Central Air vs. Ductless Air

Central air has taken its place as a staple throughout the United States, but ductless mini splits have gained an increasing amount of popularity over the past few years. But what’s the difference?

A/C vs. Ductless Cooling: Which Is Best?

If you’re trying to decide on which option would be better for your home, you’ll have a lot of factors to consider. Each carries their fair share of pros and cons, so understanding the specifications of your home and doing proper research will go a long way in making the right choice.

Zimmerman Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning will happily assist you in your decision. We can handle the installation of either system, so we have some tips for you to consider.

What Are Ductless Mini-Splits?

Seeing as how ductless cooling is relatively new, some people might not be familiar with the technology. It shares one primary trait with central air, as they both consist of two parts: a condenser (outdoor unit) and an evaporator (indoor unit). With central air, the heat transfer between those two units travels through the ventilation system in a building. With ductless mini-splits, a slim refrigerant line connects air handlers directly to the condenser, eliminating the need for ducts and vents.

Air handlers have indoor fans that collect warm air, and they then utilize refrigerant and an air conditioner or heat pump to create cold air. You can mount multiple air handlers throughout the different rooms in your home, as some condensers can handle up to 8.

Benefits of Ductless Cooling

With advancements in technology, ductless units can yield a large number of positives. Here some examples:

  • Energy Efficiency: If you’re looking to keep your utility bill down, ductless systems are perfect candidates. While central systems, when constructed properly, can be useful in their own right, they still have ducts. Ducts can suffer from leaks and poor design, and you can’t control the temperature of individual rooms. Mini-splits trump central air in both of those areas. The refrigerant lines, which run through small holes in the wall, won’t run the risk of falling into disrepair like ducts, and you can control when individual units are turned on or off with the use of multiple thermostats. That translates into superior control of your airflow and its utilization, which means smaller electric bills.
  • Versatility: If you have some existing ductwork, but areas of your home that are not receiving adequate airflow, there are some systems that can utilize both features. A mixed-system takes advantage of using existing or new ductwork while separate air handlers can benefit basements, bonus rooms, master suits, sunrooms, and more. Furthermore, any system that utilizes multiple zones to cool your home, is also a heat pump. This allows you to enjoy year-round operation of these types of systems.

On top of that, they’re famous for quiet operation, so you’ll barely notice the units running. They also provide an excellent ability to clean the indoor air with a host of air filter options, plus the added benefit of multiple airflow settings.

Benefits of Central A/C

Ductless units are undoubtedly viable, but central air holds its advantages, as well.

  • Cost: Many homes have existing ductwork in good condition. This can make installing a central air conditioning system significantly cheaper to install than a new mini-split system.
  • Sizing: A central a/c system can cover large homes and several rooms with 1 internal component. While mini-split systems tend to be somewhat room specific and can require many internal components to achieve what a ducted system can provide.
  • Aesthetics: Central air is usually only present to the eye through reasonably inconspicuous vents in the floor or ceiling. Ductless cooling often requires air handlers mounted to the wall, floor, or ceiling, which must remain unobstructed. If you’re design-conscious, central air may be more appealing.

In the end, there is no ultimate right answer. Every situation carries its own set of unique challenges and circumstances.

Air Conditioner vs. Ductless Cooling: Need Help?

At Zimmerman Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, we’re prepared to provide a whole-home solution to almost any type of home. We offer superior customer service, warranties on all of our work and top-quality products, all of which led to Harrisburg Magazine voting us Simply Best Plumber & HVAC contractor since 2005.

If you’re interested in contracting our services for central air installation, central air conditioner replacement, or ductless cooling installation contact us today to see what we can do for you. We serve homeowners throughout the Greater Harrisburg area, including Carlisle, Mechanicsburg, Hershey and the West Shore.