With average summer temperatures in Texas regularly getting well into the 90s, air conditioning is really a must-have. If your home doesn’t currently have air conditioning or heating, installing it could be a major project and come with a huge cost. It also might not be practical or even possible to retrofit your home with ductwork. Still, this doesn’t mean that you need to suffer through the heat all summer long, as ductless air conditioning is another possible option. This type of system is relatively easy to install and can provide a convenient and cost-effective option for keeping your home cool. With this in mind, here is everything you need to know about ductless air conditioners and how they work.
How Ductless Air Conditioners Provide Cooling
Often referred to as a ductless mini-split, a ductless AC unit works almost exactly like a central AC system. On the outside of the house is a condenser unit. This is attached to an air handler unit mounted inside the home via a conduit that contains the electrical cables, refrigerant lines and drain tube.
The condenser unit’s job is to supply extremely cold refrigerant liquid to the air handler unit. Inside the air handler are a series of coolant coils that contain this cold refrigerant. To provide cooling, the air handler draws in hot air from inside the home. This hot air passes over the coolant coils, which draw the heat out of the air to quickly cool it. Finally, the air handler then uses a fan to pump the cooled air out into the room.
This process works based on the principle of heat transfer. Heat automatically flows from a higher temperature area or object to anything with a lower temperature. This principle ensures that the ductless AC can continue to draw excess heat out of the air as long as the refrigerant is colder than the air. Of course, the refrigerant liquid quickly heats up as it draws heat out of the air. As a result, the system would quickly stop working if the air handler didn’t receive a steady supply of cooled refrigerant. To prevent this, the condenser draws the heated refrigerant back outside the house, where the excess heat is then released. This results in a constant flow of cooled refrigerant to the air handler.
Single vs Multi-Zone Ductless Air Conditioners
The most common type of ductless air conditioner is a single-zone system. This type of unit uses a single air handler to provide cooling to one room or area. However, there are also multi-zone ductless AC systems, sometimes referred to as multi-split systems. These units utilize multiple air handlers that can be located in different rooms or parts of the house. Although each air handler is still connected to a single condenser, this type of system still allows you to independently control the temperature for each separate zone. All you have to do is use the remote to turn each air handler on and off or adjust the desired temperature.
Multi-zone ductless systems are a fantastic choice since they allow you to provide cooling to multiple areas or the entire house instead of just one single room. Most of these systems can handle up to four or five air handlers from the same condenser unit. However, there are also systems that can accommodate eight or more air handlers and can potentially provide cooling for even a large house. Nevertheless, these systems usually require every air handler to be located within 150 feet of the condenser unit.
Ductless Heat Pumps
There are also ductless mini-splits that can provide both air conditioning and heating from the same unit. This type of system utilizes a heat pump that draws heat from the air outside of the house and transfers it inside. Essentially, the system works almost exactly the same as when providing cooling except in reverse. To provide heating, the heat pump transfers the heat from outside to the refrigerant. This heated refrigerant then moves into the air handler. As the air handler draws air in, it passes over the heated refrigerant to warm the air.
This type of system can be a great choice for places like Texas, where you may only need heating for a few days during the year. Although a heat pump can still draw some heat out of the air in temperatures as low as -4 degrees, they function much more efficiently when the weather is above freezing. This is yet another reason why this type of ductless system is a great choice for warmer climates.
Comparing the Costs of Ductless vs Central AC
Ductless air conditioners and central AC units are usually fairly similar in terms of the purchase price. However, ductless AC units are much easier and thus much cheaper to install. In most cases, the job can be completed in only a few hours and without any major construction. After mounting the condenser unit outside the home, a technician will then put a small hole in the exterior wall to allow the conduit to pass through. Finally, the air handler unit is mounted inside the home and then you’re ready to go.
One major advantage of ductless AC systems is that they are usually much more energy-efficient than the average central AC unit. Air conditioner efficiency is measured in terms of SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). SEER measures how efficiently the unit performs in a wide range of different temperatures in order to estimate the average efficiency over the course of an entire cooling season.
Most central AC units range between 14 and 20 SEER, with 14 SEER being the minimum efficiency required by federal law for Texas and other southern states. You can find some central AC units that go as high as 25 SEER, but these tend to be hugely expensive. Most ductless AC units, on the other hand, are at least 20 SEER. You can also find many high-efficiency models that are 30 SEER and above.
On average, cooling your home with a 20 SEER ductless AC will consume around 30% less energy than using a 14 SEER central air conditioner. This number could rise well above 40 or even 50% if you opt for an even more efficient ductless AC unit.
Professional AC Services and Solutions
If you’re considering a ductless AC unit for your home, the experienced HVAC technicians at Dring Air Conditioning & Heating are ready to help. We carry a range of highly-efficient ductless systems from top brands and can help you choose the right system for your needs and your budget. Dring Air Conditioning & Heating has been providing professional cooling and heating services to customers in Carrollton, TX for nearly 70 years, and our team has the experience to get the job done right. We specialize in all types of heating and cooling repairs, maintenance and installations. In addition, we offer numerous solutions that can help you improve your home’s indoor air quality including duct sealing and cleaning, whole-home humidifiers, air purifiers and air filtration systems. If you’re interested in learning more about ductless air conditioning or have any other questions, give us a call today.