When searching for a heating and cooling system for your home, it’s essential 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 an appealing solution for both homes and businesses. They're extremely energy efficient, reducing energy consumption and saving on utility costs, because they eliminate the energy losses associated with the ductwork found in traditional HVAC systems. They also make it possible for users to tailor the temperature in each room, boosting overall comfort while not wasting energy.
If you’re interested in mini-split installation in Menomonie and western Wisconsin, it’s important to first determine if these devices are the right solution for your living situation. Here, we’ll examine how mini-splits compare to other heating and cooling systems.
What a Mini-Split Is and How It Works
A mini-split, or ductless mini-split, is a heating and cooling system that has no ductwork. It's often used in homes that don't have any air ducts and for homes with rooms that aren’t served well by an existing HVAC system.
A mini-split system is made of two main components: an outdoor compressor/condenser and an indoor air-handling unit. They are linked by a conduit housing the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing and a condensate drain.
Here's how it works: the outdoor compressor distributes the refrigerant necessary for heat exchange within the coils and the air handler. The in-house component pulls in air from the room, cools or heats it over the coils and sends the conditioned air back into the room.
Mini-Split vs. Central Air
Mini-splits provide targeted cooling in specific rooms or zones of your home. They are known for energy efficiency because they only provide hot or cold air for the areas you want. However, they may not blend seamlessly into every decor because of their wall-mounted indoor units.
Conversely, a central air system uniformly conditions 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 might not be as energy efficient as a mini-split, especially in larger homes or residences where certain rooms may not need nonstop 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 useful for cooling air in multiple rooms. This is why mini-splits are a convenient alternative for countless homeowners. They also operate using a kind of refrigerant that is more earth-safe, reducing their environmental impact. These units can even add value to your home due to their reliable nature and superior cooling capabilities. However, they come with a greater initial investment.
Having said that, window AC units are less expensive initially. They may be 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 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, depends on your priorities. If your main considerations are energy efficiency and performance, a mini-split is heads and shoulders better than a portable AC unit. However, if funding 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 an assortment of factors which can include the climate in your city, home size, energy efficiency needs and budget.
A mini-split system typically is more energy efficient than a gas furnace. It can heat and cool defined areas inside of your home, providing custom climate control in individual rooms. Mini-splits also are generally quieter and have a higher 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 fail to maintain comfort levels in the bitter cold. Although they are less energy efficient than mini-splits, gas furnaces ordinarily are not as expensive. Having said that, their operating costs can be more costly, especially if natural gas prices increase.
Mini-Split vs. Heat Pump
Mini-splits and heat pumps operate using the process of heat transfer. They are both energy efficient, but a heat pump's duct system can be less efficient. This difference aside, the choice between a mini-split and a heat pump often relies on individual needs and circumstances.
By way of example, if you live in a warmer climate and mainly need cooling, a mini-split system might be a better choice. On the other hand, if you want both heating and cooling and already have ductwork in place, a heat pump could be a more efficient option.
Mini-Split vs. Space Heater
In regards to heating and cooling a residence, mini-splits and space heaters each have advantages. However, for overall efficiency, versatility, comfort and safety, mini-splits come out on top. Mini-splits have superior energy efficiency due to the fact they deliver conditioned air directly to different zones and can serve multiple rooms at once.
Space heaters are much less expensive to buy but are typically reserved for heating a confined area or an individual room. They also are usually less energy efficient. In contrast to mini-splits, space heaters do not deliver cooling. The greatest drawback for space heaters is the risk of fire. Industry experts say some 1,700 fires per year involve space heaters.