When searching for a heating and cooling system for your residence, it’s critical to choose one that balances efficiency, functionality and budget. That’s why many property owners explore the possibility of mini-splits to heat and cool their home.
Mini-splits—often referred to as ductless mini-splits—have a variety of advantages that make them a popular solution for both homes and businesses. They're very energy efficient, reducing energy consumption and saving on utility bills, because they don't have the energy losses that can come with the ductwork found in traditional HVAC systems. They also enable users to control the temperature in each room, boosting overall comfort while saving energy.
If you’re considering mini-split installation in Cambridge, it’s necessary to first determine if these devices are recommended for your living situation. Here, we’ll investigate 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 mechanism that doesn't need ductwork to function. 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 has two main components: an outdoor compressor/condenser and an indoor air-handling component. The two are connected by a conduit carrying the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing and a condensate drain.
Here's how it works: the exterior compressor distributes the refrigerant necessary for heat exchange throughout the coils and the air handler. The interior component brings in air from the room, cools or heats it over the coils and pushes the conditioned air back into the room.
Mini-Split vs. Central Air
Mini-splits offer targeted cooling in particular rooms or zones of your home. They are excellent for energy efficiency because they only condition the areas you choose. However, they may not blend seamlessly into every room because of their wall-mounted indoor units.
On the contrary, a central air system uniformly cools your entire home, producing consistent comfort levels throughout. Its ductwork is tucked away in a mechanical room or closet, preserving the aesthetics of your home. However, it may not be as energy efficient as a mini-split, especially in larger homes or residences where certain rooms may not need constant conditioning.
Mini-Split vs. Window AC/Window Unit
Mini-splits are typically 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 choice for lots of homeowners. They also utilize a form of refrigerant that is more eco-friendly, reducing their environmental impact. These systems can even add value to your home due to their reliable nature and remarkable cooling capabilities. However, they come with a larger up-front cost.
On the other hand, window air conditioning units are less expensive initially. They might be a good fit for homes that are not able to accommodate a central Air conditioning 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 typically make more noise.
Mini-Split vs. Portable AC
The answer to what is better, a ductless mini-split or a portable air conditioning unit, depends on your priorities. If your main worries are energy efficiency and ability to quickly cool a room, a mini-split is heads and shoulders better than a portable AC unit. However, if budget is a significant concern, a portable AC has a lower initial investment.
Mini-Split vs. Gas Furnace
Deciding between a mini-split system and a gas furnace depends on a range of factors including the climate in your city, home size, energy efficiency preferences and spending plan.
A mini-split system most of the time 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 generally quieter and have a greater up-front cost, but their operating costs are usually smaller due to their superior energy efficiency.
On the other hand, a gas furnace can be an extremely effective heating source, particularly in colder climates where mini-split heat pumps may struggle to maintain comfort levels in the bitter cold. Although they are less energy efficient than mini-splits, gas furnaces likely are not as expensive. But, 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 concept 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 is based on on individual needs and circumstances.
For instance, if you are living in a warmer climate and mostly need cooling, a mini-split system might be a good choice. But then again, if you need both heating and cooling and already have ductwork installed in your residence, a heat pump could be a more efficient option.
Mini-Split vs. Space Heater
In regards to heating and cooling a household, mini-splits and space heaters each have merits. However, for all around efficiency, versatility, comfort and safety, mini-splits outperform space heaters. Mini-splits supply superior energy efficiency simply because they deliver conditioned air straight to different zones and can serve several rooms at once.
Space heaters are much less expensive to buy but are typically used only for heating a small area or a single room. They also can be less energy efficient. In contrast to mini-splits, space heaters do not supply cooling. The biggest drawback for space heaters is the risk of fire. Industry experts say some 1,700 fires per year involve space heaters.