Category: Major Systems

Streamline Cooling and Heating with One System for Year-Round Comfort

Ductless cooling and heating systems offer energy-efficient and responsive climate control in a compact, unobtrusive package. Read on to learn more about the benefits of this increasingly popular technology.

Ductless Mini Split Systems

Photo: Josh Pabst

You are reading one installment in a 10-part series devoted to exploring Mitsubishi Electric ductless heating and cooling. See all.

The average homeowner typically doesn’t get to select his own HVAC system. Instead, he or she usually inherits the components decided upon by a previous owner or the original builder. That said, many common scenarios give you the freedom to choose your own climate-control technology. Making your choice, however, can be difficult. After all—compared with, say, picking a paint color—picking an HVAC system raises some intimidatingly complex questions. On the one hand, given rising energy costs, it’s hard to overstate the importance of efficiency. On the other hand, because climate control so greatly influences home comfort, there are key considerations beyond operating cost alone. Complicating matters even further is that, in many parts of the country, extreme conditions call for both wintertime heating and summertime cooling. In short, there’s a lot to think about.

In search of a simple, highly effective solution, increasing numbers of homeowners are choosing to forgo traditional options in favor of the extreme energy-saving, comfort-creating, compact ductless systems from Mitsubishi Electric.



Ductless Mini Split Systems - How It Works


Americans are accustomed to large-scale HVAC systems that are made even more unwieldy by elaborate networks of ducts. True to their name, ductless systems from Mitsubishi Electric do not require ductwork (though they can be integrated with existing ducts, if desired). The company’s ductless systems are considerably more compact than conventional forced-air configurations. In fact, the most basic Mitsubishi Electric system includes only three components—an outdoor condenser, an indoor unit and a handheld remote controller. The outdoor and indoor units are connected by a pair of refrigerant pipes small enough to fit through a three-inch hole in the exterior wall. A large home with ductless cooling and heating would require multiple indoor units, and maybe even multiple condensers, but no matter the square footage of the conditioned space, Mitsubishi Electric never veers from its fundamentally streamlined design. Precisely because they’re so nonintrusive, Mitsubishi Electric ductless systems lend themselves to straightforward, labor-saving installation. A conventional ducted HVAC system might take weeks to set up, but a Mitsubishi Electric system can often be installed in one day.



Ductless Mini Split Systems - HVAC Efficiency


Enter any residence built in the years following World War II, and regardless of the neighborhood, house size, or architectural style, you’re likely to see ductwork. Though ubiquitous, ducts are infamous for their poor energy efficiency. Particularly when traveling through uninsulated space, ducts lose enough energy to compromise the overall system efficiency by around 25 percent. The furnace or air conditioner must then work overtime to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, and at the end of the month the homeowner has to pay more to the energy company, all because forced-air HVAC is hampered by a serious design flaw. Consider that Mitsubishi Electric ductless systems come with none of the air-leak, dirty-duct problems that cause older cooling and heating options to run up such high costs. In fact, many products belonging to the Mitsubishi Electric line are rated by ENERGY STAR®, indicating that they operate on dramatically less energy than their peers. In fact, if you opt for a ductless system from Mitsubishi Electric, you can expect bills that are 30-40 percent lower than what you may be accustomed to paying.



Ductless Mini Split Systems - Unparalleled Comfort


Even though Mitsubishi Electric ductless systems lead to lower utility bills, they don’t skimp on performance. On the contrary, the inexpensive-to-run technology still manages to deliver cooling and heating of a caliber well above that of forced-air systems. In part, that’s because conventional HVAC usually cycles on and off, creating uncomfortable temperature swings. Mitsubishi Electric ductless systems, on the other hand, maintain even temperatures by constantly monitoring the ambient temperature and adjusting their output accordingly. Mitsubishi Electric departs from tradition in yet another way. In a typical forced-air installation, one thermostat controls the temperature for the entire house. That means if you want the upstairs bedroom to be a bit cozier, you must also heat the kitchen, even if your spouse has already complained that it feels too warm. Mitsubishi Electric enables you to establish different zones, each with its own indoor unit and thermostat. That way, different family members with different climate-control preferences can all be comfortable at the same time—finally.



Ductless Mini Split Systems - Year Round Performance


Even in extreme winter temperatures, you can depend on the most advanced Mitsubishi Electric ductless systems for unflagging comfort. At temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit, systems equipped with Hyper-Heating INVERTER capability ensure that homeowners retain the efficiency and comfort benefits without resorting to supplemental heat that set Mitsubishi Electric apart. Heating mode also incorporates a set of special additional features. For instance, thanks to patented technology, INVERTER systems reach their target temperature in much less time than it would take a traditional furnace to warm up. If you’re used to wearing your scarf and gloves indoors, just wait: With Mitsubishi Electric, total comfort is mere moments away. And it couldn’t be easier to toggle between cooling and heating modes—it takes only the push of a button. When cooling, the ductless system collects heat from the home and sends it outside. In winter, operation reverses. That’s right, Mitsubishi Electric harvests heat in below-zero weather and uses it to keep your home toasty warm through the coldest days of the year!


In the end, many homeowners view HVAC as a source not only of cooling and heating, but also of confusion and mystery. There’s little mystery, however, about the appeal of Mitsubishi Electric ductless systems. With one simple solution, you can achieve total comfort and save money, all year-round.

Ductless Mini Split Systems - Outdoor Unit Isolated


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Achieve Lower Bills and Cleaner Air with One Simple Replacement

How long has it been since you replaced your system's filter? Changing it regularly can keep your HVAC appliance—and you—healthier.


Believe it or not, in one fell swoop you can lower your energy bills and improve the air quality in your home. The secret? It’s simple: Clean or replace your HVAC filter on a frequent, regular basis. Some savvy homeowners are well aware of the vital role the HVAC filter plays, but many people don’t even know it exists, let alone that it requires attention. Those who neglect their HVAC filter do so to the detriment of their home, as failure to clean or replace the component creates not-so-insignificant problems. For one thing, a clogged filter forces the heating and air conditioning system to work harder than strictly necessary. That means, in the near term, higher monthly energy costs. Over the long term, stressed HVAC equipment doesn’t last as long, reaching the end of its useful lifespan well before it would have under optimal conditions. In addition, a clogged filter potentially leads not only to a dustier home, but to higher concentrations of airborne particulates. Costly in terms of both money and health, these surprisingly common issues can be easily solved, if not totally prevented, through maintenance.

Replacing HVAC filters - Air Filter Pleated


The HVAC filter traps dust, dirt, and miscellaneous debris, but its main purpose isn’t to purify the air. In fact, the filter exists first and foremost to protect your heating and cooling appliances. Daniel O’Brian, a technical expert with, says, “Air filters defend your heating and cooling equipment from all the horrible stuff floating around in your home.” It’s in the process of protecting the system itself that the HVAC filter ends up protecting both you and your bottom line. After all, the same things that hamper indoor air quality also work to hamper the proper operation of a forced-air heating and cooling system. With a fresh filter in place, more dust and other particulates get removed from circulation, benefitting both your climate control appliances and your family. In the absence of debris that would upset its efficiency, your system runs at minimal cost and, according to O’Brian, “doesn’t burn out before it should.” In a sense, the HVAC system rewards you for taking care of it. The trick is to check—and if necessary, clean or replace—the filter not once in a blue moon, but on a consistent schedule.

How often do you need to inspect the filter? That depends not only on the type of filter you’re using, but also on a host of variables specific to your home. To illustrate this point, O’Brian explains, “If you smoke or have pets, you should be checking the filter more often than your neighbors do.” Barring those factors, manufacturers recommend checking the HVAC filter with each change of season. Remembering to do so may be the most difficult part of all. O’Brian notes that “some thermostats or systems can be programmed to remind you when to check the filter.” But if you happen to forget, certain signs indicate that the filter requires maintenance. For one thing, keep an eye on the dust levels in your home. If you notice an excessive buildup of dust, a clogged HVAC filter may be to blame. Likewise, if your heating or air conditioning system seems to be running non-stop (not cycling on and off), chances are good your filter needs to be cleaned or replaced.

Many filter types are readily available. While some are designed to be disposable, others are meant to be reused. When a disposable filter becomes clogged, you simply throw it away and replace it with a new one. In the case of a reusable filter, you rinse away the clog, then put the filter back into position. Both types do a fine job of protecting the HVAC equipment, but the latter usually capture a wider spectrum of impurities. For their relative ability to boost indoor air quality, filters receive a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value—a MERV rating. “The higher the MERV rating, the tinier the particulates that can be filtered,” O’Brian of summarizes. Average homeowners are well served by any filter with a MERV rating between 10 and 12. Though filters with higher MERV ratings cost more up front, their reusability means they last longer. Plus, reusable filters need less frequent attention—every four months, compared to every month or two.

Whether disposable or reusable, a new filter must be appropriately sized for the HVAC unit. “Sizing is pretty simple,” O’Brian explains. “Basically, just measure what you’ve got and get a replacement with the same dimensions.” For help selecting a filter, contact the professionals at The company offers a wide assortment of replacement filters for industry-leading heating systems, air conditioners, and air cleaners. You can also get advice on installing the new filter, although generally speaking, the task couldn’t be much simpler. Anyone can do it, and in most cases it takes only a couple of minutes. Procedures vary from one appliance to another, but typically the process is as follows: turn off the heating or cooling unit; locate and remove the service panel; slide out the existing filter (located near the intake/outtake blower fan); slide in a new filter; and turn the appliance back on. Indeed, there’s perhaps no quicker, easier way to maximize the efficiency of your HVAC system while helping to improve the air that you and your family breathe day in and day out in the comfort of your home.

Replacing HVAC Filters - Side by Side Pleated Models



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Bob Vila Radio: TLC for Your Window AC

As summer wanes and lower temperatures mercifully return, you may soon say goodbye to your window air conditioner. But prior to putting the appliance away, devote some time to a basic tuneup. That way, you can be sure that when summer rolls around next year, you're primed and ready to go. set aside some time to give it a basic tuneup. less likely to need the window air conditioner that provided relief on the warmest days and nights of the year. Before you say goodbye to the appliance, however, of the to operate don't let your window air conditioner slip your mind completely. are very likely to likely soon mercifully Your air conditioner doesn't cease to exist when September rolls around—you just forget about it. Learn how to deep clean your AC before stashing it in the closet, and you'll be rewarded with cool air on demand for many summers to come!

Window air conditioners: We turn to them in the dog days of summer, turn them off when the weather cools down, and forget about them the rest of the time.

Window Air Conditioner Maintenance


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To make sure the unit operates correctly the next time you need it, give your AC some much-needed TLC. First, unplug the unit and, with a putty knife, remove the front grill and internal filter. Clean both parts with a mixture of warm water, dish soap, and white vinegar. If your filter happens not to be washable, swap in a replacement.

Next, clean any of the cooling coils you can access, vacuuming them with the brush attachment. Afterward, scrub the coils with a plastic brush. If you encounter any bent fins along the way, consider using a simple fin comb (available at your local home center) to straighten them out, ensuring proper future performance.

Once you’ve let all the different components dry out completely, re-assemble the window air conditioner and let it run for a few minutes. Listen carefully and, if you hear excessive fan noise, tighten the blade’s set screw and fastening bolts. If you suspect that any sealed parts of the appliance need service, contact a repair professional.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

When’s the Right Time to Install Radiant Heating?

There are a few key moments in the life of a house when it makes particularly good sense to consider radiant heating. Read on to find out if now might be the best time for you.

Installing Radiant Heat


Energy efficiency and radiant heating are mentioned together so often that you might reasonably assume one had precipitated the other—that the drive for greater sustainability in home building gave rise to radiant heating as an innovative engineering solution. Actually, radiant heating has been around, in one form or another, for thousands of years. Its origins stretch all the way back into the mists of history. What’s new is that, after decades of continuous refinement, radiant technology has become viable—not as a supplemental luxury in, say, a chilly bathroom, but as an option for heating the entire home. Though Europe and Asia have already embraced radiant heating, it remains relatively rare in the United States. That’s all changing, however, as more and more people become aware of what sets radiant heating apart and how it surpasses the performance of traditional forced-air systems in myriad ways that really matter to the average homeowner.

Who doesn’t want lower energy bills? Certainly, energy efficiency factors into the growing popularity of radiant heating. But for many homeowners who are making the switch from baseboard, radiator, or forced-air heating, comfort trumps savings. So, even though radiant systems run at lower cost, that’s not their most compelling draw. Instead, it’s the caliber of the heating experience. With heat delivered from the floor, you get a qualitatively different experience than traditional systems provide. Take forced-air, for example. By cycling on and off, forced-air heating creates not only noise, but also uncomfortable swings in temperature. Radiant heat, by contrast, operates silently, delivering steady, all-encompassing, “everywhere” warmth. Plus, because radiant involves neither dust-collecting ductwork nor intermittent blasts of heated air, it does nothing to exacerbate indoor air quality. That makes it a breath of fresh air for those accustomed to dry, sometimes stifling home heating setups.

There’s one way in which radiant heating resembles the other options out there. Because HVAC components are so integral to the basic infrastructure of a home, they don’t usually lend themselves very easily to retrofit applications. With forced-air, the biggest hurdle lies in accommodating in the elaborate network of ducts needed to channel air from the furnace to the different spaces throughout the home. With radiant heat, the main impediment tends to be flooring. Often, owners of existing homes balk at the idea of removing their floors to make way for the radiant panels that slot in beneath. That said, there are at least three key transitional moments when homeowners enjoy a blank slate, when they are free to decide how their spaces ought to look and, more important, feel. Those are the times when it makes the most sense to put in a radiant heating system that can ensure comfort for years to come. Read on for details on these “hot” opportunities.


Installing Radiant Heat - New Construction System


Perhaps the best time to install radiant heating comes when you are building a new home from scratch. In this scenario, the radiant system factors into the design plans, and the installation process can follow a logical order of operations. The radiant floor panels go in first, and the flooring material follows only after they are in place. Note that there are construction efficiencies designed into some radiant heating products on the market. For instance, industry leader Warmboard offers a series of radiant panels geared primarily toward new home construction. With 1-1/8-inch-thick plywood at their base, these panels do double duty, serving not only as the backbone of a successful whole-home radiant system, but also as the subfloor. Combining the two cleverly saves both labor and building material costs.



Installing Radiant Heat - Renovation System


If you’re planning a major renovation, either of one section of your home or of the entire structure, it’s well worth considering a radiant system. In the end, though, the decision may depend on the scope of your project and whether or not you’re going to rip out the flooring. If you opt in favor of radiant, bear in mind that there may be a slight height variation between a regular floor and a floor with radiant panels. For that reason, Warmboard manufactures a series of radiant panels specifically intended for remodels. At only 13/16 inch thick, these panels minimize floor height variations and facilitate installation within the confines of any existing structure. Of course, no matter how unobtrusively the panels slot in, you’ll need to make certain your boiler can service the hydronic tubes needed to channel hot water throughout the installed system.



Installing Radiant Heat - Home Addition System


Radiant heating isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. If you’re putting an addition onto your home, you can always continue to heat the older structure with your existing system while choosing radiant for the new space. Practically speaking, working a radiant system into a home addition combines the benefits of new construction with some of the concerns that accompany renovation projects. On the one hand, you’re building from scratch, so, to an extent, the circumstances are ideal. There’s no flooring in the way, and tying the panels back to the boiler will probably not pose a problem. On the other hand, depending on the nature of your existing HVAC system, you may not have a boiler—and purchasing one and paying for its installation would add considerably to the overall project cost.


Despite the cost of installation, radiant heating translates into real savings over the long haul. From the moment you begin relying on radiant heating, your monthly utility bills are going to go down and stay down. As those savings accumulate, you will slowly recoup what you paid to put the efficient system into place. Ultimately, the question may not be whether to install radiant heat. The only question is when.

Building Your Dream House? Choose Unobtrusive and Efficient HVAC

Most of us must to learn to live with the heating and cooling that a previous homeowner chose. But if you're building a home from the ground up, you get the rare opportunity to select that system that not only provides the year-round comfort you need, but also meets or exceeds your design and efficiency goals. Read on to learn more about the next generation of HVAC.

Mini Duct HVAC


When you step into a beautiful custom-built home, nothing ruins the effect quite like the sights and sounds of a traditional HVAC system. In addition, due to the space-hogging bulk of their ductwork, run-of-the-mill climate control setups actually place limits on architectural and interior design possibilities. It’s true: More than you may realize, the appearance of any given home, inside and out, often depends at least to a degree on the type of heating and cooling components used.

If you’re working with a team of professionals to build your dream home from scratch, don’t make the mistake of leaving HVAC as an afterthought. Not all systems are created equal, and your choice really makes a difference, not only for comfort, but also for aesthetics. Plus, with rising energy costs, the efficiency of your HVAC must be considered too—for environmental reasons but also for your bottom line. With the right system, you can minimize your energy expenses, whereas with an inefficient choice, you’re more or less dooming yourself to pay a small fortune in bills each and every month. On the market today, surprisingly few HVAC options combine efficiency with an unobtrusive installation that allows for total design freedom. Perhaps the best of the bunch is the Unico System. Compact enough to stay out of sight—and out of the way of your builder or architect—Unico boasts silent, efficient operation, even while it delivers unparalleled comfort.

Mini Duct HVAC - Unico System Glass House


Less Is More
Picture the average air duct: It’s metal, rigid, and though sizes vary, HVAC ducts are often quite large in comparison to the room dimensions they service. It’s on account of their bulk that builders and remodelers often hide ducts in soffits, drop ceilings, chases and other special accommodations that steal square footage from other otherwise usable living space. If you specify the need for a first-floor bathroom, that will obviously influence the design and approach of your architect or builder. The same goes for conventional ductwork; it’s a factor that you’ve got to work around.

The Unico System places no such restrictions on home design, because its ducts are remarkably small, measuring only three-and-a-half or four inches in diameter. Not only are they mini, but they are also flexible. Capable of bending around impediments like studs and joists, these flexible mini ducts introduce versatility to heating and cooling. So whatever your design priorities, chances are that, along with the system’s small-scale air handler, Unico ducts can be configured in a way to make your design vision a reality. The same cannot be said for full-size ducts, which are rigid and inflexible.

Creative Outlets
Even where the ducts terminate in the conditioned space of the home, the Unico System always remains unobtrusive, thanks to its low-key, hardly noticeable outlet vents. Unlike conventional HVAC vents, with their unsightly grillwork, the Unico System comes with small, circular, discreet vents that can be installed wherever would be least conspicuous—on the ceiling, floor, or wall. Those outlets come in a wide of variety of styles, a broad enough spectrum of colors and visual textures to ensure a perfect match for the surrounding finishes in the room. Alternatively, outlets can be custom painted or stained precisely to suit your tastes. That’s a far cry from HVAC systems, which often force homeowners to make sacrifices in style to gain comfort. With Unico, you don’t need to make any sacrifices when it comes to aesthetics: Your home can look great and feel comfortable all at once.

Sound of Silence
Do you want peace and quiet in your dream home? Thought so. With Unico heating and cooling, as much as you don’t see evidence of the technology at work, you don’t hear much of it, either. Whereas conventional HVAC creates a considerable amount of background noise, the Unico System operates at a whisper-quiet level. That’s because the ducts feature an outer layer of sound-dampening insulation, and the air handler has been specially designed to keep noise transmission to a bare minimum. Let music, laughter, and conversation fill your home—not the roar of conventional heating and cooling components.

Efficient Performance
Most HVAC systems send blasts of air into the room, creating turbulent conditions in which one part of the space might be perfectly comfortable, while others would feel too warm or cool. The Unico System ensures even indoor temperatures by introducing conditioned air to the home in such a way that it draws the ambient air into its stream. The result? A draft-free dream home with consistent, uniform temperatures in every part of the room—top to bottom, wall to wall.

Best of all, though the Unico System provides unparalleled comfort, its efficient design means you won’t be paying an arm and leg to enjoy its performance. On the contrary, because its mini ducts are insulated, the Unico System sidesteps the main problem that takes away from the efficiency of conventional heating and cooling—that is, leaky ductwork. Believe it or not, leaky ducts can decrease the overall efficiency of a traditional system by as much as 50 percent. But with the insulated ducts that play a central role in the Unico System, there’s no wasted energy. In other words, you get precisely the climate control that you’re paying for.

A new offering from Unico, the iSeries outdoor heat pump (used for both heating and cooling), allows you to achieve even greater savings because of its high efficiency. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) of this unit ranges from 16.5 to 20, far exceeding traditional heat pumps.

In the summer, the Unico System further outpaces older technologies. With its advanced cooling coil, Unico proves 30 percent more adept at removing moisture from the air in the home. Of course, lower humidity translates to a higher degree of comfort, but it can also bring extra savings. How? It’s simple. Homes with low humidity feel cooler. For that reason, you can set the thermostat a few degrees higher than you normally would. With every degree you raise the target temperature, you conserve about three percent in terms of energy consumption. Capitalize on the opportunity, and savings are bound to add up from year to year.

What all this engineering adds up to is an invisible, whisper-quiet, efficient HVAC system that can save you significant energy costs. And if that’s not cool, what is?

Mini Duct HVAC - Unico System Modern Interior


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Genius! The Clean, Green DIY Washing Machine

Buying a new washing machine can really wring out your savings. While making your own machine may seem like a drastic step, it will not only help the environment, but also leave your clothes—and your conscience—squeaky clean!

DIY Washing Machine - Washing a Load


When a new washing machine can cost up to $1,000, there are plenty of reasons to consider a cheaper alternative before trekking to the appliance store. Well, you can’t get much cheaper than this: If you’re doing laundry for only one or aren’t ready to spend so much on a brand-new model, you can always build your own. Industrial designer Michael Perdriel was far from home when he first dreamed up his design for a DIY washing machine—7,586 miles away, to be exact, in Hyanja, Nepal. Here, Perdriel collaborated on a plan for local families that couldn’t afford a washer and dryer. But the benefits of this $50 version extend well beyond the small town in Nepal: Perdriel’s DIY conserves both water and energy and, because it’s entirely human-powered, provides a good workout too—minus the cost of a gym membership.

The washer consists of three main parts: a five-gallon bucket shell, a net bag to hold the dirty clothing, and a lever-driven shaft mechanism that sets the entire contraption in motion. Two cones made from short cuts of plastic tubing, which sit at either end of the net bag, achieve the agitation necessary for an effective wash by squeezing and releasing the clothing with every pump. When the handle of the lever is pushed down, clothes are lifted out of the water and wrung out between the tubing; release the handle, and the laundry gets dunked back into the water. The long pump handle offers ample leverage, so operating the machine is a breeze.

True, the small capacity isn’t for everyone. Lighter loads work best—ideally no more than five pounds of clothes at a time. But if you’re doing laundry for one or two people, this eco-conscious machine may be the easiest way to tackle smaller daily loads or delicates. And if you don’t have a washing machine at all, you’ll be able to avoid the crowded laundromat altogether. Whether you long to live off the grid or you’re just trying to beef up your savings account, there’s a laundry list of reasons to give this DIY a spin!

FOR MORE: Makezine 

DIY Washing Machine - Top View


The Best Alternative to a Window Air Conditioner

Get that bulky, view-obstructing, noisy AC unit out of your window for good! A ductless mini-split system offers a sleeker appearance, remarkable efficiency, and unparalleled comfort.

Ductless Mini Splits vs Window Air Conditioners

Photo: Mike Crews Photography

You are reading one installment in a 10-part series devoted to exploring Mitsubishi Electric ductless heating and cooling. See all.

In the market for a window air conditioner? Before you make any purchases, be sure to weigh all your options. Seen against the rich background of today’s cooling and heating technologies, window units are becoming increasingly outmoded. For all their enticing pros—low initial cost, portability, ease of installation—these appliances come with a host of off-putting cons. For one, even the most energy-efficient models are expensive to run over the course of the cooling season. Plus, because of their bulk and in-window position, portable air conditioners obstruct the view to the outdoors and block out the natural light that would otherwise stream into the home. When you also consider that window units are noisy and that they severely undermine home security, it’s easy to comprehend why so many people have gone looking for a better method of cooling one or more rooms. Countless budget-conscious, comfort-craving homeowners are discovering cost-effective, high-performance ductless cooling and heating systems from industry leader Mitsubishi Electric.

By design, window air conditioners are temporary solutions. Mitsubishi Electric ductless systems, on the other hand, are permanent installations handled by qualified contractors. That’s not to say the technology takes up a lot of space or requires extensive remodeling work. On the contrary, ductless systems are streamlined and compact, consisting of two discrete components—an outdoor condenser and an indoor unit. Connecting the two is a pair of refrigerant pipes that run through a three-inch-diameter hole in an exterior wall. A three-inch hole: That’s the extent of the changes necessary to accommodate the system. Because it’s so nonintrusive, the installation process usually takes less than a day. And once it’s up and running, a Mitsubishi Electric ductless system lasts much longer than the average, expendable window AC. Having already earned widespread popularity in Europe and Asia, ductless cooling and heating may represent the future of climate control in this country too. Continue reading to learn more about why more and more American homeowners are choosing to go ductless.

Ductless Mini Splits vs Window Air Conditioners - Wall Mount Installation

Photo: Michael Lee

True, a ductless system costs more up front than a window unit. Over the long term, however, Mitsubishi Electric pays you back with the system’s remarkable energy efficiency. Compared with the average window unit, a Mitsubishi Electric system consumes 40 percent less energy, allowing you to enjoy lower monthly utility bills during the cooling season. Those savings wouldn’t mean much if you were uncomfortable, though. So, what truly sets apart Mitsubishi Electric is that, even though the operation costs are relatively low, the system still provides unparalleled comfort. Thanks to a variable-speed compressor—and accurate monitoring of conditions in the room—the system continuously adjusts its output to match the demand. That way, the technology steadily maintains your target temperature. The average window AC either keeps running until the room gets too cold, or it cycles on and off, creating unpleasant, sometimes extreme temperature variations. That’s not the case with Mitsubishi Electric. Here, the temperature you set is the temperature you get.

Whereas there’s only one way to install a window air conditioner, the twin components of a ductless system can be configured in any number of ways, leaving you free to seek the most inconspicuous solution. For starters, within a set radius that depends on your chosen system, the outdoor unit can be placed on the portion of your property where it’s least likely to draw attention. You may also conceal its presence with strategic landscaping or even a curtaining structure, such as a trellis. Meanwhile, sleek, low-profile indoor units can mount either high on the wall, near the floor or within the ceiling, wherever you think it would look the best. No matter what you decide, the windows in the room would remain completely unobstructed. That’s right: You no longer have to sacrifice daylight and your view to the outdoors, as you would with a window unit, for the full duration of the summer.

Another factor to consider is noise. Even the quietest window air conditioners tend to make a racket. Not only in comparison, but objectively speaking, Mitsubishi Electric ductless systems are ultra-quiet. When running, indoor units reach volumes as low as 19 decibels—quieter than a whisper!

Ductless Mini Splits vs Window Air Conditioners - Bedroom Wall Mount

Photo: Mike Crews Photography

Though many homeowners rely on Mitsubishi Electric for cooling one or a couple of rooms, others employ the technology for whole-home climate control. In such a setup, multiple indoor units work in concert to maintain a comfortable temperature across the full square footage. For the time being, you may be interested only in, say, cooling down the bedroom. But if in the future you decided to extend your ductless system beyond the bedroom, you wouldn’t need to scrap what you’ve got and start over from scratch. Being that some outdoor units are capable of accommodating multiple indoor units, you would need to add only the latter into any room or rooms you wanted to make more comfortable. You might even look at your initial, single-room-focused ductless system as a first step toward piecing together a comprehensive solution for all the space under your roof.

One final aspect of Mitsubishi Electric technology proves its all-around versatility. These ductless systems provide, not only cooling, but heating as well. In cooling mode, the indoor and outdoor unit work to draw heat from inside the home and deposit it safely outside. The flip of a switch reverses the action, causing the system to collect heat from outside and bring it indoors. In effect, the same ductless system you count on for effective and efficient summertime cooling can also provide comfort-giving heat in the winter. Try saying that about a window AC!

Photo: Josh Pabst

This post has been brought to you by Mitsubishi Electric. Its facts and opinions are those of

Bob Vila Radio: Removing the Knockouts in Electrical Boxes

Knockouts are partially stamped, quarter-size openings in the electrical boxes that service such things as outlets and switches. Once removed, a knockout allows electrical wires to be run in and out of the box.

How to Remove Knockouts from Electrical Boxes


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Listen to BOB VILA ON REMOVING KNOCKOUTS or read the text below:

In the average electrical box, there are several knockouts, each with one or two attachment points resembling small bumps. Remove the knockout that would give the wires the straightest shot—that is, the knockout that would require the least amount of bending on the part of the wires.

To remove a knockout, position the tip of a regular, blade-tip screwdriver just inside the edge, on the side opposite the attachment points. That ought to partially dislodge the knockout, allowing you to remove it the rest of the way by twisting back and forth until the attachment points snap.

When you’re running wire in or out of a knockout, be sure to install a strain-relief clamp, an add-on that not only holds wires in place, but also keeps them from chafing against the edges of the electrical box. Multiple strain-relief options exist; check your local home improvement center.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

Save Money and Live Better with Multizone HVAC

Of all the advantages offered by ductless heating and cooling systems, zoned control may be the most meaningful to both your energy expenses and home comfort.


You are reading one installment in a 10-part series devoted to exploring Mitsubishi Electric ductless heating and cooling. See all.

The typical HVAC system takes a one-size-fits-all approach to heating and cooling. That is, a single, centrally located thermostat controls the temperature of the entire house. So, if you want to enjoy climate control in any room, you must run the system (and pay for the energy consumed) in all rooms, even the ones you’re not occupying. Imagine if the same principle applied to your plumbing system, and turning on the faucet in the kitchen would activate every other faucet in the home. Chances are that you would regard that sort of setup as exceedingly strange and wasteful. And yet for decades, homeowners have put up with all-or-nothing heating and cooling, accepting not only the limitations in comfort, but also the difficulty in saving money on utility bills.

Newer technologies have brought tremendous advancements to HVAC and have given homeowners some appealing alternatives. Today’s options respond much better to what homeowners want: both comfort and savings. Many of the most exciting next-generation alternatives are dramatically different from the familiar forced-air HVAC systems that rely on elaborate networks of ducts. Case in point: Mitsubishi Electric makes a full line of heating and cooling equipment that can operate without any ductwork whatsoever. Of course, ductless systems have enjoyed longstanding popularity in Europe and Asia, and there are many reasons to make the switch. That said, if you’re determined to gain more control over the climate in your home, one particularly compelling feature of ductless systems may cinch the deal for you: With a whole-home Mitsubishi Electric ductless system, you can establish multiple HVAC zones. Whether the zone comprises one room, a set of rooms, or an entire floor, it can be controlled independently from the other zones in the home. That means you can set a different target temperature for each zone, seizing opportunities for greater comfort and energy savings. If daytime household activity centers on the ground floor, you can adjust (or even turn off) the HVAC system for the zone or zones upstairs. At night, you can keep the bedrooms comfortable while cutting back on the temperatures in rooms that will remain empty until morning. Whereas traditional one-size-fits-all HVAC assumes all rooms are either occupied or vacant at the same time, multizone systems are able to adapt to how people actually live.


Tailored zoning also better responds to the fact that, when it comes to heating and cooling demand, no two homes are identical. Any number of variables come into play. For instance, if you live on a hill, solar gain may substantially influence the temperature of your home—but only on one side of the structure. Likewise, if you converted your attic or finished the basement, the temperature of the renovated space may vary, sometimes wildly, from the temperature elsewhere in the home. In such idiosyncratic cases, a one-zone system would give you no recourse but to be uncomfortable or use temporary stopgap measures, such as space heaters or window air conditioners. Only zoning affords the targeted temperature control necessary to overcome any challenges that are specific to your home.

Finally, zoning accommodates the reality that different people prefer different temperatures. In homes with one-zone HVAC systems, only some people will be truly, completely comfortable at any given time. Over the years, who knows how many disagreements have arisen out of our basic, primal desire to be comfortable? Now, thanks to zoning, every member of the household can enjoy his or her ideal environment. While working away in your home office, you can keep the room at the relatively chilly temperature you like best. At the same time, your spouse can enjoy warmer temperatures in the zone where he or she spends the most time. That’s right: With a zoned ductless system from Mitsubishi Electric, you can put an end to thermostat wars!

Since HVAC contributes more than any other mechanical system to household utility costs, it’s imperative for the budget-conscious homeowner to choose a solution that facilitates savings from one month to the next. That’s what zoning does—makes it easier than ever to eliminate frivolous, excess climate control and unnecessarily inflated energy bills. Still, you wouldn’t enjoy spending less if it meant shivering, sweating, or feeling otherwise uncomfortable in your own home. Here’s what sets apart the line of ductless systems from Mitsubishi Electric: Even while it gives you the ability to lower your expenses, the technology still manages to deliver unparalleled comfort. Heating and cooling always used to entail some sort of trade-off between comfort and savings, but not anymore.


This post has been brought to you by Mitsubishi Electric. Its facts and opinions are those of

Prevent Runaway Mold in Your Vacation Home with Innovative HVAC

Second-home owners are no strangers to mold and its hazards. If your weekend getaways are dogged by the seemingly relentless growth of foul-smelling, allergy-inducing mold, find out how the latest HVAC technology can rid you of those problems for good.

Prevent Mold with HVAC


If you are fortunate enough to own a vacation home, you know what a treat it can be to spend time away from the stresses and hassles of everyday life. But you also know that, for all the rest and relaxation a second home affords, it usually requires just as much attention and upkeep as your primary residence. In fact, maintaining a vacation home can be even more challenging, since you’re not always there to deal with problems as they arise. One problem in particular actually thrives under the conditions created by your absence: mold. Indeed, the owners of vacation homes are all too familiar with the unpleasant odor of mold. The mustiness greets you upon your arrival, and it worsens again when you lock up the house at the end of your stay. Most of the issues homeowners have to deal with can be solved by a one-time intervention. Mold is different: You can contain it, but you can’t fix it like you can a leaky faucet.

Believe it or not, mold exists pretty much everywhere. It proliferates only when it has access to both moisture and a food source (wood, for example, or drywall). In a primary residence, accumulated moisture attracts notice. But things are different with a vacation home: Close it up when you leave, and you’re effectively trapping in moisture, giving mold precisely what it wants. On your next visit to the house, you can fight back against the mold by turning on the air conditioner. Indeed, air conditioning helps a great deal to reduce humidity. It’s a temporary solution, though, lasting only as long as you run the AC. Turn it off when you leave, and the mold inevitably returns.

Prevent Mold with HVAC - Open Window


Given that controlling mold is largely a matter of controlling moisture, success partly depends on preventing rain from entering the home through vulnerabilities in the roof, gaps around the chimney, or cracks at the foundation level. Minimizing humidity levels is equally important. In the summer months, you can count on your air conditioning to reduce humidity, but not every system does so with equal effectiveness. Plus, no matter the system, few would be willing to shoulder the expense of running the system all season long.

Fortunately, newer HVAC technologies promise to make mold prevention a great deal easier—and a lot less costly. Take, for instance, the air handler from Unico. Thanks to a unique cooling coil, it manages to eliminate 30 percent more humidity than the average air conditioning system. Plus, unlike typical setups that cycle on and off, the Unico iSeries inverter unit allows the air conditioning system to run continuously, often at very low speeds and with extraordinary energy efficiency, so mold never gets a chance to take hold.

“The constant on-and-off cycling of most HVAC systems requires a great deal of power and leads to the sort of utility bills that make you want to cringe,” says Scott Intagliata of Unico. Through a steady process of incrementally adjusting itself, the Unico inverter runs in a way that minimizes energy consumption, maximizes savings, and, for the first time, makes it possible for you to keep the air conditioning running while you’re gone—without paying a small fortune along the way.

Though air conditioning goes a long way toward preventing mold in the summer months, it cannot replace the need for ventilation. For a home to remain free of mold, it needs a steady influx of fresh air from the outdoors. That’s why Unico developed a ventilation system with a programmable control board at its core. The control board calculates, based on the size of your home, how much fresh air to bring indoors at any given time. Based on those calculations, the system opens and closes its dampers as needed to maintain the appropriate ventilation level, adding a further layer of protection against mold.

Don’t let mold undermine the magic of your vacation home. Take advantage of the leading-edge HVAC technology that makes it easier than ever to combat mold—and win!

Prevent Mold with HVAC - Unico iSeries


This post has been brought to you by the Unico System. Its facts and opinions are those of