Port Neches, TX home pairs solar panels with ductless HVAC
We got a call from some environmentally-conscious homeowners in Port Neches, TX. Their ranch home was already outfitted with solar panels. Now, they wanted to see if ductless HVAC could make the house even more energy-efficient.
So far, using sunlight provided much of the electricity the home needed. But, the ranch still relied on fossil fuels for heat. The house had conventional central air and a gas heater. Those aren’t exactly the most energy-efficient on the market today.
And, like many people today, our homeowners want their home to use as few resources as possible. That’s not just good for the environment. It’s also good for their budgets.
It’s simple, really: The less energy you use, the less you pay for. That’s the same whether we’re talking about the electricity that powers the lights or the natural gas that heats the place.
So, they were ready for an upgrade. And, that’s what the Ductless Experts are known for. We’ve put systems like these in thousands of homes in Beaumont, Bridge City, and other towns in Jefferson County.
Once our homeowners read testimonials from our many satisfied customers, they knew we were the people to call. And, we didn’t let them down.
Problem: A ranch home in the J Doornbos subdivision of Port Neches, TX had solar panels for electricity and an old gas heater. The homeowners wanted to be even more energy efficient.
Solution: Replaced the gas heater with a Mitsubishi ductless heat and cooling system with four indoor air handlers.
Combining ductless HVAC and solar panels
Solar panels have improved a lot over the past few decades. That’s a part of why so many more people have them today. Meanwhile, ductless heat and cooling, which we also call a mini-split system, has also become much more popular. Using both can make an even more significant impact on your energy bills than just one.
Harnessing sunlight for energy has become much more efficient recently. You can measure this by how much of the light that hits the panel gets converted into usable power.
Take an average 39-by-65-inch board. Back in 1954, that could convert 6 percent of the light that hit it and produce 20 watts. In 2012, that same-size unit turned 15 percent for 200 watts.
Jump to 2018, and in just six years that efficiency leaped another three percent. Now, that panel is producing up to 360 watts.
And, the more you line up on your roof, the more power you get. Eventually, you can produce so much electricity that your home is all set, and you’re sending excess energy to your utility company. Then, they actually pay you for generating power.
Now, our ranch home in Port Neches didn’t have enough room to profit off their energy. But, they had enough to make a massive impact on their bills. And, adding a mini-split would make that impact even more substantial.
That’s because these use less energy than traditional HVAC setups like the one this home had already. Already, our homeowners were cutting down on how much electricity their home needed from the grid. Converting to a high-efficiency HVAC system would cut that down even more.
How the mini-split works
To understand how this system saves energy, let’s look at how it works in the first place. To start, we installed a heat pump on the outside of the house. This unit provides warmth and cooling. But, it doesn’t actually generate warmth or cool down coils to provide air conditioning.
Instead, it uses a thermodynamic transfer process to the job. That takes a lot less power than the old methods. It’s all based on the idea that warm air is attracted to cold.
Even in the dead of winter, there’s warmth in the air. And, out near Sabine Lake, it rarely dips below 40 degrees. So, there’s plenty to work with.
The pump uses a cold refrigerant liquid to attract that heat. It warms up the fluid, and the system runs that heat into the house. Once the warmth leaves the system, the solution cools down again, and the process repeats.
In the summer, the opposite happens: The heat in the house is attracted to the liquid. Then, the system moves it from inside to outside. It also dehumidifies the air to make it cooler.
To do this, we install air handlers,inside the house. These distribute the warmth or cooled air. We put four of these in this home. They’re in the bedrooms and home office. The fourth is actually a ceiling cassette that’s built into the ceiling of the living room.
The air handlers and pump are connected by refrigerant lines. These run through the walls just like electrical wires. This way, we didn’t need to build any ductwork or tear down any walls to install it.
Now, how does this all use less energy and save money?
How a mini-split saves you money
A mini-split saves you money by using less energy to provide the same, or better, climate control as other HVAC models. They’re Energy Star-certified, which means they meet rigid standards proving this. And, the less energy it uses, the less you pay for. The system does this by:
- Using less power to provide the same results
- Using a low-power mode to last longer
- Creating zoned HVAC
Here in Port Neches, our homeowners were still using some power from their utility company. Now that their new system works with their solar panels, they’ve cut out that provider almost completely.
First, as we said, this setup uses less energy. Part of that is just the design. That transfer process doesn’t need a lot of power. Much of it just happens naturally, thanks to the laws of thermodynamics.
And, once the temperature is right, the system doesn’t wait for the temperature to fluctuate and then click back on at full blast like traditional units. Instead, it switches to a low-power mode that maintains the temperature you want.
That’s also less wear and tear than shutting down and then roaring back to life. It helps these systems last much longer than gas heaters and AC condensers.
Finally, this system creates what we called “zoned” HVAC. Usually, you’ve got one thermostat controlling the whole house. Parts of the home end up with too hot or cold while other parts barely get enough.
Instead, each wall unit has its own thermostat. This way, it only has to worry about the area or zone, it’s handling.
If the living room warms up quickly in the winter, that air handler there shuts off. But, the ones in the bedrooms still keep working.
That means you’re using less energy overall. And, when our homeowners combine that conservation with the solar panels, they’re using even fewer resources than before.
Are you looking for a way to conserve more energy with your solar panels? Contact us, and we’ll design a system that’s perfect for your home.