How Does Ductless Air Conditioning Work?

Central cooling systems using conventional air conditioners and heat pumps are widely used in homes throughout Maryland. While these systems are certainly the most common and easily recognizable, they aren’t a homeowner’s only choice when it comes to home cooling systems. Ductless cooling systems are increasing in popularity, yet many homeowners aren’t familiar with this option. Grove Heating & Cooling explains how these systems differ and answers this common question: how does ductless air conditioning work?

How Do Ductless Air Conditioners Work?

Conventional air conditioners and heat pumps are central cooling systems as they distribute cooled air from a centralized location within the home, which is the indoor air handling unit or furnace blower. Air is cooled by the indoor evaporator coils, and the blower forces conditioned air through a ductwork distribution system into living areas. Split central cooling systems use an indoor air handler and outdoor heat pump or air conditioner, and the units are connected by refrigerant lines. Packaged cooling units have a single unit that contains all components that would be housed between the two units of a split system.

What makes ductless air conditioners different is that conditioned air isn’t distributed from a centralized point in the home. Instead of dispersing cooled air through ducts and into rooms from a central unit, ductless air conditioning systems use dedicated air handling units installed within the areas they serve to send air directly into the space. These cooling systems do not use ducts – air moves directly from the air handler into the living space. Ductless air conditioning systems are split systems that use an outdoor air conditioner or heat pump and one or many indoor air handlers which connect to the outdoor unit via the refrigerant line set.

How Are Ductless Systems Different from Conventional Air Conditioners?

A ductless AC has the same cooling process of a conventional air conditioner or heat pump. In addition to system setup and distribution, notable differences between the two types of cooling systems include:

1. Zoned Cooling

In a conventional central air conditioning system, a single indoor unit creates cooled air for the entire home. One thermostat is used to adjust temperature conditions for all living areas, ignoring individual needs of different areas. 

Ductless mini-split systems are different because these units can provide zoned cooling. Each indoor air handling unit is controlled independently of the other air handlers, even though a single outdoor unit assists with the cooling process for the entire home. 

When different areas of the home are able to control temperature needs without disrupting conditions across other rooms and living spaces, this is what we call a zoned system. Individualized cooling is delivered to each zone based on that zone’s needs. This is something that cannot be done in a conventional central cooling system without specialized equipment that allows multiple thermostats to communicate with the air conditioner and control airflow through the ducts.

Zoned cooling from a ductless heating and cooling system offers great benefits toward comfort and energy efficiency. Everyone has the ability to set different temperatures in their own space, personalizing the family’s comfort. This control also conserves energy, as ductless air handlers only produce cooling in their area as needed, not whenever another area requires cooling.

2. No Duct Problems

Ductless mini-split air conditioners eliminate the energy losses associated with duct systems. Leaks in ducts are present in most homes, wasting as much as 20 to 30 percent of the air conditioner’s cooled air on average. By delivering conditioned air directly from the air handler into the living space, ductless HVAC systems are 20 to 30 percent more efficient on average right from the start.

Cooling loss through duct leaks also causes hot and cold spots throughout homes. In ducted air conditioning systems, areas furthest away from the indoor unit often struggle to receive enough cooling. Ductless air conditioners deliver cooled air directly from the source so there’s no opportunity for energy loss.

Contact Grove and Go Ductless in Your Maryland Home

If you’re in the market for a new air conditioning system, consider how ductless air conditioning systems can make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. Contact Grove Heating & Cooling today to request a consultation.

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