A ductless mini split system treats the air in a single room or anywhere in your home. But, it doesn’t circulate in the air from outside. Just like with conventional central air, you’re not getting fresh air coming into the house. But, you can use other HVAC solutions to bring in outside air.
Not everyone realizes this is the case, whether we’re talking about conventional window ACs, central air, or the latest-and-greatest in ductless heating and cooling.
What’s confusing is that there’s a part of the system that’s outside: A heat pump for a mini split; a condenser for central air; half the unit when it comes to window or through-the-wall models.
But, none of those actually draw in air from the outdoors or send indoor air outside. Instead, that’s all got to do with expelling heat.
In this article, we’ll briefly go over how mini splits work. That way, you’ll understand why you’re not getting fresh air inside. Then, we’ll tell you about a few ways you can get the air circulation you’re looking for. And, how to make the air in your home even cleaner and easier to breathe.
For air conditioning, your mini split works similarly to central air, just without vents and ducts. Instead, air handlers inside draw in warm air, which heats a coolant liquid.
That coolant, now a gas, runs through plastic tubing to a heat pump outside. The pump expels the heat outside, which causes the refrigerant to condense back into a liquid, and then the coolant returns to do it again.
This allows the air handler to expel cool air back into the room (they also dehumidify as part of the cooling process). In the winter, this works in reverse: When the coolant reaches the outdoor unit, it attracts whatever heat is available.
The heat pump compresses and amplifies it, so it’s strong enough to warm up your house. Then, the air handler circulated the warmed air.
In both cases, however, you’re not drawing in air from outside. And, in some cases during the summer, that’s a good thing.
By and large, fresh air is good for you. When you open the windows in your house, you’re letting all sorts of pollutants wash out. That’s why, by and large, indoor air is more polluted than outside: Dust, dirt, bacteria, germs, and more can pile up inside without a way out.
But, in the spring and summer, there’s something else to consider: Pollen.
This allergen is rampant in the warm weather. That’s why you get the pollen count now with the weather report. People with seasonal allergies need to know what they’re in for that day.
Of course, you’re going to track in some pollen no matter what. That’s why it’s important to clean regularly, and use a damp cloth on windowsills, counters, and tops of door frames. It’s the best way to collect all the dust and allergens and get rid of them. Just dusting will spread them around.
And, the problem gets worse if your HVAC system pulls air from outside. Even with a standard one-inch filter, the pollen would still get through.
So, here’s what to do about it.
An energy recovery ventilator, or ERV, gives you fresh air from outside while you’re running your air conditioning. And, it comes in without any of the pollen, dirt, or other pollutants that are out there.
As indoor air quality becomes even more critical, ERVs are a great solution to what people are looking for. And, it works just as well in the winter when your heat’s on.
We go into more detail here. But, the quick version is that it uses a heat transfer process that’s similar to what the heat pump does.
Each one of these appliances has an intake and exhaust. In the summer, it brings in fresh air from outside but dehumidifies and transfers the moisture and heat to the exhaust side.
Then, before it reaches you, the air goes through a MERV-rated filter. It works the same as a standard one, but it catches much much smaller particles. That makes the air even cleaner than what you usually get in your house.
This gives you the best of all worlds: Cool air, clean air, and fresh air, no matter how hot it is outside.
Another option is to purify the air in your home. It’s not quite the same as fresh air from outside — but it may be better.
We’ve had a lot of success with the APCO air purification system for homes in Elgin, Barrington, East Dundee, and other Fox River Valley towns.
These attach directly to your HVAC system. So, you don’t have to turn them on your off — just like you don’t turn your furnace or AC on and off when you need it. And, they treat your entire home.
The APCO purifiers primarily use UV-C light to eradicate all sorts of undesirable organic compounds. That’s everything from germs and viruses to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including smells from pets, the bathroom, and even the kitchen.
While these are often used on traditional systems, APCO also has models that work with ductless and heat pump systems.
If indoor air quality is a concern of yours this summer, and are worried about what this winter will bring, call or email us now at Compass Heating and Air. Beginning with a free consultation, we’ll help you find the best, healthiest solution for your Fox River Valley Home.