Considering a Ductless System? What You Need to Know Before You Buy

When considering the type of heating and cooling system to install in your Glencoe, Illinois, home or commercial space, there are practical factors that must be addressed before deciding what kind of equipment to buy. The amount of space for installation must be determined. If there is not enough room for a heat pump, furnace, or air conditioner that can meet your needs, your options might seem to range from expensive remodeling to installing an inadequate HVAC system. However, there is another effective option available if you are unable to change or expand your space. Ductless systems offer all the functional capacity and benefits of larger ducted models but with advantages of placement and function that other systems can’t provide.

Understanding Ductless Systems

Ductless systems, sometimes called ductless mini-splits or mini-splits, are fully functional air conditioning systems that provide the same indoor comfort as their larger and bulkier counterparts. They are configured differently than regular heat pumps, but their efficiency and economy of operation remain the same as traditional systems.

As is the case with air conditioners, ductless systems capture heat and move it from place to place. In the summer, the system pulls heat out of your home and disperses it outdoors; in the winter, it acquires heat from outdoor air and brings it inside to provide heating. This is accomplished with a refrigerant that flows through a series of pipes. As the liquid refrigerant is evaporated into a gas, it absorbs heat. The compressor moves the gas through the pipes to an indoor or outdoor unit, where the gaseous refrigerant is condensed back to liquid. As the refrigerant changes state, the heat it contains is released. The heat is then either released to the outdoors or is transferred to a heat exchanger and, from there, to the air that warms your home.

Installing Ductless Heat Pumps

In ductless heat pumps, the heat transfer and release process works the same as in larger heat pumps. However, the equipment is configured differently to allow the ductless system to take advantage of smaller spaces.

Ductless heat pumps consist of both indoor and outdoor units. The outdoor unit contains most of the main system components, such as the evaporator, condenser, and compressor. The indoor unit can be one to eight smaller air handling units that distribute the conditioned air. Instead of using an extensive and bulky system of ductwork to move air, the indoor units individually disperse conditioned air. They are connected to the outdoor unit by cables, drain pipes, and refrigerant lines that extend through the wall via a small conduit.

Each indoor element can have a separate thermostat, which means that heating and cooling can be controlled precisely at each unit. There will be no chance of energy being wasted on unwanted heating or cooling as there would be with a ducted system.

The Efficiency of Ductless Heat Pumps

Ductless heat pumps are high-efficiency systems since there are no ducts through which air or energy can be lost. Ductless heat pump systems can slash monthly heating and cooling costs by as much as 30 percent. Like other heat pumps, ductless systems are rated by two measures of efficiency: SEER and HSPF.

  • SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio is a measure of the system’s cooling efficiency. Ductless heat pumps must offer a SEER rating of at least 13, which is the same as that for central air conditioners. Higher SEER ratings will indicate even better levels of efficiency.

  • HSPF or Heating Seasonal Performance Factor refers to the ductless system’s efficiency at producing heat. Ductless models manufactured after 2005 must have an HSPF of at least 7.7. A high-efficiency heat pump model will have an HSPF of 8.2 or higher, up to 9.35.

Another valuable indicator of heat pump efficiency is the Energy Star certification. If you choose a ductless heat pump that carries the Energy Star label, you can be assured that it will be a highly efficient model, guaranteed to save energy.

Ductless systems also require regular preventive maintenance to keep them working at their best and to extend their lifespan. A neglected ductless system will quickly lose efficiency, and is likely to break down more often.

Carefree Comfort, Inc. has been serving residents of the Highland Park area since 1984. Contact us today for more information about ductless heat pumps and how they can keep your home or commercial space comfortable.

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