Summer is upon us, and when the temperature starts to hit 90°F and upwards, nothing’s going to beat the comfort of a cool home where you can comfortably slouch on your cozy couch and just be totally unmindful of the sweltering world outside. Thanks to the air conditioning system, of course.
But then, talking about enjoying indoor comfort dredges up some cooling cost issues and other practical concerns. Well, you don’t need too much imagery here, but for the fun of it you can try to imagine your dear old air conditioner chowing down electricity every time it gets cranked up and down. Okay, anthromorposizing a mechanical device like an AC may be a bit weird, but you get the idea.
Tranditional AC vs Ventless Portable AC vs Ductless Mini Split System
You see, the thing about air conditioners is they can seriously jack up your energy bill. That’s right, the cooling comfort that you painfully crave, especially on summer, comes at a high cost and puts a big dent on your family budget in the process.
One of the problems that crop ups is when you have a centralized air conditioning system that cools every nook and cranny of your home, but you’re only using a few rooms. This is wasteful, uneconomical, and almost always utterly frustrating to think about, mainly because you just end up paying for an amount of energy that you haven’t even used.
If you’re looking for a bail out, two of the possible options that you might encounter are a ventless portable air conditioner and a ductless mini split system. The question is, which is best to choose?
What is a Ventless Air Conditioner?
Ventless portable air conditioners are also called vent-free AC, evaporative air conditioner, and portable swamp cooler. From the name itself, this technology has some characteristics that need a little bit of explaining so you’d understand how it differs from other types of air conditioning systems. So let’s break it down and find out what a vent-free AC system really is.
Are Portable Air Conditioner Really Ventless?
To answer the question, it is important to take a look first at how a typical air conditioner works.
What you need to remember is that a typical air conditioner works through heat transfer or heat exchange. In this process, the heat inside the room is absorbed by the indoor unit. A lot of things happen inside the AC system, but basically, the heat is released outside while the conditioned air, as another by-product of the process, is circulated back inside the room through the vents while the exhaust heat is released outdoors. The distribution of cool air back indoors is aided by the fan system that is built inside the indoor unit. In other words, the typical cooling or refrigeration process involves the process of absorbing and releasing heat.
When it comes to portable air conditioners, the heat is not being absorbed from indoors. Instead, they cool the room by allowing the water stored in the system to evaporate. This produces a breeze of cool air that helps make the room comfortable. You will notice that portable air conditioners consist of a water reservoir inside, which is usually found at the bottom of the unit. This water is used to wet the cooling pad or make it moist. Through the fan system, the air is blown through this moist or wet material, which in effect, generates a cool breeze that goes inside the room.
To sum things up, remember this:
In a normal air conditioner, the heat from inside the room is absorbed, the conditioned air is circulated back inside the room, and the exhaust heat is released outside.
In a portable air conditioner, the moisture is evaporated almost in the same way that your sweat evaporates when you come in sweaty and use the fan to cool off. As you feel the breeze and your sweat evaporates, you begin to feel cooler and comfortable.
So, the question is why we call it ventless in the first place?
When viewed in the context of air conditioning process, yes the swamp coolers are ventless because they don’t work in the same way that the other air conditioning systems do. Instead of the typical heat exchange process that is common to other types of comfort system, portable air conditioners use the evaporation method, which means no heat exchanges happen.
So, what does this imply?
Strictly speaking, ventless portable air conditioners are not true air conditioners, because all air conditioners work through heat transfer. In fact, no air conditioner is without vents.
What are the Advantages of a Ventless Portable Air Conditioner?
Ventless Portable Air Conditioner have several advantages, namely:
• Economical. Compared with other type of systems, ventless portable air conditioners are certified money-savers. They are not as expensive, don’t require complex installation, don’t use too much energy, and they are easy to fix when the system malfunctions.
• Portable. As a free-standing unit, this system is compact and can be easily carried, transferred, plugged, and used from one area to another. In other words, you can bring it to any room in the house, or whichever you regularly occupy. You can practically bring it anywhere you need it and whenever you want to.
• Environment-friendly. Ventless portable air conditioners do not use refrigerant, and therefore, 100% ozone-friendly.
What are the Disadvantages of a Ventless Portable Air Conditioner?
Limited Cooling Capacity
• Limited cooling capacity. Ventless portable air conditioners may be available in different cooling capacities, but when compared with other systems—even with a typical room air conditioner—they are far less powerful. They are not really designed for bigger rooms that require much powerful cooling.
• Not versatile enough. Let’s face it, there’s just too many cooling challenges, and unfortunately, a system like a ventless portable air conditioner is not designed to deal with most of them. If what you need is a truly powerful cooling solution that can give you maximum comfort and savings, then a ventless portable system is not your best option.
• Not reliable enough during extreme climate condition. If you live in an area where the weather is usually extremely hot or highly humid, then you can’t expect the ventless portable air conditioning system to be able to give you the much needed cooling comfort.
When It’s Best to Use the Ventless Portable Air Conditioning System?
The ventless portable air conditioners are made for a reason—to have a low-cost cooling solution that you can readily use anytime and bring anywhere without any need for a costly and complex installation.
In fact, there are many situations in which a ventless portable air conditioner is best to use. Some of these are the following:
• When you need a cooling system for a specific room as a supplement to your larger HVAC system.
• When you are just renting a space and you don’t really need to spend on a more expensive air conditioning system.
• When you need a reliable cooling solution that you can move around and bring from room to room but want to avoid the high cost that is associated with traditional air conditioning systems.
• When what you need to cool is just a small area and resorting to structural adjustments in your existing HVAC system is not an option.
Remember that ventless portable air conditioners are generally great to use if your situation warrants you to use one. Essentially, however, this type of system is only ideal if using other types of systems is not viable, too costly, or just plain impractical.
Go Ductless, Not Ventless
Now here’s the interesting part. Most people wrongly associate ductless with ventless. The truth is, the absence of ducts is entirely different from having no vents. Keep in mind that ducts and vents are two different components of an air conditioning system.
When what you really need is an effective cooling solution that can serve as a best alternative to traditional systems—like a room air conditioner or a centralized air conditioning system—what you should be looking for is not a ventless portable system but a ductless mini split system.
In terms of cost-effectivity, energy-efficiency, performance, capacity, environmental-friendliness, and many other most-sought capabilities in an air conditioning system, ductless air conditioners and ventless AC systems are worlds apart.
What is a Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner?
A ductless mini split system is a reversible system, which means it can work both as a cooling solution and a heat pump system. It consists of an outside compressor/condenser unit and an indoor evaporator unit called air handlers. These two main components are connected by refrigerant lines and electrical wires that are passed through a small hole in the wall. The indoor units come in different types. They are available as wall-mounted, horizontal-ducted, ceiling-cassette, ducted, or floor-mounted units.
Ductless air conditioning systems are normally used either for single-zone application or as a whole-home comfort solution. In the latter application, you will be able to install different handlers for different rooms inside the house and each of these indoor units is connected to just one outdoor compressor. The best part is, you would be able to control the climate in each room, enabling you to set a different temperature in each room depending on your preference. This feature basically empowers you to personalize your comfort.
Why a Ductless System is Better?
As a ductless system, a mini split air conditioner gives you two main advantages:
1. Saves you from the high costs that are related to ductwork installation.
2. Enables you to install a system on spaces that are not within reach of your existing duct network.
Consequently, having a ductless system will enable you to save money and tackle the usual cooling and heating issues that you’d find impossible to overcome if you’re using a traditional system, like a central air conditioning unit. With a ductless system, you are assured that you can effectively install a cooling or heating system in areas like a room addition, bonus room, sun room, garage, or a converted attic and basement.
Why Choose a Ductless Mini Split System?
Compared with other systems, a ductless mini split unit can help you:
• Drastically cut your energy consumption and reduce your utility bill. Most ductless mini split systems are super energy-efficient. They are typically Energy Star-rated, have high SEER ratings, and built with energy-saving components that assure of you low energy-use and high energy-savings.
• Experience maximum temperature comfort. Ductless mini split units are highly advanced systems that are specifically engineered to provide excellent cooling/heating performance. This powerful capability naturally translates to maximum temperature comfort for you and your family.
• Get quality indoor air Inside your home. Using advanced filtration methods, ductless mini split systems are highly effective in removing bad odors and air contaminants inside your home.
• Lower carbon footprint. Most ductless units use an ozone-friendly refrigerant and are typically built with recyclable components, like an air filter that you can simply wash when it gets dirty. In a way, this also enables you to save money from filter replacement costs.
• Have an unobtrusive system that can fits into you room regardless of style. Slim compact, simple, and sleek, a ductless mini split system can blend well into your room environment regardless of its interior design or home décor style.
Aside from the aforementioned advantages, ductless mini split systems are normally engineered using advanced compressor unit, fan system, and control capabilities. The most advanced models are not only highly efficient but also feature smart functionalities that enable you to conveniently control the system through your smart phone, tablet, or any internet-connected smart mobile device.
Remember that air conditioners are not created equal. Some have different advantages and disadvantages. But if you’re in the market for a comfort solution that is cost-effective, highly-energy-efficient, powerful, versatile, eco-friendly, and a 100% reliable when it comes to your unique cooling/heating needs, then forget about ventless system or any other type of traditional comfort systems. Whether what you need is an alternative cooling/heating system or a unit that can effectively augment your existing HVAC system, then a ductless mini split air conditioner/heat pump is always the best way to go.