Choosing Between Central Air Conditioning and Ductless A/C

Is it time to replace your old air conditioning unit? Installing a heating and cooling unit is the right direction toward total home comfort. As you research options, you’ll discover that the two most popular choices are central A/C and ductless air conditioning.

What’s the difference between Central HVACs and a Ductless A/C?

Understanding how the two systems differ will help you decide what is best for your budget and comfort needs. Let’s examine the differences beginning with the central HVAC systems.

Central A/C Advantages

Set it and Forget it. Central A/C systems may be the most familiar. Because this type of system conditions air from a central unit, it is an excellent option if you want to “set it and forget it” since the system will cycle on and off throughout the day.

  • It operates from one central unit to cool all the areas of a home or office.
  • Central A/C units are almost invisible except for the outdoor condenser unit and registers.
  • Adds value to the home.
  • Simple to install with existing ductwork.
  • May allow for “zoning control” depending on the space’s configuration.
  • Tend to come with more extended warranties.


  • Ductwork maintenance required (cleaning and repair/replacement over time)
  • Costly to install if existing ductwork is not already present in the home or office.
  • If no existing central HVAC system is present, installing ducts and indoor units can take up space in closets, the attic, crawlspace, or basement.
  • All of the spaces in the home or office will be the same temperature unless zoning is configured.

Ductless A/C

Ductless air conditioners (aka mini-splits) have two main components: an outdoor compressor and an indoor air-handling unit. A conduit links the outdoor and indoor units. Ductless A/C are great options for room additions, apartments, or structures lacking existing ductwork.

Three Main Components

There are three main components to any ductless system.

  • The outdoor unit is very similar to a traditional air conditioning system. It contains a compressor and condenser.
  • Indoor blowers that are about 3’ long. It operates independently from one another. A single outdoor unit can support up to four indoor blowers.
  • The conduit connects to the outdoor unit. It contains the power cord, refrigerant line, and condensate line.

The cooling process begins when you turn on one of the indoor blowers.


  • Multiple indoor handling units remove the need to cool empty rooms.
  • Units don’t cycle on and off. Therefore, they maintain a constant temperature.
  • They tend to be quieter than central HVAC systems.
  • Some models (particularly variable-speed air handlers) have the highest efficiency ratings of all A/C systems available.
  • Fast and simple to install in spaces without ductwork.
  • Zoning capabilities allow occupants to set temperature preferences in their rooms.


Indoor units occupy floor space or hang on walls, which may look less attractive without a cover.
Ductless A/C systems often cost more up front than central air conditioning units.

The best way to determine which system is best for you is to schedule a consultation with a reputable A/C installation company. Based on the evaluation, they’ll custom design a plan that fits your budget and expectations. Call to schedule an appointment with an Advantage Air & Service expert today.