How Does Ductless Mini-Split System Work?

March 8, 2021
Ductless Mini-Split in Royal Oak, MI

Ductless mini-splits, also referred to as ductless heat pumps or ductless heating systems, are convenient appliances that make a great alternative to central air conditioning systems. They have a lot in common with other heating and cooling appliances. While they all have an outdoor condenser and an indoor handling unit, the only distinction is that mini-split systems do not include a duct, as will be explained by how they function.

Mini-split systems have a variety of applications. They are used both for residential and commercial needs. However, they are commonly used in large family houses or as complements to existing air conditioning systems that don’t use ducts. They are also popular in small apartments, where the installation of HVAC ductwork is a challenge.

That said, here is everything you need to know about how ductless mini-split systems work, their benefits, and how to find the right one for your home.

Classification of Mini-Split Systems

Ductless mini-split systems are classified into two categories. They include:

  • Single-zone mini-split systems – These systems utilize a single indoor and outdoor unit to provide air conditioning needs for your home. They are commonly used in bedrooms and small rooms that don’t have central air conditioning ducts. While choosing this type of system, ensure that you get the right size that covers the square footage of your room or home.
  • Multi-zone mini-split systems – These systems function the same way as the single-zone mini-split systems, except that they have multiple indoor units connected to a single outdoor unit through a refrigerant line. They are more suitable for cooling or heating commercial offices and houses with many rooms. Notably, a home can have up to four indoor zones. This means that if your home doesn’t have a central air conditioner, a multi-zone ductless system will suffice in cooling most parts of the residential space. If you set up four zones in your home, it is important to ensure that they are not all running at the highest level simultaneously. This will help ensure the outdoor unit remains efficient.

Components of a Mini-Split System

Ductless heat pumps come with two main parts, an outdoor unit and an indoor unit. The outdoor unit contains the following components:

  • Compressor – This is the most essential part of the mini-split system. It is also the most expensive part. The compressor converts low-pressure gas into a high-pressure gas. The process allows for an efficient heat transfer.
  • Condenser – The condenser is also referred to as the condensing coil. This component is made up of aluminum fins, and it serves to circulate the hot refrigerant and convert it from a gas to a high-pressure liquid.
  • Fan – This component is responsible for pushing the air through the condenser, allowing the stored energy to escape into the immediate environment.

A ductless mini-split system’s indoor unit is also known as an air handling unit, and it is the part that is usually mounted on the wall or installed high on the ceiling. It has a fan that blows or circulates the cooled or heated air inside your home. This unit is connected to the outdoor component with a thin copper tubing that carries the refrigerated coolant responsible for the air conditioning.

How Mini-Split Systems Work

Now that you know the various components of the mini-split system, understanding how it works is remarkably easy. The process can be summarized in a few steps, as outlined below:

  • The handling unit sucks in hot air – The indoor unit mounted on the wall takes in air from the room it is installed. The hot air travels to the outdoor unit, the condenser, through a series of pipes.
  • Thermal energy in the air is transferred to the coils – Once the humid and or heated air reaches the condenser, the energy is transferred to the coils through a series of many coils that contain the coolant. As a result, the coolant liquid is converted into a gas.
  • The coolant gas is converted back to liquid in the handling unit – Once the coolant liquid is converted into a gas, it travels to the compressor, a section of the outdoor unit, where it is converted back to liquid.
  • Cool air is pumped back indoors – The cooled air from the condenser is driven back to the handling unit, where it is pumped into the room. The process is repeated in cycles until notable temperature changes are realized in the room.

How To Choose a Ductless Mini-Split System

Modern ductless heat pumps can efficiently carry out both heating and cooling tasks, but other units can only handle one of the two functions. A unit that performs a single function is less expensive than the one that handles both tasks.

For flexibility and maximum efficiency, a mini-split system that offers both heating and cooling is more appropriate for you, especially if you live in a region with alternating hot and cold weather. However, if you live in a region with an extreme climate, for example, a cold climate, choosing a mini-split system with only the heating function is more appropriate.

Since you are going to utilize your ductless mini-split system daily in a place with a rarely-changing climate type, it is important to invest in an energy-efficient system. As such, choose a unit that comes with a high seasonal energy-efficiency ratio (SEER).

Also, while choosing a ductless mini-split system, make sure that the capacity is right for your home. Factors that should influence your choice include the height of your ceiling, the size of the windows, and the number of rooms or the occupants in your home.
Decide on the number of indoor units you need and whether you will be air conditioning a single space or multiple zones. For each of the indoor units, make sure that the BTU capacity is enough. It is also important to take into consideration the installation space. Make sure there is enough room for the fitting of the condensing tube.

Who Should Install a Ductless Mini-Split System?

A ductless mini-split system is beneficial to those who have no pre-existing ductwork. As opposed to having your home or residential space fitted with ductwork for a typical HVAC system, having a ductless heat pump is the affordable option. Similarly, the system is ideal for those with a room that has air conditioning issues. Where some rooms are cut off from the central air conditioning, the ductless mini-split system makes a great addition and an easy solution.

Also, if you are downsizing without moving, if you live with persons with different air conditioning needs, or if you have just extended your home, then you need a ductless mini-split system.

Reach Out to C & C Heating & Air Conditioning Today for Service

If you are looking to get the perfect indoor temperatures in Anderson, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Durham, El Dorado Hills, as well as the greater Sacramento region and surrounding areas, reach out to C & C Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule a service. With exemplary customer service, experience, and myriads of other services, including water heater and HVAC installations, we are committed to serving you while giving you viable solutions that save you money. We are fully licensed, and we have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Call us today! We are always available and ready to help.

company icon