Our homeowners in Beverly, MA love the open floor plan on the first floor of their home. The setup is often called a great room. But, what really made it great is the ductless heat and air conditioning they added to create the climate control they always wanted.
In this house, the living room, dining room and kitchen area are all in one open space. It’s a great way to keep an eye on everyone and get more sunlight. But, it can be challenging to heat and cool properly.
This home had oil-fired forced hot water heat. It circulated warmth using radiators. It did the job for the most part but left hot and cold spots on the first floor.
Meanwhile, the radiator pipes that prevented the homeowners from tapping into existing ductwork for central air. So, they made do for years without an ac.
Our homeowners called N.E.T.R., Inc. after reading our many great customer reviews. And, true to our reputation, we designed a system that would finally treat their great room properly.
Problem: A colonial home in Beverly, MA had forced hot water heat and no cooling system. They wanted to supplement their heating and add air conditioning to their great room.
Solution: Installed a Mitsubishi Electric unit in the great room and connected it to an outdoor condenser.
Heating and cooling a great room
Great rooms became very popular in the mid-to-late 20th century. More and more homes feature one large space that served as a place to gather, eat or just relax. This open plan meant it was easier to entertain and socialize with everyone usually in eyesight and earshot. But, it presents some challenges when it comes to heating and cooling.
In particular, this home in Beverly, MA had forced hot water heat delivered through radiators. Of course, these were more modern and efficient models than old-fashioned iron ones. But, they still had some drawbacks. These include:
- Hot and cold spots
- No opportunity for central air
- A long wait for a room to heat up
In particular, it took a while for the heat to reach the entire great room. The warm air expels slowly. That results in hot and cold spots throughout the large, open area.
Next, the system doesn’t lend itself well to air conditioning. There’s no central air because there’s no ductwork for an hvac tech to connect it to. Forced hot water uses pipes, not ducts, to circulate warmth. That’s not compatible with ac.
As a result, it was often difficult for our homeowners to get the temperature how they wanted it. And, they didn’t want to use portable or window ac’s to get the job done in the summer. They’re loud, unsightly and expensive to run.
And, they would barely do the job in such a large space. Units such as those are made to treat smaller rooms. In this case, they’d just have colder spots in the area.
Meanwhile, they didn’t need as much extra treatment in the winter. The space just needed a little extra kick to keep it warm.
Ductless heat and air conditioning for a Great Room
The solution for this Beverly, MA home was a ductless heat and air conditioning system. It would add all the cooling this great room would need for the summer. And, it could supplement the existing heating setup when it got cold out.
These are often called mini-splits because they use indoor and outdoor components. A heat pump sits outside the house. It provides the warm or cold air which travels through the house via flexible plastic tubing.
That tubing connects to the back of the units, or air handlers or head. These units circulate the air in the room. We find the spot to mount these where they can work best. The tubing snakes in between the rafters behind the walls and connects to the back of the head.
This creates zoned hvac. Each air handler has a thermostat that works separately from the others. As a result, they create a zoned hvac setup. Here, each air handler treats a different area, or zone, in the house.
For a great room, that’s a significant advantage. Walls don’t separate the kitchen, dining room and living room. But, they can still be zoned. This way, each area gets the treatment it needs. And, the air handlers are strong enough not to leave any part of the first floor untouched.
In the summer, that means cooling the entire area evenly. You would expect, for instance, the kitchen to be the hottest area. After all, that’s where the stove is.
Now, the air handler in that area will work more than the others to keep that spot cool. But, it doesn’t freeze out the living or dining areas doing so. Those are handled by other heads.
In the winter, our homeowners set each unit to the same temperature as the radiators. Now, if one area remains too cold, the mini-split picks up the slack.
Ductless air conditioning and heat is energy-efficient
The new mini-split is an energy-efficient hvac solution. For starters, it’s Energy Star-certified. It meets Department of Energy standards showing it uses less energy to provide the same effect as appliances that use more power. And, using less power means paying less on utility bills.
In this case, that means the electric bill goes down in the summer. Now, our homeowners have a much more efficient system than the old energy-guzzling window units. In the winter, they’re using less oil for the hot water in the radiators and more of the efficient mini-split warmth.
The efficiency comes mostly from the design of the new system. For starters, it uses inverter technology to support a variable speed engine. This means it has more speeds than just “off” and “on” like many other hvac solutions.
Now, the units are often in power-saver mode. The engine runs at a low speed when maintaining the temperature. If it starts to fluctuate too much, the engine switches to a higher speed.
It gears up when people enter the room, for instance, or if someone’s using the stove. For all the other times, it just runs on low to keep this just right.
The variable speed also adds to the life of the unit. There’s less wear and tear than if it were turning off and on all day.
Next, the units are sealed entirely inside. That’s a difference from window ac’s. With those, a lot of treated air escapes around the temporary mounting system in the window.
And, our homeowners find themselves using the radiators less often. In the fall and early spring, they can use the units on their own without using the oil-fired hot water heat.
The mini-split they installed is strong enough to heat the house when it’s chilly. Now, they use the radiators when it gets really cold. And, even then the more-efficient units shoulder some of that burden in the dead of winter.
Are you looking to finally add even, energy-efficient hvac to your great room? Contact us, and we’ll design a system that’s perfect for your home and your budget.