Ductless Air Conditioning vs Central Air – How to Choose?
Has making the choice between central and ductless air conditioning left you scratching your head? The friendly professionals at H&H know this is a big decision – one of the largest, longest lasting appliance investments you’ll make for your home – so we’re here to help you out before you create a bald spot. Here’s what you need to know to choose an air conditioner that’s right for you:
Cooling Conundrum: Ductless versus Central A/C
Central A/C or “Split” Systems Split systems, such as those by Bryant Heating and Air Conditioningh are the most common type of central A/C. Utilizing ductwork and a mechanical blower to distribute air, refrigerant is circulated between an indoor unit (housing the coil) and an outdoor unit (housing the condenser and compressor), hence its “split” namesake. Some types, such as heat pump models, offer heating and cooling.
Pros Virtually invisible, central systems keep your whole home a cool, constant temperature. Ductwork and components are virtually invisible, adding value to you home without distracting from décor. With existing ductwork, they are cost-effective and easy to install. Newer models offer vastly improved efficiency over those several years old, with some models offering slightly longer warranties than ductless systems.
Cons Ducts may make systems less efficient – especially old, leaky, poorly designed ones, which can rob your system of up to 30% efficiency. Central systems also require annual professional maintenance and periodic ductwork cleaning. Proper sizing for your home and matching between the indoor and outdoor components are essential to efficient operation, so be sure to enlist the help of a heating and air conditioning company you can trust.
Ductless Systems Ductless systems, such as Mitsubishi ductless air conditioning systems, also have indoor and outdoor components, utilizing refrigerant much like central systems. The noisy part (compressor) is typically located on the outside wall of your home, but can be installed farther away (up to 50 feet) if necessary. Indoor units are installed inside, on your floors, walls or ceilings, taking in air through the top, heating or cooling it, and emitting air via vents in the bottom. One outdoor unit can serve up to 8 indoor room units, and more can be added as needed.
Pros A great option for homes without the ability to accommodate ductwork, such as older homes, ductless systems are easy to install and extremely efficient, allowing for varying temperatures at each unit location (“zoned” cooling). No cooling is lost to leaky or poorly insulated ductwork. If your primary concern is energy costs, this is your winner. They are also low-maintenance, with less components to address.
Cons Though compact and low profile, some homeowners may take issue with the aesthetics of ductless systems. Initial installation cost is higher than central systems, though this is easily recouped in energy savings over the life of the system. Like central systems, improper sizing and installation can effect efficiency, so it’s imperative to enlist a qualified, professional air conditioning company you can trust.