Mini Split Operating Tips, Ideal Temperature Settings & More
If you've installed a ductless mini split system in your home, chances are you're already aware of the superior benefits these units have over ducted systems. However, keeping your heating or cooling system running smoothly doesn't end after making the switch to mini split heating and cooling. If you want to prolong your unit’s life, it's essential to understand the best ways to operate and maintain your mini split system.
Mini Split Operating Tips
Mini splits are considered a “fix it and forget it” style of heating and cooling. They run most efficiently when they're allowed to operate consistently without significant temperature fluctuations. However, to get the most out of your system, there are a few more operational elements to keep in mind.
Preventive Maintenance and Cleaning
- Indoor Unit
For indoor units, lift the cover and clean the filter once a month using a low-powered vacuum cleaner or a static dusting cloth. You should also wipe the condenser coils with a dry, soft cloth. Both these measures help keep each unit running smoothly and prevent it from overworking and reducing its overall efficiency, leading to more savings in your pocket.
- Outdoor Compressor
For the outdoor compressor unit, make sure the surrounding area is free of debris like dirt and leaves. Cleaning your outdoor heat pump can be as simple as using a garden hose, but, if you opt for this method, turn your system off first.
Raise the Outdoor Unit
If the compressor is set on the ground, consider raising it a few feet off the ground with a permanent fixture. This action reduces the amount of maintenance and cleaning necessary, helping your system run more efficiently.
Raising your unit off the ground has another significant benefit, especially if you live in colder, snowy climates. Excessively cold weather can reduce your whole multi zone mini split system’s efficiency, making it work harder to do the same amount of work. Ice and snow can wreak havoc on an outdoor compressor unit, blocking it completely and forcing it to spend more energy melting snow and ice than directing heat into your home. After heavy snows, regularly unblock the unit so it can operate more smoothly.
Promote Consistent Heating and Cooling
A mini split system works best when the temperature is consistent and the motor doesn’t work too hard. In summer, keeping your window blinds or curtains drawn during the mid-afternoon can moderate the amount of heat generated by the sun, requiring less effort on your mini split unit to cool your home. The opposite goes for winter; keep the blinds open during the day to let in as much natural heat as possible. Keep your interior doors open to promote efficient air circulation, ensuring your home has an even temperature flow.
Ideal Temperature Settings
Mini split units are generally installed near the ceiling of your home, which measures temperature differently than a typical eye-level thermostat. As heat rises, it may register a temperature higher than what you’re feeling. Consequently, it’s best to determine your unit’s temperature setting based on your comfort level rather than the display’s actual number.
However, there are some guidelines you can keep in mind. A winter temperature of 68°F, and lower while you’re away, is ideal for most homes. For summer, that number rises to 78°F when you’re at home. The idea is to set the temperature as high as is comfortable in the summer and as low as is comfortable in the winter.
When you’ve decided on which temperature setting is right for you, let your mini split unit run consistently throughout the day and night, even while you’re away during working hours. Mini split systems are great at maintaining the temperature in your home, but they have a more challenging time heating or cooling a space from scratch. A continual run time keeps your system efficient. The exception is if you go away for days at a time.
Additionally, consider upgrading to a smart thermostat or another smart temperature-control technology. Many models analyze the ideal temperature for your home and habits and automatically adjust to provide the best balance of comfort and cost savings. They can often be controlled from your smartphone, so you can change your settings on the go if you’ve forgotten.
If you follow these energy-saving tips, your mini split system will perform better and provide reliable heating and cooling for years. However, there are ways to maximize your system’s benefits. For cold climates that receive plenty of snow, shelter your outdoor compressor unit with a roof. Whether it’s custom-built for your unit or you simply install the compressor under a pre-existing structure such as a porch, anything that keeps the snow off can dramatically reduce the amount of necessary maintenance.
You can also adjust single zone mini splits by installing them at a lower height. Lowering the height will intake colder air on the floor and replace it with warm air, giving you a one-two punch in efficiency.
Whether you’re using your mini split system for cooling or heating, preventative maintenance, consistent use, and the right unit location can help you save energy and money and improve the comfort of your home.