Installing air conditioning in a home with forced air heating is pretty straightforward, since the same ducts can be used. If you have boiler-style heating, on the other hand, installing air conditioning gets a bit complicated. You don't have any ducts to work with, and installing ducts in walls that were not designed to accommodate them can be a major renovation project. Thankfully, there is an alternative: ductless air conditioning.
What is ductless air conditioning?
Ductless air conditioning systems have two components. There's an outdoor condensing unit (just like you would see with a typical central air conditioning system), and an air handling unit. For most homes, there will actually be several air handling units. The condenser passes air over cooled coils. Then, this air passes through outdoor pipes to the air handling units, which blow it into the home.
The air handling units are typically mounted on walls inside the home. Depending on the design of your home, your HVAC contractor will determine where the best spots of the units are. For instance, you may end up with one unit in the kitchen, another to cool the downstairs living and dining room space, a third for the upstairs master bedroom, and a fourth for the rest of the upstairs.
What are the advantages of ductless air conditioning?
In addition to eliminating the need to install extensive ductwork in a home without ducts, this style of air conditioning gives you better control over the temperature throughout your home. Each air handling unit has its own thermostat, so you can keep one zone of your home at one temperature, and another zone at a different temperature. This can help you save money on your energy bills if you don't always need to cool your entire home.
What are the challenges of a ductless system?
Since installing an air handling unit in each room is not typically an option, you'll need to get used to leaving doors open between rooms in the same "zone." For instance, if you have one unit in the living room that's meant to cool the living room and dining room, leaving the door between these two rooms open is essential for even cooling.
While most people find the air handling units rather unobtrusive, they do take up wall space. Thus, you may need to rearrange some of your decorations to accommodate this system.
To learn more about ductless air conditioning systems and whether one is a good choice for your home, talk to HVAC contractors.