Adoption rates increase as the public discovers the energy efficiency offered by this technology
Two years ago, the U.S. Department of Energy published a report, “The Future of Air Conditioning for Buildings.” Its authors wrote that ductless split systems are commonplace nearly everywhere in the world except for the United States, where ducted systems dominate the residential market.
The report goes on to say that while ductless mini split systems have a small – but growing – share of the North American market in terms of sales, they’re the predominant revenue source for manufacturers throughout the rest of the world. What does the rest of the planet know about ductless mini split systems that the US has been missing out on?
The US plays catch-up
The Department of Energy’s report notes that ductless mini split systems use inverter-driven variable-speed compressors and fans – technologies that greatly increase efficiency. New technology usually comes with a higher cost and the report concurs, saying that manufacturers roll out these components in premium products. But adoption levels ultimately enable cost reductions.
Another report published that year looked at the global and US HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) market. RnRMarketResearch provided a summary of the proprietary information, along with forecasts showing that the US market has a growing appetite for traditional HVAC system replacements.
RnRMarketResearch highlights ductless mini split systems as one of the main growth areas, which it said could represent 15% of the industry. This report and the one by the Department of Energy were in agreement: increasing adoption rates, because of energy efficiency, would overcome the higher initial prices of some of these systems.
On the radar screen
Builder recently shed some further light on the potential for growth, reporting that 2012 global sales of ductless systems accounted for $48.5 billion, while sales of ducted systems were just $6.7 billion. What made them the preferred choice elsewhere for initial installations is now making ductless mini split systems the popular choice as a replacement system here in the United States. Builder believes that popularity has accelerated because these systems are easier to install than traditional ducted HVAC, and the advanced technology allows owners to have multiple temperature zones with a single set-up.
It’s a new approach that central ducted AC can’t accomplish. Central air is an all-or-nothing approach to climate control. Ductless mini split systems feature air handlers that can be individually controlled, so occupants have customized comfort and unoccupied rooms aren’t wasting energy by being cooled or heated.
As a result, research company Navigant has predicted that US revenue from ductless systems will reach $9 billion by the end of the decade.
The value of efficiency
ACHR News reported earlier this year that they’ve been following the growing popularity of the ductless mini split market for the past 20 years, and they’re not surprised that it continues to be one of the fastest growing sectors. A top reason for the popularity is amazing energy efficiency. Today’s ductless units feature levels as high as 42 SEER, which is multiples of the minimum efficiency standard. Learn more about the importance of SEER measurements here.
It’s estimated that up to 35 million residential HVAC systems will need to be replaced within the next five years. This points to further signs of a ductless mini split system invasion to finally take hold in the United States.