Mini-Split Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps

Mini-splits refer to ductless systems consisting of two units: a slim-line outdoor condenser, and an indoor air handler. Central air conditioning systems, which split systems, feature an outdoor condensing unit and an indoor evaporator unit. With mini-split systems, however, the evaporator rests inside the room being air-conditioned. Mini-split systems, used mostly for cooling smaller areas, can act as a single system and connect to two, three or even four indoor units. Mini-split systems present an attractive option in older homes or buildings that do not have the ductwork to accommodate a conventional ducted system, and in homes or businesses that have hot or cold spots.

With mini-splits, the condenser feeds coolant to the air handler through refrigerant lines that pass through a small opening in the wall (or ceiling) to the back of the unit. The air handler receives air from the room through the front grill and sends the cooled air back into the room. Certain filters add humidity control for some units. Although mini-split systems run quiet and powerful, the main benefit they provide is simple installation procedures and space consciousness that they provide.

Buyer's Guide to Mini-Split Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps

  • Ask for an ENERGY STAR® or high efficiency model. When buying mini-split air conditioners from a retailer or contractor, requesting an ENERGY STAR certified or high efficiency model ensures you reap the greatest savings.
  • Check the yellow EnergyGuide Label. Use the yellow EnergyGuide LabelLink opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. to determine the model's energy use, compare the energy use of similar models, and estimate annual operating costs.
  • Sizing and Installation. When buying a new ASHP, sizing and installation are as important as product quality. Hire a participating BPI Accredited contractor who will size your heat pump based on the conditioned volume and specific characteristics of your house or building including insulation levels, window types, air leakage, etc. Proper equipment sizing should take your home or building's heat loss during cold weather and heat gains during warm weather into consideration. Sizing and other installation practices dramatically affect how well your new equipment delivers comfort and savings.

Energy Saving Tips for Mini-Split Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps

  • Consider regular maintenance. Regular maintenance optimizes your heating and cooling system performance.
  • Change the Filter. Changing your filter regularly (at least every three months) is a good idea, but it is hard to know how much energy it actually saves. Check your filter every month, especially during heavy use months (winter and summer). If the filter looks dirty after a month, change it.
  • Sealing Ducts. Ducts that move air to and from a forced-air furnace generally waste significant energy. Sealing and insulating ducts improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20%. Yield better heating and cooling performance with ENERGY STAR home sealing (insulation and air sealing) and duct sealing available through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program.
  • Test Airflow. Participating BPI Accredited contractors test your heating and cooling system airflow and adjust accordingly to ensure neither system runs too high nor low, both of which affect performance and comfort.