These days, no living or working space is complete without an air conditioning system. These systems can come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from small window units suitable for a single room to large industrial units suitable for huge halls. But one distinction, which is the most apparent one, is the absence or presence of ductwork. This feature separates air conditioning systems into two categories: ducted air conditioning and ductless air conditioning systems.
Let us have a look at what is meant by these two terms and also list down the advantages of a ductless air conditioning system. This will help you make the best decision to opt for the best type of air conditioner for yourself!
What are Ductless Cooling and Heating Systems?
As suggested by the name, ductless cooling and heating systems work without any ductwork being involved. These systems consist of two separate units: an outdoor compressor and an indoor evaporator. The indoor unit is responsible for introducing cool and conditioned air into the living space, while the outdoor unit ejects the absorbed heat outside. Both these units are connected through a small hole in the wall.
The most common type of ductless systems is wall-mounted mini-splits. The indoor unit for wall mounted mini-splits is mounted high up on the wall, while the outdoor unit is almost directly on the other side of the wall, either placed on the ground or mounted on the wall itself. Standard mini-splits can be made smart by using a mini-split thermostat.
Other types of ductless systems include wall-mounted multi-splits, PTACs, portable air conditioners, window units, or cassette type air conditioners. But for this article, we’ll be focusing on the most common type, and that is wall-mounted mini-splits.
For a more detailed overview of ductless or ducted cooling & heating systems, give our ducted vs ductless air conditioners a read.
Advantages of Ductless Cooling and Heating Systems
There are many benefits of using ductless cooling and heating systems over ducted systems. Let’s get started on understanding the benefits that ductless systems provide:
1. Less Operating Expenses for Ductless Cooling & Heating System
This is the bottom line for most of us. We all love appliances that cut down on our monthly energy expenses, and why not? It’s also extremely important for the environment to keep our carbon footprint minimum.
Ductless air conditioners are much cheaper to operate as compared to ducted air conditioners. In fact, Mitsubishi claims that they can save 30-40% of energy costs compared to a forced-air system. But how do they do it? Well, the biggest reason is the absence of ductwork. Ducts present the biggest source of air leakage within ducted systems. Tears, gaps, improper installation, and ruptures, etc., all contribute to the conditioned air leaking out and becoming a source of wasted energy. The US Department of Energy estimates that homes with central air conditioning use up to 30% more energy only due to leaking ducts.
2. Make Your Cooling and Heating Smart!
Ductless cooling and heating can very easily be made smart with plug and play smart AC controllers, like the Cielo Breez Plus or Cielo Breez Eco. Smart AC controllers provide you with air conditioning controls from the convenience of your smartphones, making your air conditioner WIFI compatible. Now you can control your air conditioner from anywhere, anytime. These work exactly like thermostats for central air conditioners but cost much less!
Other features provided by smart AC controllers include temperature and humidity based smart triggers, location-based controls, weekly scheduling, usage history tracking, and smart home compatibility with Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and more.
Smart air conditioning is on the rise in this decade, and ductless air conditioners provide the perfect opportunity to be a part of the tech revolution.
3. Ductless ACs Have Greater Efficiency
SEER and EER are ratings that you might have often heard about when searching for an air conditioning system. These ratings correspond directly to the amount of energy that your air conditioner can save. A higher SEER means that the air conditioner is more energy-efficient.
Ductless HVAC systems, on average, have a higher SEER rating than their ducted counterparts, with some systems having a SEER as high as 30.
4. Hassle-Free Installation with Ductless HVAC
The absence of any ducts means that ductless air conditioners can be installed in substantially less time than ducted air conditioners. Moreover, the effort for installation is also a fraction, meaning the installation costs are also kept to a minimum. Ductless unit installation can cost up to 50% less than their ducted counterparts making them a great option especially if you do not have ductwork installed.
In addition to this, a ductless AC does not require you to turn your home upside down during installation. There is no need to tear the ceiling apart, deploy heavy machinery all over your home, or move all your furniture elsewhere. While installing ductless systems, the walls are not damaged, the ceiling does not need to be opened up, and the only modification to your home will be a small 3” x 3” hole behind the indoor unit, which will not be visible in operation. Installation is done in minimal time, with minimal hassle.
5. Reduced Carbon Footprint
As discussed before, ductless cooling and heating systems offer much greater SEER and EER. This higher efficiency translates directly into a lower carbon footprint than ducted systems. Moreover, ENERGY STAR certification of ductless cooling and heating systems means that they are much more energy-efficient than minimum US government standards. Hence you not only get reduced energy bills but also reduced carbon emissions.
Another major contributor to the reduced carbon footprint for these systems is the use of refrigerant. R410A is an environmentally friendly refrigerant, which reduces the impact of air conditioning on the ozone layer.
6. Greatly Improved Indoor Air Quality
We may not often notice it, but the quality of the air we breathe has a great effect on our daily mood and health. For those who spend a large amount of time indoors, indoor air quality becomes an even bigger consideration to be kept in mind, to ensure ultimate comfort and healthy living. Small invisible particles such as allergens, pollutants, and even airborne bacteria and viruses can have a detrimental effect on our health, making it important to keep our indoor air quality at its highest.
Ducted air conditioning systems present the biggest problem in this regard, with the ductwork being a major source of pollutants. Mold, algae, and fungi can often find a very favorable environment to grow within the ductwork and then spread throughout the home. Moreover, small insects and rodents can also be found in ducts, especially if they have holes in them or are very old.
Ductless cooling and heating systems provide very comprehensive filtration options. Top of the line HEPA filters can block out 99.97 percent of all airborne particles sized 0.3 microns or larger. Even the standard in-built filter in a ductless AC can efficiently work to block out dust and pollutants to a great extent.
7. Greater Flexibility
Ductless cooling and heating systems bring with it far greater operational flexibility than ducted systems. This is because while there is only one ducted unit for a single home, there can be multiple ductless units! Each one can be placed in a separate room as per your need. This means that only the room that is currently occupied needs to have its air conditioner operational, and not all the air conditioners in the house like in the case of ducted systems. Even if you have to cool down one room, you would need to power up the ducted unit for the whole house. This consumes far more electricity and results in increased utility bills.
With ductless cooling and heating systems, there’d be no more squabbling over the home temperature! Everyone can set the temperature according to their preferences as per their convenience.
If you are managing a building or a large space with many units, you can even group your ductless air conditioners into zones using a smart AC controller. This allows for easy management!
8. Minimal Maintenance
Ductless air conditioners require minimal maintenance as compared to ducted air conditioners. With a few parts, only the filters need to be regularly cleaned and washed. Other considerations that need to be kept in mind are to keep the outdoor unit fans clear of any shrubs or blockages and keep the indoor vents clear from obstructions. Other than this, ductless air conditioners require no special treatment, saving you on contractor and maintenance costs as compared to ducted air conditioners. There are no ducts to be maintained or major leaks to be checked, or vents in each room, which need to be opened up and deeply cleaned.
But that does not mean you leave the ductless unit on its own. Schedule regular tune-ups before the start of the summer season, and follow these simple steps to extend the life of your ductless AC.
9. Ductless Air Conditioners Also Provide Heating!
Yes, you heard that right. Some ductless systems not only provide cooling but also heating without any additional modifications. These “reversible” units or ductless heat pumps can function both in summers and winters. This is in comparison to most ducted systems that can only cool your home, and your home requires a separate furnace to keep you comfortable in the winters.
10. Get Utility Rebates with Ductless Heating and Cooling
Due to the higher efficiencies offered by the ductless systems, many utility companies now offer rebates and financial incentives to homeowners and businesses to install ductless air conditioners. This is because energy companies could use the energy leftovers by lower air conditioning usage towards other more pressing energy demands.
Check out this link and find out if your local utility offers energy rebates.
Ductless Air Conditioners Are the Way to Go!
To sum it up, ductless HVAC provides unparalleled flexibility and energy savings as compared to ducted air conditioners. If you are buying air conditioners for your new home or renovating an old one, ductless systems should be very first on the buying order considering all the benefits they provide.
Flexibility, convenience, personalized comfort, energy savings, smartness, and reduced carbon footprint are just a few major benefits that can be enjoyed with ductless air conditioners. Make sure to look into smart controllers to power up your ductless heating and cooling with additional capabilities!
It’s great to know that a ductless heating system can improve the air quality of your home to ensure healthy living. My husband and I plan on having a custom home constructed soon because we’re expecting our first child. I want the best for my family, so I’ll suggest we have a ductless heating system in our new home.
Your articles were very helpful.and a ductless heating system will work well in my old stone house. Thank you
Can you operate the cooling portion (compressor when it is below 65 degrees out) without damaging the compressor if it is both a heating and cooling unit?
Hi, running your AC in cool mode when the outside temperature is below 60F will freeze your AC coils and cause damage to the unit.