Split system air conditioning is an extremely popular home cooling system that’s quiet, effective and usually energy efficient, but what is split system air conditioning and how does it work? We’re here to quell your curiosity.
What is a Split System Air Con?
Also known as a ductless mini-split system, a split system air conditioner is aptly named because it is split into two main components – an indoor unit and an outdoor unit.
Unlike a window unit air conditioner where the whole unit sits in an opening in a wall or window, a split system air conditioner consists of two main components – an indoor unit from which the cold air is expelled and an outdoor unit, where the hot air is expelled. The indoor unit is usually mounted on a wall or ceiling and contains the evaporator coil and fan, while the outdoor unit contains the compressor and condenser coil.
How Does a Split System Air Conditioner Work?
We’re often asked “how does a split system work?” because people are not sure about how the inside and outside components connect. The short answer is that a split system air conditioner’s inside and outside components are primarily connected by a refrigerant line. This refrigerant line transports refrigerant (usually gas) to absorb heat from the indoor air and transfer it outside, where it’s expelled. It works like this:
- The indoor unit’s fan blows the warm indoor air over an evaporator coil, which contains the refrigerant. As the warm air passes over the evaporator coil, the refrigerant absorbs heat from the air, causing it to cool down and this cool air is blown back into the room by the fan.
- The refrigerant (that’s now warm from absorbing the heat) is then pumped to the outdoor unit through a refrigerant line, where it’s compressed into an even hotter, high-pressure gas by the compressor (note: high-pressure gas becomes hotter while low-pressure gas becomes cooler).
- The hot refrigerant then flows through a condenser coil, where it releases the heat it has absorbed from the indoor air, before being expanded (and thereby cooled down) by an expansion valve.
- The cooled refrigerant then flows back to the indoor unit through the refrigerant line, and back into the indoor component.
What is a Split System’s Main Benefits?
Besides being more quiet and energy efficient, there are several benefits of split system air conditioners over other types.
One of the key advantages is their flexibility, as they can be installed in a variety of settings (including residential, commercial and industrial) and can be strategically placed and customised to maximise airflow, minimise noise and cater to multiple cooling requirements. They often offer advanced features, such as programmable thermostats, remote controls or app interfaces and air filtration systems that can improve indoor air quality.
They are also relatively easy to maintain and repair, as each unit can be serviced independently, reducing the need for extensive maintenance or repair work on the entire system.