Sometimes you just have to throw in the towel. In the home comfort business this occasionally happens. If you have a hot, uncomfortable room there is only so much you can do. As I discussed in Part 1, you can try to keep the heat out by adding radiant barrier, insulation, attic ventilation or sealing open chaseways. Or, pull more heat out by adding more airflow usually with larger ducts or additional air conditioning returns.
Sometimes you can do all this plus more and STILL have comfort issues. It may never get comfortable or it’s freezing one minute and then too hot a few minutes later.
If you have given up and are ready to throw in the towel, then take another approach. You may benefit from a Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner. What’s a Mini-Split? The best description is a window air conditioner WITHOUT the window. If you have ever traveled to the Caribbean or the Orient you see them EVERWHERE. The most common brands are Mitsubishi Mr. Slim, Sanyo, Daikin, LG, and Fujitsu just to name a few.
Ductwork is a very western idea. By using a ductless mini-split, you can easily bring more air conditioning (heat removal) to either an interior space or an exterior room without a noisy window unit.
An air conditioner basically has three parts: 1) Compressor 2) Fan 3) Coil. A window air conditioning unit has all three together. In a ductless air conditioner, the compressor is OUTSIDE and the fan and coil are INSIDE usually connected by a ¼” or 3/8” copper tubing. The beauty it that the inside unit can be as far as 100 feet from the outside condenser.
Installation is pretty simple since there is usually NO electrical requirements for the inside fan coil. Power to the inside unit is brought from the outside unit along with the refrigerant lines. This means that basically you can drill a hole in a wall, run a 3” bundle of copper tubing, hang the indoor air handler on the wall, connect condensation tubing, set the outdoor unit, connect power and just like magic supply additional cooling and heating to any problem area.
Inverter vs. Non-Inverter Units
WARNING: Mini-split air conditioners all look very similar but operate very differently. Traditional air conditioner units act like light switches – they are EITHER ON OR OFF. They turn on, run for a while and turn off. A mini-split with inverter technology acts like a DIMMER switch that automatically adjusts based on the required “load”.
Inverter air conditioner units have several advantages. First of all being comfort. You will not have a big “swing” between feeling too cool and too hot. Second is dehumidification. By running longer at a lower level the inverter will pull more moisture out of the air resulting in better air quality and a “crisp” feel to the air. Another advantage is energy efficiency. Inverter air conditioners operate at a lower amperage and do not cause spikes in demand charge or light flicker when starting up. Finally, the best feature of installing a mini-split air conditioner is CONTROL. Whether it’s a bedroom, office or media room, you will be able to keep it cool and comfortable without having to cool the entire house.
Mini-split air conditioners are the fastest growing segment in the air conditioning industry. Ease of install, efficiency, improved comfort and better dehumidification are just a few reasons never to throw in the towel on keeping comfortable.