Mini Split Air conditioner – Frequently Asked Questions
Is a mini split air conditioner expensive?
Some regard the higher cost of a mini split air conditioner as a disadvantage, as it can be about twice as much as a traditional window air conditioner with a similar capacity.
Also unlike a window mounted air conditioner, depending on how handy you are, you might have to pay a contractor to install your mini split air conditioner. The lower operating costs of a mini split air conditioner make it a more profitable choice in the long run.
Also, you will have considerably more flexibility in terms of placing the air handler than you do with a window unit and because only a small hole in your home’s exterior wall is required, you won’t be venerable to burglars.
What is the biggest advantage of owning a mini split air conditioner?
You will get more control than with a central air system. When using central air you have to cool the entire house. A mini split air conditioner provides the ability to condition only the rooms you want. This alone will produce substantial savings in energy costs for most homeowners.
What is a “zone?”
A zone refers to a separate area that you wish to cool. In a typical home, a zone equates to room. Each room in your home will be an independent zone with its own air handler and a thermostat to control it.
If you have a system with multiple zones, the output from the outdoor unit will be divided between the air handlers. For example, say you have a two zone system connected to a 50,000 BTU compressor. In this configuration, each zone will be a cooling capacity of 24,000 BTU.
How many zones can I have in one mini split air conditioner system?
There is a tremendous variety in the capacity of various mini split air conditioners. Some can only accommodate a single zone. The largest systems can accommodate four zones.
If you cannot find a system that has the number of zones you need, it is always possible to install a second system.
What are the components in a mini split air conditioner?
There are two major components: an indoor air handler (multiple handlers in a multiple zone system), and an outdoor compressor.
Each air handler is connected to the compressor by copper tubing and electrical wiring that runs through the conduit in the wall. The small outdoor compressor can condition multiple rooms.
Does a mini split air conditioner come with a warranty?
Almost all manufacturers offer a warranty on the components of a mini split air conditioner.
Will I end up with a big hole in my wall?
Typically a 3 inch hole is required to so that a conduit can pass through. The conduit houses and protects the refrigerant and the lines that connect the outdoor compressor to the indoor air handler(s). Inside your home, you will only see the air handler.
Outside you will see the compressor and a conduit that will run outside your house.
What is the operating temperature of a mini split air conditioner?
A standard 13 SEER units can operate in outdoor temperatures from 18° – 109° Fahrenheit. Remember that a heat pump heats your home by moving heat from outside to inside your home. When temperatures drop below freezing, some heat pumps can fail to find any heat to move. The solution to this problem in very cold climates is electric resistance strip heating, which although it is effective and works well, it is inefficient and costly to run.
Why does a mini split air conditioner cost less to run?
Simply put, because it is more efficient. A typical central air unit has a fixed output capacity. When the unit it is on, it is on. The entire house is cooled or heated.
A ductless mini split system with multiple zones can be adjusted so that only the rooms that you want conditioned are actually cooled or heated.
So, for example, at night you could cool your bedroom but not cool your TV room. Conventional systems can lose up to 30% percent of the cooling that they produce as the cool air works its way through the ductwork to the rooms in your home.
How will the air handlers look inside my home?
Some people are partial to the indoor unit of a mini split. It certainly look better than a window mounted air conditioner, but it does not have that built-in look of a central air system.
In a home that has no air conditioner, you only need to cut a small hole in the wall for the conduit. This can be much more attractive than cutting holes in walls, floors and ceilings.
Can I paint the air handler to match the décor in my room?
Most air handlers are off-white. Like most appliances, manufacturers do not recommend painting the air handlers.
Is a mini split air conditioner noisy?
Mini split air conditioners are noisier than central air systems and make about the same amount, if not less noise than a window mounted system. The air handlers sound like a slow running fan. If you like a totally quiet house, then a mini split air conditioner might not be for you.
What happens when it snows or rains hard?
Snow and rain has no effect on your mini split air conditioner, however, very low temperatures do affect the performance of a heat pump and prevents it from finding and moving heat indoors. Likewise in the summer if it is very hot outside the heat pump may struggle to move the heat inside your house outside.
Be sure to check the operating range of the mini split heat pump to ensure that it will work efficiently where you live.
If a heat pump’s output depends on outside temperatures, how can manufacturers rate the heating or cooling output of a system?
A heat pump’s capacity is always rated at a standard outside temperature of 47° Fahrenheit. In moderate environments, some installers recommend sizing the heat pump to meet heating loads at 10° Fahrenheit. This way you should have the ability to produce enough heat when you need it.
At those times when the temperature is colder you can supplement the output using some form of electric heating to make up the difference.
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