How Do Ductless Air Conditioners Work? (Find Out Now!)

How Do Ductless Air Conditioners Work

Air conditioners allow us to remain comfortable inside our homes even on those days when the sun is especially fierce. For many households, air conditioning units are not considered luxury items. Instead, they are seen as appliances essential to providing comfort during certain stretches of the year.

Homeowners can choose from different types of air conditioners. The type we’re focusing on in this article is the ductless air conditioner. To be more specific, we’ll be diving deep into how they work.

In a ductless air conditioner setup, one or multiple mini-splits located inside different rooms are connected to one outdoor compressor. The mini-splits are responsible for drawing warm air in and cooling it down using evaporator coils cooled with refrigerant. The outdoor compressor supplies the refrigerant that the mini-splits need and those units, in turn, blow cold air into your home.

A ductless air conditioner could be exactly what you need to keep your home comfortable throughout the year. Learn more about it and other relevant topics by continuing with this article.

How Does a Ductless Air Conditioner Work?

If you’ve relied on central air conditioning for much of your cooling needs, a ductless system will likely appear quite strange. After all, how could it possibly provide adequate cooling without relying on a network of vents and ducts?

To answer that question, it helps to understand the composition of a ductless air conditioner system. Let’s talk more about the components of a ductless air conditioner system in the sections below.

The Outdoor Unit

All ductless air conditioners rely on an outdoor unit that serves as the compressor. The external unit has two main jobs within the system. First off, the outdoor unit is responsible for absorbing heat. You’ll find out in a bit where that heat comes from.

Its other job is to direct refrigerant towards the coils in the indoor unit. The outdoor unit relies on tubing to get the refrigerant to where it needs to be. Without the refrigerant coming from the external unit, the indoor unit will also struggle to do its job properly.

The Indoor Unit

Found inside the indoor unit, which is also known as a mini-split, are some evaporator coils. Those evaporator coils are incredibly important. The evaporator coils cool down any warm air that enters the indoor unit.

The lingering heat is then transferred to the unit outside by the refrigerant. Basically, all you’re left with at that point is cool air. From there, the indoor unit blows the cool air into your home and improves your comfort level in the process.

By the way, the indoor unit is also responsible for drawing the warm air in. It works continuously to ensure that your desired temperature is maintained.

The Two Types of Ductless Air Conditioners

You will have a choice to make if you want to get a ductless air conditioner for your home. More specifically, you will have to choose between using either a single-zone or multi-zone air conditioner. Let’s talk more about how those two types of ductless air conditioners differ from one another.

Single-Zone Ductless Air Conditioner

A single-zone ductless air conditioner features a one-to-one connection between the internal and external units. Relying on one mini-split could be enough for your needs. For instance, if you just want to cool down your living room, this kind of setup should suffice.

Single-zone air conditioners can still work if you want to spread out the cold air. You can use fans to move the air around inside your home and improve the cooling in other spots that way.

Multi-Zone Ductless Air Conditioner

In a multi-zone ductless air conditioner system, there is still only one outdoor unit. What has changed though is the number of indoor units or mini-splits.

The outdoor unit can power more than just one mini-split. It can actually power up to or five mini-splits simultaneously.

Going with the multi-zone setup is a great choice if you want to cool down several rooms. Use it for your living room, multiple bedrooms, and maybe even a guest room. However, you may have to adjust the tubes so the connections to the outdoor unit from the multiple mini-splits remain secure.

The Pros and Cons of Ductless Air Conditioners

Should you purchase a ductless air conditioner? That’s the question you’re probably trying to answer at this point.

To help you find your answer to that question, let’s examine the pros and cons of using a ductless air conditioner. We can start by highlighting the pros of such a move.

The Pros

Ductless Air Conditioners Can Work in Just about Any Kind of Home

A central air conditioner is a fine choice if you need home cooling. One of the main issues with it though is that it doesn’t work in all homes. With no vents or ducts in place, that kind of air conditioner won’t work properly.

Ductless air conditioners are more adaptable in that regard. Feel free to purchase them whether your home has ductwork in place or not.

Exercise More Control over Your Home Cooling

Remember that multi-zone systems feature mini-splits situated in different rooms. Thanks to that setup, you can essentially control how cool certain rooms in your home will be.

That kind of feature comes in very handy if you live at home with your family. The individual members of your family can decide if they want the air conditioner on. Everyone can stay at their ideal level of comfort because of that.

Experience Efficient Cooling

Leaks can sometimes form along the ducts that are paired together with central air conditioning units. Those leaks can be problematic because they hamper the air conditioner’s ability to cool down your home.

On top of that, some streams of cool air can exit through those leaks. That means some of the energy the air conditioner is using is just being wasted.

That kind of problem is not going to hound you if you’re using a ductless air conditioner. Ductless air conditioners are more efficient because they don’t need additional components to provide cooling.

Ductless Air Conditioners Offer Quiet Cooling

You should also consider purchasing a ductless air conditioner if you’re sensitive to loud noises. They produce significantly less noise compared to central air conditioners. Go ahead and keep them on while you go to sleep and don’t worry about your peaceful slumber being disrupted.

The Cons

Ductless Air Conditioners Can Be Quite Expensive

Ductless air conditioners tend to be more expensive compared to portable, window-mounted, and even central air conditioners. You may even have to spend more if you intend to create a multi-zone setup inside your home. The additional cost is worth it, but it may put the ductless air conditioner out of reach for some.

Ductless Air Conditioners Are Tough to Conceal

Practically speaking, there’s nothing wrong with having a ductless air conditioner visible inside your home. However, some folks are simply not fond of one of their appliances disrupting their home décor.

You can try to position the internal units so they’re out of the way. They still have to be exposed to some degree though. If you cannot stand that, then you may have to look at other options.

Ductless Air Conditioners Require Monthly Maintenance

All air conditioning units require some kind of regular maintenance. The ductless variants take that to another level though.

They need monthly maintenance in order to remain in good condition. Monthly maintenance means cleaning out the air conditioner’s filters. Don’t forget about the monthly cleaning or else you may find yourself saddled with a malfunctioning appliance.

How Much Will It Cost to Get a Ductless Air Conditioner?

To figure out how much adding a new ductless air conditioner will cost, you must first identify the unit you’ll need. You can do that by checking out the air conditioner’s BTU rating.

Generally speaking, a unit with a BTU rating of 12000 should be enough for a room that measures 650 square feet. A unit like that will cost you right around $2000. For a room that measures 800 square feet, you’ll need a ductless air conditioner with a BTU rating of 15000. Units with that rating typically cost around $2150 to $2200.

Bear in mind as well that you’ll have to spend more if you want additional mini-splits. You may have to spend $500 for each additional unit. You also cannot forget about labor costs if you want the ductless air conditioner professionally installed. That could tack on an additional $2000 to your final expenses.

Related Questions

How Long Can You Expect Your Ductless Air Conditioner to Last?

The longevity of your ductless air conditioning unit is going to hinge greatly on how well you take care of it. Fail to maintain the unit as much as required and it could start malfunctioning at the 10-year mark. Conversely, always staying on top of its maintenance could allow it to remain in working condition for up to 20 years.

It’s also a good idea to get the unit checked out yearly by a professional. They may be able to spot issues that would have otherwise gone undetected. They can effectively help you get more uses out of your ductless air conditioner as well.

Is the SEER Rating on the Ductless Air Conditioning Unit Important?

Many air conditioners feature SEER or seasonal energy efficiency ratio ratings on them and yes, they are important. The SEER rating gives potential buyers an idea of how energy efficient a particular appliance is. The general rule is that higher SEER ratings are attached to the more energy-efficient appliances.

Do note though that air conditioners with higher SEER ratings also tend to be more expensive. You’ll save money in the long run, but the upfront cost of purchasing the unit can be quite onerous.

Gary Evans

Gary Evans is passionate about home improvement. He loves finding out how to make improvements in the easiest, most practical, and most affordable ways. Upgrading his home kitchen is one of his ongoing hobbies. Gary is also a long-time content creator and enjoys spending his free time tending to his hydroponic vegetable garden.

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