Mini Split or Central Air for this house?

vdinliApril 11, 2014

Hi. We have a small ranch style( 25' X54' ) house in Long Island, NY. We currently have two wall units in the Living Room and Family Room and use window A/c in the master and fans in the other rooms. We were initially considering upgrading the wall units to a ductless system wall mounts and called for a few estimates. We have only one floor and an unheated full attic above and we love our hot water baseboard heat.

Sorry, the dimensions are so hard to read-the Living room/Kitchen/Dining room area is about 20X25. The Bedrooms are 13X12, 12X12, 9X9 and the family room is 20X13 roughly. For some reason, the front door at the top of the picture and the door to the Family room are walled in.
All of the 5 companies we have had come in suggest central air will be significantly less expensive to do than put ductless wall units in each of the 5 rooms. like 25-30% less expensive. Also, CAC will be a plus point when we go to sell the house in this area-from my informal poll, people around here don't like the wall units at all. But, I am worried about the month to month cost of running CAC all the time. From what I understand, it is not efficient to turn it on and off all the time. The ducts will run in the attic but I am told that all the ducts are double insulated so we don't have to worry about cool air loss. I find that hard to believe. I also like the control and efficiency of the ductless system and that we can use it to boost heat if needed .
What do you experts and homeowners think? Do you think our electric bills will double if we do CAC? Just trying to get a sense of the numbers. After we decide on which kind of system, I will have to make sense of all the make, models, size etc. Of course, all five companies suggest five different systems. But that question is for a different day!
Thanks in advance!

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3 mini splits will do very well. You might need fans to push air in extreme weather but convection is enough 95% of the time.
Turning off central,window,mini split or any type hvac while at work then turning on whlie at home saves energy. That aurgument has been around since hvac was invented. The only way one can know for certain is do it both ways over a billing cycle then compare tempature days and energy consumed. I did,more than once.
Remember what Klem says "I Heard and They Said are often the biggest liars in town."

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 1:28AM
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Thanks for the reply, klem. Where would you put the three mini splits? The LR, FR and master bdr? One of the guys we had estimate suggested we use a ducted system in the attic with ceiling vents in the 3 bedrooms and wall units in the LR and FR. Is that what you are suggesting too?
. Good to know that turning the systems off when you are at work made sense. Hoping it will be that way for us too.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 12:01PM
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I can't read the room labels but it appears one mini split in each of the three largest rooms would surfice. Deciding between central ducted and ductless is simple a question of whether some rooms are often used indivudaly or if intire floor space is either in use or not on same scedule.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 3:27AM
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build a heating system closet
fur down ducts within living space serve
rooms from fur downs.

I test ductwork & find an average 30% duct loss.
lose this conditioned air into the attic & it costs
more to iaq issues.

spending the minsplit money on fur downs with a
central system...(heat pump?) would be the way
I'd spend my $$.

here in my hot humid climate putting ducts in
conditioned space is a good savings.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 8:27AM
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rater,here in North Tx Fox and Jacobs was useing furr down in thier homes 50 years ago. In the last 30 years I can't recall seeing a new home with furr down. I have hired furr down installed a few times where I was installing central heat and air up-flow in a hall closet of older homes. The majority of customers I suggested it to opted instead for venting through the attic. Based on those observations,I surmise that there is bias. How well is acceptance of furr down in you market?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 2:54AM
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I think the bias is largely cost, not so bad if you are
installing ducts in fur downs in a home that never had
There is an architect locally that puts furdowns in
all his new construction homes. he is known for building
energy efficient homes. if it wasn't one of his selling points
(the savings we get with ducts out of hot humid attics) the
average joe on the street wouldn't realize anything out of
the ordinary. his furdowns are simply part of the design of
the interior. they compliment the style of the house, rather
than being obvious.

sadly, he is one of the few on the same page as myself.

it is mostly in existing homes that I'm involved in
moving both equipment into conditioned space.
in most cases we make an unvented foam sealed ..
semi conditioned other cases we seal the ceiling
to create a tight air barrier to the attic..and insulate attic
well (conventional vented attic with ins on attic floor)
then closet fur downs ...

as you know, the layout of the house has to lend itself
to the furdowns. you can do it in my house
where the only furdown not in a closet is across the kitchen wall ...and just paint it to match the wall. no one really notices mine at all. or you can make the fur down a stand out or part of a trey ceiling.

in my experience, it has to be the right homeowner, the
right house & hvac company that will either do the furdowns..or just set up for someone else to build furdowns.
everyone has to be on the same page.
it isn't the most popular install...but is by far the most efficient one.

here in hot humid La. there is a savings for getting ducts
& equipment out of extreme attic temps. as are in many

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 9:18AM
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Weigh the cost difference between conventional split system and mini splits.

New ductwork to be installed?

How do you heat? What fuel?


    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 1:13PM
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Sorry to be MIA. We were away for spring break.
I had to look up what fur down meant as I had not heard of it before. Unfortunately, we do not have the closet space for that.
The splits are going to cost us about 6000$ more to install than the 8000$-9000$ range quotes for the Central Air. We heat with Gas-hot water radiators and have no duct work.
We crunched the numbers to run the A/C for only a few months a year and it looks like Central Air makes more sense.
I will post a different thread asking for help deciding between the different models we have quotes for.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 3:37PM
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