Mini-Split Musings

Do Mini-Splits Run All the Time?

March 27, 2019

When it gets cold in Washington State, it’s time to get the heat going to keep your home or place of business warm. For some buildings, the heating system may also be the cooling system, which is the case for a ductless HVAC system, with mini-split units in different parts of a home or workplace to distribute air.

A ductless, mini-split system operates differently from a centralized heating ventilation air conditioning (HVAC) system. Most centralized systems rely on the presence of air ducts in place, connected to a furnace, usually gas burning. The heated air then moves through the ducts to every room in a home. For cooling, an additional air conditioner is added, with a condenser unit outside the home that uses the same ductwork to distribute cool air.

A mini-split, ductless system, does away with vents. The mini-split units are installed in specific rooms or regions of a space. Since mini-splits don’t operate with a duct network, many people wonder if a mini-split needs to run longer or even all the time, compared to a centralized HVAC system.

More Time, Better Efficiency

Central systems are designed to heat air to much higher temperatures, between 130 and 140 °F. It “blasts” heat into every room where there’s a duct. Mini-splits heat air between 85 and 95 °F and then disperse that into any area that requires it, based on the assessment of an HVAC expert on where to place the units for maximum efficiency and your settings.

A mini-split system may run longer than what people are used to with a central system. However, mini-splits are also 30% more efficient in their operation than central systems, so despite running longer, they use less energy. In central systems, some heat is invariably lost “in the ducts” as air travels from the furnace, through ducts, to the different vents. Mini-splits eliminate this deficiency.

Adjust Your Settings for Unoccupied Areas

A mini-split may appear to be running all the time if you haven’t programmed your system as efficiently as you could. Mini-splits can be installed to heat an area of a home or specific rooms, depending on your preferences. For example, if you have a guest room with no occupants, you might want to turn off the settings for heating or cooling and save money.

If different areas are supposed to be heated by a mini-split system, you may find it runs more frequently as it tries to warm up one wing of a home or workplace. You can maintain efficiency by either keeping these mini-split units off or, if you know those areas don’t need to be heated, shutting the doors to certain rooms so that the mini-split doesn’t have to heat those spaces.

Settings Matter

An important thing to keep in mind is that your mini-split system may work longer if you set extreme temperatures. Setting the indoor temperature to 90 °F doesn’t mean that a mini-split will use more intense heat to bring the temperature up faster. The units will simply work longer.


So, remember that mini-splits may work longer than central systems, but that doesn’t mean they work all the time. If you find you do have a system that will never shut off, it might be time to get professional help.

For more value articles like this one visit our Ultimate Guide to Ductless Heating and Cooling Systems in the Northwest.

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