How Efficient are Ductless Systems?

Efficiency is something that we all value in our daily lives. So why wouldn’t you want efficiency in your HVAC system? Learn from Mike Cappuccio as he discusses why a ductless HVAC system is the most efficient option for you and your family.


John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher and I’m here today with Mike Cappuccio, owner of N.E.T.R., Inc. heating and cooling company in Massachusetts with a focus on Mitsubishi ductless heating and cooling products. Today we’re talking about the efficiency of ductless systems. Welcome, Mike.

Mike Cappuccio: Good morning, John. How are you?

What makes a ductless system efficient?

John: Good. Mike, what makes it ductless system efficient?

Mike: Good question, John. A few things. First off is, a ductless system is a zone system. We can go in and zone the home giving you the ability to turn temperatures up, turn temperatures down, turn units off. One of the biggest factors that goes into that is all of these systems that we sell are inverter-driven compressors. What do I mean by that? What is an inverter-driven compressor? What is an inverter-driven system? I mean, people probably hear about them all the time, but they really don’t know what they are.

What it is, is it’s a system that the compressor speeds up and slows down to give you the amount of cooling you need in those spaces. It’s almost like cruise control on your car. You have city driving, and you have highway driving. Well, your air conditioning system with this type of system does the same thing. A city driving system is what I call an on-off air conditioning system.

What most people do have in their home with a central air conditioning system or a window unit. It goes on, it cools the room down, and it shuts off. The room warms up, it goes on and off, on and off, on and off and it starts up. Every time it starts up, you see the lights dim. This great amount of energy gets absorbed when it comes on and starts.

With the Mitsubishi ductless heating cooling system, what you have is an inverter-driven compressor that basically comes on at a very, very soft start. What it is, it doesn’t have pistons that pump up and down on the compressor, it turns so it spins. What happens is, when it comes on the first time it just starts to spin very, very slow. As the more units come on in the home and the temperature starts to see the temperature difference of big, say you set for 70 and the room’s 80, it says, “Whoa, at 10 degrees out of whack here.”

It starts to speed up the compressor. It speeds it up to give it full BTUs, full pumping ability. Then as the room start to cool off, it starts to slow down. Almost like cruise control, you need to get out onto the highway real fast, you put the accelerater down very fast, you push more on the accelerator, the car goes faster.

You get out into the highway and you start to get up to 50, 60, 70 miles an hour and you start to ease off the accelerator. You just go into a nice tight cruise control mode and just coming along the highway. It’s pretty much what our compressors do. That’s how we gain the efficiency with that.

John: It’s like getting the best gas mileage by going 55 miles an hour in the highway. You hit that point where you-

Mike: That’s exactly what efficiency is. It’s a system that gives you the speed of what you need for the temperatures you have in the home versus just on and off on and off all day long.

How can you save money by using ductless heating and cooling?

John: How does that save you money by using ductless heating and cooling over a traditional heating-cooling system?

Mike: Well, what it is, is when the compressor isn’t running as fast, you’re not drawing as much energy. You’re not using as much current to drive that compressor. When a typical system is on, it might be drawing 20 amps of electricity. It always is going to draw 20 amps of electricity. As our systems slow down, they could start at 20 and go down to two or three. That’s how we’re gaining the efficiency. How much energy is it using and how fast does it need to turn.

If we don’t need all five or six or seven zones turned on in the home and we have three or four of those zones turned off, it says, “Whoa, okay. I’m only running at five zones here. I don’t even need to be running anywhere near full speed because you’re not asking for that type of cooling or heating at that point.” It’s automatically going to reduce probably down to 10 or 12 amps right out of the gate and start to run slower and not use as much energy.

What are SEER efficiency ratings?

John: Right. Any kind of electrical appliance has an efficiency rating or a SEER rating. Just talk a little bit about that.

Mike: Yes. The SEER rating is a Season Energy Efficiency Rating is what that means. We see those anywhere. I mean, god back in the old days the minimum used to be eight. Now, the minimum of that is now 13. Those numbers, what do those numbers mean? The minimum is a 13. I’ve seen air conditioning systems as high as 30, 35 depending on where it is. What those numbers are doing is, the higher the number, the more efficient that the system is, that means it’s going to draw less current to run.

Most of the times the way they do that is you see when you have these higher SEER rating air conditioning systems, when you look at the outdoor unit, it’s usually a lot bigger most of the time. “Why is it bigger?”, people say. Because they have more condenser coil surface. The bigger the coil surface, the less of the pressure that the system is going to run at, and then when we lower the pressure, it draws less current.

Why would I want a high efficiency air conditioning system? Well, the higher the efficiency air conditioning, the more efficient it is. Now, examples. We live in an area here in Massachusetts where we might have three months of cooling sometimes, June, July and August. I know personally myself, I turn my air conditioning system on in May sometimes. Months of May, June, July, August, September, October, sometimes even into November. We had a day yesterday that was 60 degrees out. I had my air conditioning on yesterday.

The longer you run the air conditioner, you would probably want a more efficient system. If you’re the type of person who is not a big air conditioning person, you just want it for the hottest days of the year and you open your windows 80% of the time, you might want a lower efficiency system. A lot of times you don’t get the payback either. Because when you start to look at these super high-efficiency systems, they’re always more money. So you’ve got to look at the payback.

If I lived in Florida and I’m air conditioning mostly 12 months out of the year, well, I want a high-efficiency air conditioner because I want something that’s going to draw less current and I’m going to lower my energy bills. If I’m going to have a 13 SEER air conditioner versus a 20 SEER air conditioning system in that part of the country, I’m going to spend more money to air condition my home all year long with a lower efficiency system. The higher the number, the more efficient it is.

How does ductless HVAC help the environment?

John: A lot of people these days are concerned about the environment as well, does Ductless HVAC help the environment?

Mike: It does help the environment. I mean, when you start looking at carbon neutral footprints and things like that, we’ve been involved in a couple of towns where we’ve gone into these Heat Smart, Cool Smart programs where they don’t want natural gas to heat some- the air. They don’t want that. They want– I’m even hearing now there’s a lot of towns that want a carbon neutral footprint by the year 2050.

I’m hearing Cambridge and Somerville, some of these towns, they don’t want natural gas in their areas. They don’t want those fumes going into the air. This is where we get into these ductless systems. They’re running on electricity. They’re not running on natural gas. It’s definitely better for the environment at that point, for the carbon neutral footprints.

John: That’s really great information, Mike. Thanks again for speaking with us today.

Mike: Thank you, John.

John: For more information, visit the N.E.T.R., Inc. website at or call 781-933-NETR. That’s 781-933-6387.

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