Jun 24

Efficient Cooling Technology: How Do Ductless Air Conditioners Work?

how does it work phrase pinned on a board depicting ductless hvac systems

How do ductless air conditioners work? These systems offer a unique cooling solution that bypasses the need for traditional ductwork. Like their central air counterparts, these innovative systems draw in warm air, remove the heat and moisture, and then expel the cooled air directly into the desired living space. 

This direct approach allows efficient and targeted cooling of specific areas or rooms, contrasting with central air conditioning systems, which rely on a network of ducts to circulate cool air throughout a property. Despite their effectiveness and growing popularity, there remains a curiosity among many: “How do ductless air conditioners work?”

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How Do Ductless Air Conditioners Work?

The following sections are all you need to know about this topic.

Components Of A Ductless AC Unit

ductless mini split components

At the heart of every ductless air conditioning system are three critical components that work in harmony to deliver cool air to your home:

Evaporator/Blower Unit

This is the indoor face of your ductless air conditioner, positioned strategically within the space designated to cool. Slim in design, typically around 3 feet in length, this unit plays a pivotal role in the cooling process. It begins by drawing warm air from the room into the system. It then proceeds to extract both moisture and heat from this air. Following this, it reintroduces the now-cooled air back into the room so you can enjoy a comfortable and consistent temperature. Meanwhile, the absorbed heat and moisture are expelled outdoors through a conduit.

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AC Conduit

The conduit connects the ductless air conditioner’s indoor evaporator unit with its outdoor condenser. This slender, extended conduit comprises essential components: refrigerant tubing, condensation drain, and power cable. Its dual function facilitates the electrical connectivity between the indoor and outdoor units and serves as the main channel for redirecting unwanted indoor heat and moisture to the outside.

Air Conditioner Condenser

The condenser is the external segment of the ductless air conditioning system. Its primary task is to collect the heat extracted from your home’s interior air and efficiently release it into the external environment.

Single-Zone Mini-Split Vs. Multi-Zone Ductless Setups

image of a ductless hvac system in a bedroom

Ductless air conditioners are versatile, working well in single rooms or across multiple zones. They come in two main configurations:

Single-Zone Mini-Split

This system features one indoor unit linked to an outdoor condenser, which is ideal for cooling a single area. For larger spaces, installing several single-zone units allows individual temperature control in different building parts. This modular approach means that if one unit fails, the others continue functioning, ensuring consistent comfort.

Multi-Zone Ductless HVAC

Multi-zone ductless systems come in two types. The first features a singular outdoor condenser linked to several indoor units, each paired with its thermostat. This setup activates all units together when cooling is necessary, making it a cost-effective solution for buildings where each room has a unique cooling requirement.

If personalized temperature control is a priority, a multi-zone mini-split system with individual compressor circuits for each indoor unit is ideal. This configuration ensures true zoning capability, with each evaporator/blower unit directly connected to its compressor circuit. As a result, occupants in each zone can adjust their temperature settings according to personal preferences.

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Do Ductless Air Conditioners Have Adequate Cooling Power?

Despite the compact appearance of their indoor units, ductless air conditioners can help cool specific zones or rooms efficiently. To ensure optimal performance, matching the unit’s BTU (British Thermal Unit) capacity with the room’s size is crucial. Generally, larger rooms require air conditioners with higher BTU ratings for effective cooling. Consulting with an HVAC contractor is advisable to accurately determine the necessary cooling capacity. They will consider various factors to recommend the most suitable system.

A too-small system will work overtime, causing wear and increasing repair needs, while a too-large system will short cycle or frequently start and stop, reducing its lifespan. Optimal unit sizes are as follows:

  • For 400-650 sq ft rooms, choose a 12,000 BTU/hour unit.
  • For 600-1000 sq ft spaces, opt for an 18,000 BTU/hour unit.
  • For 800-1300 sq ft areas, a 24,000 BTU/hour unit is needed.

Consult a licensed HVAC contractor for advice on ductless air conditioning systems.

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Pros And Cons Of Ductless Air Conditioners

pros and cons written on board

Exploring the benefits and drawbacks of ductless cooling systems can aid you in making an informed decision:

Pros Of Ductless AC

The advantages of ductless cooling units are as follows: 

  • Thanks to their in-built zoning feature, ductless air conditioners allow room occupants to adjust temperature settings to their individual preferences.
  • Ductless ACs are known for their energy efficiency. Energy.gov reports that duct leakage can lead to losing 20 to 30% of conditioned air. Ductless systems eliminate the concern of duct leaks, conserving energy and reducing costs.
  • Ductless AC units are a perfect, more affordable solution for cooling homes lacking pre-existing ductwork. This is especially true for older homes where space for new ductwork installation is unavailable. Moreover, installing traditional ductwork can be disruptive and expensive, requiring extensive modifications to walls, floors, and ceilings.
  • Ductless air conditioners’ flexibility allows for various installation options. Depending on your home’s layout and aesthetic preferences, they can be installed on the floor, mounted on walls, or suspended from ceilings.
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Cons Of Ductless Cooling Systems

Exploring the downsides of ductless cooling systems reveals some considerations for homeowners:

  • Ductless AC units often have a higher initial cost than traditional systems, though their energy efficiency and customization options can offset this over time. It’s important to remember that the additional expense of installing ductwork for central ACs can make them more costly upfront than their ductless counterparts.
  • Unlike central systems hidden away in less visible areas, ductless ACs must be placed in the living spaces, walls, floors, or ceilings. While they can be more conspicuous, their design is generally sleeker and less intrusive than window-mounted units.

Maximize your home’s energy efficiency starting today. Call Skylands Energy Service now to schedule an HVAC service appointment and enjoy a more comfortable and cost-effective living space!


Ductless air conditioners stand out for their customization capabilities, versatility, and remarkable energy efficiency. They offer a significant advantage by eliminating the need for traditional ductwork, making them more cost-effective to install and maintain than central air conditioning systems.

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Skylands Energy Service is the go-to expert for top-quality heating and cooling solutions in Central New Jersey. Our professionally certified technicians are dedicated to delivering exceptional HVAC tune-ups, repairs, installations, and replacements. Our technicians leverage extensive knowledge and experience to ensure your HVAC system operates flawlessly.

At Skylands Energy Service, we proudly offer the most cost-effective rates for heating and cooling services. Our maintenance solutions are aimed to enhance your comfort, boost your system’s energy efficiency, and minimize your heating and cooling expenses. Should you require HVAC repair or are considering a system upgrade, our experts will guide you to the perfect solution that fits your needs and budget. 

We stand behind our work with a satisfaction guarantee. Contact Skylands Energy Service today to book an appointment and receive a free, in-home estimate.

Skylands Energy Service stands behind our services with a solid satisfaction guarantee. To arrange a service visit and receive a complimentary, in-home estimate, contact Skylands Energy Service today.

Contact us now at (908) 707-1776 to find out more! To view our service area, click here.

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