Now that summer has arrived, it's definitely time to focus on home cooling. If your house does not have central air conditioning-and if you don't love the look of window units-a ductless mini-split system may be just the right option for you.
Mini-split systems typically consist of two separate units: an interior evaporator (with fan and cooling coil) and an outside condenser. The two pieces are linked by flexible tubing that runs cooled refrigerant from the outdoor compressor to the indoor unit for distribution. Because no ductwork is required, a mini-split particularly well suits both older homes and new room additions.
“Mini-splits are a good alternative to other air conditioning options,” explains Daniel O'Brian, a technical expert from online retailer SupplyHouse.com. “There's no need for the intricate ductwork of traditional central air systems. And they don't hog a window or need to be removed off-season like removable window units. They also produce significantly less noise (because the compressor is outside) and eliminate the need for electrical cords cluttering the living space.” As a potential benefit for houses in colder climes, some mini-splits can act as a heat pump and provide supplemental heating in winter.
Mini-Split House Schematic. Photo: SupplyHouse.com
Most mini-split indoor units are mounted on walls. Ceiling models-suspended, recessed, and concealed-are also available. If you're looking for something more decorative, many customizable options exist for wall-mounted units, from mirrored faceplates to the LG Art Cool Mini-Split (shown below).
LG Art Cool Picture Mini-Split. Photo: SupplyHouse.com
Like all air conditioners, mini-split systems must be sized properly in order to cool a room effectively. Some of the factors that determine the size and type of unit required are climate, square footage, the number of people typically occupying a room, and the amount of insulation in the home. You can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 for a mini-split system sized to cool an 800- to 1,000-square-foot space.
Mini-split systems are rated according to their seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER), and their cooling capacity is expressed in British thermal units (BTUs). SupplyHouse.com offers a handy calculator that estimates the BTU requirement for a specific room or set of rooms. The same tool recommends particular systems on the market that would meet those needs. Note, however, that your mini-split system must be installed by a licensed HVAC contractor.
To learn more about mini-split air conditioning systems, check out the video below or visit SupplyHouse.com.
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