Ductless systems may seem like a very odd choice for home heating. They’re limited to serving one room per unit, and usually take up a fair bit of wall or ceiling space in that room. It would seem that centralized heating and cooling systems are better suited to service the house in every way. However, ductless systems do actually have plenty of reasons to recommend them over centralized systems. One of those reasons is efficiency. Let’s explore why ductless systems are so efficient, both in terms of output and energy usage.
Ductless System Construction
In order to understand why ductless systems are so efficient, you must first understand how they work. Ductless systems are essentially heat pumps. They don’t burn any kind of fuel to create heat, and instead work by moving heat from one place to another. Their construction is similar to air conditioning systems, with one unit installed inside the house and the other outside. The inside unit is always installed in the room that it is going to condition, either on a wall or ceiling. The outside unit is either installed on the roof, an exterior wall, or on the ground outside the house.
Ductless Operation and Efficiency
Ductless units move heat from one place to another by evaporating and condensing refrigerant. In cooling mode, the inside unit evaporates refrigerant inside its coil to draw heat from the room. The refrigerant gas then moves down a refrigerant line to the outside unit, where it is condensed back into a liquid. The condensing process releases the heat into the open air. In heating mode the flow of refrigerant is reversed, with the outside unit capturing heat to send inside.
This method of operation makes ductless systems efficient in a number of ways. For one, the system saves a lot of money on heating bills by not burning any kind of fuel. For another, the ability to both heat and cool the room means that a ductless system does not need to be supplemented by any other system. Only heating or cooling one room also makes ductless systems incredibly energy efficient. The average central forced air system loses about 30% of its output to leaks in a home’s ducts. Ductless systems always deliver 100% of their output directly into the room.