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How Do Mini Splits Work: Mini-Split 101

How Do Mini Splits Work: Mini-Split 101

Jon Hubal
5 minute read

Ready to learn? Buckle up as we take you through the answer to "How do mini splits work." Mini Split provides heating and AC just like your regular duct system but allows you to control the temperatures in individual rooms and spaces. 

Mini-Splits fundamentally have two parts, an indoor unit, and an outdoor unit. Mini-splits are, on average, 30% more efficient and take up much less space – making them a great option, especially when ductwork is not.

How Does a Mini Split Work

how does a mini split work

How Mini Splits Work: The Basics of Mini-Splits

They’re essentially heat pumps with two main parts – an outdoor compressor (or condenser) and an indoor air-handling unit (or evaporator). Mini-splits use refrigerant to draw out heat from a building in the summer and warm it in the winter.

You can hook multiple indoor units up to a larger outdoor unit for whole-house temperature control, as seen in hotels.

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MRCOOL DIY Easy Pro® 24k BTU Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump Complete System


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Easy to Install and Quieter Than Central Air Units

They’re relatively easy to install and cause much less renovation damage than their ducted counterpart. They usually only require a three-inch hole or less for tubing, cables, and wiring, which link the outdoor and indoor units.

Mini-splits are different from central AC units in that they provide point-specific heating and cooling, as opposed to central heating and cooling, which use ducts to connect rooms to the indoor unit.

They’re very popular in new construction, notably smaller, more efficient dwellings. Because the compressor is outside, the mini splits are often quieter than central air units.

how mini splits work

How Do Mini Splits Work: Three Types

Single Zone, Dual Zone, and Multi-Zone. Each has its pros and cons determined by the system size it needs to control.

Single Zones are simply a single air handler and condenser unit. They are the smallest, most manageable systems to install – designed to heat or cool one area efficiently. They are also the most cost-effective option and can be a viable option for small houses and apartments.

Dual-zones are designed to temperature control two areas with two air handlers powered by a single outdoor unit. Dual-zone minis are a cheaper option than multi-zone units. If your single ductless is not providing enough heat, this may be the upgrade you need.

Multi-Zones consist of three or more indoor units connected to one outdoor unit. They work like the dual-zone but can control up to eight zones on one condenser – enough for a huge house.

how do mini splits work

How Does Mini Split Work: Offer Flexible Temperature Control

Temperature can be controlled by using designated thermostats installed in each zone. They are ideal for whole-home heating, where the temperature needs to be regulated in multiple rooms.

The internal and external units have a lot of leniency with where you want to put them. The condenser can be placed further away from the residence for even more soundproofing. Indoor air handlers can be placed on floors, walls, and even ceilings – providing various installation options.

Summarizing How a Mini Split Works

Mini-splits are a unique alternative to conventional ducting (Central AC) and can provide a heating and cooling system catered more specifically to your spatial needs. If you have stubbornly hot or cold parts of your home, mini splits are an excellent option to control your climate.

How Do Ductless Mini Splits Work: Offering Versatility and Efficient Cooling

Their simpler, less bulky design allows them much greater versatility than ducted systems. This makes them great for renovating older areas and can be used when ducts, through either cost or space limitations, are not an option. They especially come in handy when trying to create comfort in a small or medium-sized room! 

Mini systems are generally a more efficient choice, particularly in smaller spaces. It can sometimes even get you a green rebate – so check your local perks!

Interested in Learning More About Mini-Splits?

To further expand your knowledge about mini-splits, be sure to check out our other related blog posts. We have articles that cover topics such as the benefits of mini-splits, how to properly maintain them, and their energy efficiency compared to traditional HVAC systems. Read more about the Best Mini Splits 2023: The Ultimate Guide, and if Mini-Splits Increase Your Home's Value. We also have  A Step-by-Step Guide for sizing your mini split system, and an Installation Guide on Where to Install Your Mini Split.

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