The Ductless Mini-Split: A Major Force in Cooling and Heating From Its Very Beginnings
The ductless mini-split was introduced in Asia during the 1970s, especially for apartment dwellers in Japan. To save space, reduce noise, and improve limited window views, the ductless mini-split air conditioner was designed to accommodate the small size of apartment construction in Japan and other Asian nations. Today, ductless mini-splits dominate the market for air conditioning and heating in Japan, with a substantial portion of the European market as well. The share of the North American market has been reported to be as little as 5 percent, perhaps because of the ductless mini’s reputation as an air conditioner for single rooms and spaces where ductwork does not or cannot be extended.
But from its inception, the ductless mini-split has been a successful alternative to the window air conditioning units so common throughout the US in the 1970s. The first mini-splits proved to be more desirable than window air conditioners because of one factor: noise. The split in mini-split refers to the placement of the condenser and compressor mechanisms outside the home. A 3-inch hole is drilled in a wall, allowing for a conduit pipe that connects conditioned air with an indoor wall unit that contains an evaporator, fan and temperature controls. The noise from the compressor is now outside of the house, while the indoor unit is quieter than a floor fan.
It hasn’t been only the low-noise factor that has interested homeowners in trying out this system. Ductless mini splits heat and cool individual rooms, saving energy and decreasing the homeowner’s energy bill as compared to a whole-house forced air heating or cooling system that has to condition the entire house all at once. Today’s technology has advanced to the point where entire buildings can be air conditioned when hundreds of wall units are attached to a single, external compressor.
Other improvements in the last 15 years include proprietary controls, four zones available in retail units, the use of government mandated R410-A refrigerant, and wall units that include heat pumps 2 and dehumidifiers. While you could do it yourself, since no proper ductwork design is required, you still want to consult with an expert and consider professional installation by Air-Tro Inc.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Monrovia, California area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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