August 6, 2022
Mini Split in Sacramento, CA

Choosing between a mini-split unit and a central AC unit can be confusing for many people. Mini-splits are designed to work without ducts, and they can offer flexibility that central air units do not have. However, the primary question most people have when they start looking for new AC units is about efficiency.

To find out what will be most efficient for your building, you’ll need to look at a few things. One important aspect of the overall energy efficiency equation per building is the actual energy rating on the individual unit you are looking at. Mini-splits are newer, and they tend to have higher energy efficiency ratings overall. Many people like to use the SEER rating system, or the seasonal energy efficiency rating. Overall, mini-splits range in the 16 SEER to 22 SEER range. For this rating system, the 22 SEER rating is more energy efficient than the 16 SEER rating. There are a large number of mini-split units that run in the 20 SEER and higher range, so your options are good for efficiency per unit if you shop for mini-splits.

A large part of the energy equation is whether the unit is the right one for your house. While it’s important to buy an efficient unit that is rated well by the manufacturer, you won’t get great results if your unit is too small or too big or if you have problems matching a new unit to your existing ductwork.

Lastly, many people will find themselves in a situation that makes adding ductwork difficult or impossible. If you cannot get sufficient ductwork inside the building, that will reduce the overall efficiency of the unit no matter which type or size you pick out.

Choosing a Well-Rated System

Both central AC units and mini-splits can be made with high-efficiency levels. Be sure to measure the systems on your potential shopping list so that you can really compare them. The SEER rating system sets out specific points for how the rating is achieved, and it includes assumptions about how the average consumer uses their AC system seasonally. This rating system operates with the assumption, among other assumptions, that most people use their AC units at around 75% of the power capacity for much of the hot season.

The SEER rating evaluates the maximum efficiency of systems, but the maximum actual efficiency of each unit is affected by the house size and ductwork that is put in as well. Like mileage average ratings, the SEER rating is an evaluation that can vary depending on how systems are used and the outdoor or indoor conditions.

When you go to evaluate the energy rating of your system, ask your AC professional about the details of the system related to your house. Not all AC units with a higher rating use the same compression and variable motor systems. The ductwork requirements will likely vary somewhat for different types of units. Getting an experienced professional to help you estimate how well the average efficiency of your unit will play out in your house once installed is important as you shop for the units with higher ratings.

Is AC Unit Suited to Your Building’s Design?

Mini-splits are known for being very efficient in homes that have a more open layout. They often come with four standard splits, which is a common room division for homes. You can expand them or shrink them. A professional who has experience with these systems is a great resource as you find out how to buy an efficient mini-split that will work for your home’s layout.

In homes with more open layouts, some rooms tend to require extra cooling power to stay comfortable. Mini-spits often work well in this type of home or other building because the indoor unit size can be adjusted so that more air will flow through certain areas. This solves the flow and temperature problems that many people have with central units, which causes rooms to cool differently unless you leave doors open for much of the day.

Mini-splits use separate thermostats by zone to target the cool air distribution, which can make them a lot more accurate than central units. The single thermostat on central units can make them less efficient than a mini-split in many buildings.

The Ductwork and Other Installation Factors

Your AC pro can help you determine which unit will be most efficient by checking your ductwork before you replace a unit. If you don’t have any ductwork yet or don’t know if any can go in, it is still important to call a professional for assessment. Many people are surprised when they call for an assessment and find out where ductwork cannot be installed. In many cases, your ductwork may have reduced efficiency if you do have it installed properly.

The size of your unit and the number of mini-splits that you use can affect the overall efficiency a lot. It’s always important to buy an AC unit that doesn’t have to max out its power use regularly. With regular use, central units will last an average of 10 to 12 years. Mini-splits have a typical lifespan of closer to 20 years, and you will always have more reliable cooling power if you don’t overwork your unit.

In some buildings, all the rooms do not need consistent cooling. While some people have traditionally relied on very powerful or oversized central AC systems to stay comfortable, they may find that a mini-split works just as well in a building that is not often at full capacity. The indoor units for a mini-split system are compact but accurate. They are known for blending well with different decorating schemes and generally not being in the way.

Installation and Sizing

Mini-splits work better when they are placed strategically in the building by room. Central AC units benefit from strategically sized ductwork and vents. Whenever you are assessing the potential energy use on a system, make sure you have the placement of the unit or the ducts and vents evaluated alongside the size of the unit by a professional. This is the best way to get the most comfort while using the least possible energy.

Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning provides exceptional service to customers in the Greater Sacramento and Northern Valley, CA areas. We employ highly reliable NATE-certified technicians who pride themselves on the quality of their AC installations, repairs, and maintenance services. We also install, repair, and maintain furnaces as well as work on water heaters and water purification. Our technicians perform indoor air quality assessments and duct cleaning as well. We provide all kinds of up-to-date services for general repairs in heating, cooling, and plumbing. We can help you with clogged drains, pipe repairs, garbage disposals, toilet problems, and more. We are highly experienced with Energy Star products and are proud to be certified by the EPA.

Whatever services you need to get your California home to be more comfortable, functional, and efficient, we can help. Call Gallagher's Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning today for more information!

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