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7 Ductless Air Conditioning Installation Tips

7 Ductless Air Conditioning Installation Tips

7 Ductless Air Conditioning Installation Tips

Our tips for installing a ductless air conditioning system will help you enjoy benefits like improved energy efficiency and zoned temperature control. Ductless ACs can be installed in a new or existing home or an add-on section. In some cases, one can be used to supplement your central HVAC system. Flexibility is a major benefit of mini-split heat pumps and other ductless options. Configuring a system that’s perfect for your home is possible if you follow these seven tips:

  1. Find the Right Sized Mini-Split
  2. Choose a Condenser Type That Meets Your Needs
  3. Find an Indoor Air Handler Suited for Your Home
  4. Consider the Airflow Where the Unit Is Installed
  5. Mount the Unit at the Proper Height
  6. Place the Unit In an Easily Accessible Area
  7. Limit Exposure to Direct Sunlight

1. Find the Right Sized Mini-Split

A ductless air conditioner’s size is its capacity. It’s measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). While a BTU refers to how much heat is needed to raise a pound of water’s temperature by 1℉, an HVAC unit’s BTU rating indicates its cooling or heating capacity. A 6,000 BTU system can cool a space of about 150 to 250 square feet, while a 24,000 BTU system can cool a 1,400 to 1,500 square foot space. Like other ACs, ductless units come in many sizes.

Installing an improperly sized system can lead to many problems. If its BTU capacity is too low, the unit will work harder to maintain the desired temperature and be overworked. You may have hot and cool spots throughout your home. If a system’s BTU capacity is too high, it may turn on and off so much that it consumes too much energy. In both scenarios, increased wear and more frequent repairs are possible, costing you more over time.

When sizing a condenser, a technician will consider its nominal vs. actual capacity rating. Here’s how these pertain to ductless air conditioning installation:

  • Nominal Capacity Rating: Nominal capacity is based on tests performed in the manufacturer’s facility, but doesn’t represent how a ductless AC will perform in the real world. 
  • Actual Capacity Rating: A system’s actual capacity may be affected by outdoor temperatures, line-set length, humidity, and installation variables.

2. Choose a Condenser Type That Meets Your Needs

Every ductless AC system requires a condenser. Depending on your system, these are the two basic options:

  • Multi-Port Condenser: Containing several built-in refrigerant ports, a multi-port condenser enables a plug-and-play approach to connecting multiple indoor air handlers. Therefore, setting up the pipework for multiple, independently controlled zones is easier. An all-in-one condenser is also a more affordable option. However, it has a limited capacity and fewer line set length options than a branch box unit.
  • Branch Box Condenser: If you’re aiming for higher capacity, a branch box unit can often support up to eight zones (some systems can handle nine zones when two branch boxes are used). All the indoor air handlers link to the branch box via a single connection. The branch box and condenser must be from the same manufacturer. This option also requires installing more parts, making ductless air conditioning installation more complex.

3. Find an Indoor Air Handler Suited for Your Home

Each air handler supplies cool air to the room it’s installed in. However, choosing an air handler for a ductless air conditioning system isn’t as simple as you might think. There are several types to choose from, depending on your home. Here are the most common options available on the market:

  • Wall-Mounted: Wall-mounted ductless units are the least expensive and most popular ductless indoor air handlers. They are generally easy to install and come in many sizes, types, and efficiency ratings. The unit mounts to a vertical wall, concealing the three-inch hole drilled for the refrigerant lines, electrical wire, and drain tube. 
  • Floor-Mounted: A floor-mounted unit is placed near the bottom of the wall at least six inches above the floor surface. It’s best suited for homes with limited wall space, high windows, or low or slanted ceilings. Therefore, a floor-mounted air handler is ideal for a finished attic.
  • Ceiling Cassette: If you don’t have much wall space to spare, or aren’t keen on the aesthetics of a large air handler, a ceiling cassette is an alternative. It is best for drop ceilings but can be installed on drywall and joist ceilings too. The unit is hidden except for the grilles on the ceiling surface.
  • Ceiling-Suspended Unit: This type of ductless indoor unit is installed onto a ceiling. It can be suspended from threaded rods to make room for other ceiling appliances, such as fans or light fixtures. The unit must be installed next to a wall (not in the middle of the ceiling) at least eight feet above the floor.
  • Concealed Duct Unit: This unit combines the traits of a ductless system and a central forced-air system and can be installed in a closet, attic, or crawlspace. It is completely concealed and installed outside of the zone. Ductwork delivers conditioned air through grilles, which are the only visible parts of the system.

4. Consider the Airflow Where the Unit Is Installed

A ductless AC requires abundant airflow to provide optimal cooling and operate efficiently. Therefore, an air handler must not be placed in a corner or behind furniture. It should also be at least six inches from the ceiling. The proper location ensures the right amount of air circulation so your home stays comfortable and there are no indoor air quality issues.

5. Mount the Unit at the Proper Height

Height requirements can vary depending on the air handler type and model. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions during installation (an HVAC technician will know exactly how to install the unit). Most units must be at least six feet above the floor for optimal airflow and air distribution. Installing the unit too high can make it inefficient; installing it too low increases the risk of damage or tampering.

6. Place the Unit In an Easily Accessible Area

In addition to following our other ductless air conditioning installation tips, ensure the unit can be easily accessed. This will make it easier for you to clean or change the filter. An HVAC technician will also have an easier time with maintenance tasks, such as inspecting the unit, cleaning it, and checking refrigerant levels. The unit will also be less challenging to repair.

7. Limit Exposure to Direct Sunlight

Installing a ductless air handler in direct sunlight can make it inefficient. Place the indoor units where the sun’s rays can’t reach them, or use window shades or blinds to keep sunlight out.  Avoid installing units near lamps, ovens, or other heat-producing appliances. The outdoor unit should be installed on the shaded side of the building. It can also be protected with a shade or cover.

Other Factors to Consider During Ductless Air Conditioning Installation

Some considerations are room size, number of units, and efficiency ratings. The type of unit matters too. So does the brand, especially when you weigh quality, reliability, and price. Some units produce more noise than others, so look at various factors when researching and reading reviews. Checking the terms of the warranty can also help determine the overall value of a ductless AC unit.

Contact Monarch Home Services 

Homeowners in Fresno, Bakersfield, and elsewhere in Central California depend on us for high-quality mini-split heat pumps and ductless air conditioning installation. Our NATE- and EPA-certified technicians can help you choose energy-efficient alternatives to traditional central AC systems. They also provide comprehensive AC maintenance services, ensuring optimal performance, energy efficiency, and longevity. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call (661) 215-6428 today.

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