A Guide to Choosing the Best Ductless Mini Split for Small Homes

A Guide to Choosing the Best Ductless Mini Split for Small Homes

Air conditioning systems are essential for regulating the temperature and air quality of a building. During hot and humid weather, homes become harborers of humidity, allergens, and pollutants, making for a sweaty and uncomfortable environment. These types of conditions not only affect your comfort but can also negatively impact your sleep, energy, and general health.

While traditional ducted HVAC systems effectively create cooler conditions in a home, they can be expensive to run. What’s more, because of the ductwork, they often lack efficiency. Approximately 20-30% of the air flowing through a ducted air conditioning system is lost because of leaks, holes, or poorly connected ducts. 

An increasingly popular air conditioning option is a ductless mini split system. These devices are efficient, discreet, and easy to install, allowing homeowners to reduce their carbon footprint as well as their utility bills. Due to their precise heating and cooling capabilities, mini splits are particularly effective in small homes. Our comprehensive guide helps you to choose the best ductless mini split system for your home.

What Is a Ductless Mini Split System?

A ductless mini split system is a heating and cooling device that works without ducting. The system consists of one outdoor unit and at least one indoor air handler. The indoor handler is designed to treat the air for a specific zone. Multiple air handlers can be installed to provide cooling and heating in different zones around a home. 

Depending on the size of a house, one air handler is capable of regulating air in a single room or an entire floor. In large homes, it is advantageous to have multiple air handlers for precise control throughout the entire building. Each handler has individual controls, meaning users can set different temperatures for different zones in a home. 

For a small house, ductwork is often intrusive and impractical. A mini split is an efficient alternative that involves a far easier installation process and occupies less space. These systems provide heating and cooling, meaning they are useful year-round. Whether you’re building a new home from scratch or you’re retrofitting an existing property, a mini split system is an excellent addition to a small house. 

ductless mini split mounted

How Do Ductless Mini Split Systems Work?

A ductless mini split air conditioner operates using a relatively straightforward process. It works similarly to a traditional central HVAC system, with the main difference being that it doesn’t use ductwork. Instead, refrigerant lines play a pivotal role in the heating, cooling, and distribution process. 

An indoor air handler is usually mounted high on a wall or the ceiling for optimal air distribution. This component is responsible for drawing in warm air and dispersing cool air. The air handler is connected to the outdoor condenser unit by small piping and refrigerant lines. 

When warm air rises to the top of a room, the air handler draws it in. This warm air is then transported to the outdoor unit through the small pipes. Within the condenser unit, a number of coils contain refrigerant coolant distributed from the home’s refrigerant lines. 

Once the warm air comes into contact with the coils, an energy transfer occurs, converting the coolant liquid into gas. This gas is then transferred into the outdoor unit’s compressor to undergo a recycling process that converts it back into cool liquid. When the air is cooled, it is fed back through piping into the air handler before being dispersed around the room. This cycle is repeated to control the temperature within a mini split zone.

One of the greatest advantages of a ductless mini split system is that it can provide both heating and cooling. The heat pump, which is located in the outdoor condenser, is responsible for generating hot air. Essentially, it reverses the cooling process by removing heat from the outdoors and dispersing it through the indoor handler. 

Heat pumps can absorb heat from external air even when the temperatures are below freezing. However, the colder the weather is outside, the harder the heat pump has to work, leading to higher utility bills. 

Dual Zone Mini Splits Are Perfect Air Conditioning Solutions for Two-Story Houses

Benefits of a Ductless Mini Split System for a Small House

One of the main deterrents for installing a mini split system is that the upfront cost is usually higher than a traditional central HVAC air conditioner. However, this is a significant oversight, as mini split systems are geared toward long-term savings. In addition, there are several other benefits of a mini split system for a small house.

benefits of ductless mini split system

Efficiency

Mini split systems control air temperature through energy transfers. This means they don’t have to work as hard as other air conditioning systems to generate hot or cold air. By maximizing heating and cooling output from the energy consumed from the environment, mini splits are not only effective but very efficient. 

These systems waste very little energy and contribute to annual utility bill savings. In contrast to central HVAC air conditioners, mini splits reduce your carbon footprint. 

Mini splits are used to regulate the temperature and airflow of a particular zone. Individual air handlers can be placed around premises, offering precise control for specific areas of your home. This means you regulate temperature for the exact location you need, further reducing waste and utility costs.

Look for an Energy-Star certified system for maximum efficiency. 

Ease of Installation

Due to the absence of ductwork, mini split systems are relatively straightforward to install. However, because installation involves connecting refrigerant lines, it’s advisable to hire a professional HVAC expert to keep things safe. *"In addition, most manufacturer warranties Require the installation is done by a state licensed HVAC contractor for warranty eligibility"

Refrigerant gas “Freon” is the old style refrigerant. Current refrigerant is called “R410a” is tasteless and practically odorless, meaning you may not detect a leak. Leaked can impact air quality and may be inhaled easily. Exposure to refrigerant chemicals can be harmful to the lungs and skin.

Unless there are complications with your home’s layout or spacing, installation should only take one to two days. Multiple air handlers require more installation time.

Improved Air Quality

Ductwork gathers dust, debris, allergens, and pollutants. When the air conditioner is in operation, these materials are dispersed, reducing the air quality inside your home. This is particularly intrusive for allergy sufferers. While ducts can be cleaned, the process is quite tricky and can be expensive if you hire a professional. 

Although mini split filters gather dust and debris in their filters, they can be cleaned or replaced easily, ensuring consistently high-quality air. 

Low Operational Volume

Mini split air conditioning systems are quiet in operation, especially compared to other appliances such as window or portable ACs. Most units operate with a 30-50 dB noise range, lower than a normal conversation. This makes them versatile and suitable to install in any room, including your bedroom. 

smiling young woman holding remote

Precise Temperature Control

Mini split systems are designed for precise temperature control. A single air handler regulates the air temperature for a specific zone, and multiple handlers allow even more precise regulation for the entire building. The smaller the home, the fewer air handlers needed to control the temperature, leading to lower utility bills. 

In homes that experience inconsistent heating, this is particularly useful, as individual handlers can be set to compensate for the uneven heat distribution. Individual controls also cater to co-habitants who have different preferences when it comes to indoor temperatures. One room can be kept cool while another is programmed to be much cozier.

Central HVAC systems operate using a single thermostat, meaning the entire house is set to the same temperature. 

Increased Space

When living in a small home, space is paramount. Large, intrusive appliances make a space seem even smaller. Ductwork can be an eyesore, especially in a confined area. Mini split systems are small and discreet, and they don’t require any ductwork, maximizing your living space. 

woman using ac app

Smart Capabilities

Many modern mini split systems are smart technology-enabled. Through a mobile app, users can access and control their air conditioning unit. This allows them to gain insights into how efficient their device is. Smart-enabled units can often be controlled remotely, allowing for even more efficient use. 

Low Maintenance

Mini split systems require very little maintenance. Routine cleaning and filter changing are straightforward and can be carried out by the device owner. However, it is recommended to have your device professionally serviced by an HVAC technician once per year. This may increase the longevity of your appliance. 

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What to Consider When Buying a Ductless Mini Split System

Before investing in your mini split system, there are some considerations to make. 

What to Consider When Buying a Ductless Mini Split System

Cost

The cost of a mini split system varies, depending on the size, brand, and number of air handlers. Establish your heating and cooling needs before deciding on a system. An energy audit or blower test can give you an accurate estimate of the size unit you need. Remember that the upfront cost may be higher than other types of air conditioners, but the annual savings can save you significantly in the long term. 

Efficiency

Although it might be tempting to save a few dollars by purchasing a cheaper mini split system, it’s important to consider its efficiency. Highly efficient appliances often repay the difference in initial price within a year when compared to cheaper devices. 

All mini split systems are graded in terms of energy efficiency. Carefully analyze an air conditioner’s specifications before purchasing. The most significant spec to consider is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating

Installation Process

DIY enthusiasts frequently choose to install their air conditioning system rather than hire a professional. While it’s possible to install your mini split system if it comes pre-filled with coolant, it’s a job better suited to an HVAC expert due to the involvement of refrigerant. Also, many mini split systems come with a warranty that becomes invalid without a professional installation. 

Durability

Durability is an important aspect of any home appliance. When researching mini split systems, read online reviews about their durability and performance. Ensure that your chosen appliance comes with a reliable warranty.

BTU Needs

The most important aspect of choosing a ductless mini split system is to determine the number of BTUs needed for your space. For efficient and smooth performance, an exact number of BTUs is required. Too many or too few BTUs can lead to undesirable conditions and a damaged device. 

To determine the needs of your home, an energy audit or load calculation should be made. This gives you the energy capacity of the building and informs you about what size system you require. 

In most cases, the number of BTUs is dependent on the size of the room. For example, a room between 150-300 ft² requires around 6,000 BTUs, while a space between 800-1,300 ft² needs around 24,000 BTUs.

mitsubishi mini split

Types of Ductless Mini Split Systems

There are several types of ductless mini split systems. A small home shouldn’t need multiple air handlers, but they may be desired for increased temperature control. The most suitable mini splits for a small space are: 

Single Zone Mini Split System

A single zone mini split system is a combination of one outdoor condenser and one indoor air handler. The single air handler regulates temperature and airflow for one specific zone. It is ideally suited to a studio apartment or small one-story home. 

Dual Zone Mini Split System

A dual zone mini split system consists of one outdoor condenser unit and two indoor air handlers. It offers increased temperature control, as each indoor handler can regulate the air in two separate zones. These systems are ideal for small two-story houses, allowing you to set your desired temperature upstairs and downstairs. 

Dual zone mini splits effectively balance temperatures in homes that experience inconsistencies. During summer, hot air rises, causing upper stories to become extremely hot while downstairs can remain cool. A dual system alleviates this issue by allowing separate temperature control for either story. 

Multi Zone Mini Split System

A multi zone mini split system consists of one outdoor condenser unit and up to eight indoor handlers. Multiple indoor handlers are more popular for large homes or offices and may not be necessary for a small home.

Increase the Efficiency of Your Small Home with a Mini Split System

benefits of a mini split system

No matter what size a home is, people should always make an effort to increase its efficiency. As well as reducing your annual expenses, an efficient air conditioning system is better for the environment. Arrange an energy audit and install a mini split system that’s a perfect fit for your home. 

ComfortUp is your number one source for mini split systems. We stock appliances and accessories of all sizes from the leading brands in the industry. Visit our online store to explore our full range of mini split systems. For more information or advice, give us a call today at 1-855-337-0001.

 

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