To duct or not to duct: That is the question

Taking Care of Business

When renovating a residential (or commercial) space, whether it is a room addition; converting a basement, attic, or garage into a living space; or adding central heating and air conditioning to a whole house (or business) that has none, you have a lot of choices to consider. Choosing a new comfort system may not be as much fun as choosing new furniture, but it’s just as important to get it right.

The old standard for providing heating and cooling throughout a home or business was always installing the equipment and a duct system — in the attic, crawlspace or in between the floors and walls. However, if there is no room for that invasive and sometimes quite large duct system, what do you do? You go “ductless”!

What is ductless? You guessed it — no ductwork! No matter what the challenges are that your space, home or business presents, ductless offers a very efficient way to expand your comfort and provide complete year-round climate control.

A ductless split system (often referred to as a “mini split”) includes one outdoor unit and up to five indoor units, connected by refrigerant tubing and electrical wiring. The indoor unit is often wall mounted and delivers heated or cooled air quietly and efficiently — no ductwork needed. As there are several styles of indoor units available (wall mount, floor mount, ceiling mount) and because installation only requires a hole in the wall for the wiring and refrigerant tubing, ductless HVAC systems are the easiest and most versatile systems to install.

Just like a standard ducted HVAC system, the outdoor compressor unit pumps chemical refrigerant through the tubing to the indoor unit’s coil. As the liquid refrigerant turns to gas, heat and humidity are removed from indoor air blowing across the coil, sending cooler, less humid air back into the space. The refrigerant, in gas form, cycles back to the outdoor coil, where it is converted to a liquid as heat energy is released through the outdoor coil. A ductless heat pump system operates exactly the same way for cooling, with the additional ability to reverse the process for heating the indoor space. Yes, this part is all so exciting…Zzzzzzzz…but, you get the picture.

In addition to the fact that a ductless system can provide total comfort to any area you desire, it can save you money! In recent years, utility costs across the country have skyrocketed. When a home or business temperature depends upon an inefficient system, monthly bills can quickly climb out of control. Mini-split heating and air conditioning systems operate on less power — they are smaller than traditional forced-air systems, and because the temperature-controlled air is delivered directly into a space, there is no loss in efficiency. SEER ratings (like miles per gallon for your air conditioner) for ductless systems can be in the 30.0+ SEER range. That’s incredibly efficient! In addition, the units run extremely quietly. Most units are in the 25 decibel range, which is similar to rustling leaves and are the system of choice for musical recording studios.

Ductless air conditioning and heat pump systems are like the Swiss Army knife of HVAC. They have a solution for just about any heating and cooling need and can provide comfort in areas where traditional ducted systems can’t. Your local HVAC professional can assist with correct sizing of the systems (with computerized manual J load calculations), efficiency options and information on EnergyStar rebates and possible tax credits. To duct or not to duct is no longer the question; ductless is the solution!

About John Kennedy 14 Articles
John Kennedy is general manager of Art Newsome, Inc. and can be reached at 873-0345 or by email at

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