Split or Mini-Split: Choosing Your AC System

The traditional solution to providing efficient cooling for a home is to install a central air system, which can also be described as a split system in that your condenser unit will be located outside your home and your evaporator coils will be located next to your furnace. The benefit of such a system is that it will push cold air to every room in your house through a system of ducts. In some cases, however, you can get improved efficiency by installing a mini-split system.

What Is a Mini-Split System?

The similarity between a split and a mini-split system ends at the condenser unit. Both systems will have one set of condenser coils located outside of your home. A mini-split system, however, will have up to four evaporator units. You place these units directly in the rooms that you want to cool. Each evaporator is connected to your condenser unit by a set of refrigerant lines and can run independently of each other. 

What Are the Benefits of a Mini-Split System?

Mini-split systems have many advantages over central air, including the following:

1. Targeted Cooling: You don't necessarily have to cool every room in your home. For example, if you have a basement, it should remain cooler than your upstairs without any artificial cooling. You might also have storage or guest rooms that are not in constant use. By putting evaporator units only in the rooms that you most need to cool, you can avoid wasting energy and money on cooling rooms that don't need it. 

2. Controllability: With a central-air system, one thermostat governs the temperature in every room in your house. The problem with this setup is that some rooms might need more cooling than others. Thus, to cool a room on the sunward side of your house, you might make the rooms on the other side too cool for comfort. Each evaporator on a mini-split system will have its own thermostat, so you can govern the output for each unit independently. You can also shut off a unit as you leave a room so that you don't waste energy cooling a room that you are not currently using. 

3. Lack of Ducts: Over time, the pressure of air flowing through ducts can create leaks, and leaky ducts can decrease your system efficiency by up to 40%. The lack of ducts with a mini-split system helps to mitigate installation costs, reduce maintenance costs, and prevent loss of efficiency resulting in increased cooling costs.

While there are many advantages to a mini-split system, it is not right for every home. For example, if you have a large home and a large family, you will want to cool every room in your home. You could either install multiple mini-split systems or one central-air system. In this case, the one system would be more cost-effective. To decide whether mini-split systems are right for your home, you should discuss your options with a HVAC professional like Uni-Serv Air Conditioning Co.