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.

Disadvantages

  • 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.

Advantages

  • 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.

Disadvantages

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.