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Crystal Heating & Cooling, the Ductless Experts

A Guide to Mini-Split Heating and Cooling

A Guide to Mini-Split Heating and Cooling

Did you know that in the City of St. Louis, MO, temperatures can be 2 to 5 degrees higher than at the Lambert Airport? Or that St. Louis, on average, is more susceptible to heatwaves than other US cities? So, as beautiful as the Gateway to the West is, its summers can be pretty harsh.

That's why the government and health experts recommend the use of air conditioning. Such equipment can indeed be your saving grace during such dangerously hot days.

With that said, consider getting a mini-split heating and cooling unit if you need a new HVAC system. With this, you can stay comfortable all year, as it delivers both heating and cooling.

Ready to learn more about mini-split HVAC systems, how they work, and their benefits? Read on as this post details the most critical facts you need to know about them.

What Is a Mini-Split Heating and Cooling System?

Also known as "mini-splits," a mini-split heating and cooling system is a ductless HVAC unit. It's "ductless" because, unlike a central AC, a mini-split doesn't need ducts to circulate air. Instead, it works on a per "zone" basis, kind of like a room air conditioner.

The term "split" in a mini-split HVAC refers to how it comes with two separate components. First, it has a compressor/condenser unit that sits outdoors. The second is an air-handling unit installed inside your home, in a specific "zone" or room.

A conduit then establishes the connection between the indoor and the outdoor units. This is also the part where the mini split's power cables, refrigerant lines, and drain lines are.

Another reason for the term "split" in mini splits is that you can "link" several indoor units to one outdoor unit. Many brands have a maximum of four indoor units per one outdoor, but Carrier has a max of five. With a Carrier mini-split HVAC system, you can connect up to five indoor units with one outdoor unit.

At the same time, you can get just a single-zone Carrier HVAC system, if that's all you need. It's a good option for a room addition or an attic/basement conversion. You can even set one up for your garage or a detached structure at home!

Woman turning on a ductless air conditioner

What Does "Zone" Mean in Mini Split Systems?

In mini-split system talk, the term "zone" refers to a space that you want to heat and cool. It can be a single bedroom, but it can also be, say, the entire living room. Each zone gets an individual or separate indoor unit.

As each zone has an air handler, you can adjust the climate in each without affecting the others. You can set the temperature lower in one zone and higher in the others.

As a result, your entire household can "personalize" their zone's settings. In this way, everyone stays comfortable and happy.

Keep in mind that some people tend to feel "colder" or "hotter" than other folks. Researchers say that gender plays a role here, but for many others, it occurs due to high levels of stress.

Either way, zoning is an excellent way to keep everyone in your home comfortable.

What Exactly Do the Indoor Units Do?

In a typical central AC, the indoor unit is usually in a cabinet inside a home, sometimes near the furnace. "Return ducts" in the house carry air into this unit for cooling. The indoor unit then cools the air through its evaporator coils and refrigerant.

After this, the central AC's indoor unit blows the cooled air into more ducts. These are the "supply ducts" that circulate the conditioned air throughout your home. When the air turns warm again, the "return ducts" once again brings air to the indoor AC unit to cool.

In a ductless mini-split HVAC system, the indoor unit is inside the zone or room itself that it needs to cool (or heat). That's because each indoor unit acts as an individual air handler. Meaning, it has its own thermostat, evaporator coils, and refrigerant.

Since it has all these components, then the indoor unit simply needs to suck in warm air from that zone or room. It then changes that warm air into cold, refreshing air. After this, it blows out the conditioned air into the same zone or room.

Because the indoor unit is already in that same space that needs cooling, then there's no need for ducts.

How Are Mini-Split HVAC Units Different from Mini Split ACs?

With a ductless mini-split HVAC system, you can get the best of both worlds: heating and cooling in one. It looks exactly like a ductless mini-split AC, and it evens cools the space like one. The primary advantage, however, is that it can reverse its operation and work as a heater, too, as needed.

That's why ductless mini-split HVACs can be a great option for new homes in St. Louis. However, they're also a fantastic way to upgrade the heating and cooling system in older homes.

Air Flow From Ductless Air Conditioner

Why Should You Consider Getting a Ductless Mini Split HVAC?

Ductless mini-split heating and cooling systems do cost a bit more than central ACs. However, keep in mind that the price of a new central air conditioner doesn't include duct costs yet.

According to the site Home Advisor, installing ductwork in homes can cost between $1,500 and $7,000. The primary influencing factor is the total linear foot you need, as well as the type of duct materials you want.

As such, the total cost of a ductless mini-split HVAC may be lower than that of a central AC and duct installation.

There's more to ductless mini-split heating and cooling systems, though. Let's take a closer look at some of the other reasons to consider going with this type of HVAC system.

Greener, More Energy Efficient Home

As convenient as central ACs are, they do have a significant drawback: duct leaks. Some researchers say that, on average, such leaks can cause up to 40% of losses in cooling (or heating) energy. What's more, even a 20% loss of cooled or heated air can already push an HVAC system to run 50% harder.

This means that leaky ducts not only make it harder to cool or heat your home efficiently. They can also cause potential spikes in your energy bills, as they can overwork your HVAC system. Also, the extra burden placed on your heating and cooling system can make it wear out faster.

As ductless mini-split HVAC units don't need ducts, they can be more energy-efficient. Again, that's because they supply conditioned air straight into each zone. In this way, they don't put you at risk of significant conditioned air losses.

Zoning for Savings

The zoning feature of mini-split HVAC systems can also help you keep energy waste at bay. It can do so by giving you the ability to operate each air handler separately. Meaning, you can turn off the indoor unit in unoccupied zones and only switch them back on as needed.

Also, as mentioned above, you can tweak the settings in each zone without affecting the others. So, you don't have to worry about reducing the comfort of other household members in a different zone. You simply turn off the air handler in your "zone" if you're going to vacate the premises.

Carrier Ductless Mini-Split SystemNo Need to Worry About Duct Maintenance

Homes that rely on central air systems need to maintain not just the HVAC system but also the ducts. Depending on the HVAC maintenance service plan, duct cleaning can be a separate cost.

Granted, ducts may not need frequent servicing as HVAC units. However, neglecting them can result in low air quality. For starters, pollutants like dust, debris, pollen, and molds can collect in the ducts.

The EPA also notes that it's possible for molds to release their spores into your home. Exposure to these microorganisms, in turn, may lead to allergy or asthma attacks.

Because mini-splits are ductless, there are no ducts to worry about. You only have to think about the maintenance of your ductless mini-split HVAC system. Still, that means you have fewer things to be anxious about.

Year-Round Comfort and Energy-Efficiency With Carrier Mini-Split HVAC Systems

As you can see, a ductless mini-split heating and cooling system can bring loads of benefits. It's much less fussy to maintain, yet they can be immense energy-savers. Plus, it's an excellent way to meet the varying needs of every member of your household.

Also, don't forget that a ductless mini-split HVAC unit can serve as both your heater and AC.

Are you interested in making the switch to a ductless mini-split HVAC but would like to know more about it first? If so, then please feel free to get in touch with us here at Crystal Heating & Cooling! We'll be more than happy to address all your heating and cooling questions.

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