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Ductless or Central Air Conditioner: How to Choose the Best for Your Home

Both ductless AC and the central system will cool your home perfectly during hot days. Regardless, they operate in different ways, and each has its cost implications. Here is an analysis that may guide you in making the ultimate choice for your home.

How the Two Air Conditioning Systems Work

The Ductless AC

Also known as “mini-split,” this system contains two units:

  • The external condenser
  • Internal evaporator

A piping component connects the two units through a hole in the wall, hence the name. You can install several air handlers connecting to the same external compressor. This arrangement allows you to control temperature levels in every room.

The Central Air Conditioning System

It has a network of ducts that supply cooling air throughout the house. It has an outdoor unit, which is a condenser that houses a compressor. The internal evaporator absorbs heat from inside the home. Heat goes to the refrigerant before it escapes outside.

An evaporator coil and blower combine efforts to release cool air inside the house. The released air then circulates to every other part of the home. Notably, the extent to which the cooling effect goes depends on the size of the conditioner.

How to Arrive at a Suitable Decision

Comparison by Ease of Installation

According to www.jnjheatandair.com, You pay more to install a central air conditioning system. This system is most suitable where there is a pre-existing duct system. A new house that you are building from scratch is also ideal for mounting ductwork.

Installing a central air conditioning system where ductwork did not exist before is cumbersome. You have to demolish some walls or ceilings to allow passage of the ducts. Besides, you must return the demolished walls and ceilings to their original condition. The process could take more than a week of labor-intensive activities.

Ductless AC is almost hassle-free. The most intensive effort is drilling a hole through the wall. Connecting the two units through the hole and sealing it would be all that is necessary.

The ductless system is suitable where you have room additions. It is also ideal when you move to a new house. The system saves you from the agony of having to replace the old ductwork.

Comparison by Cost

The aspect of cost has a high potential of misleading many homeowners if they do not look at it carefully. For instance, the upfront cost of a mini-split system is usually higher than the central system. That, however, is not all that you should consider.

The ductless system does not waste energy. In the end, this saves you from high operation costs. The same case is not true for the central air conditioner unit.

Comparison by Basis Maintenance Needs

Maintenance is straightforward since there are no ducts to inspect and clean regularly. Maintenance requires:

  • Changing and cleaning filters
  • Remove debris from the external condenser
  • Routine maintenance schedule with professionals

The opposite is true for the central system, which is more demanding. Ducts are prone to leakages and other defaults. Here are examples of maintenance activities:

  • Ducts require regular inspection and cleaning
  • Repairing or replacing leaking ducts
  • Professional consultation, which is costly

Comparison According to Home Size

Ductless systems are not ideal for large homes. They are economical for homes that are less than 1800 square feet. If you insist on this system in a bigger house, you will need several units, which may turn out to be unnecessary and more costly. Cooling with a central system is better for a larger house. You only need one unit for the whole house. Homes larger than 2000 square feet require the central cooling system.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Two Systems

Advantages of Ductless AC:

  • You can install it anywhere in the house without worrying about ducts
  • It operates quietly, giving you the convenience of avoiding the irritating noises that comes with other systems.
  • Operating and maintenance costs are relatively lower. It is energy-efficient- adjustable fan speed allows for energy saving.
  • You can choose to set different temperatures for different rooms inside your home.

Disadvantages of Ductless AC:

  • It does not cool the whole home uniformly. The limited capacity is unsuitable for larger homes.
  • It is a spoiler for interior décor since you have to install it in each room. If you are aesthetically conscious, you may not like how it looks. Fortunately, you may get an opportunity to choose among different styles of the interior unit.

Advantages of the Central Air Conditioning System:

  • You can use one unit in cooling the entire home. Thus, you attain comfort
  • It does not affect interior décor since it is invisible. You only mount small air vents in strategic locations.
  • It can improve the quality of air inside
  • It is flexible since you only operate it through one control unit or thermostat.

Disadvantages of the Central Air Conditioning System

  • It operates with much noise
  • Ducts can trap dirt and other undesirable substances that can cause health problems. You may have to incur an additional cost of installing automatic air purification units alongside the central system.
  • Installation is full of challenges, especially when centralizing it in a large home.
  • Maintenance is very costly. The ducts are prone to damage regularly. In that case, you may have to invite a professional technician to help with repairs.
  • If you fail to get the right size (capacity) at installation, the system may not be useful.

Overcome the Dilemma

If your home has ductwork, just go the central air conditioner way. It will be cheaper since you only require the exterior condenser and a coil. You would have to worry less about a visible installation that could be an eyesore to buyers.

If there is no ductwork, the natural option is the ductless system. Unfortunately, buyers may undervalue and consider it as complacency on your part. The central system increases resale value.

Despite all considerations, it is not easy to determine which of the two systems is better. What you need for your home will dictate the choice you make. Most importantly, your decision should come after considering the strengths and weaknesses of each. With your budget, you can still make a futuristic choice.


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