Mini Split Systems – Tips and Tricks
Selecting a heat pump model is a smart move. Energy efficiency is probably the primary reason why people decide to use mini split systems. When installed properly mini split systems can save homeowners hundreds of dollars every year.
There is a wide variety and flexibility with mini split systems on the market today, making it easy for anyone to select the right model for their particular needs.
One of the benefits of mini split systems is that they can also be used to heat homes. While you are probably mainly interested in cooling, adding a heat pump will also give you the ability to use the system to heat your home during the winter.
Be sure to check the performance specifications and ratings before deciding on a mini split air conditioner. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating of the model that you are considering will help you to determine how efficient the system is in terms of cooling. The SEER rating is the cooling output of the system divided by the total electric energy input required to produce that output. The higher the SEER rating the more energy efficient it is.
If you are buying a system that provides heating as well, check the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) rating. The HSPF is basically the same as the SEER except that it looks at heat output instead of cooling output. Like the SEER, the higher the HPSF the more energy efficient the system is. It is a measure of how efficiently a heat pump can move heat into your home in winter.
As the outside temperature drops, the capacity of the heat pump will decline because the amount of heat available in the outside air to move into your home decreases. Likewise, the hotter it is outside, the harder it is for the heat pump to extract heat out of your home.
Another specification that buyers look at when comparing mini split systems is the minimum and maximum operating range for the heat pump. Sometimes it is necessary in very cold environments to supplement the heating capability of a heat pump to keep a home comfortable.
The compressor that sits outside your home needs to be installed correctly and be properly maintained to ensure the proper functioning of your system. A minimum of 15 FT of piping should be allowed between the compressor and the air handlers so that no noise is transferred to the inside of your home. Many mini split systems will allow for greater distances between interior and exterior units. Choosing one will provide you with the flexibility to install the compressor in an inconspicuous location. However, you should keep in mind that further distances will lower efficiency.
The outdoor compressor unit should be mounted one or more feet off the ground. If you live in an area where it snows, then you should allow a minimum of two feet. You want to make sure that air can flow freely in and out of the compressor.
The efficiency of your compressor can be reduced by keeping leaves, grass, debris or shrubs that restrict air flow away.
Be sure to keep the screens and filters on your compressor clean by washing them on a regular basis.
The indoor air handlers should be mounted at least 18 inches off the floor and should have the ability to create a positive air flow in the room you are cooling. Because warm air is lighter than cold air, it accumulates nearer to the ceiling as opposed to colder air which stays close to the floor.
If you are heating a room, installing the air handler low will mean that it is warming up the colder air near the floor. It will then mix the warm air with the cold air making the room feel warmer. Also, the air handler will not be blowing directly on anyone in the room, thereby making it more comfortable.
Finally, a practical point, if the air handler is low it will be easier to clean. Finally, probably the biggest, and easiest, mistake that is made when selecting a mini split systems is improper sizing. This is where working with an installer with a lot of experience in sizing this type of equipment pays off. Mini split systems require a different approach when it comes to determining the right unit to meet your needs.
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