Can I Run Mini Split Air Conditioner Cooling In Winter?

Mini-splits are an excellent cooling option for cooling your home during the scorching summer months. However, as the weather begins to shift and temperatures cool as the seasons once again rotate to winter, your cooling needs may shift. 

This article discusses mini-split heat pumps and when they work best, so continue reading to learn more!

Can mini-splits still cool inside the house with low temperatures outside?

Mini Split in Winter

Mini-split air conditioners can still cool the air inside your home despite low temperatures outside. The process is possible due to the vapor-compression refrigeration cycle. 

The cycle involves four major components: 

  • Compressor
  • Condenser
  • Expansion valve
  • Evaporator. 

These four core components work together to control when and where the refrigerant absorbs heat and when and where it releases the heat. 

The compressor sucks low-pressure gas refrigerant into it and turns it into high-pressure gas before pumping it out, increasing the refrigerant’s temperature. 

The system must be pressurized to work. Without the compressor, the refrigerant won’t move through the system correctly and exchange heat. 

The next step in the process involves the condenser. The gas enters the condenser, where it condenses to a liquid. The hot gas refrigerant feeds through the condenser (a network of pipes), cooling it as it goes and turning it into a liquid. So, it loses its pressure, which causes the temperature to fall. 

In the expansion valve, the refrigerant slows down. The smaller pipe leaving the large pipes helps do this, slowing the refrigerant down and dropping pressure. 

The evaporator serves the exact opposite purpose of the condenser. It turns the refrigerant into a gas from its liquid state instead of gas to liquid. Instead of giving out heat, it absorbs the heat and turns the air cold around it. This part is where the “conditioning” happens. 

Then, the cycle repeats, starting with the compressor, where the refrigerant becomes a gas again. This process makes it possible for the mini-split to cool your home, even in the winter months. 

So, suppose you need to cool your home in the winter when it is cold outside? The vapor compression refrigeration cycle still works. The refrigerant collects heat from inside your home and dumps it into the cold outdoors.  

Can you put a mini-split in the kitchen? 

Yes, you can put a mini-split air conditioner or heat pump in the kitchen (assuming you have the space). 

Since kitchens produce a considerable amount of heat due to the combination of appliances (stoves, ovens, kettles, etc.), many people choose to add a mini-split to the space.

During the summer months, busy kitchens can be overly hot, making cooking, baking, food prep, and cleaning downright miserable. 

This can be true even in the winter months. The kitchen can become very warm to comfortably work in, especially with the furnace, oven, and stovetop on. Mini-splits can help cool things down, making the area much more comfortable to work in.

Although many people associate air conditioning with summer or hotter outdoor temperatures, there are some scenarios where you may need cooling in the winter months as well. 

Individuals who spend large amounts of time in their kitchens throughout the year may benefit from adding a mini-split air conditioner, especially those who live in warm to hot climates. 

Other Options for Cooling in the Winter

If running your mini-split air conditioner constantly isn’t appealing to you, there are a few other options for cooling your home to a comfortable level. Some of these alternative solutions can even help lessen your overall energy consumption!

Open a Window 

If your home is getting too warm in the winter, consider opening a window. 

Opening the window can be an excellent solution for scenarios with other heat sources, like in the kitchen, where the appliances are kicking out excessive heat as they operate. 

For instance, the oven or stovetop may produce quite a bit of heat during cooking or baking, creating a hot environment in the kitchen. Instead of turning on the air conditioner, open a window to combat this issue. 

If you don’t want to cool the entire house, shut the doors to other rooms near the space you’re trying to cool. Once the temperature drops to a comfortable level, shut the windows again. 

You will be more comfortable, and your home will use less energy too. 

Turn Down Your Furnace

A furnace is an excellent resource for keeping your home cozy and comfortable during the icy grips of winter. However, it may do its job too well in some cases, leaving you in an overly warm house. 

Turn down your furnace instead of turning on your mini-split to cool the area. You’ll consume less energy by lowering the furnace settings, and you won’t have to pay for the energy both units consume while working against each other. 

If you have a wood-fed fireplace, use the damper and draft to control airflow and shut down the fireplace. Or, if you have a different heat source (gas or electric fireplace, etc.), change the settings or turn it down to a more comfortable temperature.

Whole House Fan

A whole-house fan may also be an excellent option for maintaining a comfortable, consistent temperature throughout your house. These fans are a type of cooling system that circulates air and offer excellent attic ventilation and cooling for your entire home. 

They work by pulling air into your home through open windows, then pushing it out via the attic. So, it moves cool air in and ships hot air out. These fans usually run quietly when properly installed, so they shouldn’t bother you while operating. 

Running a whole house fan for just a few minutes in the winter could quickly cool down your home. 

Conclusion

The need for cooling at the hands of a mini-split isn’t simply restricted to warm, balmy summer months. In some cases, the demand for cooling capacities extends into the winter. 

Although a mini-split can effectively cool your home in the winter, you have a few other options for achieving the same result despite the cooler outdoor temperatures. 

Whether you want to save energy and open a window or simply use the mini-split, you can efficiently cool your home, even when the temperature outside is chilly.

Written by

Rene has worked 10 years in the HVAC field and now is the Senior Comfort Specialist for PICKHVAC. He holds an HVAC associate degree from Lone Star College and EPA & R-410A Certifications.
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