Mini-Split Surveyed Indicates Three Main Uses

room-minisplit

Recently, Emerson Climate Technologies conducted a survey of homeowners who have purchased a mini-split system within the past 1-5 years. The respondents represented a large sample of people across the U.S. in different climate zones, which provided a good understanding of how mini-splits are being applied throughout the country. After reviewing the data, we found three main reasons that people opt for a mini-split.

three-main-uses-for-mini-splits

No Existing Ductwork:

Mini-splits have recently become an alternative to window AC units for homes where ductwork is not present. They are quieter and more efficient than most window units are. However, they come at an additional cost. As the graph below depicts, for those respondents without a central air conditioning system (~16%), they are primarily looking at mini-splits to avoid installing ductwork (40%) or to provide spot cooling to a room without central AC (52%).

Renovations/Add-ons:

Respondents with central AC and existing ductwork were using mini-splits for a renovated room (35%) and/or for a room add-on (30%). And 37% of those with ductwork and central AC stated they purchased a mini-split to avoid adding ductwork in the renovated space or room add-on. In the past, it was common for people to use through the wall packaged or window units. In any case, the “spot cooling” option allows the homeowner to avoid adding additional ductwork and potential central unit replacement to cover the increased load. When adding on additional rooms, mini-splits can provide a good alternative to package and window units or additions to an existing central air system.

Addressing Problems:

In the survey, 84% of people had existing ductwork with a working central AC unit, which was surprising. However, of those 84%, 39% purchased the mini-split to augment their existing central system by addressing a poorly heated or cooled room in the house. As with add-on rooms, these issues were addressed with package and window units in the past. Digging further, we also found that the top three rooms where mini-splits are applied are the master bedroom, living room/den, and a child’s room. This makes sense as many bedrooms tend to be at the end of a long run of ductwork that may not get enough airflow to properly heat or cool the room, or if a system has not been properly sized or zoned.

However, while mini-splits may address poor heating or cooling in specific areas, they are simply treating the symptoms of an underlying issue. To address the issue, homeowners may consider properly sizing a newly installed system down the road. In the meantime, some duct zoning solutions could potentially solve the problem when a system is replaced at the end of its useful life. We’ll have more on this topic in a future article.

As always, please review your specific needs with your contractor to understand your best options to address your particular heating and cooling needs.

To download the infographic in PDF, please click here.

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14 thoughts on “Mini-Split Surveyed Indicates Three Main Uses

  1. we just bought a 725 square foot cabin and it has the long electric heaters on the floor. No place to really put duct work and this is why we are looking into ductless. We would have to cut the wall to put a air/heat window unit. We are in Nashville TN.

    • Many mini-split units only require a 2-3″ hole for the tubing and electric to connect the indoor unit to the outdoor unit.

  2. I have the ductless mini split system. I live in Ma . When I run it in the summer with the air on all summer my electric bill runs around
    200 per month. As soon as I turn the heat on the bill goes up to 600 per month. I have oil heat and only use the system for a backup. Not only do I not use less oil I have a huge electric bill to go along with it. Does anyone else have this problem. The company that installed it told me not to use the heat, Funny, when they sold me the system they told me how economical it.
    Help, I don’t know how to address this problem.
    Janet

    • Hi Janet- based on the information you provided it appears that the unit is providing electric heat and could be a control or thermostat setting issue. IT would be best to have this checked by the installer or other qualified HVAC contractor.

  3. I have the ductless mini split system. I live in Ma . When I run it in the summer with the air on all summer my electric bill runs around
    200 per month. As soon as I turn the heat on the bill goes up to 600 per month. I have oil heat and only use the system for a backup. Not only do I not use less oil I have a huge electric bill to go along with it. Does anyone else have this problem. The company that installed it told me not to use the heat, Funny, when they sold me the system they told me how economical it.
    Help, I don’t know how to address this problem.
    Janet

  4. I have the ductless mini split system. I live in Ma . When I run it in the summer with the air on all summer my electric bill runs around
    200 per month. As soon as I turn the heat on the bill goes up to 600 per month. I have oil heat and only use the system for a backup. Not only do I not use less oil I have a huge electric bill to go along with it. Does anyone else have this problem. The company that installed it told me not to use the heat, Funny, when they sold me the system they told me how economical it.
    Help,, I don’t know how to address this problem.
    Janet

  5. I have been reviewing mini-split systems and have some questions about its efficiency. I have seen systems with up to 8 zones, but still not sure how these units would handle my house. 2600 Sq. Ft., 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, den, game room and a large open area with kitchen, dining room, family room and nook. It seems unlikely that a single zone would cool that large area evenly based on heat generated in the kitchen, but not in other areas. The master bedroom has 2 large walk-in closets (doors normally closed) and a large bathroom with a separate water closet. How would a zone cool all of these areas with wall/door separations. Also, two other bathrooms would have no zone assigned but would be getting cooling from an adjacent room. How would they really cool when the bathroom doors are often closed and how does the unit provide humidity control in wet areas like a bathroom.

  6. I have a house built in 1972 in California. 2300 Sq feet. The original dual furnace system is still installed because no homeowner will touch that thing because it is a minimum of $20K to pull it out and bring everything up to code and get rid of all the “bad” stuff. And that $20K does not include the cost of putting a new furnace, wiring and AC compressor in, so add on another 8K. The mini-split is still a better and cheaper option for someone in my situation, even though I have the existing ductwork.

    • We are in a similar situation. CA home built in 1974 with a swamp cooler on the roof. Temps get up to 110. Home purchased 4 yrs ago and we’re originally looking to have central AC installed but we’ve been quoted $15-20k so we stopped looking into it. Recently we started looking into the ductless mini splits so far we’ve been quoted $7500-9500 for 1523sq feet. This will not be our “forever home” but we’ll likely be here for the next 5 yrs. We’re just not sure what to do, but I don’t think I can go another season without it and a new baby

      • Look on eBay, we just bought a 2,000 square foot 4 zone mini split system with 36,000 BTU’S of heating and cooling for about $2500.00. Installation will be about $2,000 on our trailer. We decided to not use the existing floor vents, due to the fact that the trailer was built in 1988, so now we have the units hanging on the walls, in the master bedroom, kitchen/dining area, living room and second bedroom. So, our total cost will be $4500.00. I am sure you could do the same for your 1500 sq. ft. home? 7 year Warranty Compressor (Heat Pump!) sit’s outside. Line set’s install on exterior walls, so they will need covers (not included, but, cost included in our total price!) and can be painted to match your existing exterior color! Shop around for separate installer, as costs vary greatly! Good luck!

  7. Why haven’t we seen natural gas fueled central air conditioning for residential use; the cost of electricity and rising demand in
    those areas of the South where AC is used 10 mos out of the year
    could benefit.

    • Natural gas-fired air conditioners used the Electrolux absorbtion cooling cycle to provide refrigeration. The Electrolux cycle uses a simple machine, with no pumps, compressors, or valves. That makes it inexpensive to build, and it requires only a source of heat. Some early Electrolux refrigerators ran on kerosene fuel, great for remote cabins,etc. The down side is that the coefficient of performance is horrible. While a typical vapor compression chiller might have a COP between three and four (providing three to four units of cooling for each unit of energy input) the best Electrolux cycle systems delivered a COP well under 1.0, typically delivering about 0.6 Btu of cooling for every 1.0 Btu of fuel value consumed. That terrible efficiency is why you don’t see them around much.

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