When searching for a heating and cooling system for your home, it’s critical to choose one that balances efficiency, functionality and budget. That’s why many property owners explore the possibility of mini-splits for comfort in their home.
Mini-splits—often called ductless mini-splits—have a variety of advantages that make them a popular solution for both homes and businesses. They're highly energy efficient, reducing energy consumption and saving on utility bills, because they avoid the energy losses that can come with the ductwork found in traditional HVAC systems. They also make it possible for users to control the temperature in each room, improving overall comfort while saving energy.
If you’re contemplating mini-split installation in Des Moines, it’s necessary to first find out if these devices are the best fit for your living situation. Here, we’ll examine how mini-splits compare to other heating and cooling devices and appliances.
What a Mini-Split Is and How It Works
A mini-split, or ductless mini-split, is a heating and cooling system that doesn't need ductwork to function. It's a good option in homes that don't have existing air ducts and for homes with rooms that aren’t served well by the residence's existing HVAC system.
A mini-split system is made of two primary components: an outdoor compressor/condenser and an indoor air-handling component. These are attached by a conduit carrying the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing and a condensate drain.
Here's how it works: the exterior compressor moves the refrigerant necessary for heat exchange throughout the coils and the air handler. The indoor device 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 household. They are outstanding for energy efficiency because they only condition the areas you want. However, they may not blend seamlessly into every area due to their wall-mounted indoor units.
On the contrary, a central air system uniformly chills your entire home, keeping consistent comfort levels throughout. Its ductwork is tucked away in a mechanical room or closet, preserving the appearance of your home. However, it will likely not be as energy efficient as a mini-split, especially in bigger homes or residences where certain spots may not need constant conditioning.
Mini-Split vs. Window AC/Window Unit
Mini-splits are usually more energy efficient and not as loud as a window air conditioning unit and are useful for cooling air in multiple rooms. This is why mini-splits are a convenient choice for countless homeowners. They also operate using a form of refrigerant that is more earth-safe, reducing their environmental impact. These systems can even add value to your home due to their sturdy nature and remarkable cooling capabilities. However, they come with a larger initial investment.
On the other hand, window AC units are less expensive up front. They are often a good fit for homes that are not able to accommodate a central Air conditioning system or for families with budget constraints. In spite of these advantages, window units can use up to 40% more energy than ductless mini-split systems and often are louder.
Mini-Split vs. Portable AC
The answer to what is better, a ductless mini-split or a portable air conditioning unit, is dependent on your goals. If your main considerations are energy efficiency and cooling capability, a mini-split is much more effective than a portable AC unit. However, if finances is a major concern, a portable AC has a lower initial investment.
Mini-Split vs. Gas Furnace
Choosing between a mini-split system and a gas furnace depends on a range of factors which can include the climate in your city, home size, energy efficiency needs and spending plan.
A mini-split system usually is more energy efficient than a gas furnace. It can heat and cool defined areas inside of your home, delivering custom climate control in specific rooms. Mini-splits also are normally quieter and have a larger up-front cost, but their operating costs are usually lower due to their superior energy efficiency.
However, a gas furnace can be a highly effective heating solution, particularly in colder climates where mini-split heat pumps may not be able to maintain comfort levels in the bitter cold. Even though they are less energy efficient than mini-splits, gas furnaces typically are not as expensive. Having said that, their operating costs can be greater, especially if natural gas prices jump up.
Mini-Split vs. Heat Pump
Mini-splits and heat pumps operate using the principle of heat transfer. They are both energy efficient, but a heat pump's duct system can cause more energy usage. This difference aside, the choice between a mini-split and a heat pump often relies on a family's needs and circumstances.
For example, if you reside in a warmer climate and primarily need cooling, a mini-split system might be a better choice. But then again, if you want both heating and cooling and already have ductwork in place, a heat pump might be a more efficient option.
Mini-Split vs. Space Heater
When it comes to heating and cooling a residence, mini-splits and space heaters each have merits. However, for overall efficiency, versatility, comfort and safety, mini-splits outperform space heaters. Mini-splits have superior energy efficiency because they deliver conditioned air straight to different zones and can serve numerous rooms at once.
Space heaters are far less expensive to buy but are typically used only for heating a limited area or a single room. They also can be less energy efficient. In contrast to mini-splits, space heaters do not provide cooling. The biggest drawback for space heaters is the risk of fire. Experts say some 1,700 fires annually involve space heaters.