Whether you are looking into installing a new air conditioning system or your existing AC is reaching the end of its life and needs replacing, you’ll encounter a range of product options when you begin to look around. One of those options, which might be new to you, is ductless air conditioners. If you’ve not heard of them before, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered, with this list of the main reasons to consider a ductless air conditioning system for your home.
A ductless air conditioning system, also known as a mini-split, is similar to the more commonly known central air system. In both cases, they consist of two units. The first is the condenser unit, which sits outside your home. Inside the house, you have an evaporator/air handler. Coolant is passed between the units, and the pressure on the fluid is altered to create a temperature change. The coolant is then cycled back outside as it warms up, releasing the heat outside.
With the traditional central air system, cool air is sent through aluminum ducts that cross through your home and pump it to where it is wanted. In comparison, a ductless system runs a slim set of pipes between the condenser and a box on the wall of the room to be cooled, and no ductwork or vents are required.
Putting new AC into your home can be an expensive decision, so it is normal to spend some time researching the options. Here are some common questions asked to potential customers, which we hope will help you in your decision-making process.
If your home is already equipped with ductwork, the main expense of the central air system is already in place. As such, it makes financial sense for most people to stick with the traditional system simply for cost efficiency.
However, if your home does not have ductwork in place, the good news is that a ductless system will cost much less to install and requires considerably less modification to your home. All that is typically needed is a 3-inch hole in the wall, through which the pipes are run between the condenser and wall unit.
Ductless systems are also great stand-alone options for homes with central air, but maybe have added extensions that do not include ducts in the new area.
Central air is an integrated colling system. This means that you will rarely notice the vents and ducts unless you go looking for the vents and ducts. A good central air system is invisible.
In comparison, as much as we love ductless air conditioning systems, their most significant drawback is that they require a small wall unit in each room that needs cooling. These are generally pretty sleek-looking devices, but if clean, clear wall space is at a premium in your home, you may not love the idea. However, it’s possible to be quite creative with how you go about disguising them.
Ductless systems are perfect for cooling small homes or individual areas of larger homes. If you generally don’t need much in the way of AC but have one specific room that requires cooling, ductless air conditioning is perfect for you.
On the other hand, if you need a system that can turn every room into a chilly area throughout the summer, you’ll be wanting to go with central air, as it has the power to cool even the largest of homes once the infrastructure is installed.
As a rule of thumb, if your home is over 2,000 square feet and needs cooling throughout, go with central air for its better cooling efficiency. If you only need zonal cooling or your home is smaller than 2,000 square feet, ductless will be the most cost-efficient option.
Ductless systems, as a general rule, win here. They are typically quieter than their central air counterparts.
Be sure to check with your technician or vendor for the noise level, which should be provided in decibels, for any system you are considering, as not all brands are equal.
Ductless air conditioning will set you back a couple of thousand dollars for a starting point of one installed indoor unit, but there can be savings made on labor and discounts on the physical units when buying and installing several at once. Generally, central air systems will be more expensive, although it is possible to purchase top-of-the-line ductless models that can top a more modest central air set up. That means that how much you choose to pay will largely depend on what you expect in terms of quality.
Ductless air conditioning units can have as high as a 27 Season energy efficiency rating (SEER), while the best central air systems only rate 21 SEER.
Added to this, the quality of the ductwork plays an important factor in how efficient a central air system is. If it has required lots of twists and turns to get throughout the house, or has leaking joins, then the SEER rating will suffer.
As we covered above, sometimes homes have areas that get hotter than others, or you may have different family members who prefer different temperatures. If that is the case, zonal systems are the required answer.
You can obtain zonal cooling with both the central air system and ductless air conditioning, but it is significantly cheaper to achieve with ductless systems. Central air will require upgraded ductwork with internal dampers to achieve zonal cooling, which can be a significant financial burden.
As a final point, some ductless systems not only cool, but they can also absorb heat from the air in temperatures as low as -7° C and pump it into your home. Because of this, such systems are called heat pumps. So when it gets cold outside, a ductless system can reverse course and begin bringing warm air into your home.
Heat pumps are highly efficient compared to furnaces, so there is a potential for cost savings through the winter months.
We hope that the information above has helped you towards making a decision. There are cost, efficiency, and even visual and sound considerations to take into account when choosing your air conditioning unit. Whatever you opt to go with, we hope it brings you amazing comfort in the hot summers to come.