Can You Cool a Whole House With a Ductless Mini Split AC?

Ben Giesbrecht

A ductless mini-split air conditioner is an energy-efficient cooling system with many benefits. This air conditioning option is efficient and allows for "zoning" within the home. Because of its size, is a ductless mini-split air conditioner capable of cooling or heating a whole home?

A Ductless mini-split air conditioner is capable of cooling and heating a whole house with the right system and proper care. Multiple units can be connected to a network that efficiently provides air across the entirety of the home. Most homes required multiple mini-split air conditioning units to cool them.

Ductless mini-split air conditioners are a great option for a home air conditioning unit depending on your situation. These systems have many pros and cons.

What is a Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner?

A ductless mini-split is a miniature version of a split central air conditioning system. The most defining trait about this system is that it doesn't require ducts. The air ducts in a house are essentially tubes that connect the HVAC system with air vents throughout the house.

Many air conditioning systems rely on these ducts to provide air to the home, but a mini-split air conditioning unit does not require air ducts to function. This allows it to be installed in any home, even if the home does not have ductwork installed.

Mini-split air conditioning units are different from traditional split system air conditioning because of what they need and how they operate. In a typical ductless air conditioner, warm air from inside the home is pulled into the split through the indoor unit.

The warm air is then directed to the outdoor unit through a direct connection between the two units. Then, the outdoor unit draws in outside air and cools it in a heat exchanger. It then transfers the cooled air to the indoor unit where it is released and cools down the home.

Mini-split air conditioners work best in rooms that don't already have a heating and cooling system. They work very well in additions, finished basements, and attic bonus rooms. Places where heat tends to gather, such as a sunroom, are also great places to install a ductless unit. Rooms that you want a bit of extra temperature control in are also great places for a ductless air conditioner. Many parents prefer to place a mini-split air conditioning unit in a nursery to make sure their children are in a temperature-safe room.

A Ductless Mini Split allows homeowners the opportunity to "zone" their home. This allows homeowners to customize the temperature in each room.  You can choose what rooms in your house to install the split units in. The ability to customize your air conditioning optimizes the comfort of your home. This feature is also very energy efficient. By deciding what rooms receive the mini-split air conditioners, unnecessary energy use is eliminated.

Cooling the Whole Home

In order to cool a whole home, it is recommended that you install multiple units. Multiple indoor units can be connected in a network throughout the home. Because of this, all of the units are interconnected and can efficiently regulate the temperatures of multiple rooms.

To determine how many units you will need for your multi-zone mini-split air conditioning system, you will have to determine the number of rooms you want to put one in. Each room is considered its own zone, and it is up to you how you choose to zone your home. You can base it on personal preference or pay close attention to the parts of your home that tend to get the warmest.

When heating and cooling a home with a ductless mini-split air conditioner, installation is very important. Because you are installing multiple units, it takes a lot of planning and professional consultation to properly install the whole system. Professional help is almost always required. Hire a technician. Your qualified HVAC technician will determine where to place the outdoor and indoor units and then drill a small hole for the conduit.

If you end up with a system that’s too small, your home won’t get sufficient heating and cooling. You’ll also be faced with higher energy bills. Too big, and the system short cycles, which wastes energy. It is important to thoughtfully place the units within your home. Before the installation, your HVAC tech will do the proper measurements to determine the best system for your needs.

Pros

Ductless mini splits are great, but what are the best reasons to consider them for conditioning your whole home?

Designed with expansion in mind

It is relatively easy to add a new split to the air conditioner network and it doesn't require you to extend or install ductwork in your home.

You can easily extend its cooling abilities to new areas of a house, such as if you finish your attic or basement. If your home has an addition or you are planning on remodeling, this system is flexible and can adapt to a changing home.

Energy efficient

Ductless mini-split systems are incredibly energy efficient. They do not use as much energy as a traditional system. In the average house, you are losing 25 percent or more of your energy to ductwork.

Ductless models have inverter-driven compressors, which speed up and slow down based on the needs of the system instead of being full on or off.

Another energy advantage is in cooling only the rooms you are using. Why waste energy cooling the spare room no one is in?

Advantages of ditching the ductwork

Since a ductless mini-split doesn’t use ductwork, there are no concerns about air leaks or poor design affecting efficiency. Ducts require cleaning are huge energy drainers. When you don't have to rely on ducts for air regulation, you save money and stress.

Some homes are not equipped with ductwork. For these types of homes, a ductless split is the best best way to add heating and cooling your home. No matter how your home is made, a ductless split can easily be installed.

Put an end to thermostat wars

In many households, family members tend to disagree about the perfect temperature for the home. I know, I know. Just being real here.

Since these systems have multiple zones, you can independently control the temperature in each room. Boom! No more fighting between people working in the hot kitchen and those freezing out in the office.

Super quiet operation

Ductless split systems run at noise levels that are comparable to gently rustling leaves. There is no indoor unit with a large fan that makes noise every time the system turns on. The ducts don't make noise with changing temperature like they would with a traditional system.

And if you are comparing to a window unit the difference is like night and day!

Modern looks

The units are very sleek and most customers agree that they blend into the home. They are barely noticeable. Once installed the units become a part of your home. They are significantly more aesthetically pleasing than a bulky fan or window air conditioning unit.

The outdoor unit is also much smaller and easier to hide than a traditional unit.

Cons

Even though a ductless mini-split air conditioner has many appealing aspects, this system may not be for you depending on your situation and the makeup of your home.

Not the best for large spaces

The larger the space, the more units will be required to proficiently heat/cool the space. Since air only blows from the indoor unit, mini splits are not the most cost effective choice for very large open spaces.

More intrusive than a vent

For some people the looks of the indoor unit are a deal breaker. It is a larger, more obvious piece of equipment than simple air vent. Color choices are limited as well so if the looks clash with your interior decorations a mini split may not be for you.

Ductless fans can’t handle accumulating debris

Mini split maintenance is fairly straight forward but somewhat less forgiving than traditional systems.

If you ignore maintenance for too long, professional cleaning will be required. If the system gets too dirty, you will spend hundreds of dollars on professional cleaning fees and possibly shorten the life of your system.

Cost if your ductwork is in good shape

If your home already has air ducts installed, and they aren't falling apart, a ductless system may not be for you.

While the cost of a ductless system is very reasonable when compared to other options in some situations, this is probably not a scenario where a ductless system makes sense.

Conclusion

Mini split air conditioning systems have a lot going for them. The specifics of your home determine if its the best choice for you.

If you live in the areas of Merced, Atwater, Turlock, or Modesto California and would like expert advice on mini splits contact Cosmic Comfort for a free in home consultation. We provide no pressure quotes for all of your heating and cooling needs.

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