Ductless heating and cooling mini split systems are becoming more and more popular in Fox River Valley towns such as Elgin, Barrington, and East Dundee, IL.
They provide incredible comfort while using a fraction of the electricity that traditional air conditioning requires.
And, newer setups can keep you warm even during the harshest weather a Chicagoland winter throws at them.
But, even as more people learn about them, they can’t quite picture what a system like this would look like in their house.
It’s understandable: People are used to ductwork, vents, and maybe even window air conditioners.
So, in this article, we’ll explain what each component looks like, and how they’d fit in your home.
We’ll start with a crash course in how they work. Then, we’ll go through the different options for components and a few models that are especially great for our neck of the woods.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions or want to learn more, email or call us here at Compass Heating and Air. Starting with a free consultation, we’ll have your home ready for summer well before Memorial Day.
Ductless heating and cooling systems are called mini splits because they use outdoor and indoor components. That makes the system “split,” and a series of narrow refrigerant lines connect them.
Outside, the heat pump draws in thermal energy during the winter, amplifies it, and sends the heat inside. There, the air handlers circulate that warm air.
In the summer, the air handlers inside draw the heat from your home. They send it outside while also dehumidifying.
It’s easy to place the air handlers almost anywhere in the house because they connect to the heat pump using narrow, flexible lines instead of ductwork.
As a result, we can put as many or as few air handlers inside as you want. Some people just want to treat a problem room or two. Others use a mini split for year-round comfort throughout their home.
Your goals and your home’s layout play a significant role in choosing the kinds of air handlers you’ll use and where we’ll install them.
So, let’s go through how big they are, how they can work for you, and what they’ll look like once everything’s ready to go.
The outdoor component of a mini split, the heat pump, is usually around a foot wide, nearly two-and-a-half feet wide, and a foot deep.
Some multi-zone units are twice as tall.
Inside, your average wall-mounted air handler is approximately 30 inches long, a foot high, and about nine inches in depth.
Another option is the low-wall or floor unit. Those are bigger than the high-wall units, but generally more out-of-the-way because they’re not right in your line of vision.
The floor units are around two feet tall, 9 inches deep, and between two and three feet wide.
The third option for indoor components is recessed ceiling cassettes. These are larger still and come in a variety of dimensions. But, they are much less noticeable than the others.
The bulk of the unit is recessed. All you see is a vent that’s flush with your ceiling.
It’s also worth noting here that all the air handlers are whisper-quiet. So, whether you have a wall-unit in your bedroom or a ceiling cassette near your TV, you’ll sleep soundly, and you won’t have to turn up the volume when they’re working.
With that in mind, there’s a little more to consider when choosing the right models for your home and your needs.
In particular, we want to point you to a pair of systems by Daikin that we highly recommend, especially for homes in the Fox River Valley.
If you’re planning to use your mini split for year-round comfort, then Daikin VRV Life is a must-have.
We mentioned that the heat pump draws heat from outside in the winter. Even when you think there’s no heat, there’s still small amounts of thermal energy.
A heat pump can do the job as long as it’s warmer than 13 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. And, it never gets that cold in most parts of the country.
But, Chicagoland is not one of those places.
That’s where the VRV Life system comes in. You can pair it with a gas furnace that kicks on when the weather’s too cold for the heat pump.
Those moments are far and few between. So, most of the time, you’re enjoying whisper-quiet, state-of-the-art comfort that costs a fraction of what it takes for a traditional furnace to run.
Then, for those times when it’s just too cold, the system switches automatically to fossil fuels until it’s warm enough for the heat pump to take over again.
If you have a nice deck, or not too much room between your home and the next, this is worth considering.
The heat pump, like the indoor units, is virtually silent. And, it uses a side discharge. Compare that to, say, a typical AC condenser where the fan and exhaust point up.
The difference with the side discharge is that you can place it under a deck or other structure. As long as the exhaust side has room around it, you’re good to go.
It’s also slimmer than most other models. So, you can keep it close to your house’s outside wall — especially useful if your neighborhood has regulations or statutes about where you can place outdoor HVAC units.
Now, let’s talk more about what it all looks like inside.
One more great benefit of a mini split is that you have so many options when it comes to how it looks inside your home.
First of all, there’s no ductwork. So, you don’t need us to build soffits and enclosures all over the place.
Next, you can choose between the high-wall mounted air handlers — the most popular, the floor units, or ceiling cassettes.
We often tuck these away in the corner of a room. In particular, the wall units go above windows and right near the ceiling. They do such a great job of circulating the air that we don’t need to put them in the middle of a room.
Next, in many cases, we run the lines that connect the indoor components to the heat pump through the walls. That way, you don’t see them at all, just like you only see an electrical outlet and not the wires behind them.
In the cases where that’s not possible, we group the lines and put a casing around them. You can paint that linehide to match the color of the room.
After that, it’s a question of running the lines to the heat pump. Depending on the model you get, it’s very easy to tuck them away.
It also helps that they’re way quieter than a traditional AC condenser. You can sit near one and not even notice it.
If you’re curious about how a system like this will look and fit in your Fox River Valley Home, call or email us here at Compass for a free consultation.