Choosing the Right Air Conditioner

by | Aug 17, 2023 | Articles

Central AC vs. Ductless Mini-Splits

As the summer heat continues to relentlessly beat down on us with no end in sight, you may be noticing your AC unit isn’t performing quite up to snuff. It could be something simple as needing routine maintenance, perhaps it could just be due to age, or it could be due to excessive usage, whatever the reason, you might be looking into replacing your air conditioning unit and now you’re here. Choosing the right air conditioner can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. That’s why we’re here, to break it down into simple, easy-to-understand facts so you can make the best, most informed decision for your home.

But first, what’s the difference between a Central AC and a Ductless Mini-Split System? 

Well, let’s start with the Central AC unit:

Ductwork: A central air conditioning unit is comprised of ductwork to distribute the cooled air throughout the rooms in your home. These ducts are usually installed in the walls, ceiling, or floors and are used to carry the air into each room from the cooling unit.

Central Unit: The central AC system has a single outdoor unit (condenser) and an indoor unit (evaporator coil) connected to the ductwork. The outdoor unit houses the compressor and condenser, while the indoor unit is typically located in the basement or an attic and contains the evaporator coil.

Zoning: Central AC systems usually provide whole-house cooling with limited zoning capabilities. You can adjust the temperature through a thermostat, but the entire house is generally cooled to the same temperature.

Installation: Installing central AC requires professional ductwork installation, which can be labor-intensive and costly, especially in existing homes without pre-installed ducts.

Aesthetics: The ducts in a central AC system are hidden within the walls and ceilings, but the indoor vents can still be visible and may impact the aesthetics of a room.

Now let’s move on to Ductless Mini-Split System:

Ductless: As the name suggests, a ductless mini-split system does not require ductwork. Instead, it consists of one or more indoor units connected to an outdoor unit via refrigerant lines and electrical cables.

Individual Units: Each indoor unit in a ductless mini-split system is responsible for cooling a specific zone or room. You can have multiple indoor units connected to one outdoor unit, providing individualized temperature control in different areas of the house.

Zoning: Ductless mini-splits offer excellent zoning capabilities, allowing you to adjust the temperature in each room or zone independently. This can lead to increased energy efficiency and personalized comfort.

Installation: Ductless mini-split systems are easier and faster to install since they do not require ductwork. The indoor units are usually mounted on walls, ceilings, or floors, and they only need a small hole for the refrigerant and electrical lines to connect to the outdoor unit.

Aesthetics: Ductless mini-split indoor units are sleek and compact, designed to blend well with most interior styles. They are less obtrusive than central AC vents and can be placed strategically for minimal visual impact.

Energy Efficiency: Ductless mini-split systems are generally more energy-efficient than central AC units, especially if you only need to cool specific areas of your home at certain times.

Now that we’ve got the basics down with the differences between the two, how to decide which is best for your home.

Deciding between a central air conditioning system and a ductless mini-split system depends on several factors. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to consider your specific needs and circumstances. 

Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

1. Installation Requirements: As discussed above, Central AC systems require ductwork throughout the house, which can be costly and time-consuming to install if you don’t already have it. On the other hand, ductless mini-split systems do not require ductwork and are easier and quicker to install.

2. Zoning and Control: Ductless mini-splits allow for individual zoning and temperature control in different rooms. Each indoor unit can be independently controlled, which can lead to energy savings if you only need to cool certain areas of your home. Central AC systems usually cool the entire house at once, which may not be as efficient for single-room cooling.

3. Energy Efficiency: Ductless mini-split systems tend to be more energy-efficient than central AC systems, especially when you have precise control over the temperature in individual rooms. This can result in lower energy bills in the long run.

4. Aesthetic Considerations: Ductless mini-splits are less intrusive visually since they consist of small wall-mounted units that blend into the room’s decor. Central AC systems require bulky ducts, which can affect the aesthetics of your home.

5. Initial Cost: In general, ductless mini-split systems have a higher upfront cost per unit than central AC systems. However, if you only need to cool specific areas, the overall cost might be lower. Central AC systems may become more cost-effective if you need to cool the entire house.

6. Maintenance and Repairs: Both systems require regular maintenance, but the complexity of maintenance can vary. Central AC systems with ductwork may require more frequent cleaning and potential duct sealing or repairs. Ductless mini-split systems typically require less maintenance.

7. Noise Level: Ductless mini-split systems are generally quieter than central AC systems. The indoor units of mini-splits tend to produce less noise because the compressor and condenser are located outside the house.

8. Long-Term Plans: Consider your long-term plans for the property. If you anticipate adding rooms or expanding the house in the future, ductless mini-splits can be more flexible and easier to adjust compared to central AC systems.

Ultimately, the decision between central AC and ductless mini-split will depend on your specific needs, budget, and preferences. It’s a good idea to consult with an Oasis Air Conditioning and Heating professional who can assess your home and provide recommendations based on your unique circumstances. 
Contact Oasis Air Conditioning & Heating today to learn more about our air conditioning services. We’re not comfortable until you’re comfortable. Our service areas include Rio Rico, Tumacacori-Carmen, Tubac, Amado, Sahuarita, Green Valley, Tucson, AZ, and the surrounding areas.


Skip to content