Ask Dirk: Are mini split systems right for my home?


In our last column, we talked about zoned systems and how they can improve energy efficiency and maximize home comfort. If you are interested in zoned systems, mini split systems are another option in zoning your home.
Mini split systems are made up of two types of components: an outdoor condenser or heat pump and one or more indoor air-handling units. The indoor air-handling units may be self-contained or may utilize ducts to circulate conditioned air. They are a good option in multi-level housing or as add-ons to houses with limited potential for adding a ducting system, such as homes with boilers.
Advantages
A mini split system is small in size and flexible for zoning individual rooms as it consists of one or more indoor air handling units connected to one outdoor unit. Each zone in your home will have its own thermostat for easy access and usability to control your zones.
Mini split systems may be easier to install if you don’t have to mess with your ductwork. The self-contained units can avoid energy loss associated with ductwork in central forced air systems. Duct losses can account for more than 30% of energy consumption for both heating and air conditioning, especially if they are in unconditioned spaces such as an attic or crawlspace.
Disadvantages
A mini split system may be much more expensive than central systems, so it is a good idea to research your options and always speak with a professional.
As ductless indoor units may be located on the wall or on the floor near a wall in your home, you may not be won over by the aesthetical aspects of a mini split.
These types of systems, if too large or incorrectly located, may also result in short cycling, which decreases efficiency and may not provide the desired comfort to a room. A system that is too large is also more expensive to buy and operate. It will likely wear out sooner and fail more often as well.
If you are building a new home, thinking about redoing your existing system, or unhappy with the way your current system heats and cools your home, speak with your trusted HVAC contractor about zoned systems. They will help you decide the on right system based on your individual situation and home needs.

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