Keeping your Lincoln home warm during the winter sometimes requires creative solutions. If you’re suffering through the winter with an inefficient heating system, the good news is that you have several effective and efficient options available. One option that many customers choose is a series of mini-split systems that work together to provide reliable heat throughout the winter. There are several important considerations that determine if a large-scale mini-split installation is right for your home. To ensure you make a wise investment, check out this guide from your friends at John Henry's Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical to learn more about the ins and outs of mini-split HVAC systems.

What Is a Mini-Split System?

Mini-split systems are the primary means to heat and cool homes throughout most of the rest of the world because they are simple and economical. On the inside is a unit that houses the operating electronics and fan. Outside, you’ll find a unit housing a compressor. The two units are connected by a refrigerant line. You can control the entire system using a remote control, making it very easy to fine-tune the temperature in the room where the indoor unit is mounted. No ductwork is required for a mini-split. Instead, it directly heats the room where it’s mounted. While there will be some residual temperature change in other nearby rooms in your home, a mini-split’s main job is to heat and cool just one room.

How Does a Mini-Split System Create Heat?

Every mini-split system, regardless of the brand, is a miniaturized air-source heat pump. This means that the mini-split extracts heat energy from the outside air. It sends this heat energy into your home through the refrigerant line. Once the heat energy reaches the blower area, the fan blows cool air across the hot refrigerant line, thus increasing the temperature of the air. After the heat energy in the refrigerant dissipates, the system sends the refrigerant back outside to gather more heat energy to bring inside. This cycle continues until the room reaches the correct temperature and the system shuts down. Heat transfer in the refrigerant is accomplished by lowering the temperature of the refrigerant until it’s lower than the surrounding air. After that, thermodynamics can take over to put the heat energy where it’s needed.

Single-Room Comfort

As mentioned, many people use a mini-split system to heat and cool only a single room. Since mini-splits are available in a variety of sizes, you can utilize them for rooms that are quite large, including garages, basements, or anywhere else that doesn’t currently have service from another type of HVAC system. In this scenario, a single indoor unit would be connected via the refrigerant line to a single outdoor unit. John Henry's Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical performs these installations quite often for both residential and commercial customers looking to add some extra comfort in hard-to-reach places. However, keeping a single room in your home warm will only do a little good when your entire home is cold.

Multi-Room Comfort

The good news is that you can use multiple mini-split indoor units to heat multiple rooms in your home. In fact, if you want to, you can install an indoor unit in every room in your home, effectively giving you the whole-home comfort of a central HVAC system. The even better news is that having multiple indoor units doesn’t necessarily require multiple outdoor units. Unlike a conventional HVAC system, where you have to match the compressor outside with the fan inside, you can select a larger outdoor unit for your mini-split system to pair with the indoor units. This prevents you from cluttering your outside area with multiple HVAC units while still enjoying complete comfort inside.

Advantages of Using Multiple Mini-Splits

There are several advantages of using multiple mini-splits to heat and cool your home compared to using a conventional HVAC system. One of the biggest advantages is that you can separately control the temperature in each room of your home. If someone likes to keep it cool in their bedroom, but you like it a little warmer in the living room, you can easily make this happen with no fights over the thermostat. Another advantage of using multiple mini-splits that John Henry's Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical likes to point out is that you don’t have to pay to heat and cool rooms in your home that you aren’t using. If you’ve got a spare bedroom that no one’s using, you can simply close the door and allow your other indoor units to heat and cool the rest of your home. Then, when you have guests in the spare bedroom, they can control their comfort separately from the rest of the home. This is an exceptionally efficient and smart way to keep your home comfortable.

If You Already Have a Central HVAC System

One question we get a lot at John Henry's Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical is if a mini-split makes sense if you already have a central HVAC system installed. There are a few parts to this answer. First, adding a mini-split to a room that is already supplied by your home’s central HVAC system isn’t usually the best approach. That’s because you’ll likely be tempted to close the vent to the central system, and this could cause excess pressure to build up on the heat exchanger.

However, if you have a room that’s beyond the reach of your current HVAC system, a mini-split makes a lot of sense. This is especially true if that room is in a separate building that’s not currently served by an HVAC system at all. If all of your rooms have vents, and you still want the room-by-room comfort that mini-splits can provide, check with John Henry's Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical to see if your system can be retrofitted with automated dampers. Dampers seal off certain sections of ductwork to allow you to set different temperatures in different areas of your home. While they won’t work for everyone, it never hurts to ask.

What About Cold Nights?

One final concern that keeps some people from making the leap to mini-splits is the exceptionally cold nights that often occur in Lincoln. After all, if there’s very little heat energy in the air, how can your mini-splits keep your home warm? Fortunately, mini-splits are very effective at removing even small amounts of heat energy from the air. Even on the coldest days of winter, there is still heat energy in the air that the system will be able to find. As the system is pulling heat energy from frigid air, though, the refrigerant line can occasionally freeze up. While the system defrosts the refrigerant line, mini-splits use an auxiliary electric heat strip to ensure that your home never gets cold. Thus, no matter the weather, a mini-split makes a lot of sense.

Here for All of Your HVAC Needs

At John Henry's Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical, we are proud of the work we do for our customers. Whether we’re installing an air conditioner, repairing a furnace, maintaining a mini-split, cleaning a drain, installing a new plumbing fixture, or performing one of our other services, we always work to exceed our customers’ expectations. That’s why we’ve been able to stay in business for over 20 years and consistently receive five-star customer reviews. You can turn to us for all your heating, cooling, plumbing, and indoor air quality needs in Lincoln and the surrounding area. To learn more about mini-splits, feel free to contact us at John Henry's Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical today.

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