Mini-Splits: HVAC's Unassuming Powerhouse - National Refrigeration Blog

Mini-Splits: HVAC’s Unassuming Powerhouse

Ductless mini-splits have become HVAC powerhouses in recent years.

Technology is unique from the natural world in that size doesn’t necessarily indicate strength or power. We see this daily in our interactions with smartphones, but there are other hidden technological powerhouses around our homes and businesses– such as the ductless mini-split.  Despite the name, there is nothing miniature about these systems’ effectiveness at heating and cooling an entire home with speed and efficiency. Mini-splits were once considered a peripheral choice but have since emerged as a formidable option in the HVAC industry. Understanding the technology and its benefits sheds light on how these systems can rival industry standards such as central heating and cooling.

Powerhouse Technology

Ductless mini-splits utilize technological advancements that make them efficient and effective HVAC solutions.

Mini-splits are a type of air source heat pump that works without ductwork. There are a few heat pump varieties, but this is the least invasive solution for homes without ductwork, commercial businesses, or home additions. A ductless mini-split system is comprised of an outdoor unit, one or more indoor air-handling units, and the refrigerant lines and electrical cables that connect them. This minimal setup streamlines the operating, installation, and maintenance processes without compromising power, thanks to refrigerant.

The core of a mini-split’s operation lies in the refrigeration cycle, which involves transferring heat from one place to another. Instead of generating hot or cold air using fuel or electricity, mini-splits leverage refrigerant to absorb heat, allowing the system to regulate indoor temperatures effectively. Refrigerant’s remarkable ability to absorb heat even in sub-zero temperatures makes mini-splits highly efficient regardless of weather conditions.

When heating with a mini-split, a remote is used to adjust the thermostat located in the indoor air handler. Once the temperature is set, the mini-split’s heat exchanger uses the refrigerant to absorb the heat from outside. The outdoor unit is then responsible for boiling the refrigerant until evaporation occurs, then condensing it to increase the heat up to that which is set on the thermostat, and liquifying it again so it can pass through the refrigerant lines and into the indoor unit. Once inside, the indoor air handler uses the refrigerant to adjust the temperature of the air and circulates it throughout the space.

Cooling mode follows a similar process, with the indoor air handler extracting hot air from indoors. The refrigerant absorbs the heat, and the outdoor unit expels it outdoors, while the indoor air handler distributes cool air throughout the building.

Powerhouse Results: Energy Efficiency

Mini-splits are some of the most energy-efficient HVAC systems available.

While mini-splits boast powerful technology, it’s their results that make them stand out in the HVAC industry. Heat pumps are the most efficient HVAC system available and, as a type of heat pump, mini-splits will thus help decrease energy bills and minimize fossil fuel consumption. If you are looking to amplify those savings, choosing a system with high EER and SEER ratings ensures peak energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR-certified mini splits, for instance, consume up to 60% less energy than standard home electric radiators. Moreover, the lack of ducts eliminates energy losses associated with duct leakage, which can account for more than 30% of air conditioning energy consumption.

Powerhouse Perks

Mini-splits offer many benefits for homeowners and business owners alike.

The appeal of mini-split systems doesn’t end with efficiency; in fact, there are several enticing benefits:

Versatility: Many mini-split models are multipurpose, providing both heating and cooling functionalities. This can simplify installation and maintenance as well. When sized to the correct number of rooms, they can be installed seamlessly anywhere, from large homes and businesses to additions, attics or garages. Some choose to use them as supplemental heating and cooling systems for spaces that require additional climate control or have specific temperature requirements.

Zone Control: Individual indoor units enable precise zoning, allowing temperature adjustments in specific zones without affecting others. By heating or cooling only occupied spaces, mini-splits enhance energy efficiency and comfort.

Space Savings: Their compact size and ductless design mean mini-splits require minimal space for installation, offering flexibility in placement, even in tight or unconventional spaces.

Quiet operation: Modern mini-splits are designed to operate quietly, making them suitable for bedrooms, offices, or any space where low noise levels are essential.

No ductwork maintenance: Unlike ducted systems, mini-splits eliminate the need for duct cleaning and repair, simplifying maintenance and reducing expenses.

Improved indoor air quality: Mini-splits feature effective air filtration, removing allergens and pollutants for indoor air. Easy-to-replace filters ensure hassle-free maintenance and improved indoor air quality.

Long lifespan: With proper maintenance, mini-splits can last over 15 years, providing long-term reliability and comfort.

Simplified installation: With so few components and no ductwork, installation is much faster and less bothersome than that of a central, ducted system.

Smart technology options: Many modern mini-splits offer smart technology integration, allowing remote temperature control via smart devices for enhanced convenience and energy savings.

Rapid heating or cooling: Mini-split systems can swiftly adjust zone temperatures, making them ideal for environments with fluctuating temperature needs.

Is a mini-split right for you? We hope this blog helped you get closer to an answer and helped you gain some insight into the power of mini-split technology.

If you are looking for expert advice about your HVAC options in New England, contact the National Refrigeration team, and we will find the right solution for you.

Whether you need 24-7 emergency service or advice on improving your everyday air quality and comfort—at home and work—call us at 401-737-2000 or email us.


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