Window air conditioning units are such a nuisance, aren't they? Every spring, you have to lug them upstairs and carefully position them in your windows. Then every fall, you have to remove them and find a place to store them through the winter. If you're tired of window units but do not have the ducts to install central air conditioning in your home, there is a viable solution. Ductless mini-split air conditioning systems are becoming quite common among people in your position, and they have a lot of advantages.
What is a ductless mini-split system?
The name is a long one, but if you break it apart, its meaning becomes quite clear. These systems are ductless -- they do not have or require that you have ducts running through your walls. They are miniature -- which means that they are small in size and easy to accommodate. They are also split. This one takes a bit more of an explanation, but basically, the air conditioning unit is split into two components. There is an outdoor unit called a compressor, which removes heat from the air and cools it. Then, there is an indoor unit, called an air handler, which pushes the cooled air into your home.
To make things just a touch more complicated, some ductless mini-split systems have two or even three air handlers. You may have one, for instance, in your living room and a second one in your upstairs hallway.
What are the advantages of a ductless mini-split system?
This type of system simplifies your life so much in comparison to using window units! You leave the air handlers in place year-round. If you have more than one air handler, you will be able to control each one independently. So you can keep the downstairs at 70 degrees and the upstairs at 74 -- or vice versa.
Another advantage is that this type of AC system is energy-efficient. You'll notice a marked decrease in your energy bills in comparison to using window units, and since there is no coolness lost as the air runs through ducts, mini-split systems are even more efficient than standard central air conditioning systems.
If you're worried about the presence of the air handling units on the walls, set those worries aside. The units are small and unobtrusive. Your HVAC contractor can place them at the top of the wall near the ceiling so they don't get in your way. You can control them with a remote control so you don't have to worry about standing on a stool to adjust the settings.
Are there any downsides to ductless mini-split systems?
These units are not cheap. You can expect to pay anywhere from $1,300 to $4,500 for a ductless mini-split system, and unless you live in a tiny apartment, your cost is likely to be closer to the higher end of that range. There may be rebates available through local energy companies that can decrease your final cost somewhat.
Some homeowners also find that air circulation is not as great with a ductless system as it is with a central AC system. The air comes out of just a few air handlers rather than multiple vents. You can compensate for this somewhat by always running your ceiling fans to keep air flowing through the space. If you do not have ceiling fans, installing a few may be worthwhile.
If you are tired of using window units but cannot install ducts in your home, talk to a local HVAC contractor to learn more about ductless mini-split air conditioners and other air conditioning systems available.