When homeowners go to buy a new appliance, they’re usually in one of two scenarios:
- Their current appliance is breaking down or has already broken down and they need new equipment now or…
- Their budget allows for them to get an upgrade appliance, so they want the best that technology has to offer.
Whichever reason is yours, you should know that there is a preconceived notion that the more expensive the system is, the “better” it is, and that’s not necessarily true. The fact of the matter is, which system is right for your specific home is going to depend on many factors.
There are more options than just the central air conditioner and ductless system, but for the purpose of today’s blog posts, these are the two systems we’re going to focus on. Read on as we uncover the differences to help you decide what’s best for your specific needs.
How the Cooling Process Works
Before we get into the specifics of how a central air conditioner differs from a ductless system, and what you can expect as far as what you’ll spend, we want to cover the basics of how the cooling process works in each system.
Central air conditioners work using air ducts in order to distribute air. Also called single-split systems, the outdoor compressor and condenser coil cycles pressurized refrigerant, in order to draw hot air out of your home and return chilled air into your living space.
Today’s models of central AC systems come with a number of features. For instance, you can get an inverter drive air conditioner, which operates and variable speeds and is even more efficient than the standard central air conditioner.
Ductless systems, also referred to as ductless mini-splits, function as heat pumps. This means not only do they cool, but they have a component called a reversing valve in them that allows them to function as heating systems, too.
A ductless system has up to 4 indoor air handlers connected to a single outdoor unit via a conduit, containing a power line, condensate line, and refrigerant line. Each air handler can be controlled independently of one another, making these systems highly efficient.
The Other Differences
Versatility: While today’s central air conditioners are much more efficient than those of the past, a ductless system simply has more versatility, allowing for zoned cooling, and also being able to heat your space. If you have damaged ductwork or would like the indoor air quality benefits of going ductless, then a ductless system can be the right choice.
Installation: The installation of a central air conditioner is typically more affordable than a ductless system because of its setup. This is especially true if you already have great ductwork in place. For a ductless system, we do have to drill holes in the drywall or reroute conduits in order to connect the indoor air handlers. A more complex installation means a costlier one–but you’ll make that money back throughout its lifetime in utility costs.