Last year Dream Builders Construction completed an oceanfront remodeling project in the Outer Banks town of Nags Head. Among other updates, this project included adding ground level living space (two master suites with private baths, laundry facilities, a recreation room and half bath) and expanding the top level to include a home theater room and arcade area.

Specific challenges with the HVAC system arose because the home was located within CAMA setbacks which meant that we could not “tie” a new HVAC system into the existing one. In addition, the ceiling height of the ground floor was 8 foot and a new system would have required drop ceilings to house the ductwork. The latter was not an ideal scenario for the owner, so it was necessary to research another option.

Our HVAC contractor said the best alternative was to install ductless (mini-split) systems. This was our first experience with this product, and fortunately there were many appealing factors. With research showing that up to 25% of energy can be lost through ductwork, these systems are much more efficient and provide future savings for the homeowner.

To ensure both comfort and efficiency, it is essential to use a licensed contractor with knowledge on how to size the system in conjunction with the room space. Also, these systems won’t work properly if the wall penetration is improperly sealed or the electronics are mishandled. Installation is a critical factor not only for efficiency but also because improper installation can void the product warranty.

We selected Energy Star Mitsubishi units with a 22 Seer rating. You pay a bit more up front (when compared to traditional window or baseboard heating units) but the ultimate reward is lower energy bills. Since these systems were being installed in an Outer Banks vacation rental home, the owner saw the long-term savings as a definite plus. We found the sleek design style fit very well with the coastal aesthetics throughout the home. Overall, the decision to install ductless HVAC systems was a Win-Win for everyone … the homeowner … the contractor … and vacationers renting this home.