Expanding Your HVAC System Into A New Addition
Building an addition is a great way to add functionality and resale value to your home. New construction involves a large number of decisions, however, and not all of them are glamorous. Along with designing the fun parts of your new space, you will also have to consider how you will route utilities into the addition. Not only does this mean bringing plumbing and electrical, but it also means expanding your existing HVAC system. If your home uses forced air heating and central cooling, then you may think that your only option is to bring your ductwork into the new rooms. There are several reasons why this may not be the best option, however.
The Hidden Costs of Expansion
Depending on the size of your new addition, bringing ducting into the new rooms can be a costly affair. Not only do you need to run new ductwork, but these lines have to connect with the existing ducting in your home. Depending on the design of your current HVAC system, the ductwork may not extend all the way to the addition. If this is the case, then you may be on the hook for extra demolition and disruption in your home.
Unfortunately, ductwork expansion isn't the only hidden cost. If you are adding several rooms, then it's likely that your existing HVAC system may not be up to the task of heating and cooling the new space. Furnaces and split air conditioning units are generally designed to be an exact fit for the area that they are required to condition. This careful sizing allows them to operate with maximum efficiency, but it also limits expansion options. The addition of a new heating and cooling zone may require a full upgrade of your HVAC units.
Using Ductless Systems to Save Money
Mini-split HVAC systems (also known as ductless systems) are one option to avoid these costs. Ductless systems consist of a single indoor unit that connects to an outdoor condenser unit. In other words, a mini-split system works in the same way as a traditional split AC system, but the condenser connects directly to a single unit that integrates the evaporator coil, blower, and other indoor elements. These systems are exceptionally efficient since no air is lost through ductwork inefficiencies. A ductless system also takes up less room than a window unit while generally providing better capabilities.
Ductless options are particularly well-suited to single room additions, but they can work well in larger spaces if necessary. Even better, a single unit can be used for both heating and cooling so long as you live in a climate that doesn't experience particularly frigid temperatures. Newer combined units can cope with temperatures down to about 32 degrees, so they are suitable for many US climates.
Is a Ductless System Right For You?
As with any HVAC decision, whether or not a ductless system will work for your new addition will depend mainly on your circumstances. They are a great way to save money on energy bills and installation costs when routing your existing HVAC system into an addition would be cost-prohibitive. Ductless systems also provide a high level of energy efficiency while taking up very little space, making them generally preferable to window units for most newer homes. If you think a mini-split system might be right for you, discussing your options with a qualified installer is the best way to find out for sure.
For more information about ductless air conditioning, contact a local HVAC service.