Ductless heating and cooling systems—also called ‘mini-split’ HVAC systems—are quickly gaining popularity. This is in large part due to their long list of benefits for homeowners who want efficiency, reliability, and quiet operation from their HVAC solution.
However, it’s not entirely clear for many exactly how ductless HVAC works. So, to help clear up some of the confusion, the ductless heating and cooling experts at Front Range HVAC are dedicating this week’s blogs to a full explanation of ductless HVAC technology, how it works, and why it’s so valuable for so many Coloradoans.
Ductless Means Distributed Cooling
Before we can best understand how ductless works, it might help to conduct a review of high school physics (don’t worry—there won’t be a pop quiz later).
As you might already know, modern air refrigeration relies on the pressurization of a gas in fluid form. In most cases, this fluid is ammonia- or freon-based. When pressure is applied to these substances, heat is released.
This heat is typically sent out from the air refrigeration unit using an exterior-facing heat sink.
The result of this process yields liquified ammonia gas, something that becomes very cold when it returns to normal, atmospheric pressure. This depressurization of the gas produces temperatures as low as -27°F, cold enough to chill air and send it to wherever it needs to go throughout a home or commercial building.
This entire refrigeration cycle relies on a compressor to do the pressurization. With virtually all ducted AC systems, the compressor, heat sink, fan, and motor are all housed in the same unit. While this is great for the areas that are closest in proximity to the AC unit itself, it leaves a lot to be desired in far-away rooms, crawl spaces, or other distant interior areas.
That’s where the beauty of a ductless HVAC installation comes in.
Just One Split, and Viola, Ductless!
Ductless air conditioning technology splits the compressor or condenser unit from the cooling coils and fans needed to produce cold air, hence the term ‘mini-split’.
Instead of the cooled air from a traditional AC unit being sent down long air ducts, the compressed refrigerant itself is sent down transmission lines that terminate at each ductless air conditioning unit located at various locations throughout the building.
Each of these ductless units has its own operating power. And, none of the ductless AC units themselves require a large, bulky, and loud compressor, making them whisper-quiet.
Another huge benefit of this kind of HVAC equipment configuration is the ability to use a single compressor to supply the refrigerant needs of multiple ductless AC units. As long as the compressor has sufficient capacity to serve enough refrigerant to the ductless endpoints, multiple rooms can be cooled by a single exterior compressor.
Important Features of Ductless AC
Ductless HVAC technology is great for smaller areas of the home that aren’t adequately cooled by the central HVAC system. This makes ductless AC ideal for new home additions, where a traditional AC system would need to be upgraded to achieve the same end (something that could be cost-prohibitive for many homeowners).
However, there are some features of ductless HVAC technology that are important to keep in mind before pulling the trigger and buying a complete ductless AC solution.
First, ductless AC systems require a bit more maintenance than traditional, ducted AC systems. This is because most ductless units cannot function with clogged or dirty air filters. And, because their refrigerant transmission lines can be lengthy, the refrigerant itself may need ‘topping off’ more often than single-unit AC systems.
Second, ductless air conditioning technology is not going to be feasible for larger volumes of indoor air, in most cases. Ductless AC units need to be strategically positioned in the rooms they’re cooling, typically installed in overhead locations. Their placement helps them to cool more air with a smaller footprint, but they still have their limits, and they won’t be as effective as ducted AC when it comes to large-volume air cooling.
Is Your Home a Candidate for Ductless?
In many cases, ductless AC systems can be an exceptionally energy-efficient, quiet, and cost-effective home cooling solution.
To learn more about ductless AC, or to inquire about getting a quote for a ductless AC system, contact Front Range HVAC today. We’ll work with you to determine if your home could benefit from ductless AC technology. If it can, we’ll let you know what your options are, how much it will cost, and what the installation schedule would look like.
Call us today at (303) 835-0720.