Mini-split air conditioning systems are gaining popularity due to their efficiency and flexibility. These systems can work in places where traditional central air conditioning systems may be cost-prohibitive or impossible to install. Mini-splits also offer numerous advantages of their own, including energy efficiency and easy zoning.
If you're considering one of these units for your home, you may be surprised that you have numerous design options available. This article will outline three common ways to install and use mini-split systems so you can choose the right one for your situation.
1. Single Head Systems
Just like a typical central air conditioning system, your mini-split has separate indoor and outdoor units. Unlike traditional air conditioners, the indoor mini-split unit combines many individual components, including the thermostat, blower, control hardware, and evaporator coils. When you hear HVAC technicians referring to a mini-split system's "head," they're referring to this evaporator unit.
The standard single-head configuration includes one outdoor unit and one indoor unit. Depending on the system's capacity, a single head can effectively cool an entire house, but keep in mind that doors or other obstructions may create hold and cold spots. This design is often the best option for smaller homes, condos, and other structures well-served by a single zone.
2. Multiple Head Systems
Many homeowners don't realize that mini-splits provide a straightforward and efficient way to provide multi-zone cooling. Multiple head systems consist of a single compressor unit connected to multiple indoor evaporator units. Each "head" functions independently, allowing you to choose different setpoints for different parts of your home.
Designing a system with multiple evaporator units is a great way to cool larger homes or avoid cooling areas you use infrequently. With a multi-headed system, you can save money by turning off cooling to your living room or other common areas while you sleep and keeping a higher setpoint in bedrooms during the day.
3. Heat Pump Mini-Splits
If you live in an area with relatively warm winters, a heat pump mini-split is another design option. These systems provide heating and cooling, allowing you to use the same system all year long. Heat pumps typically don't offer the same level of heating as furnaces and so may not be suitable for frigid regions, but they are incredibly efficient.
If you decide that a heat pump is right for you, you'll have the same option for a single- or multi-headed system. Replacing an existing furnace that's functioning well isn't typically worthwhile, but combining your heating and air conditioning into one unit may be a good option if you're already facing a complete HVAC replacement.