Options, options and more options! With the advance of technology, we have at our ready reach many more options than were available to us in years gone by. And that applies to the field of central cooling and heating. This is the final part of a 3-part series in which we here at GAMA Air have been discussing the topic of ductless or mini-split air conditioners and heat pumps. It could be that those of you who live in Beverly Hills, Culver City, Mar Vista, Miracle Mile, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Bel Air, Westwood, Downtown Los Angeles, Vernon, Huntington Park, Sherman Oaks, Encino or nearby my decide that this is the system for them.
In Part 1 of the series we gave an introduction and an overview of what are ductless systems, which are also called mini-split systems. Then in Part 2 we gave more details of the advantages and benefits of installing one in your home. Obviously, there is no perfect solution to how to best heat and cool your home. There are a lot of factors involved, and ductless mini-splits have their downsides also. Let’s delve into that now so you can make an educated and balanced decision for the long-term comfort of your family.
Does your home already have standard ducted central heating and air system?
If your house has an aging heating and AC system with ductwork vents throughout the house, switching to a ductless system may be an option, but it may not be the best one. One disadvantage is that in general the upfront cost is higher to install a mini-split system than it would be to change out a traditional ducted system like for like. Of course, some people still consider that the other advantages that we mentioned in Part 2 outweigh this disadvantage.
On the other hand, if you are planning a new home construction, or a major remodeling project, then this disadvantage fades away. Installing the ductwork part of a traditional central cooling and heating system is a big part of the cost. So by taking that out of the equation, there is no longer a disadvantage in this sense.
Do you have a small home?
One of the most desired advantages of a mini-split system is that you can have individual control of the comfort level in each room or living space. But let’s say your home is fairly small, such as a two-bedroom, one-bath house. In a case like this having three or four mini-split systems for each part of the house could be a disadvantage. Instead of one indoor unit and one outdoor unit, you would have three or four of each. And all of them would require routine maintenance and upkeep.
On the other hand, in medium sized to larger homes, having control in each of the zones is extremely desirable. Like we mentioned previously, the overall energy costs could be much lower in cases where not all rooms are occupied. The separate zoning of a multi-split system is especially an advantage in home with more than one level, whether split level, or two to three story homes.
One last thing about indoor air quality
Having a multi-split system means that there is no central ductwork system. Many options for improving the indoor air quality, such as HEPA filters, UV lights, and highly efficient media air filters, all depend on a single location where all the air in the house can pass through one of those devices to be cleaned. Ductless systems obviously don’t have such a ductwork system which means installing a whole-house air cleaner would be more complicated, although not impossible.
One the other hand, nearly all manufacturers of mini-split systems offer a variety of air filtration options directly on the indoor units in each space. On top of that, the ductwork in a traditional heating and cooling system can be a liability to indoor air quality. It could contribute to a build-up of allergens, dust, mildew and mold. So in a careful analysis of the climate region and the health needs of your family, mini-split systems may or may have a disadvantage here.
Need to ask someone a quick question? Visit our “Ask an Expert” page and get a quick answer from the resident expert here at GAMA Air.