Stop Believing These 11 Myths About Ductless Mini-Splits

Jul 19, 2020Air Conditioning, Blog

You may have already heard of ductless mini-splits as an alternative to central heating and cooling. Ductless HVAC is a particularly good solution if your have a small space or if installing new ductwork is inconvenient. Ductless split-systems are about 10 percent of the total residential HVAC market, but still many myths and rumors persist. We will look at 11 of the most commonly recited myths about ductless heating and cooling, and look at why a split-system may be the perfect solution for your San Jose home.

Myth #1: Ductless is Only for New Homes

Some newer home choose to install ductless heating and cooling, but older homes are ideal for older homes. Ductless HVAC is also an elegant solution for homes that are well-insulated. Split-systems are relatively quick to install, and they don’t take a lot of room. For existing homes where a room addition is being planned, a mini-split is a great choice. With older homes without central AC, retrofitting to add a duct network inside the walls and ceiling can be costly. Ductless HVAC can be a perfect solution. Split systems also allow you to have the best of both worlds.

Myth #2: Split Systems Cool Rooms Unevenly

A myth that is sometimes repeated is that ductless split-systems cool or heat rooms unevenly, and this is flat out untrue. Ductless HVAC systems are just as powerful as central air and cool and heat each room efficiently and evenly. We’re not sure how this misconception started, perhaps by people thinking that self-contained window units are the same as mini-splits (they aren’t). Ductless mini-splits are heat pumps that use the same basic science as central air conditioning to cool your home, only without ductwork in the walls.

LIving room with air conditioning unit on wall
LIving room with air conditioning unit on wall

Myth #3: Noise Will Be an Issue

Up until the 2000s, many central air conditioning systems and heat pumps were noisier than they are now. Modern HVAC technology has made both central AC and ductless AC quieter than it was in years past. Mini-splits have a variable air blower in the indoor unit, which makes them whisper quiet. The unit runs continuously with blower speed variations to regulate temperatures. Opposed to an on/off blowing system, this means the temperature stays level, the air speed runs at a slower cycle, and there is no loud noise when the blower kicks on and off. Today’s ductless split-systems are very quiet compared to heat pumps of the past.

Myth #4: Service Life of a Ductless Unit is Less than a Central Air Conditioning System

According to the US Department of Energy, the average lifespan of a central air conditioning system is 15 to 20 years. Ductless mini-splits last 20 years or longer.

Myth #5: Indoor Components are Bulky and “In the Way”

Many homeowners are hesitant to install ductless components because the inside air handlers are mounted on the wall. Some people feel they won’t be able to get used to the mounted units. For contrast, central AC registers and return vents are generally flush with the wall, floor, or ceiling. The mounted indoor air handling units are low profile, and relatively inconspicuous. They are not bulky, and rather easy to install in each “zone” or room.

Myth #6: Split Systems are Bad for Air Quality and Don’t Clean the Air like Central AC

Ductless air conditioning systems have superior cleaning functions that keep the air filtered and prevents redistribution of dust and allergens. Each indoor air handler has its own filter, which traps dust and other irritants. These filters should be replaced every three months. The air handlers also contain an air blower in each unit which keeps the heat exchanger dry. This helps prevent mold or mildew buildup due to persistent humidity. Overall, ductless systems are a great choice if indoor air quality is a concern.

Myth #7: Mini-Splits Will Take Too Long to Cool or Heat the Room

Ductless heating and cooling runs at an even pace to maintain the temperature in the room. Heating or cooling the room doesn’t take long at all. Once of the reasons for this misconception is the way we are used to running our central air conditioning and heating.

In the colder months, we run the furnace until the room gets warm, then we shut it off. The same principle applies to running the AC.

With ductless mini-splits, the system moves thermal heat energy continually at a steady rate in the background. To cool, it removes heat from indoors, to heat it moves heat from the outer atmosphere into the home.

Ductless HVAC runs continually in the background at a low level, and each air handler is assigned to a specific room. This makes it easy to regulate temperature in each room and bring the temperature up or down easily.

Myth #8: Ductless HVAC Will Completely Eliminate Energy Losses

Split-systems do save about 30% more energy costs vs central air, but the energy losses are not completely eliminated. With ducted central air, some thermal energy is leaked. Ductless uses refrigerant lines to move heat from one environment to another. There is some energy loss, but significantly less than in traditional central HVAC.

Myth #9: Installation Costs are Significantly Less Than Central AC

This is a case where how many rooms you are installing ductless AC in and how bog the floor plan is will determine the installation cost. If your existing home doesn’t have ducting, and the floor plan is small, the installation cost of central HVAC and ductless HVAC may be closer than if you are dealing with a large floor plan. Ductless requires a small incision between the inside and outside of the house to run refrigerant lines, drainage lines, and wiring. Every home is slightly different. Call a licensed and bonded HVAC contractor like Ventwerx to get an accurate estimate for ductless or central AC installation.

Myth #10: Ductless Won’t Work with My Smart Home’s Digital Thermostat

While not every ductless split system is smart home integrated, many are finding ways to work with ubiquitous smart thermostats like Nest and Alexa. If you have one of these already installed in your home, look for ductless systems that say “works with Nest” or “works with Alexa”.

Many split-system manufacturers have their own proprietary apps or thermostats that work specifically with their products. For example, Fujitsu has the FGLair app and Daikin has the ONE+ thermostat.

Myth #11: Maintenance for Ductless Will Be Arduous

Some people have heard that the upkeep on ductless HVAC systems will be much more than with central AC. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Ductless AC has very similar maintenance schedule as central AC – changing the air filters on a regular basis and preventative maintenance before the onset of the warm and cold seasons.

Get a Free Estimate

Our HVAC technicians at Ventwerx HVAC Heating & Air Conditioning are here to help if your heating and cooling system is operating unusually. Give us a call at 408-422-2987 in San Jose or at 408-710-9595 in Morgan Hill for a free estimate.