Room Air Conditioners

Friday, October 19, 2001

We're checking into heating & cooling our home. Right now we have window A/C units, and baseboard electric heat - a really inefficient, expensive solution.

It's always expensive to retrofit a house with a central system, but our home's tri-level configuration compounds the problem by requiring extra ductwork. We had somebody give us a quote, which comes in around $8000 or so!! Wow.

The wheels start turning

But, hey! Talking with the HVAC guy, and from what else I know about sizing these systems, it's all about compromise: finding the best balance from different parts of the house. Not too mention the closet space you lose with the ducts. Well, since it's so expensive to run ductwork, why not install a room unit in each room? They would have to be heat pumps, not just a/c, and we want them to be in-wall, not window units. 6 units would take care of the house, and they have to be less than $1300 each to be competitive with central.

It gets better

Doing a lot more reading, and I discover ductless split systems. These work just like a full-size regular unit usually does, with separate chiller and air handler, but are a single unit with no ducts. You put them in on a room-by-room basis. You gain a lot of efficiency, as each room is its own zone, and lose all the duct noise.

Several manufactures, zone cooling, no ducts, high efficiency, much lower capital expense - it all sounds too good to be true. Now to find some local dealers and see if this will actually pan out to all it's made up to be.


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