiency, convenience and cost all play a role into why these are becoming the next big thing.
What is it?
During colder months, the system collects heat from the outdoor air and delivers warmth to a specific room/area of your house. In warmer weather the process reverses, allowing the system to cool the same room. This means that in every season, you can enjoy efficient comfort in any room.
What you see on the inside of the house is referred to as the “Air Handler” and that is hooked up to an outside condenser. There may be several of these air handlers hooked up to one outside condenser allowing for the heating and cooling of multiple rooms or ‘zones’ utilizing one slim and efficient outside condenser.
Dave’s take on the Benefits
Inside and out the mini split is an extremely quiet system. With an operating volume as low as 23 dB, these systems are no louder than a whisper and the outside condenser is much quieter than conventional air conditioners.
The indoor and outdoor components of the mini split have a slim and unobtrusive profile meaning you save space in every aspect using this system. Its small size matched with its quiet performance means you hardly notice that it’s there.
The lack of necessity for large duct work as would be required by a conventional system saves on interior space for your home. This also makes installation easier than a traditional system and small line sets make any exposed lines minimal and attractive.
Traditional duct work can also collect dust, dust mites and pollutants. Due to the nature of the mini split system, no duct work is required meaning no place for unwanted pollutants to collect in your home.
These systems are extremely efficient as well, much more so than a conventional system which translates into energy savings for you and your family.
The temperature of any space with an indoor air handler can be controlled to provide the perfect temperature. Along with this unique benefit, this also allows you to control whether or not a particular room is being conditioned based on if it is being occupied or not. This also means you can bring in climate control into separate areas of your home with the use of multiple air handlers.
Dave’s Take on Installation
The installation benefits can also outweigh conventional systems due to the lack of necessity for installing large duct work in the floor or ceiling. This make the mini split option a great choice for new construction, retro fitting older, ductless homes and businesses that need efficient heating and cooling without the clutter, mess or downtime of fitting in a new conventional system.
The small line sets make installation easier and their small size make them hardly noticeable on the exterior of a home which makes for a minimalist, clutter-free installation.
Dave’s Take on Performance
These systems are not only very quiet, they are also very efficient. The SEER (The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating of your average mini split unit double the SEER rating of an average conventional system. This translates to no natural gas or LP use due to it being electric, as well as it being so much more efficient as it uses that electricity. One of the new systems from Mitsubishi has a SEER rating of 30.5. To put that in perspective, new air conditioners have to comply with a minimum SEER rating of 13; if you have an older air conditioner it may only have a SEER rating of around 6! You can also read up on furnace efficiency here!
Culturally for us in the United States it is not the norm to have a wall mounted air handler and some people do not find them as attractive as hidden duct-work, but the benefits cannot be denied. Thanks to slimmer, sleeker and more pleasing air handlers that continue to grow in efficiency and design there has been a boost in sales for them in the U.S. It seems we are catching on to their unique use and unparalleled performance. With lower energy bills, less environmental impact and a more customizable (and adequately!) conditioned home it is becoming increasingly harder to opt for a conventional system. That’s Dave’s conclusion.