A Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner (PTAC) is a commercial grade, self-contained system commonly found in hotels, hospitals, etc. PTAC’s compressor unit is capable of both heating and cooling. Mini splits are heating and cooling systems that allow controlling the temperature of individual rooms or spaces. A mini-split has 2 main components: an outdoor compressor and an indoor air handling unit. PTACs and mini-splits have similar applications and can operate independently, which makes them a viable solution for buildings with different schedules.
Depending on the requirements of each project, both units can be used as air conditioners or as reversible heat pumps. When reversible, PTAC is called a Packaged Terminal Heat Pump (PTHP).
Since both units have similar application, which one is the best option for you? In this article, we will walk you through the benefits of each unit, advantages over each other, and most importantly help you pick the right one for you.
Advantages of Mini-Splits over PTAC
The biggest advantage of mini-split is energy efficiency. Unlike PTAC, mini-split requires a small opening for refrigerant lines between indoor and outdoor units. The most efficient PTACs have an Energy Efficient Ratio (EER) of around 12 in cooling mode, while some mini-splits have an EER above 15. This means, with mini-split, you can expect electricity savings of over 30%. For heating mode, the energy efficiency difference is less drastic as the Coefficient of Performance (COP) for both units is above 3.
Mini-splits require small wall opening which makes them easier to install. Mini-splits also don’t require existing ductwork for cooling and heating. This makes them a great option for installing in new construction projects.
Mini-splits have 2 units, indoor unit and outdoor unit, and are more adaptable than PTAC. The indoor unit can be installed in any wall and you don’t need to match the position of the outdoor unit. PTACs and PTHPs, on the other hand, can only be installed when an exterior wall opening is possible. Mini-splits also produce less noise as the outdoor unit contains the compressor and is isolated from the conditioned space.
Advantages of PTAC over Mini-Splits
Mini-splits don’t have air ducts between the indoor and outdoor unit. This means they can’t be used for ventilation and can only be used for cooling and heating. For buildings with mini-splits, separate ventilation is required that must meet the building codes and ASHRAE standards. PTACs, on the other hand, can be used for all 3 functions i.e. cooling, heating and ventilation. PTAC are more suitable for multi-room comfort, which is why they are often used in hotels, elderly care facilities etc. PTAC installed in every room allows individualization of comfort.
For a given capacity, PTACs has a lower price than that of mini-splits and can be advantageous when the project budget is constrained. PTACs also require less and simpler maintenance. Building owners can simplify management and maintenance by using PTACs. They can also be replaced easily as most come in a standard 42 inches wide size and all you need to do is remove the old one and slide the new one in.
Based on what you’ve learned so far, now you can be at a better position while picking the right heating and cooling unit depending on your needs. To summarize, you should pick:
Mini-splits, if you’re looking for:
- Energy efficiency
- Easier installation
- Low noise
PTACs, if you’re looking for:
- Heating and cooling with ventilation
- Multi-room comfort
- Low cost
- Low maintenance and replacement