No doubt about it, a sunroom is a wonderful addition to your home. With the additional square footage, it boosts your home’s value, provides a new, functional space for your family, and more importantly, it is a great place to enjoy the wonderful feel of outdoors while you’re safely tucked up inside your home.
But there’s a caveat.
Sunrooms often have uneven temperature; and worst, you have no control over it.
A Sunroom Can Be Too Hot or Too Cold
A sunroom is also referred to in different names, such as sun parlors, Florida room, sun porch, screen room, and solarium. Most of the time, it is also called the three-season room or a four-season room, which are suggestive of the fact that this particular space can be used year-round—whether it is Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter.
Despite these names, however, a typical sunroom comes with issues that make it not live up to its potential as an “all-season” room.
Spectacular it may be, a sunroom is just like any other rooms inside your home—a place where the temperature must be perfectly comfortable enough to be fully enjoyed. And this is where things usually hit a snag.
As typically tackled by many that once opted for a room addition, homeowners with a sunroom can’t escape the hot spot and cold spot issues. Meaning, your sunroom can get too cold in the winter and unbearably hot in summertime.
So, why does a sunroom often gets too cold or hot?
A Challenging Space to Heat or Cool
The main cause of the temperature problem with sunrooms can be traced to two simple facts:
1. It is a room addition - As an expanded space, a typical sunroom—even if attached to the main house—is not planned to be accommodated by your existing HVAC ductwork. In other words, when this old network of ducts was built, the whole plan is concentrated to the whole house and not made flexible to include any possible room addition. In a typical central HVAC system configuration, the ductwork is usually designed to run and crawl through ceilings, walls, or floors through the house. Being a room addition, a sunroom is simply not within the line of those existing ducts.
2. Its design and construction make it susceptible to heat and cold. Almost all modern sunrooms, whatever their type is, are typically a three-wall structure that connects to the main house and designed with large glass windows that provide an unobstructed view of the backyard or any outdoor environment that it faces. During summer, this glass panes allow a lot of sunlight to come in. The downside is that too much exposure to sunlight brings in a lot of heat into the room. During winter, the sunroom as enclosed space absorbs a lot of cold.
So how you can work your way around this sunroom snafus? There’s only one way—climate control, which obviously entails finding the right comfort solution that will work for your sunroom, no matter the season or weather outside.
Options to Bring AC to Your Sunroom
Installing an effective heating and cooling solution for your sunroom enables you to enjoy this room addition at home regardless of the climate. Doing so will make you maximize the space and use it for its intended purpose. To cool or heat a sunroom, here are some of the most commonly used options:
Central Air Conditioner
Tapping into the existing centralized HVAC system at home is what most people do. When this option is possible, you can simply add a duct or extend the ductwork from the main house, connect a separate thermostat for control options, and presto, you can already heat or cool your sunroom as the rest of the house. The downside with this option, however, is that it is rarely practical. Expanding the ductwork just to be able to connect it to the attached sunroom might require complex installation work. It will be costly, too, since you would need to spend on a new line of ductwork, not to mention the labor costs that you will have to pay to an HVAC contractor. But what’s probably the most frustrating aspect that comes with this option is the fact that the temperature inside your sunroom will be the same temperature that you get from inside the house. You will absolutely not have any control over this temperature. As long as the central AC is running inside your home, you will have to accept that your sunroom will be having the same cooling and heating treatment even if no one is using it. In the long run, it will be major contributor to your energy use and you can’t do anything about it.
Window Air Conditioning Unit
Having a window air conditioning system to condition the air inside your sunroom is the easiest to do. It will not cost you a lot of money as well. If you choose this option, you can simply find a good spot for the unit, mount it on the location, and that’s it. But while a window air conditioning system is convenient, cost-effective, and completely hassle-free, it has it its own share of disadvantages that would make you doubt if this is really the most practical option. For one, a window air conditioning unit requires you to really pay attention to the compatibility between the size of the window unit and the size of the space that you need to cool. Sizing is very important here because a simple window air conditioning system can only work on small spaces. If your sunroom is bigger than the usual room, then you will need a more capable solution or at least a bigger window AC in terms of cooling capacity. Additionally, window air conditioning systems are bulky, and unless you can conceal them, installing a unit in just any suitable corner will have a significant impact on the overall design of the sunroom.
When other options are either costly or not viable, a portable system is one of the possible options to heat or cool a sunroom. It is inexpensive, easy to purchase, and convenient to operate. The main downside with portable systems, however, is mostly about reliability. While using these systems may be cost-effective, they would not be able to assure you a hundred-percent comfort experience to their often low-efficiency capability and marginal cooling and heating performance. They are only best to use as a temporary solution and might not be a good option at all if the sunroom will be one of the spaces inside your home that you will be using on a regular basis.
While the aforementioned systems have the necessary capabilities to cool or heat a sunroom in their own unique ways, there’s another system that specifically bridges all their gaps in performance—the ductless mini split system.
Ductless Mini Split System - Your Best Option for Sunroom
Where traditional systems would not work, a ductless mini split system proves to be highly effective. Ideal for room additions, a ductless mini split unit can effectively cool or heat your sunroom without you shelling out extra money for ductwork or extra components.
Why Ductless Air Conditioners are Best
• You can ditch the ducts. Being a room addition, sunrooms are typically outside or even way beyond the reach of an existing ductwork that is used for the rest of the house. This is one of the most significant issues with a sunroom, and quite interestingly, also one of the biggest things that a ductless mini split unit can effectively resolve.
• You’ll have control over the temperature. With ductless mini split capable of providing you precise temperature control, it becomes a perfect solution for the sunroom.
• You can use it for cooling and heating. As a reversible system, a ductless mini split can work both as an air conditioning and heat pump solutions. Using a mini split system to your system will save you enough money and hassles from using a variety of separate system just to heat or cool the space.
For room additions like a sunroom, meeting the cooling and heating challenges that come with its unique construction is one of the biggest challenges that most homeowners face. While there are many systems available that anybody can go to as an option, the considerations on cost, performance, efficiency, and flexibility of the system make most of these traditional systems lacking the necessary competencies. With ductless mini split system, however, these challenges are effectively met, ensuring you year-round comfort no matter the weather or season.