To Duct Or Not To Duct: Mini-Splits Vs. Central AC

13 July 2021
 Categories: , Blog

If you're installing a new air conditioning system in your home, then you'll face one critical decision before you even begin: ductless or not. Central air conditioning systems are the norm in many American households, but mini-split systems are standard in some regions and elsewhere in the world. Mini-split units offer many potential advantages for homes of any size or age.

Deciding between these two options isn't always easy, and it can be a matter of both budget and personal preference. A professional HVAC contractor can help you weigh the pros and cons, but these three questions can get you started in the right direction.

1. What Does Your Home Have Now?

If you already have a central air conditioning system, replacing your old system with a new one will usually be the best and most cost-effective option. Since you already have ductwork in place, you'll only need to pay for new equipment and installation. As long as you're happy with your system's performance, you can usually select a similarly sized new unit and enjoy better cooling and efficiency.

A central air conditioning system may also make sense if you live in a home with forced-air heating but no air conditioner. You'll be able to reuse your existing ductwork and thermostats, so retrofitting a new air conditioner should require minimal expense and disruption. An HVAC tech can help you understand if your specific home is a good candidate for this process.

2. Does Your Home Have Space for New Ductwork?

If you don't have existing ductwork in your home, then you'll need to add it to install a central air conditioning unit. Ductwork installation is often the most expensive part of retrofitting these systems, and it can be very pricey if space is at a premium. Contractors will often try to run ductwork through closets and your attic, so access to these areas is critical for a smooth installation.

Ductless mini-splits work well for these applications, however. You don't need to install any ductwork (hence the name), and substantial modifications to your home are minimal. Your contractor will need to drill holes for refrigerant and power, but there's otherwise very little to do.

3. Is Time An Issue?

Replacing an old central air unit with a new one is a quick job, and many contractors will complete it in less than one day. On the other hand, retrofitting a new system with new ductwork may take several days and require extensive interior modifications. Installing a mini-split system is almost always a single-day project.

If you need your air conditioner installed soon (or don't want to deal with multiple days of contract work), these installation times might affect your decision. Both types of systems will provide efficient cooling for your home, so your decision should come down to your priorities, budget, and unique situation. For more information about AC installation, contact a local HVAC company, like Revive Air.