Our homeowners in Chicago, IL called Compass Heating & Air when their radiant heat boiler failed. This would be a big job. This was the heater that treated their entire home. When they called, they asked us about converting to a ductless heat and air conditioning system.

These are also called mini-splits. And, a few years ago, we installed one in their basement. Even with their boiler, that part of the house never got warm enough. They needed a little something more for that room.

A mini-split has a lot of benefits. One of them is that you can add onto it very easily. That’s what our homeowner had in mind. They liked the system they had in the basement. It did the job well, it was quiet, and it wasn’t as expensive to run as other HVAC options.

Once we had everything planned out, it only took a day to get the new setup installed and running. Let’s take a look at how it works and why our homeowners chose it.

Problem: The radiant heat boiler in a Chicago, IL bungalow failed. It treated most of the house, but there was also a mini-split system in the basement.

Solution: Installed a Mitsubishi hyper-heat system with three new wall-mounted. It connects to the existing mini-split in the basement.

How ductless heat and air conditioning works

As the name implies, ductless heating and air conditioning offers heating and cooling without using ductwork and vents. That’s especially important when you remember that we were adding on to something that was already there. Plus, we needed to condition the entire house.

Adding ductwork is a long, expensive process. We would need to map out where the new ducts would go. Then, we’d take up a lot of room near ceilings and in closets to fit it all in. That’s not to mention how expensive it is to make the ducts, or how long it takes to install.

That’s not the case here. Instead, we use what’s called a mini-split system. It’s got two major parts.

Outside is a heat pump, sort of like an AC condenser. Inside the home are the panels, or air handlers.

The heat pump generates the heating or cooling. On one end is the outdoor condenser that removes the humidity from the indoor air and on the other end are the high wall and low wall panels that circulate the air in the room. These act like the vents. They distribute the air throughout the room where they’re located.

What’s great about the air handlers is that we can install them pretty much anywhere. All we need to do is mount them high up on a wall. Plus, they are literally whisper-quiet. Even if you’re standing right under one, you’d barely even know it was running.

From there, we snake that tubing through the walls to connect the pieces. That is a huge advantage over ducts. We don’t even need to tear down any walls or do any major work. The whole thing can take less than a day.

Advantages of a ductless hyper-heat system

There are plenty of reasons to consider a ductless hyper-heat system over other setups. Just a few of them are:

  • They cost less to run
  • They’re quieter
  • They offer a lot more customization

We already looked at how they’re quiet. And, we’ll get into the customization stuff a little later. But the big one for most people is cost. After all, heat is heat, right? What’s different is how much you’re paying for it.

So, what we usually point out here is that these systems use a lot less energy than other setups. So. that’s less you play on your monthly bills.

How do they do that? Well, it’s got to do with how the system generates heat or cooling. And, then there’s how it distributes that treated air.

It all starts with a heat pump outside. It doesn’t look like a pump, though. All you see is a box with a fan in it.

Inside, there’s refrigerant liquid, or coolant, that flows through the machine. That starts what’s called the heat transfer process. It goes like this: Heat is attracted to cool air. The refrigerant is cold. So, any heat that’s outside in the winter moves to the pump.

The coolant warms up, and the machine amplifies that heat and sends it into the house. When the heat gets released in there, the coolant cools down again. Then, the process starts over.

So, how does this save money? Simple: The heat pump only uses a little bit of electricity to start this process. It’s not burning gas or oil or boiling water or heating coils. That makes for a massive dip on the energy bills.

Then, there are the air handlers. They use inverter technology to run on more modes than just on and off. You know how a regular heater clicks on and turns off? All it does is blast in some heat when the temp drops. Then it turns off again.

Now, the air handlers have a low-energy mode. This way, they maintain the temperature all the time. They usually stay in that power-saver setting. Occasionally, they’ll kick up if there’s a sudden change.

This way, they use a lot less energy than having to play catch-up every time the place goes down a few degrees. And, there’s a lot less wear and tear on the system when it’s not turning on and off all the time.

Adding zones to an existing mini-split

Of course, our homeowners knew a lot of this already. After all, they already had a mini-split in their basement. What they wanted to do was expand this to their whole house.

And, this was really easy. Each panel has a thermostat on it. That means our homeowner controls every zone separately.

Compare that to central heating or ac. You have one thermostat. It’s usually in the living room. And, it controls the whole house.

So what happens when the upstairs is hotter than the living room in the summer? It never cools down completely. The thermostat shuts off the ac once the living room is the right temperature.

In the winter, it’s the opposite. Is that basement too cold? It will stay that way. As long as the living room is warm, the system won’t kick on.

That’s why our homeowners had that one downstairs in the first place. It kept the basement as warm as the rest of the house.

To expand this, we just repeat that process throughout their home. We put in three more air handlers to cover the other rooms. Then, we connected them all to the heat pump they already had.

Now, our homeowners can control the climate for each part of their home. They can make some rooms warmer or colder than others. Or, they can keep them all the same. Either way, they’re paying less than they were before and getting even better climate control.

Do you want better, quieter heating and cooling with lower energy bills? Contact us, and we’ll design a system that’s perfect for your home.