The last five years have been devastating to sales of new homes and unitary products. It will be a long, long time before we even approach the days of 1.5 million housing starts and 8 million unitary shipments. But while this market decline was going on, a niche market was not only surviving, but thriving. The ductless mini split market has seen a 200 percent growth since 2005 and the commercial multi-split market is up 310 percent.

Doug Widenmann, senior vice president of Sales for Daikin AC pointed out this information during a speech last week at the company’s National Distributor Conference in Las Vegas. He indicated the mini-split market hit 322,000 units in 2011 and he projected 1,000,000 units by 2015. Guess what folks? You can eliminate the word niche from the ductless market. It is now part of mainstream HVAC and it is here to stay.

It seems as though the stars have aligned for this product category. Its energy efficiency ratings put it at the top of the class. The prices of unitary products have gone up dramatically so they are beginning to catch up with mini-splits. And finally, the emergence of multi-split systems for the residential construction market makes it desirable for builders, contractors, and consumers that are concerned about home performance and leaky ducts. Widenmann also promoted his company’s products as a solution for the 1.5 million apartment units built before 1991 that will need to have R-22 units replaced in the very near future. This creates a major challenge of the bigger footprint of traditional R-410A units. Not a problem for ductless products.

Have you turned your back on ductless products? Maybe you should turn around.