Purchasing or inheriting an older house that lacks HVAC ductwork could leave you scrambling to find a reliable and efficient cooling solution for the summer months. The good news is that it doesn’t have to. Whether you’ve been relying on a noisy window air conditioner or a number of box and table fans, it’s possible to experience the benefits of whole-home air conditioning in your Miramar, Florida home. Keep reading to find out how.
Adding Ductwork Post-Construction
One way to install air conditioning in a home that lacks HVAC ductwork is by having air ducts put in post-construction. This will prepare the house for supporting a central heating and cooling system. Once installed, a central air conditioner will reliably deliver cooled air to all areas of the building.
However, not every home is well-suited for these upgrades. When ductwork is installed at the time of a building’s construction, the walls are built around it. As a result, air ducts are both concealed and well-insulated. Putting these structures in later on often means sacrificing livable areas. In most cases, post-construction ductwork also diminishes indoor aesthetics.
Other Drawbacks of Retrofitting a Home for Central HVAC
It’s always important to note that post-construction ductwork rarely allows for the same levels of durability and efficiency that existing ductwork provides. HVAC air ducts that are installed after homes have already been built are less insulated and less protected overall. They’re more likely to sustain impact-related damages, and they’re more likely to experience heat loss and cold air leaks. This comes in addition to the fact that HVAC air ducts may be responsible for as much as 30% of a household’s energy waste, even when air ducts are built during a home’s initial construction.
Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners
Ductless mini-split air conditioners are a far less invasive alternative. These whole-house air conditioning systems don’t require major building modifications. With a ductless AC, you’ll have just one moderately sized unit installed in your back or side yard. This will then be connected to one or more air handlers at the building interior. For each air handler, your installer will drill a small hole to accommodate the unit’s electrical wires and refrigerant line. This hole will have a diameter of approximately three inches.
With a ductless mini-split air conditioner, every room or zone in the building can have its own air handler and thermostat. In fact, ductless air conditioners can accommodate as many as eight air handlers. This way, people in different areas of the home can independently control the temperatures in their locations. Comparatively, central cooling systems cool homes down uniformly. With just one thermostat, most central air conditioners run until all areas of the building reach a single, preferred temperature.
Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pumps
Ductless mini-split heat pumps offer the same zoned, whole-house cooling that mini-split air conditioners provide. However, they’re also effective heaters during the cold season. In areas with relatively temperate winters, ductless heat pumps can extract enough heat from the outdoor air to keep an entire home warm. For this reason, they’re currently considered the most efficient option in home heating solutions.
If you don’t have HVAC ductwork for supporting central cooling, and if your current fixed heating solution isn’t very efficient, switching to a ductless heat pump could be the right choice. You’ll have cooler indoor temperatures during the summer, and you can save considerable sums of money in the winter. This is also a great way to lower your carbon footprint.
Like ductless air conditioners, ductless heat pumps have a single outside unit. They also require the same three-inch holes for connecting electrical wires and refrigerant tubing to indoor air handlers.
How Ductless Cooling Systems Stack up to Central Cooling Systems
Both ductless heat pumps and ductless air conditioners are among the latest and most innovative options in home cooling technologies. These units boast high levels of efficiency by the very nature of their designs. However, they also offer tremendous energy savings by virtue of zoning. With zoned cooling systems like these, it isn’t necessary to use energy to cool down spaces that aren’t in use. If you have rooms or entire areas of your home that are unoccupied, you can simply turn off the air handlers in these spaces or adjust their respective thermostats accordingly. This level of flexibility also makes it possible to accommodate the different preferences and needs of individual building residents.
When compared to post-construction ductwork, ductless installations are fairly seamless and easy. These projects aren’t noisy, messy, or time-consuming. They also don’t require homeowners to give up any of their usable space. The only indoor components for these systems are air handlers and thermostats, and air handlers can be installed in discreet, out-of-the-way locations. For instance, many homeowners choose to have their air handlers installed on the upper wall or directly on the ceiling.
One of the major benefits of ductless cooling systems is their ability to instantly modernize older homes. These additions add both value and appeal to otherwise dated properties. If you ever decide to sell your home, having a ductless mini-split system installed will provide better returns on your investment even as it makes it easier to find interested and motivated buyers.
What About Window Air Conditioners?
Ductless mini-split systems and central air conditioners provide dual benefits. These systems regulate indoor temperatures and extract excess humidity. Keeping indoor humidity at a moderate level creates a more comfortable, livable indoor climate. After all, it is possible for homes to be both cool and oppressively muggy. This is especially true in Florida.
Window air conditioners don’t provide humidity regulation. Although some higher-priced models may have settings for humidity extraction, these units are neither large enough nor powerful enough to get the job done. More importantly, unless you have a very small-sized house, a window air conditioner will not have the capacity to cool down your entire living environment. Most window ACs are only capable of cooling down a single room. They also:
- Compromise home security by creating a point of entry
- Create gaps and other openings for pests to get in
- Diminish indoor air quality
- Produce lots of noise
Window air conditioners are also notoriously inefficient. Running a single unit will greatly increase your home energy bill even as this unit only cools a very small portion of your home. If you have a large home, running two or even three window air conditioners at once could wind up costing you a veritable fortune.
Which Option Is Right for You?
Every home is unique. Some Florida homeowners may find that having post-construction ductwork put in isn’t a major issue. In these cases, retrofitting a building for central heating and cooling might prove to be the easiest and most cost-effective choice. However, in most instances, ductless mini-split systems are the least intrusive option and they provide the greatest range of benefits. Scheduling a consultation appointment will help you learn more about your available options.
Quality Air Of America is a trusted provider of heating, cooling, and indoor air quality services to residents of Miramar, Florida, and the surrounding areas. If you have questions about installing air conditioning in a ductless home, we’ve got answers. We’re committed to helping our clients save money, make informed decisions, and enjoy optimum levels of home comfort. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.