When searching for a heating and cooling system for your residence, it’s essential to choose one that balances efficiency, functionality and finances. That’s why many homeowners use mini-splits for climate control in their home.
Mini-splits—often referred to as ductless mini-splits—provide a variety of advantages that make them an appealing solution for both homes and businesses. They're very energy efficient, decreasing energy consumption and saving on utility expenses, because they eliminate the energy losses that can come with the ductwork found in traditional HVAC systems. They also allow users to customize the temperature in each room, boosting overall comfort while not wasting energy.
If you’re contemplating mini-split installation in Des Moines, it’s important to first determine if these devices are the best fit for your living situation. Here, we’ll explore how mini-splits stack up against other heating and cooling methods.
What a Mini-Split Is and How It Works
A mini-split, or ductless mini-split, is a heating and cooling mechanism that does not use ductwork. It's a popular choice in homes that don't have pre-existing air ducts and for homes with rooms that aren’t served well by the home's existing HVAC system.
A mini-split system consists of two major components: an outdoor compressor/condenser and an indoor air-handling device. These are connected by a conduit housing the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing and a condensate drain.
Here's how it works: the outdoor compressor circulates the refrigerant necessary for heat exchange through the coils and the air handler. The interior component pulls in air from the room, cools or heats it over the coils and forces the conditioned air back into the room.
Mini-Split vs. Central Air
Mini-splits offer targeted cooling in particular rooms or zones of your residence. They are excellent for energy efficiency because they only condition the areas you choose. However, they sometimes don't blend seamlessly into every area due to the fact they have wall-mounted indoor units.
On the other hand, a central air system uniformly cools your entire home, keeping consistent comfort levels throughout. Its ductwork is out of sight, preserving the aesthetics of your home. However, it may not be as energy efficient as a mini-split, especially in quite sizeable homes or residences where certain rooms may not need continuous conditioning.
Mini-Split vs. Window AC/Window Unit
Mini-splits are usually more energy efficient and quieter than a window air conditioning unit and are capable of cooling multiple rooms. This is why mini-splits are a convenient alternative for countless homeowners. They also use a form of refrigerant that is more earth-safe, limiting their environmental impact. These systems can even add value to your home due to their reliable nature and exceptional cooling capabilities. However, they come with a greater purchase price.
On the other hand, window air conditioning units are less expensive up front. They might be a good fit for homes that can't accommodate a central AC system or for people with budget constraints. In spite of these advantages, window units can consume up to 40% more energy than ductless mini-split systems and are often noisier.
Mini-Split vs. Portable AC
The answer to what is better, a ductless mini-split or a portable air conditioning unit, will depend on on your priorities. If your main worries are energy efficiency and cooling capability, a mini-split is much more effective than a portable AC unit. However, if funding is a significant concern, a portable AC costs less.
Mini-Split vs. Gas Furnace
The choice between a mini-split system and a gas furnace depends on a variety of factors such as the climate in your city, home size, energy efficiency needs and how much you plan on spending.
A mini-split system typically is more energy efficient than a gas furnace. It can heat and cool targeted areas inside of your home, providing custom climate control in targeted rooms. Mini-splits also are for the most part quieter and have a greater up-front cost, but their operating costs are usually lower due to their better energy efficiency.
Alternatively, a gas furnace can be a very effective heating source, particularly in colder climates where mini-split heat pumps may fail to maintain comfort levels in the bitter cold. Even though they are less energy efficient than mini-splits, gas furnaces likely cost less. But, their operating costs can be more costly, especially if natural gas prices rise.
Mini-Split vs. Heat Pump
Mini-splits and heat pumps function with the process of heat transfer. They are both energy efficient, but a heat pump's air ducts can use more power. However, the choice between a mini-split and a heat pump often is based on on a family's needs and circumstances.
For example, if you live in a warmer climate and mostly need cooling, a mini-split system might be a better choice. On the other hand, if you require both heating and cooling and already have ductwork installed in your residence, a heat pump might be a more efficient option.
Mini-Split vs. Space Heater
In regards to heating and cooling a home, mini-splits and space heaters each have strengths and weaknesses. However, for total efficiency, versatility, comfort and safety, mini-splits outperform space heaters. Mini-splits provide superior energy efficiency because they deliver conditioned air directly to different zones and can serve numerous rooms at once.
Space heaters are a great deal less expensive to buy but are typically used only for heating a limited area or just one room. They also are usually less energy efficient. Unlike mini-splits, space heaters do not deliver cooling. The biggest drawback for space heaters is the chance of fire. Authorities say some 1,700 fires per year involve space heaters.