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FAQs About Ductless Air Conditioning

It’s important to have an efficient air conditioning system here in Tucson. With summertime high temperatures averaging 100 degrees Fahrenheit in June, July and August, you don’t want to choose between your comfort and electricity bill. Many homeowners are interested in the advantages of ductless AC. Read these FAQs and answers about ductless air conditioning systems and how they could benefit your home.

1. What Is Ductless AC?

Ductless AC systems are also called ductless mini-split AC/Heat units, ductless mini-split heat pumps and ductless mini-splits. They are all electric heat pumps. With these systems, there is an outdoor unit with a condenser outside and one or more compressors and air handlers inside. The air handling units are mounted on a wall or ceiling. The system works the same way as all other heat pumps, except the cooled air does not pass through ducts.

2. How Are the Indoor and Outdoor Parts Connected?

Each indoor air handler connects to the outdoor condenser with a conduit. It is 2 to 3 inches in diameter. This conduit goes through an exterior wall. The conduit contains the refrigerant line, power cable and condensate line. The indoor unit can be located up to 50 feet away from the outdoor unit. Up to four indoor units can be connected to the outdoor unit. Each indoor unit has its own conduit to the outdoor unit.

3. Are Ductless AC Systems New?

Ductless AC technology has been in use since the 1970s. It was widely used in Europe and Asia for many years before it became popular in the United States. American businesses started to invest in commercial ductless AC systems about 20 years ago. Residential ductless AC systems have only recently gained popularity in the United States. However, their long history of use in Europe and Asia offers a clear demonstration of their benefits, lifespan and durability.

4. Is Ductless AC More Energy Efficient Than Central Air Conditioning?

Air ducts, which are used in central air conditioning systems, waste as much as 30% of the cooled and dehumidified air. Duct seal failure, gaps, loose sections and damage can all cause leaky ducts. With a ductless AC system, there are no ducts to waste the cooled air. As a result, they can be up to 30% more efficient than central air conditioning. This means you will enjoy lower electricity costs, fewer hot spots in your home and a more consistent indoor temperature. In addition to not having ducts, the ductless AC systems often feature variable-speed motors and air handlers that minimize electricity usage.

5. How Long Does a Ductless AC System Last?

The lifespan of a ductless AC system is about 20 years. Keep in mind that Tucson’s long, hot summers create a lot of work for the cooling system. A particularly long heatwave or several warm winters in a row that require you to use the air conditioning could shorten the lifespan by a few years. Scheduling an AC tune-up each spring, making sure the outdoor unit is shaded and paying attention for signs of problems will help your ductless AC system reach the typical 20-year lifespan.

6. Is a Ductless AC System Noisy?

A central air conditioning system’s noise level ranges from 50 to 82 decibels. On the other hand, a ductless air conditioning system’s noise level is just 37 to 46 decibels, which is about as noisy as a desk fan. If you have ever been in a home with old air ducts, you have probably heard the rattling. Air ducts also expand and contract when the temperature of the air changes. The airflow and expansion and contraction of metal make homes with air ducts noisy during cooling cycles. Ductless AC systems do not make these noises. You will hear the whir of the air handling unit and the click and soft hum of the outdoor unit.

7. How Do I Control a Ductless AC System?

Ductless AC systems have a controller on the air handler. Each air handler has its own controller. Most of them also come with a remote control, so you do not have to walk up to the air handler to adjust the temperature. You can set each indoor unit to a different temperature. Some of the newest ductless AC systems offer an app for controlling the temperature through your smartphone. They are compatible with other smart home technology systems.

8. Do Ductless AC Systems Offer Zoned Cooling?

Yes, ductless AC systems offer zoned cooling. Each outdoor unit supports up to four indoor units. Your installation team will help you design the zones and choose where to position each of the indoor units. Some zoning options include having the master suite be a zone, secondary bedrooms together as another zone and the living areas as another one or two zones. If your home is large or has more than two levels, you might need two outdoor units. This would support up to eight separate comfort zones.

9. Where Can a Ductless AC System Be Installed?

Ductless AC systems are ideal for homes that do not have ducts. They are also a good choice for home additions. You will have more design flexibility for large windows or open spaces when you do not have to account for bulky air ducts. If you are remodeling an old home that can’t accommodate the changes needed for central air conditioning, ductless AC systems are a good choice. The outdoor unit should be placed a few feet away from your home’s exterior. A shaded area is ideal. It needs to be at least three feet away from trees or structures so that it can havDuct Cleaning in Tucson, AZe enough airflow for heat exchange with the outdoor air. The indoor units can be placed on an exterior wall or on the ceiling. They need to be located within 50 feet of the outdoor unit.

10. What Is the Cost of a Ductless AC System?

The cost to install a ductless AC system ranges from $3,000 to $5,000. The exact cost will vary based on the size of the home, the brand or manufacturer of the system and the number of indoor and outdoor units. The higher the cooling capacity, which is measured in British thermal units (BTUs), the more the system costs.

Ductless AC systems with a high seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating also cost more. SEER ratings range from 10 to 21. The higher the SEER rating, the more energy-efficient the equipment. Investing in a high SEER ductless AC system will cost more at the time of installation, but you will pay less each month for its operating costs. The type of indoor mount also affects the installation costs. On average, ceiling mounts cost $300 more than wall mounts. You may also need a new concrete pad for the outdoor unit and a new dedicated electrical circuit for the system.

At Rite Way Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we provide AC/Heat maintenance, repair and installation services in Tucson and the surrounding areas. We also offer plumbing, indoor air quality, duct cleaning and duct repair services. Our business is proud to be a Lennox Premier Dealer and a Trane Comfort Dealer. Call today for more information about our team.