Are you trying to convert your basement into a new, comfortable living space but stymied by installation limitations? Are you struggling with uncertainty over the right cooling and heating system to use?
Keep in mind that any system that you will decide to install in your basement will have an impact on your comfort and budget in the long-term.
Despite the plethora of options, the most excellent choice to effectively cool and heat your basement is a ductless mini split system.
With ductless mini split, you will have a system that can provide you with the exact comfort that you need, high energy-savings, total control over the temperature inside your basement, and complete convenience and peace of mind.
This article explains why.
Basement Cooling and Heating Challenges
Air conditioning a basement poses some challenges which are actually inherent given the nature of such type of space. Being below-ground, basements can get too cold or hot. In fact, basements are prototypical examples of locations where temperature imbalance is a common issue. This, of course, is a result of changing weather conditions and various other factors, such as the type of insulation and even the humidity level inside the room.
Characteristically, a basement is an enclosed, damp space beneath the home’s main floor. It has a low-hanging ceiling (at least 8-9 feet from the floor) and normally designed accessible through a stairway from a room above (usually near a kitchen). The stairs normally lead down either to the side of the basement or at the middle of the room, which is the most commonly used layout to maximize space.
Most basements are usually cold owing to their location. The typical concrete foundation also normally contributes to the cold temperature. Well-constructed basements are normally padded with a foam insulation as a support against vapor penetration. Even if the basement is constructed with precast panel wall, there will be moisture problem. But generally, basements have high level of humidity as well.
With cold and humidity present inside, you can be sure that the place is a nice breeding ground for mold and mildew, which is something that you seriously want to avoid especially if you are planning to use it as a retrofit space.
Conversely, a basement can get too hot depending on where you live and on how it was constructed. In the summer, it could get even hotter, especially if it has poor ventilation.
Getting fresh air will also be a challenge inside a basement. If you are currently using your basement, then you must be familiar with the dank smell that immediately penetrates your nostrils every time you open the door and step downstairs.
Naturally, if you wish to make use of a basement as a livable, comfortable space, either as an office, an entertainment room, or as an extra room for any type of purpose, you will have to consider finding the right system that can effectively tackle the cold, hot, humidity, and indoor air issues.
How Many Homeowners Are Doing It Wrong?
As commonly practiced, most homeowners try to use various cooling and heating methods and systems for their basements. These range from using the centralized HVAC unit to installing various cooling and heating systems, such as window air conditioners and portable cooling units for cooling and electric heaters or baseboard heaters for heating.
It begs two critical questions:
1. Are these good methods?
2. Are any of these systems the right fit for your basement?
No HVAC contractor would tell you that these are bad options, but they would not tell you outright either if these systems are the right solutions as well. At the very least, they might tell you that they need to evaluate your basement first, including how your existing system is set up. Their judgement would depend on their overall assessment of the condition of your place.
Now, let’s take a look at the few issues that make these traditional systems and the commonly practiced methods not exactly the ideal option that you’re looking for.
Extending the Ducted System: Complex and Costly
If you have an existing centralized, ducted HVAC unit at home, it is almost natural to think that you can simply extend the ductwork from this system down to your basement. Assuming that your system can handle the additional load when you use it to service the basement, the primary issue is installation. What factors in is the condition of the basement and the structure of the whole space.
If you are building a new home, then there would be less of a problem because you can just integrate it with the overall home design. The problem arises when the basement is an unfinished one or when you have an older home that was not originally designed to accommodate such type of extra ductwork. The main difficulty lies in making those supply return ductwork completely accessible.
Now, let’s say that your HVAC contractor agrees that extending it is possible. They found a workaround, but it’s going to entail a lot of complex rerouting and extension of ducts. But even if this is the case, you might have to brace for the extra costs. It will be labor-intensive and the costs that will be associated both in the setup and operation will be too high. At some point, this option will not prove to be worth all the expense at all when what you will be getting is only a fraction of the comfort that you expect.
Using Separate Cooling and Heating Systems for the Basement: Piecemeal, Costly Solutions
When extending the ductwork of an existing HVAC system is not possible, many resort to installing a separate heater and cooler for the basement. Most of the time, these cooling and heating systems are combined, but a serious look at this type method makes you question if you really made a good decision, especially when your energy costs start to spike up.
Most HVAC contractors would certainly agree that these are piecemeal solutions that might either work in your situation or might actually hurt you financially in terms of energy consumption at home.
Another downside to these systems is their limited capacity. They might be economical, but you cannot expect these systems to provide you with the much needed comfort when the temperature is at the extreme.
Many of these of these systems have poor capability to control the humidity as well. This will force you add a humidifier which, again, just another system on top of the others. You can bet that it will only add up to your already existing energy-hog cooling and heating systems.
What Does the System for Your Basement Should Deliver?
If you’re looking to use the basement as an extra living space, comfort is naturally a priority. But then, you have to understand that achieving comfort does not mean that you have to spend too much dollars than necessary. The truth is, you can’t simply trade one for the other.
The best way to implement the right cooling and heating system for a basement is to find a system that is not only capable of working around the structural limitations of the space, but also energy-efficient and powerful enough to give you comfort and cost-savings at the same time.
If we can have any conclusion at all at this point, it would be these 10 things:
1. A basement is a unique space in your home that can get too cold or too hot, depending on the weather condition and various other factors.
2. Temperature imbalance in a basement is a common issue, and if you want a truly comfortable living space, it is an aspect that you must tackle effectively.
3. The unique structural characteristics of a basement has a lot to do with this temperature imbalance.
4. Basements are naturally humid, so humidity control poses another challenge.
5. High humidity results to poor quality of indoor air, which is another thing that you will have to tackle as well.
6. Traditional cooling and heating systems, while capable of providing decent results, are not very energy-efficient nor totally effective.
7. Using the existing centralized HVAC system at home by extending the ductwork has limitations, but even if it is possible, the associated costs will be too high and too burdensome to bear.
8. Using piecemeal solutions to cool or heat a basement does not assure you of achieving maximum comfort. If at all, using separate systems for heating, cooling, and humidity control will result to higher energy bills.
9. The main challenges in basement air conditioning is finding the right system that can effectively tackle the cold, hot, humidity, and indoor air issues. And of course, at a lesser energy cost.
10. Operational performance, energy-efficiency, and installation viability are three of the most important things that you need to consider when finding the right cooling and heating system for your basement.
Why Your Basement Deserves a Mini Split?
If there is a system that is available today that can really give you the right comfort, flexibility, and cost-savings that you are looking for in a basement cooling and heating solution, it would be the ductless mini split system. Hands-down, it is your most ideal option. This verdict is based on several reasons, which mostly explain the system’s performance, energy-efficiency, versatility, and overall capabilities especially when it comes to basement application.
Mainly, a ductless mini split system is the best cooling and heating option for your basement because of the following reasons:
• Easy installation; No ductwork necessary. With a ductless mini split unit, you can practically forget about any ductwork problem. In fact, it is an excellent system for single-zone cooling and heating. Because you can install it anywhere, a basement application would just entail a very simple installation procedure. All you need to do is to install the outdoor compressor unit outside the house and mount the connected indoor air handler inside the basement. There would be no extra labor at all except cutting a small wall opening where the refrigerant, power cable, and condensate drain lines will be passed through to connect both units together.
• Designed for cooling and heating; One system, dual comfort. With a mini split system, you don’t need to have separate systems for cooling and heating. Why? Because a ductless mini split function both as a heat pump and air conditioner.
• Powerful performance; Consistent comfort year-round regardless of climate. Unlike traditional systems with limited cooling and heating capacities, ductless mini splits can work even in extreme weather conditions. Most ductless mini split systems are powered by inverter technology and come with quick heating and cooling functions that enable the system to give you consistent temperature comfort even when the basement gets too hot during summer or extremely cold when the climate reaches sub-zero temperature during winter.
• Better humidity control. The high level of humidity is a common concern in a basement, but with mini split system, you don’t need to install an extra dehumidifier device. Most mini splits are designed with excellent dehumidification function that can help reduce the humidity level inside your basement and prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
• Energy-efficient; Save energy and lower your energy bills. Unlike traditional systems, ductless mini splits are less prone to energy losses owing to their lack of ductwork requirement. Additionally, mini splits are mostly Energy Star-certified and come with high energy-efficiency ratings, whether in terms of cooling and heating. The powerful compressor and inverter system that mini splits are usually built with also make them able to reach your desired level of comfort without consuming too much energy. In fact, many advanced mini splits only consume the exact amount of energy that is needed without any impact on the comfort level that you will experience. Also, they have some of the industry-leading efficiencies and usually designed with many energy-saving features and functionalities that help you reduce your energy-consumption.
• Advanced air filtration system; Enjoy quality indoor air. Given the high humidity level and the high presence of air contaminants inside a basement, achieving quality indoor air is another serious challenge. With ductless mini split system, you will have a solution that is capable of reducing humidity and eliminating most of the air contaminants inside the room. Unlike traditional systems, mini splits are built with super-efficient air filters that work through multi-stage filtration process that enables it to effectively filter out most of the harmful bacteria and other allergens that contaminate the air. Aside from dealing with these airborne contaminants, mini split air filters are also best in oxidizing odors, which is particularly helpful in a basement where a dank smell is usually present.
• Personalized comfort; Better control over the system means greater control over your comfort. Mini split systems come with smart controllers that enable you to control the unit. With a mini split unit, you can control the system through a handheld remote controller, wired wall-mounted remote controller, or portable central controller. Many mini splits today can even be controlled directly from smart mobile devices. With these controllers, you can turn the unit on or off anytime you want, which in effect helps you save more energy. Additionally, mini split systems are designed with sensor or infrared-based functionalities that enable you to personalize your comfort by adjusting the airflow and overall temperature according to your specific needs.
Solve Your Basement Cooling and Heating Issues with a Ductless Mini Split
Yes, there will be unique cooling and heating challenges when it comes to air conditioning a basement. And you would not be lacking of any options when it comes to finding a system that you can use.
Most of the time, when ductwork becomes an issue, it is easy to go the route of investing in a separate system. By going with the traditional systems, you might find yourself using solutions such as a window air conditioner or a portable cooling system for cooling. And to heat the space, you might quickly opt for resistance heating systems. That’s right, you can turn to a baseboard heater. Or choose an electric heater. Or even a furnace. In fact, you have an almost limitless options. But then, at some point, you will have to ask: Are these really your best options?
If you’re ready to deal with the high costs, complexities, and sometimes mediocre performance of the commonly used systems, then you are free to choose any type of system. But if you really want an effective climate control solution for your basement that is capable of meeting all your cooling and heating challenges while giving you substantial energy-savings, then hands down, your best, smartest choice is a ductless mini split system.
For a selection of some of the best ductless mini split systems for your basement cooling and heating application, you can visit ComfortUp.com.