What You Need to Know About Split Systems
As you begin researching air conditioning and heating systems for your home or business in Glencoe or Northfield, you will likely come across split systems. Split systems are another option when it comes to air conditioning in addition to portable window units and central systems. The main feature of a split system is that a portion of it is inside the building while the rest is outside.
Understanding What Split Systems Involve
In a split system, the same components are always outside regardless of who manufacturers the unit. The exterior unit will be placed by the wall outside of the area to be cooled. This is where the compressor and condenser coil are, as well as the capillary tubing or expansion coil in the case of air conditioning. The interior unit has an air filter, a cooling coil, and a long blower. This allows it to appear nice and sleek, taking up very little space inside the home and minimally affecting a room’s aesthetics. Split heating systems are set up very similarly to an air-source heat pump. The exterior portion includes the condenser or compressor while the interior portion handles the air. They are connected by a conduit with refrigerant tubing, a power cable, a condensate drain, and suction tubing.
How Split Systems of Air Conditioning Are Different
If you are unfamiliar with air conditioning systems, you may not immediately notice what is different about a split system compared to other units. The biggest difference is that while traditional air conditioning systems require ductwork, split systems are only connected via tubing and electrical wires. Since no ductwork is needed, installation is easier and quicker, cutting costs. To further lower the price, the lack of ductwork means fewer materials are required, which is also good for the environment. It is also worth noting that the ducts in traditional air conditioning units lose energy from heat exchange and increase the amount of energy used which is bad for your financial situation and the environment.
Do Split Systems Go by Other Names?
You may hear or see a unit referred to as a mini-split air conditioner or mini-split heater as opposed to just a “split system.” This is essentially the same thing and they are also frequently referred to as ductless heating or air conditioning systems because of the lack of ducts mentioned above. In most cases, however, the term multi-split system refers to systems that include more than one indoor unit. and are common in larger rooms.
Split Systems Are Highly Efficient
HVAC professionals in Glencoe, Winnetka, and surrounding suburbs of Chicago regularly suggest split systems because of their excellent efficiency. As mentioned earlier, systems that include ducts are prone to energy loss. This risk is reduced with split systems. The energy savings are a bonus for the environment given the strong impact that humans have on it. To further improve efficiency, ductless air conditioners tend to have compressors that are inverter-driven. These will slow down or speed up based on the system needs. By comparison, traditional compressors in HVAC units will shut off completely, and they consume a great deal of energy when starting back up.
Split Systems Can Save Money
Installing a split system for heating or air conditioning will save you money on more than just your electric bill. Compared to installing a traditional HVAC system, the installation process will be simpler as there is no need to tear apart walls to install ducts. Keep in mind, however, that you still need to have a professional install a split system which may not be necessary for all small window units. Because of this, a split system will save you money over a ducted system, but a single window unit will be cheaper.
It is also worth mentioning that replacing a ducted HVAC system with another ducted system is typically cheaper than swapping it with a split system. Split systems are cheaper when being installed for the first time. Even so, by opting for a split system, the savings will add up via your electric bill.
Split Systems Are Quiet
Compared to window units for heating or cooling, split systems are quieter, meaning they won’t interrupt the peace of your Winnetka home. In a window unit, all components of the air conditioner or heater are inside the room, meaning that you hear the compressor and the fan cooling the condenser. Since these components are outside in split systems, most of the noise the HVAC system produces will be outside the home and inaudible within.
You May Want a Backup System
Because the Chicago area gets fairly cold in winter and regularly falls below zero, you may want to consider having a fuel-based backup system in addition to a split system for heating your home. Many units are simply not able to keep up with the extremely cold temperatures of winter without the use of ducts. That being said, some of the newer models are capable of handling these colder temperatures. If you are concerned, consult your HVAC professional who will let you know how your chosen split system performs at the height of a Midwest winter.
Monthly Maintenance Is Required
If you are considering a split system for your home, remember that you will need to wash out the filter on each unit at least once a month. Those with pets or people who smoke need to do so even more frequently. Unlike ducted systems, ductless fans simply can’t deal with the debris that accumulates. Cleaning the filters should only take a few minutes each time but ignoring this issue can reduce the lifespan of the system and cost you hundreds in professional cleaning fees.
You Will See the Unit
Before choosing a split system, be sure that you know how the interior portion of the unit will look in your home. This type of HVAC unit cannot be covered, as that would negatively affect their functionality. That being said, most people see this as a small issue and forget the units are there since they can be positioned out of the way.