Perhaps you experienced the quiet air-conditioning power of a ductless system in an office building, hotel or home and wondered: How are ductless systems installed? The answer depends on the type of installation (single-zoned or multi-zoned), the design and efficiency dynamics of the home and the qualifications and quality of the HVAC contractor and ductless system which you select.
Use this guide to find out how a factory-licensed Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Contractor installs your new performance-driven ductless system for maximum energy efficiency and comfort.
Mitsubishi Electric Ductless Systems
Ductless systems are among the most efficient home-comfort systems available, and Mitsubishi Electric ductless systems lead the industry in innovation, design and performance. Ductless systems are available as heat pumps (heating and cooling) or as cooling-only models.
Like conventional heat pumps and A/C systems, ductless systems operate by the principles of refrigeration — extracting heat energy from one spot and moving and releasing it to another.
How Are Ductless Systems Installed?
The performance of ductless systems ultimately depends upon system design and capacity, quality of installation and the home’s rate of heat loss (heating and cooling load). The latter, your home’s heat-loss rate, should be addressed first.
An energy audit should be performed by your HVAC professional. Identifying and remedying air leaks and insulation deficiencies are important to stop energy losses through gaps, cracks and holes in the home’s shell. For instance, a tiny crack of one-sixteenth an inch around the entry door is approximately equal to the size of a one-square-foot hole in the wall.
These are the tools and methods used by your HVAC professional to remedy air leaks and insulation issues.
- A blower door test is used to pinpoint air leaks around windows, doors (including the attic hatch), pipes, wiring, cables and any other holes through the home’s shell.
- An infrared camera is used to capture heat-loss images through the home’s shell, indicating insulation deficiencies.
- Sealing materials include caulk (around windows), spray foam (larger holes around piping), foam gaskets (behind switch plates and outlets) and foam weatherstripping (around doors and the attic hatch).
- Insulation is inspected for any disturbance or damage such as mold or fallen insulation, and areas in the floor, attic and walls without insulation are evaluated.
- Once you are satisfied with your home-efficiency upgrades, a heat gain/loss calculation should be performed, which is needed to correctly size the new ductless system.
Installing the Outdoor Unit
The outdoor unit should be installed on a small concrete slab, or mounted to your home’s shell. The outdoor unit contains the compressor and condenser coil. The condenser requires free airflow across is to leverage maximum heat exchange. This means there should be five feet of clearance around the sides and top of the unit. Also, periodically check the unit for airflow restrictions, such as leaves, debris or other objects.
Installing the Indoor Air Handlers
You may have seen the indoor air handlers of a ductless system, but just didn’t realize it at the time. The air handling unit, or AHU, contains the evaporator coil, indoor air quality components and various other electronics and sensors.
Installation options include:
- High-wall mount — AHU are most commonly installed high on walls. This makes installations simple and unobtrusive, and affords easy access to filters.
- Hang ceiling — The AHU may also be mounted flush in a drop ceiling to resemble the supply outlet of central systems.
- Ceiling cassette — The AHU may be mounted directly to practically any type of ceiling. These types of installations are gaining in popularity, especially for AHUs with self-cleaning filtration components.
- Concealed mini-duct — For large rooms or two adjoining spaces, such as a walk-in closet and master bathroom, the concealed mini-duct supplies heated and cooled air via a small duct run from one AHU concealed in attic space.
- Floor consoles — Special air-circulation enhancements boost airflow for floor console AHU. Floor consoles also allow the easiest access for cleaning filtration components.
Installing the Conduit
The conduit is the component which houses and connects the refrigerant lines, condensate suction and power source between the outdoor unit and the indoor AHUs. The conduit only needs a small hole in the home’s shell, and then it is extended through inconspicuous spaces inside walls, the attic and/or crawl space or basement.
If you have more questions about how ductless systems are installed, contact Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning today. As a Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Contractor, we are proud to offer the best ductless system products and installation in the industry.