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Mini-Split Air Conditioners as an Alternative to Window Air Conditioners

Mini-split air conditioners are great alternatives to installing a central air system in your home. These units are more efficient than window or portable air conditioners, more aesthetically pleasing, and because they’re ductless, installation is simpler and less invasive than a central air unit. They’re good cooling options for spaces that use space heaters or radiators in the colder months or for room additions where running additional duct work could be costly. There are also many models that feature heat pumps, making mini-split air conditioning systems ideal for year-round use. Although more costly than a window air unit, mini-split units are much more energy efficient which will save money over the life of the unit.


What is a Mini-Split?

Mini-split air conditioners are unique units in the AC world. They are kings of efficiency, simplicity and convenience in regards to supplemental cooling. The air controller and thermostat are located inside the room to be cooled while the cooling and fan functions are located on the exterior. This is the reason for the term “mini-split”. The separation of these two functions leads to several advantages and a few disadvantages:


Advantages

  • More energy efficient than other cooling options leading to increased savings over time
  • Offer higher level of functionality like timers and sleep functions to allow you to customize your desired temperature settings
  • The loudest parts of the unit are located outside making mini splits quieter and perfect for bedroom applications
  • Less expensive to install than a central air conditioning system
  • Increased placement options as it does not have to be mounted to a wall that separates the interior space from outside
  • More secure than window air conditioners not only regarding intruders but also dust and pests
  • Many units are designed to both heat and cool allowing for year-round comfort
  • Mini split air systems offer a sleek design that is far less obtrusive than a window air conditioner

Disadvantages

  • Higher initial cost than window or portable air conditioners
  • Higher installation cost by a certified HVAC professional
  • Must have a place to drain condensate water near the outdoor unit

Installation

Installation of a mini split air conditioner should be done by a certified HVAC professional. The process of installing this system requires mounting of the indoor unit, called an "air handler", as well as the outdoor unit, called the "condenser". The indoor and outdoor units are connected together through refrigerant piping, drainage, as well as electrical wiring through the wall. Mini splits are not usually sold charged with refrigerant and an HVAC professional will need to charge them after the installation.


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