Keep Your Garage Comfortable With a Ductless Mini-Split
Ductless mini-split systems are perfect for garages and other spaces that are difficult to connect to ducted heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. As the name implies, ductless systems do not require air ducts to distribute conditioned air to heat and cool a living space. Instead, individual air handlers installed in a room or zone provide conditioned air to the space. Depending on the brand and model you choose, a single compressor can run between one and eight indoor air handlers.
Ductless systems are available as both heat pumps that heat and cool with the same unit and as air conditioners that only cool. Ductless systems are more energy efficient than traditional HVAC systems because no energy is lost through the ducts.
Ductless heat pumps are ideal for Central Texas weather, which has wide fluctuations in seasonal temperatures and humidity. Heat pumps are even more energy efficient because they transfer heat from one place to another instead of using energy to generate heated and cooled air. Here, we provide information about how ductless units work, how they are installed, and their benefits.
How Ductless Mini-Split Systems Work
Ductless HVAC systems work on the same principles as traditional air conditioners. The difference is that no air ducts are needed to blow conditioned air into the living space. A ductless system includes an outdoor unit that houses the compressor, expansion valve, and condenser coil. Refrigerant circulates through these components.
Inside, individual air handlers contain evaporator coils and fans. Instead of ducts that distribute air, the air handlers blow conditioned air directly into a room or zone. A conduit that contains electrical lines, tubing containing refrigerant, and a condensate drain connects the indoor and outdoor units. The conduit is routed through a small hole in the wall.
During the refrigeration cycle, gas flows through tubing to the compressor, condenser, expansion valve, and evaporator coils. As the refrigerant passes through the system, it changes from gas to liquid, absorbs and expels heat, and changes back to gas. Compressing gas converts it to a liquid and releases heat. In the cooling cycle, this heat is released outside.
Heat pumps work on the same principles of refrigeration as standard air conditioners. During the summer, the refrigerant removes heat from indoors and discharges it outdoors. A reversing valve changes the flow of refrigerant. During the winter, refrigerant picks up heat energy from outside and discharges it indoors.
Benefits of Ductless Mini-Split Systems
There are several benefits to ductless systems. Because there are no air ducts, they can be installed virtually anywhere, such as in outbuildings, garages, add-ons, basements, and attics. They work well in older homes that do not have a ducted HVAC system or in spaces where ducts are impractical to install, such as rooms with vaulted ceilings or homes with no attic space.
If your home or office has areas that are difficult to heat and cool with an existing ducted system, adding a ductless unit can even out temperatures in a room or zone. Kitchens, south-facing rooms, sunrooms, and upstairs spaces often overheat during warm weather. In the winter, you may feel cold spots or uneven temperatures. With a ducted system, adjusting the temperature on the thermostat affects each space connected by ducts. In contrast, mini-splits allow individual temperature control of a space without affecting other rooms.
Ductless heating and cooling systems use less energy than standard HVAC systems. Ducts are a major source of energy loss. According to the Department of Energy, air ducts lose as much as 30% of conditioned air in a typical home. Because there are no ducts in a mini-split configuration, there is no energy loss. In addition, each air handler has its own temperature control, allowing precise climate control adjustments in a room without affecting comfort in other rooms. When the space is not in use, the unit can be turned off, unlike ducted systems that blow conditioned air into every connected space.
Heat pumps are even more efficient because they do not require energy to heat and cool. Instead, they transfer heat from one place to another. They do use electricity to run fans within the unit. However, they use less energy than ducted systems because the fans do not have to push air through ducts. In humid climates, such as Central Texas summers, heat pumps efficiently remove humidity and maintain a consistent temperature, which improves indoor comfort.
Ductless mini-splits can improve air quality because air is not distributed between rooms. This is important for spaces like garages and workshops because odors and airborne pollutants are confined to a single space. In contrast, ducted systems distribute air into every room, broadcasting airborne pollutants throughout the living space,
Ductless systems are quiet. The compressor can be placed in a convenient outdoor location. Indoors, the only sound is air blowing from the cassette.
Ductless System Installation
Ductless mini-splits are simple to install. A professional can usually install the outdoor condenser and several indoor air handlers in one day. The outdoor compressor can be placed on a wall, rooftop, or the ground. Your HVAC contractor can help you select an appropriate place. Wall-mounted units require mounting hardware to support the weight. For ground installations, the unit should be placed on a pad in a level location. Whether on the ground, rooftop, or a wall, placement should follow the same guidelines used for central air conditioners. There should be enough clearance so that air circulates around it, and it should be accessible for servicing and repairs.
Indoor air handlers can be mounted on a wall, in the ceiling, or on the floor. Wall-mounted cassettes should be installed on an exterior wall, providing a direct connection to the outdoor condenser and a convenient place to discharge condensate drainage. Cassettes should be at least 6 feet above the floor with adequate clearance to the ceiling. They should not be placed in indirect sunlight or near heat sources, which can affect temperature regulation and performance.
A 3-inch hole will be drilled into the wall for the conduit that connects the indoor and outdoor components. The limiting factor in installation is the distance between the outdoor condenser and the nearest indoor air handler. The standard line length is approximately 25 feet, but longer lines are available; however, longer lines can affect efficiency.
Choosing a Mini-Split System for Your Central Texas Home
Blue Ribbon Cooling and Heating offers a full suite of heating and air conditioning services for residents in the Central Texas area. Our offices in Bastrop and Round Rock make us accessible to residents in Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop, and Travis counties. Our licensed technicians are trained on state-of-the-art equipment to bring superior technical know-how to every job. We are committed to customer satisfaction.
Our experienced technicians can help you select a ductless mini-split that will keep your garage cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Properly sized installations optimize energy efficiency and performance. We look at the size of the garage, the amount of wall and ceiling insulation, and other factors that influence sizing. We install, repair, and service all types and brands of HVAC equipment. We also provide indoor air quality services and are even available 24/7 for emergencies.
For more information about installing a mini-split in your garage or another area of your home, give us a call.