January 20, 2023
Indoor Air Quality Services in Salem, OR

Here at Woodward Heating Air Plumbing, we do our best to educate homeowners about their HVAC options, and that includes the latest in ductless mini-split technology. To help with that, here’s a complete overview of them. We’ll discuss what ductless mini-split systems are, how they work, and when they make a good option for a home’s HVAC needs.

What Are Ductless Mini-Splits?

As their name suggests, ductless mini-splits are a compact, duct-free type of heating and cooling system. They include two major components, which are a small outdoor condenser unit and one or more indoor air handler units. That’s where the split part of the name comes from since the two main components that make up the system aren’t housed together in a single unit.

A Brief History of Mini-Splits

Ductless mini-splits work using technology invented by the Mitsubishi corporation back in 1959. Their form factor is a direct reflection of Japan’s cramped housing conditions back then, as well as the fact that apartment and house walls were exceedingly thin. To suit those conditions, Mitsubishi devised a split HVAC system made up of a small, slim, quiet outdoor condenser and a sleek, quiet indoor air handler.

Soon after their debut, ductless mini-split HVAC systems took off, becoming widespread in Japan as well as throughout Europe. They didn’t, however, take off here in the United States, where homebuilders continued to install ductwork in new homes, making conventional HVAC systems a more natural fit here.

How Do Ductless Mini-Splits Work?

Ductless mini-split HVAC systems are technological wonders but are also brilliant in their simplicity. They share quite a bit in common with another major appliance you’re no doubt familiar with—your refrigerator.

The ability of the system to provide both hot air in the winter and cool air in the summer is possible due to a mini-split’s ingenious use of refrigerant. Refrigerants are a type of fluid that can change easily between a liquid and gaseous state, depending on the amount of pressure applied. What’s amazing about refrigerants is that their temperature also changes depending on the amount of pressure applied.

To understand how ductless mini-split HVAC systems use the properties of refrigerants to their advantage, we’ll begin with how they work while in cooling mode. The cooling process begins when the outdoor unit engages its compressor and pressurizes the refrigerant, raising its temperature in the process. The now-pressurized refrigerant then flows through the condenser, transferring its heat to the outside air and turning it into a liquid.

The cold, liquified refrigerant then travels through a supply line into the home and to the indoor air handler. There, it passes through an evaporator, where it absorbs heat from the indoor air. That heat absorption turns the refrigerant back into a low-pressure gas, which travels back outside to begin the process again.

If you haven’t guessed by now, a ductless mini-split HVAC system heats a home through the same process, except in reverse. By reversing the flow of refrigerant, a ductless mini-split can absorb heat from the outdoor air and carry it inside to heat a home. The process is extremely efficient in the summer but is even more so in the winter. This is one of the main reasons that ductless mini-split HVAC systems are one of the most cost-effective ways to heat and cool your home.

The Advantages of Ductless Mini-Splits

High efficiency is only one of the reasons that ductless mini-split HVAC systems have become so popular around the world. Ductless mini-split systems are among the most energy-efficient cooling options on the market. They routinely achieve SEER ratings that rival the best conventional HVAC systems available today.

It’s in heating mode, however, where ductless mini-split HVAC systems really shine. Since they use no fuel to produce heat but rather capture it from the outside air to use indoors, they achieve efficiency no other heating system can come close to. In optimal conditions, a ductless mini-split can reach up to 400% efficiency in heating mode. Here in Salem, OR, where we get some pretty cold winters, that trait can help homeowners save a bundle on their heating costs.

There are also a variety of other advantages that come along with the mini-split approach as well. For example, a mini-split system provides much more precise control over your home’s temperature than a central HVAC system does.

That’s because a mini-split uses an indoor air handler in each room you wish to heat and cool, and each operates independently of the others. So, unlike with a traditional ducted central HVAC system, you don’t have to pay to heat or cool rooms you’re not using. Also, they make it possible to set different temperatures in different rooms according to their occupants’ desires.

Plus, ductless mini-split systems are much easier to install than central HVAC systems, especially in homes with no preexisting ductwork. All it takes is the installation and leveling of the outdoor unit and connecting it to an air handler in each room you wish to heat or cool. There’s no need to tear into finished walls and no wasted floor space inside of your home. That makes them the perfect option for older homes or to provide heating and cooling to any additions you make to your home. They’re even a good fit if you’re planning to finish a portion of your home that’s not covered by your existing central HVAC system.

When to Choose a Mini-Split

The truth is that there aren’t many situations when a ductless mini-split HVAC system isn’t a good idea. They’re versatile and efficient and use the latest technology to keep your home comfortable at all times. However, they do cost a bit more upfront than comparable central air conditioners or heating systems alone. So, for homes with preexisting ductwork, it’s often cheaper to stick with the same heating and cooling system types already installed in the home.

Plus, since ductless mini-split systems are both a heating and a cooling solution, installing one may mean cutting the life of a component of your existing HVAC system short. That’s something that some homeowners aren’t too comfortable with, even if they’re thrilled about the other benefits that come with a ductless mini-split HVAC system.

We’re the Ductless Mini-Split Experts

If you have more questions, the experts here at Woodward Heating Air Plumbing are just a phone call away. Since 1989, we’ve served the Salem, OR, community with comprehensive HVAC services and top-notch customer service. We install, maintain, and repair heating and cooling systems of all types, including ductless mini-split HVAC systems. We even do maintenance and repair work on fireplaces, too. Plus, our team is both EPA and NATE-certified, so you’ll always know that all of the work we do meets the highest possible standards of excellence.

So, if you’re interested in finding out if a ductless mini-split HVAC system would be a good fit for your Salem, OR, home, contact the experts at Woodward Heating Air Plumbing today!

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