A home addition can be a great way to expand your living space and increase your property's value. However, if you want your new addition to stay comfortable year-round, it will need to be properly air conditioned.
If your home has an existing air conditioning system, it may be possible to expand your main system into the new addition. However, this is not always possible, and even when it is, expansion may not be the most cost-effective option. In these cases, installing a separate, ductless mini-split system in your new addition may be the ideal solution.
What Are Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners?
Ductless mini-splits are compact, yet powerful air conditioning systems. Unlike ducted air conditioners, these systems do not cool your home by forcing cooled air through vents and ducts.
Ductless mini-splits consist of one or more indoor units, which are installed in the room or rooms you wish to cool. These units are connected to a compressor unit, which is installed outdoors.
The compressor is filled with refrigerant liquids, which absorb heat from the surrounding air when they are compressed. The compressor unit compresses the refrigerant gases and funnels them into the indoor units through narrow conduit pipes.
As the refrigerant gases pass through an indoor unit, they absorb ambient heat from the air. The indoor unit then uses blower fans to vent this cool air into your room. The gases are returned to the compressor, recompressed, and the cycle repeats until your home is cool and comfortable.
Why Can't You Just Expand Your Existing System?
If your home relies on a ducted air conditioning system, installing new ducts to service a new home addition may not be the best solution. For starters, new ducting can take up a lot of room in your new addition. You may have to modify your plans or leave out some desirable features to accommodate a new set of AC ducts, especially if your new addition is modestly sized.
Your existing air conditioner will also have to work harder to cool an entirely new room. If your ducted AC system was already working at or close to maximum capacity, it may not be capable of cooling your addition effectively. Even if it is, it will have to run for longer periods to cool the new addition, which can tax the system's motors and increase maintenance costs.
If your home uses a multi-zone, ductless air conditioner, you may have similar problems expanding it into a new addition. Adding extra indoor units to your system will take up less space than a new set of AC ducts, but will force your system's compressor and pumps to work a lot harder.
Ductless systems are designed to work within relatively tight tolerances and may break down quickly if you attach new indoor units without upgrading the outdoor compressor unit. A new compressor unit can be both expensive and difficult to connect to your existing indoor units.
Should You Install A Ductless Mini-Split In Your New Home Addition?
If you encounter any of these problems, adding a separate, dedicated ductless mini-split can be an easy, economical way to cool your new home addition.
A dedicated mini-split will take up very little space, letting you make the most of your new indoor space, and will not affect the operation of your home's existing AC system. If your addition is relatively small, a compact, low-capacity mini-split will effectively cool your entire addition and may cost significantly less than upgrades to your existing system.
A dedicated mini-split can also be installed without altering your main home in any way. Expanding an existing system into an addition may require you to modify your home's exterior walls, which can be cripplingly expensive.
For more information on AC installation, contact a professional near you.