So, my studio is big. Really big. I mean, it’s not huge, but I don’t think any of us envisioned just how big it would be (or look) when it was all reframed with the raised floor and vaulted ceiling. And it’s just big enough that two HVAC guys have said that it could possibly be too much of a drain on our current HVAC system. They both said that with the spray foam insulation that we have, it could possibly work. Or they could do all of that work, and we could find that it’s just a bit too much, and that would be money and time wasted.
Since it’s right on that question mark line, we decided not to chance it, so we’ll go ahead and install a separate system for the studio, mudroom, and half bath. We have two options — a central HVAC system and a ductless mini split system.
When the HVAC guy first mentioned a ductless mini split, I said, “Absolutely not!” Are you familiar with these systems? Chances are that if you live in Europe or parts of Asia, you’re very familiar with them. They’re also used a lot in hotels around the world. They hang on the wall and look like this…
A central HVAC system is all hidden, and all you see are vents which can be placed on walls, in the ceiling, or even in the floor if you have a pier and beam foundation. Central HVAC systems are the standard here. It’s what I grew up with, it’s what I have now, and it’s just…well…the standard in this area.
Mini splits aren’t a bad thing. They will just always and forever remind me of traveling in Europe and living in Turkey, and specifically, of sitting in my Turkish language class several days a week for the first year I lived in Turkey. Again, that’s not a bad thing. It’s just that in my mind, it’s a European thing. And I like my European things (ductless mini splits along with tiny 8-ounce drinks with one ice cube 😀 ) to be in Europe and not in my 1948 house in central Texas, USA. In my central Texas house, I prefer central HVACs, 44 ounce drinks, and loads of ice. 😀
So I was dead set on a central HVAC unit…until we started talking about what would be required to make it work in there. First of all, I’d have to build a little closet to house the indoor unit in a corner of the mudroom.
And the outdoor unit would sit outside just on the other side of that wall.
Then I’d have a vent on this wall, which would basically be blowing right over my head in my “office” space, with a big intake vent on the wall below.
And then on the other side of the cased opening, I’d have to have a second air vent, which would interfere with my plans for built-in cabinets on that wall.
I wasn’t thrilled about any of that arrangement, but the thing I really couldn’t get on board with was that the ceiling in the mudroom and half bath would have to be dropped down on the high side to accommodate ductwork. That ceiling on the high side is eight feet tall, and it slopes down to 7.5 feet on the back wall of the house. Dropping it down enough to accommodate a 10-inch duct, plus a few smaller ducts, would turn it into a cave, and I just couldn’t make myself be okay with that.
On the other hand, a ductless mini split could be installed really high up on the wall (this is the wall between the studio and breakfast room)…
…and all of the electrical wiring and copper pipes could go through the attic, and the small outdoor unit could sit right by our current HVAC system’s outdoor unit to keep it all consolidated on the other side of the house. It’s operated by remote control, and it seems to me that this placement (as opposed to a vent blowing right over my head in my “office” space) would heat and cool the room more evenly. And best of all, it’s cheaper than a small central HVAC system by about $3000.
So I’m pretty sure the ductless mini split is the right decision for this area of the house. Last night, it dawned on me that since ductless mini splits have been used in other countries for quite some time now, and are becoming more and more popular here in the U.S., designers have undoubtedly come up with some clever ways to disguise them. So I hopped over to Houzz to see what I could find.
This one is my favorite. In fact, I think it’s actually really pretty.
I also really like how this one is incorporated into a whole built-in unit…
Or I could just hang it on the wall and ignore it.
Do any of you have ductless mini split units in your homes? If so, I’d love to know what you think about them. What brand do you have, and have you been pleased with it? I got prices for one Trane and two Mitsubishi models. Did you install it yourself, or have it professionally installed? The prices I got were for professional installation because the thought of doing it myself really intimidates me, although the videos make it look pretty easy. So if you have one, I’d love to know your experience with it and your thoughts about it.