How Do Ductless Air Conditioners Stack Up Against Traditional Units?

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When it comes to residential and light commercial heating, ventilation and air conditioning, a fast-growing market segment is quickly developing into an industry-leading trend. Ductless air conditioners, also called mini-splits, are increasingly replacing the large, bulky window-mounted systems of yesteryear. Is this a passing fad, or are there real benefits to be enjoyed by installing one of these systems in your home or workplace? Read on to find out.

 Ductless Heating and Cooling: Advantages and Disadvantages

 The main difference between these new systems and traditional window air conditioners is that they are smaller, more efficient and more flexible when it comes to mounting and placement. Mini-splits allow homeowners to selectively heat and cool individual rooms according to their occupants’ desires by connecting a single outdoor unit to multiple indoor air controllers.

EMI-Air-handler-three-qrt-view

If you’re considering installing a mini-split air conditioner, you can expect to enjoy the following advantages:

 • Increased Efficiency—According to Energy.gov, up to 30 percent of air conditioning energy loss is due to air seeping through imperfect ductwork. This ductless air conditioners bypass ducts entirely, there is no subsequent energy loss, making these devices robust energy savers.

 • Easy Installation—Although ductless mini-split systems may seem complex to install, they are actually simpler than most packaged air conditioner systems. For example, installing the EMI Iverter by ECR International requires only a single three-inch hole be drilled into the wall. Since air conduits can be easily extended, the outdoor unit can be mounted anywhere for convenience.

EMI-presents I-verter

  • Better Aesthetics—Since the mini-split system does not rely on the location of windows, homeowners enjoy a much wider degree of options when it comes to interior design. A sleek indoor unit placed near a room’s ceiling is far less distracting than a heavy, noise-producing unit occupying an entire window.

Ductless air conditioners come with remote controls so that tenants and guests can adjust air flow and temperature without having to physically access the device. This means that both the indoor and outdoor units can be effectively hidden from view, which is very valuable and comfortable from a design perspective.

  • Quiet Operation—The ability to place the noise-producing outdoor half of the unit a safe distance away from the room being conditioned makes the entire process almost silent.
  • Greater Security—Window-mounted air conditioners are prime targets for intruders and trespassers. Although they are set in place rigorously, a properly equipped burglar can remove the unit and gain direct access to the inside of the building through the window. Ductless air conditioners offer no such entry point.
  • Increased Property Value—Appraisers consider mini-split air conditioners to be valuable assets to most homes and commercial structures. The presence of a robust and well-maintained ductless air unit translates into increased equity.

Four-way Cassette Indoor Unit Hang type view

Disadvantages to Ductless Air Cooling and Heating

Although this technology offers sufficient benefits to merit investment on any homeowner’s behalf, the units themselves can be more expensive than window units or evaporative coolers. In structures that don’t already have extensive ductwork installed, however, they are a much cheaper and more reliable option than installing a central air unit.

This price difference can be covered through energy savings over the estimated 12-15 years of an air conditioner’s service life, however, since even the best ductwork still produces energy loss. In some conditions, the fact that the outdoor unit produces water through condensation can be troublesome, but proper installation and placement takes care of that issue conveniently.

For more information on comparing mini-split ductless air conditioners with central air units, window units and evaporators, consult this useful infographic made by Energy.gov.

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