We're going to review mini split air conditioning units because they tend to be one of the best AC options for growers because they are extremely good at converting wattage energy into cooling power. We will review some of the best mini split air conditioners in the hydroponics indoor growing market, as well as go over features you should look for, and compare different mini split air conditioner options. So lets get started.
Mini split AC's are mainly so efficient because they avoid energy losses associated with duct work of central forced air systems, like the ones you see in residential houses. Duct losses can account for more than 30% of energy consumption for space air conditioning. Mini split air conditioners also separate the portion of the air conditioner that creates heat, and keeps it external to the area you're trying to cool.
So for grow rooms, arguably the greatest benefit of mini split AC's is the ability to keep your indoor garden a completely sealed environment. A sealed environment allows you to keep consistent levels in your temperature, humidity, and CO2. A common misconception about grow rooms is that you need fresh air exchange. This misconception is based on the need to bring fresh air in with CO2 into your grow room, which is definitely very important, but if you're supplementing with Exhale Bags, a CO2 Tank, or a CO2 Generator, and keeping your CO2 parts per million (PPM) between 300 and 1500, then your plants will grow healthily assuming all other variables are kept in check.
Some other benefits of mini splits are that they can be hung from the wall high up so they don't take up much needed floor space that your plants will need. Now these units are called mini splits because they consist of two units: the indoor air handler and the outdoor condenser. These two components are connected via tubing that allows the necessary refrigerant to move through the two units. There's also a condensation line for built up condensation to be exited from the air handler to an exterior location be it outside or another room. You generally need only about a 3 inch hole in your wall to connect this condenser to the air handler.
Let's touch on the SEER rating, which stands for the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The SEER ratings are how efficient a unit is at converting wattage energy into cooling power or BTU's. It's calculated by taking the BTU's divided by the energy usage in watt hours. Now a quick note, BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. If you've ever heard of a 1 Ton, 2 Ton, or etc... in cooling power 12,000 BTU's is essentially equal to 1 Ton of cooling power, 24,000 BTU's is 2 Tons, and so on and so forth.
There are min splits for use in home or residential environments, and then there are companies that specialize in units made for indoor gardens. The units made for indoor gardens are much more robust and usually made of higher quality components because they go through more stress than units used for cooling living spaces. Mini splits in grow rooms can be on for 20 plus hours a day in humid environments and have to constantly be cooling heat sources, those being your lights.
Some of the most popular mini split units for grow rooms are Kozy Kool, Ideal Air, and Aura Systems. At Growers House we try to carry only high-quality units with warranties and ample information as far as installation and care from reputable companies.
Some things to look for when buying a unit. One first option that can be on some units is that they come with Quick Connect with pre-charged lines. Ideal Air and Aura Systems offer this option. What this option allows you to do is install your unit by yourself, instead of having a HVAC or AC service professional come and do it for you.
In non-Quick Connect units without pre-charged lines a HVAC professional must come out with a vacuum that purges the lines, which can then be connected to the two units, and the unit can be turned on. In Quick Connect units, these lines are filled up with refrigerant and the unit can be turned on after the lines are connected and the necessary installation procedure is followed. Units with the Quick Connect ability are usually more expensive and have slightly shorter warranties than their non-Quick Connect counterparts.
Non-Quick Connect units are offered by Kozy Kool and Aura Systems--all the Ideal Air mini splits are Quick Connect with Pre-Charged lines. So the Kozy Kool and Aura Systems will need a HVAC professional to install, although Aura Systems also has a line of Quick Connect units as well as non-Quick Connect units. If you'd like to install the unit yourself, you can learn how to operate the vacuum so that you can essentially purge the lines yourself, although some systems do void the warranty if an HVAC professional does not install it--so make sure you look out for whether that is necessary. If you're going to have a HVAC professional come over, it usually costs approximately $200 to have them do this, although costs may vary.
Another feature you should be aware of, is that some units come with DC Inverters that allow a compressor to operate at different speeds instead of being 100% on or completely off. Units with DC Inverters tend to have higher SEER ratings because they operate more efficiently, which helps them last longer and save on electricity. Kozy Kools in their 16 and 19 SEER rating have this feature. Aura Systems and Ideal Air do not (correction: Ideal Air 15 SEER does have DC Inverter).
Another option to decide whether it's important to you or not is an Auto-Restart function. Auto-Restart functions allow the power to go out of the unit, and when the power is restored, it will automatically turn on back at the setting you had previously configured. So without this feature, the unit will not turn on, or will turn on at its default settings if say there was a power outage. So the Kozy Kool 16 SEER+ and Aura Systems have the Auto-Restart functioning capability.
With this information, this should help you make an informed decision when shopping for a mini split air conditioner. If you have any more questions, leave them in the comments below, email, or call. This is Nate from Growers House. Take care."