Everything You've Wanted to Know About Mini-Split AC Systems

Does there seem to be a constant battle in your home when it comes to controlling what temperature is set on your thermostat? If so, a mini-split air conditioner may be perfect for your needs. These devices are also great for any new additions — such as a sunroom, converted workspace, home gym, or man-cave — and for homes where adding ductwork for a central air conditioning system may not be an option, such as a Victorian-era structure.


So, what exactly is a mini-split AC?

A mini-split AC is designed to make use of an indoor air handler — which gets installed on a wall — and an outdoor unit. The two components are connected by refrigerant tubing and electrical wiring. There are a variety of configurations available when it comes to installing a mini-split system, so they’re ideal for many situations and scenarios. They can be used in homes where there’s already a central AC unit but family members want separate control over the temperature in an area such as a master bedroom, workspace or playroom.


Additionally, you can choose to have a single-zone or multi-zone configuration with your mini-split system. Single-zone configurations include one outdoor unit that is connected to one indoor air handler. In a multi-zone configuration, you will have one outdoor unit connected to several indoor air-handling units. The type of configuration you need will depend on what your family is hoping to achieve with your indoor comfort.


How does a mini-split system work?

The indoor unit or units of a mini-split air conditioner will contain evaporator coils and the system’s blower fan. The outdoor unit will have a fan, compressor, and condenser coil. The job of the outdoor unit’s compressor is to push refrigerant into your home and over the evaporator coils in the indoor air handler(s). When this happens, the refrigerant converts from a liquid to a gas. Then, warm air inside your home is blown across the coil and cooler air is then pushed through the home by the fan. The refrigerant gas is pushed back to the outdoor unit and converted once again from a gas back to a liquid when the heat from inside your home is released through the condenser coil.


What are the benefits of a mini-split system?

Now that you understand how these systems operate, it’s time to learn more about how you could benefit from having one installed in your home.

  • Mini-split systems are designed to be incredibly energy efficient. Rather than cycling on and off constantly throughout the day like a central AC that is responsible for cooling an entire home, you’re in control of when the mini-split system is running. Don’t want it on anymore in a certain room? Just shut it off.
  • You can customize the temperature for your needs. Some family members may want their space to feel like a freezer, while others can get cold very easily. With a mini-split unit installed, each indoor air handler can be set to a different temperature. You can please everyone in your household!
  • They can be installed in nearly any type of living space. Regardless of whether you live in a tiny home with no existing ductwork and no central AC, or if you live in an old historic home where it can be difficult to keep the second floor with high ceilings cool in the summer, a mini-split system can work for you.
  • In addition to providing cool comfort in the summer, they can also keep you warm in the winter. Most indoor air handlers also include a heat pump that can be used once the weather outside gets chilly — this could save on your heating costs in the winter! Instead of firing up your furnace to cycle on and off to push conditioned air throughout your whole home, you could enjoy having customized comfort with a mini-split system.

Where could a mini-split system be installed?

The short answer is — practically anywhere that you have a wall surface and electricity to power the unit. Here are some of the most common areas where these devices are installed:

  • Newly added or converted rooms — e.g., sunrooms, work-from-home setups, playrooms, home gyms, man-caves, and in rental spaces in the basement or above the garage.
  • Tiny homes where ductwork was never installed.
  • Old homes where it would be a hassle to add ducts needed for central heating/cooling — e.g., Victorian-era homes.

Thinking about installing a mini-split system?

Speak with a cooling professional before choosing a mini-split system for your home. He or she will be able to discuss what the best configuration may be for your family’s needs, as well as for your budget. He or she will also be able to assist you with getting the new system set up and maintained.