Central Air Conditioning v Ductless Mini-Split: Which HVAC System Is Right for You?

With summer just around the corner, many are discovering that their air conditioning systems are no longer up to the challenge. Inefficient systems can be too expensive to run or unable to keep homes comfortably cool. If it’s time to consider replacing your air conditioning system, you’ll be reassured to know that you’ve got many options. The trick is finding the one that will best meet your needs.

Let’s take a closer look at two of today’s most popular household air conditioning systems: central air and ductless mini-split systems.

Central Air Conditioning

These systems generally feature two main components: an outdoor unit with a condenser coil and compressor, and an indoor evaporator coil. As both of these units are located outside of living spaces, they’ll work hard to keep you cool while remaining out of sight and out of mind.

Central air conditioning systems are a great investment to make in your home – especially if you plan to stay a while. The only negative of central air conditioning systems is the cost – particularly if there is no existing ductwork. If you already have ducts for a heating system in place, your new central air conditioning system can use them, too.

Another benefit of central air systems is air quality: These systems draw air through a filter that – if regularly replaced – will pull unhealthy substances and allergens out of the air; this is of particular benefit to anyone suffering from allergies.

While central air systems aren’t inexpensive, it’s worth noting that new central air systems can reduce your cooling costs by between 20% to 40% of what you’ve been paying; you’ll be making good on your investment throughout spring and summer.

If you’re planning on purchasing a central air system, take care to choose one that’s the right size for your home. Air conditioning systems work most efficiently when they’re not too big or too small for the job.

Ductless Mini-Split Systems

As mentioned above, central air systems require ductwork. As their name suggests, ductless mini-split systems do not. If you don’t already have ductwork in place, the time and expense of duct installation could be a major consideration – especially if you live in an older home or one with thick walls.

While ductless mini-split systems are often easier to install, they’re not inexpensive. In fact, they can be more expensive to install than central air systems – particularly if you’re installing systems in several rooms. Like central air systems, new ductless systems are an investment. Ductless systems are even more efficient than central air systems; over time, you’ll save more money on energy.

Ductless mini-split systems have the advantage of requiring less maintenance than central air systems. While ductless systems require little to no maintenance, central air systems require annual inspections and tune-ups from an air conditioning expert (such as my local go-to guys at Bradley Mechanical).

Ductless systems have the advantage of being even more quiet than central air systems, but they’re not invisible. A wall-mounted air handling unit will need to be installed in each room you intend to cool.

Again, it’s worth noting the importance of selecting the right system for your needs. With central air systems, you need to select the properly-sized system for your home. With ductless mini-split systems, you’ll need to select a unit for every space you’re planning to cool; you’ll definitely want to work with an experienced technician when choosing each unit.