Browse the stacks at Central Books in Doylestown, Pa. in the summer, and you’ll notice it’s quiet as a bookstore should be. It’s also very comfortable no matter the temperature outside.
That combination of quiet and cool comes thanks to the owner’s decision to go with a ductless air conditioning system for the store. With just one indoor unit, this system dehumidifies and air conditions the entire space, all while keeping the noise at library-level, a.k.a whisper-quiet.
In this case study, we’ll take a quick look at how this system works. And, we’ll see why it’s perfect for a quaint used book store such as this.
Adding Air Conditioning In a Bookstore
Every retail space needs comfortable climate control, but this bookstore had a few unique needs.
First of all, a quaint bookseller like this is often a quiet place -- it isn’t the mall or a chain store. All you can usually hear are the sounds of people speaking softly and the occasional page turning. That doesn’t lend itself to the sound of a central air conditioner or even worse, a roaring window unit.
Furthermore, there are the rows and rows of shelves to fit tons of books in a relatively small space, which makes it difficult for the air to circulate correctly. The stacks interrupt the airflow all over the place.
Then, there’s the need for dehumidification. Moisture is no good for books and uncomfortable for those spending time in the store.
Finally, part of the charm of Central Books is the very old Victorian-style building, built in 1890, where it resides. The space adds much to the ambiance, but not to the comfort; buildings this old weren’t designed with ductwork in mind.
Years ago, the owner would've had to make at least one sacrifice to cool the space, like give up the quietness or lose the charm. Now, with a ductless system, the bookstore can reap the rewards without a loss.
Ductless Cooling Vs. Central Air
The process behind ductless cooling and central air are essentially the same: both systems draw warm air from the room, dehumidify the space, and circulate cool air back into it. But the way the equipment is installed and the benefits of each are far different.
As the name implies, ductless cooling doesn’t require that big, bulky ductwork to move air from one place to another. Instead, the system uses only a very narrow, flexible line set to connect a heat pump outside to an air handler in the shop.
That line set contains the power cable, a line running refrigerant between two components (which is why these setups are often called “mini- splits”), and a drain line for condensation.
Meanwhile, the air handler uses state-of-the-art fans and sensors, so even with all the shelves in the way, the sensors can identify hot spots in the room and the fans can cool them as needed.
Those same features also enhance the dehumidification process — an essential step in air conditioning.
In all, that makes the mini-split much more effective — and efficient — than a ductwork and condenser setup.
For this shop, we only needed one air handler installed close to the ceiling where it’s out of the way (left). Then, we ran the wires through the wall to the heat pump outside (right).
And the benefits don’t stop there!
Energy efficiency and quiet operation
Two other big benefits of mini-splits are how quiet they are and how little electricity they use. Let’s look closer at both.
Since the system uses tiny fans and not forced-air through ductwork, there’s no sound of rushing air all the time. Rather, the system makes as much noise as leaves rustling outside, at most. Unless you’re standing right underneath the air handler in total silence, you won’t hear a thing.
Even someone right on the other side of a shelf from it won’t hear the airflow.
Next, these systems use far less electricity than traditional AC. The fans and sensors play a huge role here: the better it treats the room, the less it needs to work.
On top of that, the air handlers use inverter technology, which is sort of like cruise control on a car. Instead of stopping and starting all the time like central air, the handlers spend most of the time in a low-power mode. This way, it always maintains the temperature instead of correcting fluctuations all the time.
The result is better, even comfort that takes less energy to produce.
Ductless Cooling for Retail Spaces
Ductless cooling is great for retail spaces such as this bookshop. They keep the overhead low, and the shop feeling great.
If you’d like to learn more about how a system like this can benefit your business, click the button below or give us a call at 215 - 245 - 3200. We offer free consultations to get started.