Ductless Air Conditioning
Walker Climate Care’s Complete Ductless AC Buyer’s Guide
Nobody likes to sit around their house sweating when the dog days of Summer roll around. Your home should be a place of comfort and relaxation but without air conditioning, this can be next to impossible when the mercury climbs high and a simple fan just won’t cut it.
With energy prices being what they are and the cost and hassle of installing new ductwork for a central air conditioning unit being beyond the reach of many families, many people simply sweat out the summer months, making do with what they have and never realizing there is another option. That’s where ductless air conditioners come in!
What Is Ductless Air Conditioning?
The main difference between ductless air conditioning units and their central air counterparts is right there in the name, ductless systems don’t require existing ductwork or require additional ductwork installation to function properly.
Ductless AC units are made of up of 4 main components:
Air Handler/ Evaporator
This is the part of the AC system that disperses the cool air throughout the interior of your home. They can be mounted on the wall or even the ceiling, based on your personal preference and structural demands.
This is the larger outdoor unit responsible for pumping the cool air through the refrigerant conduits to the air handler that is responsible for dispersing it throughout the interior of the home.
These are the lines that connect the indoor unit to the outdoor and allow for the transfer of cool air from the outdoor condenser to the air handler. These conduits also contain lines for the transfer of power and contain lines that act as an outlet for water condensate.
Depending on the make and model of your ductless AC unit, your unit may include a remote control, wall monitor, or both to allow for easy control over the functions of your AC.
All of these components add up to an AC system that doesn’t require the intrusive installation of ductwork, functions comparably to a traditional AC unit, and offers extreme flexibility as to where the indoor units can be placed.
If you know it’s time to invest in a new AC but live in a home with no existing ductwork, these units are the perfect way to achieve your summertime comfort goals. However, ductless AC units offer more than simple flexibility!
The Benefits Of Ductless AC
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, there are a number of factors that make ductless systems more desirable than central AC systems:
Increased Energy Efficiency
Central AC units require a lot of energy to move all that air through the ductwork of a home and there are thermal losses associated with ductwork, especially when the cool air moves through ducts that run through warmer, uncooled areas of the home, such as the attic. In fact, duct losses can account for more than 30% of the energy required to operate forced-air systems!In addition to duct losses, forced air systems have to cool the entire interior of the home at the same time, unlike ductless systems that allow for strategic placement of indoor units in only the areas that need cooling.They also allow you to choose which rooms to cool and when. This means you won’t have to put up with household arguments over the ideal temperature, because each user can choose the level of cooling for the unit in their room.
Central AC systems require a network of ducts to move air throughout the home. If your home isn’t already equipped with a system of ductwork, you will have to have one installed. This process can be intrusive, complicated, and time-consuming, not to mention, expensive!
Ductless systems, on the other hand, require very little structural alteration to install and installation can be accomplished in a relatively short amount of time. This saves you money on labor costs and completely sidesteps the considerable disruption to your daily life that a complete overhaul of your ductwork would require.
Better Air Quality
Central AC systems carry a number of air quality issues that simply cannot be ignored. Built up moisture from condensate can promote the growth of mold in your ductwork and many other allergens and respiratory irritants also tend to collect in your ducts over time.Pollen, dust, and pet dander are just a few of the irritants that can build up in your ductwork and necessitate frequent, expensive cleanings to keep the ducts in healthy, working order. The cost of duct maintenance alone is enough to turn many people off to central air systems.If you have family members that have allergies, asthma, or other respiratory complications, you probably want to consider a ductless system over a central air system.
Important Considerations When Buying
If you are starting to think that a ductless AC system is right for you, there are a few other considerations you will want to bear in mind before you make the leap.
The upfront costs of a new ductless AC unit is its main drawback. Depending on the make and model, you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 on the low end and $4000 for the higher-end models with all of the bells and whistles.If the space you wish to cool is large enough to require one of the more powerful units or you are in the market for a unit capable of cooling multiple zones, you can expect to pay closer to the high-end of that price range.In addition to the initial buy-in price, you will also have to consider the cost of installation and continuing energy costs.While these units are considerably easier to install than their central air counterparts, most people will not have the practical skills and expertise required to install one and will require the services of an HVAC specialist to get the job done.Some models are trickier to install than others, and the price of installation will vary from unit to unit. It’s important to call around to your local HVAC specialists to get a feel for how much it will cost to install which models. The answers to these question may impact your choice of model.Luckily, the second factor, ongoing energy costs, is one area where these units shine. While not using an AC unit at all will obviously be cheaper than using one, ductless AC units are more efficient than their window-mounted or central air counterparts and, thus, less expensive to operate while offering comparable cooling power.
This is, of course, in addition to the energy savings you will achieve by being able to strategically cool specific areas of the home instead of cooling the entire space at once.
Number Of Zones To Be Cooled
There are various models of ductless air conditioners that are capable of cooling either a single zone or a number of zones at once. As you add to the number of zones you wish to cool, you will also be adding to the cost.If you live in a house with multiple rooms, choosing a unit that is capable of cooling them all becomes more important. However, there is a benefit to having a multi-zone unit, you can choose different temperatures for each individual zone or even turn off the AC in zones that are unoccupied. This is not only an advantage that isn’t present with other types of systems but also a money-saving feature that shouldn’t be ignored.
The power of AC units is measured in BTU’s. As the amount of space you wish to cool increases, there is a corresponding increase in the amount of BTU’s required to do so. Different models will offer different specs, but you can do the calculations yourself based on the specs provided by the manufacturer.
This table provides a general guideline as to how BTU’s translate into the amount of space cooled:
|Size Of Room (Square Meters)||Required BTU’s|
These numbers, while not exact, will provide you with a decent overview of the amount of power that will be required to cool your space. If you live in an area where the temperature frequently rises above 32° C, you should add about 30% to the number of required BTU’s.
With an investment as big as installing a ductless AC system, you want to be sure your unit is in it for the long haul. Many ductless systems come with a warranty, so you know you are covered for a specific period of time and won’t have to worry too much about the cost of repairs within that time-frame.
It’s important to do a little research on each individual brand you are considering for purchase, especially user reviews. Checking user reviews is one of the best ways to suss out which brands are prone to malfunction and which you can expect to keep trucking along for years to come.
For more information about the durability and quality of certain brands, please see the “Brands” section below.
Many ductless AC systems also offer additional functionality. Common features include the ability to heat a space as well as cool it, remote controls, programmable timers, and reusable air filters.
As you might expect, the more features a particular system has, the higher the price will be.
There is a good chance you will recognize the many of the brand names you encounter when looking for a new AC unit because they are producers of other common products. However, some of those names that specialize specifically in heating and cooling are likely to be completely unfamiliar to you.
Here is a rundown of a few popular producers of ductless air conditioners and what people say about them to give you a general idea of their reputation:
This brand’s ductless AC units receive generally positive feedback, and is likely a solid choice for most buyers.
Customer reviews say that this unit consistently cools the amount of space the manufacturer claims. Many people say that they had no trouble installing the unit whatsoever, while others claimed it was a bit of a pain. Many also noted that these units run very quietly compared to others. Overall, a fairly solid brand, according to customer reviews.
While there weren’t a lot of customer reviews to choose from, those who did take the time to post one mostly claimed to be happy with their purchase. The common thread between these reviews was that they mentioned these units reliably and quietly cooled their space and where inexpensive to operate.
While many reviewers were quite happy with the functionality of LG’s ductless AC units, the most common comment about these units was their aesthetic qualities. Most ductless AC manufacturers pay little attention to the aesthetic qualities of their units, but LG offers a number of attractive units, some with special frames where users can place a picture of their choice.
If you’re looking for a solid unit with an eye for design, you’ll want take a closer look at what LG has to offer.
Most of the reviewers offered solidly positive feedback about Pioneer’s units. Many were impressed by the value for price, reliability, and consistency of cooling.
Senville’s ductless AC units receive generally positive feedback where functionality and value for cost are concerned, but there were more than a few buyers who were less than impressed with the warranty they offer.
Senville will send you new replacements parts, but you will be responsible for shipping and labor, a fact that rubbed some buyers the wrong way.
Despite this, many were particularly impressed with the quality of the unit when compared to similarly priced offerings from other brands.
Still Have Questions? We’d Love To Help!
If you are considering a ductless AC system for your home and still have some questions you’d like answered, Walker Climate Care would love to hear from you! With nearly 40 years of experience of providing quality HVAC services to the Cornwall area, we are uniquely positioned to offer you the highest level of expertise regarding all aspects of your HVAC needs.
Contact us today for to arrange for a free consultation with our HVAC specialist and find out why Walker Climate Care is the area’s most trusted name in heating and cooling!