Mini-Split AC Systems
Mini-split HVAC systems, also commonly referred to as “ductless systems” or “zoned systems,” are a unique type of HVAC system that does not require ducts to condition and distribute the air throughout your home. Because they don’t require ductwork, these mini-split systems can be very viable for projects where there is no existing ductwork. It is also very useful in-home add-on projects where extending the existing ductwork is either not practical or is overly complex and costly. In either of these situations, mini-split systems from AIRTEAM are a perfect solution. Another practical use for mini-split systems is for homes with a large footprint, especially multi-story homes. Owners who like to have more control of the zones of their home and keeping some cooler or warmer than others love the flexibility and practicality of a mini-split system. Larger homes, due to their large volume of space, require a lot more energy to cool, but by only cooling the zones that are in use, homeowners can save a lot of money on utilities. It also gives more individual control for bedrooms and areas where one household member may prefer it cooler in the kitchen for example, and the kids want it warmer in their bedrooms. Mini-split systems from AIRTEAM can achieve this level of control, flexibility, and economic savings in these larger homes.
The Basics of Mini-Split Systems
With a mini-split system, your air conditioning is processed with the use of two main pieces of hardware: an indoor air handler and outdoor compressor/condenser.
The indoor air handling unit is typically mounted to the ceiling or high up on a wall. Not to worry, you can purchase or custom build covers for these units to blend them in seamlessly as part of the interior design of your home. These units are connected directly to the outdoor compressor using a coolant line instead of bulky and complex duct systems to condition the air. Also, the indoor unit must have power, so a power cable runs directly from the indoor unit to the outdoor compressor in addition to suction tubing, and a drain line for condensate.
Typically, a home will have several indoor air handlers that connect to a signal outdoor unit. The indoor units are all controlled independently and can cool or heat as desired for that zone. They all, however, use the same outdoor unit as the conditioned air source. This is quite different than the way a traditional centralized HVAC system works—as centralized systems send the air through a complex series of ducts that are routed to each zone and dispensed via an in-wall, ceiling, or floor vent. Again, if you live in a home with no room for ducts, a mini-split system is the best and most economical solution.
We create zones in your home by use of the individual air handler units. Each unit cools or heats a specific area and is connected to an outdoor unit. We will guide you on the most efficient and comfortable zone assignments and cooling design before installation.
Typically it’s pretty straightforward—you can usually assign as many as four air handlers to a single outdoor unit. The number of indoor and outdoor units you need all depends on the square footage of your home and the amount of heating and cooling you desire for your home.
For example, a common setup for an average sized two-story Houston home is an indoor unit in the garage, two on the first floor, and two on the second floor at opposite ends of the home. If your family spends most days downstairs you can keep that floor cooler than the second story, and then switch at night. This gives you more specific control over your usage and saves money.
Since there are no ducts with our mini-split systems you don’t have to worry about losing any of that air through the duct seals and joints. Typically, even a well-sealed duct system will lose as much as 30% of the conditioned air due to cracks or gaps in the ducts. This is even more common when running ductwork through the attic and crawlspaces or when shutting the vent to a particular room.
There is a more complex answer to this question that involves discussing the differences between heat pumps, and traditional furnaces—but let’s just keep it simple—yes, mini-split systems not only cool but also heat your home, so you’re covered year-round. If you want to get into the mechanics of why and how one of our comfort consultants will be happy to explain in greater detail to you how that works in comparison to traditional methods.
Advantages and Possible Disadvantages of Mini-Split Systems
Our mini-split systems are a perfect option for home expansion projects or structures with no existing ductwork as well as larger multi-story homes as we mentioned. Since you can choose to only cool the rooms you are using with its own thermostat controlled unit, you can save money versus cooling the entire home.
That being said, mini-split systems may not necessarily be the right option for your home. For example, if you live in a home that is a single-story with existing ductwork already, the more practical option would probably be to stick with a centralized HVAC unit—it will save you money on hardware and installation
- There is a slightly higher initial cost than some central systems (but keep in mind your operating costs are less)
- Some homeowners may not like the aesthetics of indoor units but as discussed, there are tons of cover options that will blend your unit right into your current design.
- While, this isn’t really a disadvantage but more of a cautionary warning—you really need to find a qualified Houston air conditioning company that specialized in mini-split systems and doesn’t shortcut installations. Fortunately, you can always count on Airteam to deliver a quality installation every time.
- Units have a small footprint
- Easy installation when completed by an Airteam licensed technician
- Flexible and convenient zone-based heating and cooling
- Smart options available and remote operation
- Heats AND cools
- Slim and modern look
- Very energy efficient
- No ductwork, no problem, no air leaks
- Safer than window units, your home barriers are not compromised
- Many different customization options (covers, installation options, etc)
- Typically last longer than central units since the labor is divided