If you are considering a ductless mini-split air conditioner for your home, you may be wondering what exactly this type of AC is and how it works.

To be fair, the name kind of gives it away.

In its most basic form, a ductless mini-split air conditioner system consists of one outdoor unit and one indoor unit, which are linked by refrigerant tubing and electrical wiring. The indoor device is frequently wall-mounted and sends heated or cooled air straight into the living area without the need for any ductwork.

Ductless systems are a flexible solution for expanding comfort in any home, whether you live in a new or older house with or without ductwork.

Adding a room addition, converting an existing space, or wanting more comprehensive year-round climate control over a certain room or region of your property? Ductless systems are an efficient method to improve your home’s comfort.

How Do Ductless Air Conditioners Work?

Ductless air conditioners work similarly to other air conditioning systems by using refrigerants to cool and heat your home.

The outdoor unit of a ductless mini-split contains the compressor, while the indoor unit houses the air handler. Both units are connected by a small conduit that contains electrical wiring, refrigerant tubing, and a drain line.

The units are mounted on walls or ceilings, and they work together to deliver comfortable temperatures throughout the home.

Related: How Often Should Air Ducts Be Cleaned? (A LOT!!)

The Components of a mini-split system:


This is what actually cools the air inside your home. It’s a type of chemical that evaporates and condenses easily.


This is the part of the system that pressurizes the refrigerant and circulates it through the various parts of the ductless mini-split.

Air Handler

The air handler, or indoor unit, blows air over the evaporator coils to cool them and then sends it into your home.

Evaporator Coils

The evaporator coils are what the refrigerant actually comes into contact with to absorb heat.

Condenser Coils

The condenser coils release the heat that was absorbed by the refrigerant back into the outdoors.

Drain Pan

The drain pan collects any water that is produced during the cooling process.

Related: Are Mini Split Systems Gas Or Electric? (BOTH MAYBE?)

The Benefits

One of the benefits of ductless systems is that they can be used in a variety of settings, including:

  • Add climate control to a room or space that doesn’t have existing ductwork.
  • Zoning, or creating different temperature zones in your home.
  • Heating and cooling a sunroom, garage, or other space that is not attached to your home.

Ductless systems offer homeowners a number of other benefits, including:

  • Improved energy efficiency over traditional HVAC systems.
  • Flexible installation options.
  • Quiet operation.
  • Individual temperature control for different areas of your home.

There 6 Different Types of Mini Split Air Conditioners

  • Single zone.
  • Multi-zone.
  • Wall-mounted mini-split.
  • Floor-mounted mini-split.
  • Ceiling cassette mini-split.
  • Concealed duct mini-split.

Single zone

A single-zone mini-split system consists of one outdoor unit and one indoor unit.

This type of system is best for small spaces, such as a single room or an apartment.

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The main distinction between a split system and a multi-zone mini split is the presence of two to four indoor units in the former, as opposed to one in the latter.

Despite being linked together, each element in a multi-zone system might be programmed to operate independently and be configured at a different temperature.

Wall-mounted mini-split

A wall-mounted mini-split system is placed near the top of the wall. Due to their low cost, they are the most popular mini-split option.

Floor-mounted mini-split

Floor-mounted mini-splits are similar to wall-mounted mini-splits, except they’re positioned near the bottom of a wall rather than towards the top.

They’re great alternatives for homeowners who want to install their mini-split systems on the wall but have windows that are too high, ceilings that are too low, or slanted roofs.

Ceiling cassette mini split

Ceiling cassette mini-split systems are placed on the ceiling. Because of their position, they offer a greater airflow than most other types of systems.

Ceiling cassette mini splits are great for homeowners who don’t want their heating and cooling equipment to take up wall space and wish to keep it hidden.

Concealed duct mini-split

Concealed duct mini splits are mounted on the ceiling and have the evaporator and condenser concealed within the ductwork.

This type of system is perfect for homeowners who want their mini-split system to be hidden from view.

The air handler is the only visible component in a concealed duct mini-split system.

Is the Installation of a Mini-Split System Different?

The installation of a ductless mini-split is different from the installation of a central HVAC system, but it’s not difficult.

Ductless mini-splits don’t require any ductwork, which means that the installation process is much simpler. In most cases, a ductless mini-split can be installed in just a few hours.

Another significant difference is that ductless mini-splits don’t require a dedicated space for the air handler.

The air handler can be mounted on a wall or ceiling, which means that you’ll have more flexibility when it comes to choosing a location for your ductless mini-split.

You also have the ability to zone your ductless mini-split, which means that you can cool or heat different areas of your home independently.

This is perfect for families with members who have different temperature preferences.


What is the difference between ductless and mini-split?

There is no difference between a ductless and a mini-split. They are both terms that are used to describe the same type of air conditioner.

What is the difference between a single zone and a multi-zone ductless system?

A single-zone ductless system contains one air handler and one condenser unit. A multi-zone ductless system contains multiple air handlers and one condenser unit.

How long does it take to install a ductless mini-split?

The installation process for a ductless mini-split is typically much quicker than the installation process for a central HVAC system. In most cases, a ductless mini-split can be installed in just a few hours.

Is a central air conditioner better than a ductless mini-split?

There is no clear answer as to whether a central air conditioner or a ductless mini-split is better. It depends on your specific needs and preferences.

Do mini splits work in hot weather?

Yes, just like any other type of air conditioner, mini splits can be used to cool your home in hot weather.

Can a mini-split heat my home?

Yes, mini-splits can be used for both cooling and heating. Most mini-split systems have a built-in heater that can be used to heat your home when it’s cold outside.

Does a mini-split have to be on the exterior wall?

The indoor units do not require an external wall as a vent, therefore ductless splits are ideal for cooling rooms without windows or exterior walls, such as basements and garages.

How long do mini-splits last?

Ductless mini-splits, like heat pumps, can provide both heating and cooling with a typical lifespan of 10 to 30 years, except in coastal regions where they may only last 10 years.

Where is the best place to put a mini-split?

A shaded location is usually the ideal spot for a heat pump condenser. The condenser should also be placed on the home’s side or behind it, free of bushes and greenery (which may obstruct airflow).

How much wall space do you need for a mini-split?

I recommend a minimum distance of 7-8 feet (2.1-2.4m) between the mini split indoor unit and the floor. For the area between the indoor unit and the ceiling, I propose 8 inches (200mm). Furthermore, below the indoor unit, you should have at least 8 inches (200mm) of clear space.

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