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Air Conditioning Systems for Ductless Homes

by Kelly Wingard
Hip-Home.com Columnist

Sure, you love cozying up to your radiators in the winter. But come summertime, when you're sweltering in 98% humidity, you curse your ductless home and search intently through real estate ads for a home with central air conditioning. Then your eyes flit lovingly to your 12-foot ceilings, hardwood floors, and carved oak mantelpiece and you sigh. Maybe you will sweat it out a few more years without central AC....

But why let a little heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) problem stand between you and your beloved castle? Today you can have your Victorian and cool it too, thanks to ductless air conditioning systems. Although fairly new to the U.S. market, the Japanese have been cooling their homes for years with these ACs. Often called split-system air conditioners or ductless mini-splits, these ACs can be retrofitted into homes unequipped with standard HVAC ductwork. They also work well as supplementary AC units to cool hot spots like sunrooms and commercial kitchens.

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Split-System ACs Preserve Architectural Integrity

Ductless air conditioning systems appeal to old-home lovers because they provide the comfort of central air conditioning without disturbing a historic home's ambience or architectural features. Indoor air-distribution units hang discreetly on walls or ceilings, requiring only a three inch diameter hole to connect them to an outdoor compressor. Far less invasive than installing ductwork, split-unit ACs keep century-old plaster walls and hardwood floors intact.

Advantages Over Window ACs

Both window air conditioners and split-system ACs have the energy-saving capacity to cool only one room instead of the whole house, but window units are noisy and unsightly. They also require considerable effort to put in and take out--not to mention they prevent you from opening your window on breezy days. Since split-units operate on a thermostat, they maintain your room at a constant, comfortable temperature, as opposed to the erratic on-and-off chill of window units.

Old House Web: Ductless, Split-System Air-Conditioners
This Old House: Ductless Air Conditioning
Bob Vila: New Air Conditioning for Old Houses

About the Author
Kelly Wingard is a freelance writer and a homeowner with 30 years of budget-minded decorating and remodeling experience. She also lives in a ductless, circa 1888 Victorian sweatbox. She called an HVAC contractor today.

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