Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Split System Air Conditioners

A split system or ductless air conditioner can be a good choice for smaller homes where you don't need a central air conditioner that runs through all the ductwork in the house. Ductless systems can be used in addition to central air units as well, so you can cool just one space as needed and then run the central unit when the house is fully occupied. If you're thinking of a split system or ductless air conditioner for your home, note a few questions you might have and then discuss these with a contractor if you need more information.

1. Can one split system be installed in more than one space?

Because a ductless air conditioner is vented right through the walls and out the home, you might assume that you would need multiple split systems for multiple rooms or spaces of the home. In truth, a split system is installed with one condenser or outdoor unit that cools air, and then it can be connected to more than one evaporator, or indoor unit. Normally, a split system is connected to just one evaporator because ductless systems are less powerful and have less cooling ability than standard central units, but if you choose a condenser with enough cooling power for multiple evaporators, you can then have more than one indoor unit connected to the single outdoor unit.

2. Do ductless systems require a large hole in the wall?

Don't confuse the tubing that circulates refrigerant in a split system with the ducts used in a central air unit; the hole in the outside wall needed for a split system will usually just be a few inches in diameter, and not the size of a vent or heat register in your home. This outside hole only needs to accommodate the hose that runs refrigerant through the system. Cool air is pushed through the inside evaporator that is mounted on your ceiling or wall, not from the outside unit. This means that you won't have a large, unsightly hole in your home's outside wall when you choose a split system.

3. Can a ductless system also be used as a heater?

If you want to forego a furnace as well as a central air conditioner, you can use a split system that operates with a heat pump. This pumps warm air into the home and cool air out during wintertime. Some will also have a heat strip that produces warm air in the inside unit. This can mean an efficient way of heating a small space without a separate furnace or space heater.

Contact a local HVAC for more information, or check out additional reading on their websites.