Traditionally, HVAC systems have relied on ductwork to distribute air throughout a Columbus home or building. Many such homes in Columbus were equipped with some form of electric resistance heating, typically wall heaters or baseboard heaters. Retrofitting a central ductwork system into a home or building can be very expensive, and in some cases, impossible.
However, ductless HVAC solutions are becoming an increasingly popular alternative, offering many advantages over traditional ducted systems.
What are ductless mini-split HVAC solutions?
Firstly, there are several terms used often and interchangeably to describe this category, including Ductless HVAC systems, Ductless mini-split and Ductless mini-split heat pump. Confused? We get it. Check out the Related terms and the Ductless FAQ section below.
Mini-splits or ductless HVAC systems consist of two main components: an outdoor compressor unit and one or more indoor air-handling units. The outdoor unit is connected to the indoor units by a conduit that contains refrigerant lines, a power cable, and a drain line. The indoor units are typically mounted high on a wall or ceiling and blow cool or warm air into the room.
Types of ductless HVAC systems
Mini split systems offer many Advantages & Benefits of ductless, such as flexible placement, easy and affordable installation, energy efficiency, and a compact design. Choosing the right type requires some consideration. There are various systems to select from, depending on your preferences and style:
- Single Zone Ductless – Ideal for heating and cooling small spaces, supplementing your current system, or addressing problematic zones in larger homes. These systems give you control over the comfort of each area with a unit installed.
- Multi Zone – Perfect for homeowners with differing temperature preferences or rooms that go unused for long periods. These systems allow you to control temperatures independently in up to eight zones using a single outdoor unit. Various indoor unit styles, such as wall-mounted, concealed slim-duct, ceiling cassette, and floor-mounted options, cater to all comfort needs.
- Wall-mounted Mini Split – Installed near the top of a wall, these systems are the most popular and cost-effective choice.
- Floor-mounted Mini Split – Similar to wall-mounted systems but installed near the bottom of a wall. Ideal for homes with high windows, low ceilings, or slanted walls.
- Ceiling Cassette Mini Split – Installed on the ceiling, these systems offer a wider airflow and are perfect for homeowners who want to save wall space and keep their system out of sight.
The type of ductless HVAC system that is best for you depends on your specific needs, the size of the space you want to heat or cool, and your budget. Custom Air will help you determine which type of system will work best for you.
Indoor vs. outdoor ductless HVAC systems
Outdoor ductless systems
Also known as the condensing unit or the compressor unit, outdoor HVAC systems are installed outside the building and are responsible for cooling or heating that flows through the system. The outdoor unit typically consists of a compressor, a condenser coil, and a fan. The compressor pumps refrigerant through the system, while the condenser coil and fan work together to release heat and cool the refrigerant.
3 categories for outdoor ductless units are:
- Low Ambient Heating i.e. a Daikin aurora series or Mitsubishi hyper heat. These systems will still provide efficient heating at below zero outdoor temperatures. They are the only real option for those looking to use ductless as the primary source of heating and cooling their structure.
- Standard Heat Pump Units. These will not run with below zero outdoor temperatures. They are still significantly more efficient than a conventional heat pump, but due to ductless systems having no backup heat, it is not recommended to use these in anything other than a supplemental application.
- Cooling Only Systems. These are fewer and far between, generally used in sunrooms or upper levels where no additional heating is necessary.
Indoor ductless systems
Also known as air handlers or evaporator units, indoor HVAC systems are installed inside the home and are responsible for distributing heated or cooled air throughout the space. The indoor unit typically consists of a fan, an evaporator coil, and a filter. The fan draws in warm air from the room, which passes over the evaporator coil and is cooled or heated by the refrigerant. The cooled or heated air is then distributed back into the room through the vents or ducts.
Another key difference between outdoor and indoor HVAC systems is their maintenance requirements. Outdoor units require regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure proper airflow and prevent damage from debris or weather conditions. Indoor units require regular cleaning and filter replacements to maintain good indoor air quality and prevent clogs in the system.
3 categories of indoor ductless units
- Low Wall Units. These are near floor mounted and most are both top discharging and bottom discharging. This is a great option when there’s limited height in a space or if the aesthetics of a high wall unit is trying to be avoided.
- High Wall Units. This is what everyone pictures when thinking of ductless. Mounted near the ceiling, they are top return and discharge through a bottom set of louvers.
- One way Ceiling Cassette. These are the best-looking systems. They are mounted between the ceiling joints and sit recessed and flush with the ceiling. These are also the most expensive and challenging to install. Access to the attic will be needed and many times you will need a condensate pump to drain the condensation.
In summary, outdoor and indoor HVAC systems function collaboratively to deliver efficient heating and cooling to a building. An appropriately designed and well-maintained system is crucial in ensuring comfortable indoor temperatures and optimal energy efficiency all year round.
5 things to know about Ductless HVAC
Ductless, also known as mini-split systems, are a popular and energy-efficient alternative to traditional HVAC systems. Here are five essential things to know about ductless systems:
- How they work – Ductless systems consist of an outdoor unit and one or more indoor units, which are connected by refrigerant lines. The indoor units are mounted on the wall or ceiling and blow air directly into the room. Ductless systems do not require ductwork to distribute air, which makes them more straightforward to install.
- Energy efficiency – Ductless systems are more energy-efficient than traditional HVAC systems because they don’t lose energy through duct leaks or air leaks. They also allow you to control the temperature of individual rooms or zones, which reduces energy waste.
- Installation and maintenance – Ductless systems require professional installation, but the process is less invasive than installing ductwork for a traditional system. Maintenance typically involves cleaning or replacing the filters in the indoor units and scheduling regular check-ups with a licensed technician.
- Cost – Ductless systems can be more expensive to install than traditional HVAC systems due to the sophisticated technology used and the challenging places they are installed.. However, they can provide long-term energy savings and may qualify for tax credits or rebates, making them a cost-effective solution in the long run. The overall cost of a ductless system will vary depending on factors such as the number of indoor units and the size of the system.
- Applications – Ductless systems are a good choice for homes or businesses that lack ductwork or have limited space for HVAC equipment. They can also be used for room additions, home renovations, or to supplement existing heating and cooling systems.
Ductless applications & locations
Offering comfort and flexibility, ductless HVAC systems have been a game changer in controlling temperatures in a variety of challenging settings within both homes and businesses. Here are several applications where Custom Air’s expert installations have made a significant difference:
- Home Offices – As more people work from home, creating a comfortable working environment becomes vital. A ductless system can help maintain a conducive temperature in home offices, irrespective of their location within the house.
- Historic Buildings – Older buildings often lack the space for ductwork or cannot have it installed due to historic preservation rules. Ductless systems can provide modern heating and cooling without disturbing the architectural integrity of the building.
- Garages – Due to safety concerns, installing ductwork in garages is often prohibited. A ductless HVAC system is a great alternative, allowing for year-round temperature regulation in your garage without violating safety regulations.
- Master Bedrooms – These rooms are often located farthest from the central heating and cooling system, leading to inefficient temperature regulation. If your master suite isn’t receiving adequate heating or cooling, a ductless system could be a more feasible solution than altering your home’s existing ductwork or replacing the current system.
- Sunrooms – These rooms tend to heat up quickly due to their exposure to the sun. A ductless system can help maintain a comfortable temperature, making the space usable throughout the year.
- Finished Basements – If you’ve transformed your basement into a recreation or party room, you might find it uncomfortably cold most of the time. This can switch to stifling hot when a crowd gathers, even during winter. A ductless system can maintain a comfortable temperature all year round.
- Attics and Guest Rooms – If you have a usable room on the top floor of your house that lacks air ducts, a mini-split can fill this gap efficiently. Just like basements, attics and guest rooms can benefit greatly from the targeted temperature control provided by a ductless HVAC system.
- Slab Homes – Homes built on a concrete slab, without a basement for a larger air conditioner or furnace, often lack adequate heating and cooling options. Ductless systems can provide an effective solution for these homes.
- Businesses and Commercial Spaces – In commercial buildings, some areas may need more cooling or heating than others. Ductless systems can offer zonal temperature control, making them suitable for office spaces, restaurants, and retail stores.
Renovations and Extensions – When adding a new room or renovating an existing one where extending ductwork is not feasible or cost-effective, a ductless HVAC system can be an excellent solution.
Advantages & benefits of ductless HVAC solutions
Ductless HVAC solutions are highly energy-efficient because they eliminate the energy losses associated with ductwork. Traditional ducted HVAC systems can lose up to 30% of the heated or cooled air through leaks, holes, and poorly sealed connections. In contrast, ductless systems deliver air directly to the rooms where it is needed, without any ductwork losses. This results in lower energy bills and reduced carbon emissions.
Ductless HVAC solutions offer zone control, allowing occupants to adjust the temperature in each room or zone individually. This is particularly useful in larger buildings where different rooms or areas have different heating and cooling needs. With ductless systems, occupants can set the temperature in each zone to their preference, reducing energy waste and improving comfort.
Ductless HVAC solutions offer zone control, allowing occupants to adjust the temperature in each room or zone individually. These systems enable occupants to adjust the temperature of individual rooms or zones according to their unique heating and cooling requirements. This feature is especially beneficial for larger buildings or homes as well as older homes where diverse areas or rooms have varying heating and cooling demands.
With ductless HVAC solutions, you can customize the temperature settings in each room or zone, reducing energy waste and enhancing occupant comfort. These systems are also energy-efficient, helping to save on electricity bills while providing optimal performance.
If you’re looking for an efficient and flexible heating and cooling solution, a ductless HVAC system could be the perfect choice for your home or business. With zone control, improved energy efficiency, and customizable comfort, ductless systems offer a number of benefits that make them an attractive alternative to traditional HVAC systems.
We make financing easy
Ductless HVAC solutions operate quietly, with most indoor units producing less than 25 decibels of sound. This makes them ideal for use in bedrooms, libraries, or other quiet spaces where noise can be a distraction.
Ductless HVAC systems operate differently than traditional HVAC systems, making them a quieter option. Instead of using a central air handler and a network of ducts to distribute air, ductless systems use small indoor units that are mounted directly in the rooms they serve. These units are designed to operate quietly, so you can stay comfortable without being disturbed by a loud, humming sound.
Ductless HVAC systems can enhance air quality through advanced filtration, eliminating potential duct-related issues, allowing for zone-by-zone comfort to limit the spread of particles, and controlling room-specific humidity levels. Remember, the degree of air quality improvement hinges on factors like the specific system model, its maintenance, and pre-existing air quality. For more on ductless systems and air quality see the Ductless filtration & indoor air quality section below.
Breathe Easy with Ductless! Say goodbye to allergens, dust, and uneven temperatures.
Flexibility in design
Ductless HVAC systems provide enhanced flexibility for interior design by eliminating the need for ductwork. This allows for increased creativity in arranging interior spaces, as the absence of ducts frees up valuable room and removes limitations on furniture placement. This feature is especially beneficial in homes or buildings with historical or architectural importance, where alterations to the structure are prohibited.
Experience the ease of maintaining a ductless HVAC system! With fewer moving parts and no ductwork, you’ll enjoy minimal upkeep compared to traditional ducted systems. Keep your system running at peak efficiency by simply cleaning the indoor units and filters regularly. Save time and energy with a ductless solution tailored to your heating and cooling needs.
Multiple modes of operation
Mini-splits typically offer several operating modes. In addition to the standard cooling and heating, mini-splits also provide the option to dehumidify as well as sleep and automatic functions. They are ideal for humid climates, which can make the atmosphere in the home uncomfortable and degrade fixtures over long periods.
Ductless HVAC solutions provide greater control over the indoor climate. Most ductless systems come with remote controls, allowing occupants to adjust the temperature, fan speed, and other settings from anywhere in the room. Some models even offer smartphone compatibility, enabling remote control of the system from a mobile device, such as the Kumo Cloud by Mitsubishi and the Daikin Comfort Control App.
Disadvantages of ductless systems
- Limited Multi-Zone Heating/Cooling – Although ductless systems can be set up to serve multiple rooms, they are not as efficient as central HVAC systems for whole-house heating and cooling. If you want to heat or cool more than two or three zones, the cost and complexity can increase significantly.
- Filtration Limitations – By design a ductless HVAC system is just working in the room it is installed. They do come with air filters, and some units have advanced filtration. They are typically not as robust as those found in ducted systems. Ducted systems can also be additionally equipped with Ionizers and ultraviolet light filters. This means that ducted filtration systems are generally more effective in removing allergens, dust, and odors from your entire living space.
- Line Aesthetics – The ductless systems require a conduit line to connect the indoor and outdoor units. This line may be visibly conspicuous as it often runs down the side of your house or around corners, especially if the indoor unit is installed in unusual locations. While there is a solution to this aesthetic issue – a ‘line hide’ that conceals the conduit line and can be painted to match the house, not all HVAC contractors provide this feature. However, Custom Air includes a line hide as part of the installation.
- Drainage Requirements – Ductless mini-split systems regulate humidity levels by drawing moisture into a condensate line. Depending on the installation site, a separate condensate pump may be required to remove the collected moisture. This is not a universal requirement but applies to certain installation scenarios.
- Maintenance Requirements – Like all HVAC equipment, ductless systems necessitate regular upkeep. A key difference with ductless systems, however, is the need for frequent filter cleaning, especially if used all year round. Although the system can potentially be left untouched during unused periods like winter (if used solely for cooling), best practices recommend cleaning filters every couple of weeks when in use.
- Higher Initial Cost – Despite their potentially superior efficiency and lower operating costs, ductless HVAC systems have a higher upfront cost compared to traditional central air conditioning systems. This might seem counterintuitive as mini-split systems are often considered a ‘smaller’ option, but when compared directly to a heating or cooling area basis, the initial investment for a mini-split system tends to be higher.
- Limited Style Options – Ductless systems have a specific look that may not blend well with every home’s decor. The indoor units are often visible and might not suit every homeowner’s aesthetic preferences.
Ductless filtration & indoor air quality
Often, the indoor air quality can actually be lower than the quality of outdoor air. With traditional HVAC systems, air ducts must be professionally cleaned on a regular basis, and even after cleaning, dust and allergens are left behind.
Ductless air conditioning and heating systems, on the other hand, offer multi-stage filtration that can reduce dust, bacteria, pollen, allergens and other particulates in the air. Many of our mini-split units have washable filters you can clean and replace regularly.
Advanced Filtration: Ductless systems often have multi-stage filtration that can drastically reduce dust, allergens, bacteria, pollen, and other particulates in the air. Some systems can even use activated carbon filters to eliminate odors.
- Elimination of Ducts: In a traditional ducted system, ductwork can accumulate dust, allergens, and even mold over time. This can be especially problematic if the ductwork is not regularly cleaned. Because ductless systems do not use ductwork to distribute air, these potential air quality problems are eliminated.
- Zoned Comfort: Since ductless systems offer zone-by-zone comfort, there’s less mixing of air from different rooms. This can help to reduce the spread of airborne particles and allergens between rooms.
Keep in mind, the actual improvement in air quality can depend on factors such as the specific model of the ductless system, how well it is maintained, and the quality of air to begin with. Regular cleaning or replacing of filters in ductless systems is key to maintaining good air quality.
Also the filters in our ductless units require regular maintenance and cleaning. However, this task is typically straightforward and easy to perform. With routine cleaning, these hybrid catechin filters can function optimally for up to 10 years. This longevity not only aids in cost savings but also promotes environmental sustainability.
Our ductless experience & related projects
Below are a few select ductless projects that Custom Air has installed. These examples underline our range and proficiency in successfully installing ductless systems throughout the Greater Columbus area.
In recent years, ductless HVAC systems have become increasingly popular due to their energy efficiency, minimal noise output, and ease of installation. Two leading brands in the ductless market, Mitsubishi and Daikin, have consistently demonstrated their commitment to quality and innovation. As a trusted HVAC company, we are proud to offer expert installation services for these top-tier brands, ensuring optimal performance and long-lasting comfort in your home or office.
Mitsubishi ductless HVAC systems – Mitsubishi Electric ductless is a globally recognized brand known for its advanced technology and reliable performance. Mitsubishi ductless HVAC systems offer high efficiency, smart controls, and versatile zoning options.
Daikin ductless HVAC systems – Daikin is a world leader in heating and cooling technology, offering innovative and energy-efficient solutions for residential and commercial applications. Daikin’s ductless systems deliver outstanding performance, quiet operation, and smart controls for ultimate comfort.
As seasoned professionals with thousands of HVAC installations to our name, we’re well-versed in the product and its installation. Here’s a quick rundown of our comprehensive installation protocol:
- Assessment: Our team will assess your space and determine the ideal system size, location, and configuration to provide optimal comfort and efficiency.
- Load Calculation: We perform a detailed load calculation to determine the appropriate system size and design to meet your needs.
- Indoor Unit Placement: Our team identifies the ideal location for the indoor unit to ensure even air distribution and minimal noise.
- Outdoor Unit Installation: We install the outdoor unit on a stable and level surface, considering factors such as airflow, accessibility, and aesthetics.
- Line Set and Electrical Connections: We install and connect the line set and electrical components, ensuring a leak-free and safe installation.
- Start-up and Commissioning: We startup the system, fine-tune settings, and verify proper operation, ensuring your new system is ready to provide optimal comfort.
- System Testing: We test the system thoroughly, making any necessary adjustments to guarantee optimal performance and efficiency.
Choosing the right ductless installation contractor
When you engage the services of a licensed and trained HVAC contractor, you receive the benefit of a professional installation that strictly adheres to the manufacturer’s specifications. This not only ensures your equipment is installed correctly but is also thoroughly tested and commissioned to guarantee optimal efficiency. Furthermore, regular maintenance services provided by the contractor will help prolong the lifespan of the system, maintaining its efficiency over time. This all-inclusive, professional approach ensures your HVAC system delivers peak performance, providing comfort and energy savings throughout its operational life.
When considering the installation of a new ductless heat pump system, selecting the right contractor is crucial. Here’s what to look for:
- Certification: Look for contractors who have specialized training and certification, indicating their proficiency in installing ductless heat pump systems.
- Reputation: A contractor with strong positive reviews and a proven track record showcases their reliability and commitment to customer satisfaction.
- Brand Knowledge: Good contractors are knowledgeable about various brands, such as Mitsubishi. They can recommend the best system to suit your specific needs.
- Comprehensive Services: Choose a contractor who offers a range of services, including installation, maintenance, and repair.
- Warranty and Support: Ensure your contractor offers a robust warranty and after-sales support.
For example, as a Mitsubishi Diamond Elite Contractor, we are certified and tested on all these qualities, guaranteeing high-quality installation and service for your ductless system.
Commercial use & installation
Ductless systems are excellent for both residential and commercial applications, including classrooms, offices, meeting rooms, and other buildings. They offer easy installation, zoning capabilities, and improved indoor air quality.
Many ductless heat pumps are known for their “whisper-quiet” operation, ensuring minimal disruption during classes or important meetings.
Ductless heat pumps are also ideal for historic buildings, where adding or updating an HVAC system can be challenging. With minimal visual and audible impact, ductless systems preserve the aesthetics and charm of older structures.
Ductless service & repair
Custom Air offers service, repair and maintenance of most ductless systems including Mitsubishi & Daikin. If your ductless system is underperforming or has stopped working entirely, our experienced technicians are equipped to diagnose and resolve the problem promptly. We’re committed to restoring your comfort.
Regular maintenance is crucial to keep your ductless system running smoothly. We offer comprehensive maintenance packages that include thorough cleaning of the indoor and outdoor units, filter cleaning or replacement, and performance checks. Our preventative maintenance services help extend your system’s lifespan, reduce energy consumption, and prevent costly repairs.
The cost of a heating and cooling solution varies depending on the number of rooms it serves. For a single-room system, you can expect to spend between $3,700 and $6,000. A system designed for two rooms, or a dual-zone system, will cost somewhere between $5,500 and $9,000. If you’re looking to serve multiple rooms, anywhere from three to eight, the system’s starting price is around $8,500 and increases from there.
Included in these costs are:
- All labor charges, which are often not factored into online calculators and preliminary quotes
- 15 feet of piping to connect the indoor and outdoor units
- The provision for gravity-based condensate drainage
- All permit fees necessary for compliance with local and state regulations
There are several cost factors to consider when choosing a ductless mini-split system:
- The British Thermal Units (BTUs) and tonnage, which relate to the system’s power and cooling capacity
- The distance between the indoor and outdoor units
- The type of indoor head (the part of the system installed inside your house)
- Whether the system provides both heating and cooling functions, as some models only cool
- The type of WiFi control device included, which allows for control of the mini-split system from your phone.
Two of the major brands we carry, Mitsubishi and Daikin, offer a 10-year warranty and a 12 year warranty on certain units. for their ductless HVAC systems, giving customers peace of mind and protection against unexpected repair costs. Mitsubishi and Daikin are two of the most reputable and reliable brands in the HVAC industry, known for their high-quality products and exceptional customer service. This warranty is a testament to the quality and durability of their products, ensuring that homeowners and business owners can enjoy reliable and efficient heating and cooling for many years to come.
Ductless tax Credits, saving & rebates
Ductless mini-split systems are among the best energy-efficient and eco-friendly HVAC options due to their lack of vents, streamlined system, and optimized functionality, making them qualify for federal tax credits and add to their long list of benefits.
We provide a range of financing options for all our new HVAC installations, encompassing ductless systems as well. Our dedicated Custom Air comfort advisors are committed to guiding you through all available options. This includes helping you navigate and take advantage of applicable federal, state, and utility rebates, credits, and incentives to ensure you’re getting the best value for your investment.
Ductless HVAC solutions offer many advantages over traditional ducted systems, including energy efficiency, zone control, easy installation, quiet operation, improved air quality, flexibility in design, lower maintenance, better control, and improved heating performance. They are a convenient and efficient way to regulate the indoor climate in any building, providing occupants with a comfortable and healthy environment. If you are considering a new HVAC system or upgrading your existing one, consider ductless HVAC solutions as an option.
Helpful ductless resources
- Mitsubishi Electric – A leading manufacturer of ductless HVAC systems that offers training and support to HVAC professionals and homeowners.
- Daikin North America – A major manufacturer of ductless HVAC systems that provides education and resources to support proper installation and maintenance.
- Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pumps | Department of Energy
- Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
- American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)