Between the easy installation and minimal required building modifications, ductless HVAC units have been the preferred method of residential and business cooling for quite some time across several international locations. With a current market size of roughly $98.6 billion, the ductless heating and cooling market is projected to reach $149 billion by 2030!
However, the trade industry in the United States has only recently taken interest in the power of ductless HVAC systems, especially when compared to traditional HVAC system ductwork and costly central AC systems. Ductless air conditioning is now an emerging market in the US, and HVAC operators nationwide will want to know more about the value these systems provide.
What is a Ductless Air Conditioner?
A ductless air conditioner, also referred to as a ductless mini-split system, uses one outdoor unit composed of a compressor and a condenser coil, and one indoor unit connected by a basic system of refrigerant tubing and electrical wiring. An indoor unit refers to a wall-mounted system composed of an evaporator coil and blower fan that directly disperses heated or cooled air into a home or business with zero need for property-wide ductwork.
Ductless air conditioners can either be a single-zone system or a multi-zone system. A single-zone ductless mini-split system uses a single indoor and outdoor unit to cool or heat a single area of a home or business. A ductless multi-zone system uses a single outdoor unit that is connected to multiple indoor units for property-wide heating and cooling.
Ductless Air Conditioning vs. Central Air Conditioning
Central air conditioning systems are the most commonly selected heating and cooling units in the United States. A central air system treats air at a single location and uses an indoor blower to disperse it across a home or business through a system of ductwork.
Unlike mini split systems that can be controlled from room to room, central systems use a single thermostat to temperature control the entire residence or business. And because of the extensive ductwork and system setup required for central air, installation costs are often much higher compared to mini-split systems.
Are Ductless Air Conditioners the Future of HVAC in the U.S?
For the past several decades, central air conditioning systems have been the go-to selection for home and business owners across the U.S. However, residents nationwide have increasingly begun to see the value and cost savings that accompany a mini split air conditioner. And now, ductless air conditioning has become a leading emerging market in the country.
According to market research, a key driver in the growth of ductless HVAC systems has been the rapid expansion of commercial and residential construction. The global construction market is expected to grow by a whopping $4.5 trillion between 2020 and 2030. Alongside new government regulations that are pushing for more energy-efficient HVAC solutions, ductless cooling systems are taking not only the U.S. by storm, but the global HVAC market as well.
When Did Ductless Mini Splits Become Popular?
Believe it or not, ductless mini split indoor units have been around since the mid-1950s, even though the market has just blossomed in the United States. Thanks to the early introduction from Toshiba and Mitsubishi Electric, ductless mini-split systems grew in huge popularity across Asia to become the global multi-billion dollar market we know today.
Daikin Industries out of Japan is also viewed as a leader in the ductless system market. After the brand’s development of the first multi-zone ductless system, such systems have only grown in popularity. Now that contractors in the US have begun to leverage the technology in new builds, the market is looking at a continuous upwards trajectory.
Are Ductless AC System Services Right for My HVAC Company?
With global growth surrounding the ductless mini split air market, many HVAC companies may be left wondering if offering such services is right for their company. From average system lifespan to the amount of energy consumption, there are numerous factors you can consider before deciding whether or not to add ductless AC systems to your service offerings.
Does a Mini Split Air Conditioner Use A Lot of Electricity?
A ductless air conditioner provides homeowners with a more targeted cooling and heating solution, allowing them to control system usage on a per-room basis. Because of this, ductless air conditioning systems can provide higher energy efficiency and monthly utility cost savings compared to traditional ducted systems — another reason they’re an emerging market in the US.
The average mini-split AC system wattage currently sits at around 600watts. If a ductless system were to run 24 hours a day, the average family household would consume roughly 432 kWh of electricity per month. On the other hand, with the average central AC system wattage sitting at around 2,000, a comparable 24-hour-a-day usage would result in almost quadruple the amount of energy usage (roughly 1,440 kWh a month) compared to mini split systems.
How Many Square Feet Can Mini Splits Cool?
On average, the typical household that installs mini split systems opts for a 12,000 BTU mini split. Generally speaking, this system will cool and heat approximately 450-550 square footage of living space. While this may not seem like a significant amount at first, the use of a multi-zone mini-split system will increase coverage by 450-550 square with each indoor air handler unit added to the residence.
What is the Cost of a Ductless Heating and Cooling System?
Along with the costs of professional installation, a customer requesting a single mini-split system can expect to pay around roughly $3,000. This ductless air conditioner cost does not include potential add-on expenses, such as electrical work and upgrades that may be required for installation. Bear in mind, this price is for a single unit.
If a customer requires a multi-zone ductless system for higher square foot coverage, they can expect these costs to sit at around $7,000 to $10,000 depending on system specifics. This amount is fairly comparable to central AC installation costs, but will not require as much modification to a home due to the minimal ductwork necessary when compared to a central system.
How Long Do Ductless AC Units Last?
On average, a traditional air conditioning system will last for at minimum of 10 years. The exact lifespan of a system depends on the initial system quality and the level of maintenance efforts put in over the years. For ductless HVAC systems, consumers can expect almost double the lifespan at an average of 20 years, give or take.
One important thing to keep in mind is that if a homeowner is located in a coastal area, the continuous impacts of salt and moisture can lead to more rapid corrosion of system metals that results in shorter lifespans.
What Are the Best Ductless HVAC System Brands?
If you’ve been inspired by the emerging ductless market and have made the jump to begin offering ductless HVAC system services, you need to know the best brands and systems. Choosing the right brand allows HVAC companies to provide more reliable services and systems that promise to provide quality heating and cooling for years to come.
With countless options on the market, some of the top brands to consider include:
Each of these ductless AC system manufacturers makes a wide selection of systems ranging in wattage size, square footage coverage, cooling and heating power, and price. To determine which brand works best for you, be sure to check out each of these top manufacturers and compare various models.
Who Makes the Quietest Split System?
A common fear with ductless air conditioning systems is the noise level the indoor air handler will produce when operating. According to consumer reviews, two of the best ductless HVAC system brands that provide the quietest solutions are Mitsubishi and Fujitsu. Popular models including the Mitsubishi MUZ-FH Series and the Fujitsu General Halycon RLF/RLX Series provide homeowners and businesses with quality cooling and heating while keeping noise output levels to a minimum.
Who Makes the Most Reliable Ductless Systems?
When it comes down to determining the most reliable split system, the answer to that question relies on the location, usage, and maintenance of a system. However, those looking for the most reliable unit should consider the warranty supplied with a unit. Our research found that Daiken offers some of the best warranties in the ductless game, providing consumers with up to 12 years of coverage on their new units.
FieldPulse | Field Service Management Software
If you decide to add ductless system services to your service offerings, don’t be surprised when you see an uptick in installation requests for this emerging technology. Whether you stick with traditional systems or begin offering both, you’ll need a field service management solution to help keep daily operations in check and order.
From technician management to client scheduling and invoice, FieldPulse’s expansive collection of capabilities can help HVAC companies keep up with any customer heating and cooling needs. Book a demo today to learn how FieldPulse can streamline your HVAC operations and take your business to the next level.