This type of air cooler is similar to a central system in that it features two main components. These components are the air-handling unit, which is installed indoors, and the condenser or compressor, which is installed outdoors. The two components are attached by a conduit, which contains the condensate drain, suction tubing, a power cable and tubing to distribute refrigerant.
These systems offer a variety of benefits to consumers. The biggest benefits are flexibility and size. These small units can control the temperature in one or more zones in a large room or in a small room. Most of these units have a single outdoor unit and up to four air handlers. Those with multiple air handlers can control the temperature in multiple rooms or zones simultaneously.
The number of units needed indoors depends on the amount of space they need to cool. Separate thermostats regulate the temperature in each room or zone. Units in rooms where there are no occupants can be turned off, saving on energy and operating costs.
These cooling systems are not as difficult to install as other types of systems. In most cases, a three-inch hole through the wall is all the unit needs to attach the conduit. Manufacturers offer various conduit lengths to suit any need.
Units that are ductless, save energy because there is no heat loss through the ductwork. In a typical system, heat loss can be up to as much as 30 percent of the energy necessary to run the system. Ducts in attics or other unconditioned areas waste more energy.
The biggest drawback to these systems is the high price. A York mini split air conditioner can cost between $1,500 and $2,000 per ton of capacity. This is more than 30% as much as central system installation without ductwork. They perform similar to window air conditioner units, which cost approximately half as much.