July 28, 2016 • In Heating & Cooling • 9 Min Read

Beat the Heat: Central Air vs. Ductless Air Conditioning

Haller Enterprises

By Haller Enterprises

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. Picking the right air conditioning system for your home should be easy too. Sure, the sun beating down is great when you are poolside with a margarita in hand, but you don’t want to let that heat follow you back inside.

You can slam the door on unwanted summertime heat with the perfect air conditioner. You have a number of cooling options to choose from, which can be nice but also daunting. How do you make the right choice?!

At Haller Enterprises, air conditioning is kinda our thing. And we know that all of our customers have different needs. If you’re a first-time homeowner, you might not know much about air conditioners, or you might’ve owned a home for 10 years and never gave much thought to your current air conditioning system. In this short guide, we’ll give you a crash course in the world of A/C.

The good news is that there is no wrong choice when it comes to your air conditioning; all different methods will get the job done, but what works great for cooling one home may be overly complex or less energy efficient for another. You should assess your home and your family’s needs so you pick the right unit to get the most bang for your buck, and we can help.

Two of the major air conditioning methods are ductless air systems (often called ‘mini-splits’) and conventional central air systems. We’ll take you through how both of these systems work and cover their benefits and differences. By the end, you’ll know which better suits your needs this summer.

So what about that mini-split thing?

If you guessed that a ductless system doesn’t use ducts — ding ding ding, we have a winner!

With no network of ducts, a mini-split mounts to your wall or ceiling. A mini-split unit acts as a cooling conduit between the outdoors and your home – removing heat from inside and taking it outdoors using its refrigerant system. A mini-split can be mounted to many areas as long as the refrigerant piping can connect to the outdoor unit.

The mini-split brings exciting and new technology to the world of air conditioning. This alternative rivals bulky window units and even central air systems because of these key features:

  • No ducts: Yes, its defining feature is one of its main advantages over other systems. It’s not always possible to get ducts to all the areas in a home you would like to cool, and the installation may cost you more than buying a mini-split. Older, smaller homes – such as a brick townhouse in the city – tend to lack the space needed for proper duct work.
  • Less energy waste: Another bonus to ductless systems involves the lack of energy waste. When you rely on ducts to disperse cool air throughout your home, there’s always some cool air which leaks out into unwanted places. Frequently, ducts run through areas in the ceiling that are improperly sealed. Gaps in the ducts cause precious cool air to seep out. Duct seepage can occur in areas like your attic — the hot air in your attic loves to grab the cool energy of passing conditioned air. Lost energy from poorly installed or aging ducts can surpass 30% of the energy used to cool your house.
  • Control of individual rooms: If you choose a mini-split, you have endless options for their placement in your home. You get to decide which rooms and areas require the most cooling. If you spend most of your time in certain parts of your home, whether that’s the family room, master bedroom, or mancave, simply install single units in these locations. With this system, you won’t spend money cooling rooms that you hardly use, and you can better control the temperature from room to room instead of settling for one temperature setting throughout your whole house.
  • Reversible features: Some mini-split units feature both heating and cooling options. For geographic areas that experience milder seasonal climate shifts, the ability to tweak the temperature just slightly gives these mini-splits an advantage. Some units contain valves which simply reverse the process, so cooling floods in while heat goes out, and vice versa.
  • Easy installation: While mini-split installation can be pretty simple, it’s even easier to have Haller do it for you. We come to your home and hook up the unit catered to your specifications. If you’re unsure as to the best location, we love to offer any recommendations and advice.
  • Sleek design: Sometimes customers prefer a central air system because they think window or wall mounted units look unsightly. Window units can actually damage your windows and present a security risk. Although it’s convenient to have an outdoor unit, mini-splits don’t clutter up your home’s appearance. Our knowledgeable Comfort Consultants will ensure that your unit will complement your home’s natural look. The mini-split’s sleek and practical design won’t make their presence felt – you might even consider it a stylish addition to your home. Central air systems – if not zoned – use a single thermostat to control the temperature, but in many cases, mini-splits have remotes so you won’t even have to get up to adjust the temp.
  • More efficient cooling: You can’t beat the direct cooling ability of mini-splits – straight from the unit to your room. Central systems send their air along a path of ducts, and as the air travels through, some cooling energy becomes lost. If you desire to cool your entire house, central still makes sense, but for a single room or two, mini-splits might make the most sense.

Now to Central Air

Central air works like your respiratory system. It draws cooling in from an outdoor unit, processes it in a central air conditioner and sends it through a network of ducts installed throughout your house, while simultaneously bringing warm, dirty air from your home back through its filtration system to redistribute back into the room, cool and clean.

Mini-splits are a great choice, but central air definitely presents its own rewards. The true benefit concerns whether you want to cool your entire house. There’s no better way to send cold air into every room than a central air system. They easily beat mini-splits regarding the efficiency of whole home air circulation, but they also have additional benefits:

  • Air filtration: A great perk to central air concerns extra air filtration. Mini-splits offer air filters, too, but central air more thoroughly recycles, cleans, and cools the warm, dirty air from within your home. When central air sends cool air into a room, that air moves about collecting dust particles, lint or other irritants. Once the air becomes warm and dirty, it enters the return vent and gets circulated over again through the filters. After getting cooled and cleaned, it shoots back out into your rooms, giving you cold, clean, and safe air to breathe.
  • Consistent climate: Central air pumps out a single temperature into all your rooms. One thermostat will control the temperature throughout the area covered by your duct work. This is essentially simpler than having to adjust the temperatures across multiple mini-split units. When the thermostat, located in the first floor den for example, detects that the room has reached the desired temperature, the unit will shut off even if your second or third floors are still warmer than you’d like. But nowadays, homes can be zoned; separate ductwork is installed for each floor or area of your house, with a separate thermostat for each area. That will ensure that all areas of your home are definitely reaching the desired temperature.
  • Energy advantages: Central air conditioner systems provide several perks for energy conscious customers. If you need serious cooling power in every room of your home, then a single, window or wall mounted AC unit just ain’t gonna cut it. Rather than putting a single unit in each room, central air presents an obvious energy-smart alternative. Central air consumes less energy than running many separate units simultaneously. Not to mention, window units often let unwanted cold air into your home during winter months.
  • Quieter than a mini-split: On average, central air units can make less noise than mini-splits. All the key equipment – the fan, condenser and compressor – sits outside your home so you’ll barely notice it running, especially during the night when you’re trying to catch some Z’s.
  • Out of sight, out of mind: All the components of a central air system remain hidden while they work. The air handler or coil resides in an inconspicuous place, and the ducts usually travel unseen throughout the skeleton of your home. Although a mini-split doesn’t overtly intrude into your visual space, some people prefer to have the whole system tucked away.
  • Easy adjustments: The single thermostat allows you to adjust your desired temperature effortlessly. The highly integrated nature of a central air system permits fast-acting and precise climate alterations to occur. The incredibly user-friendly console makes any adjustment as simple as pressing a button.

Cost Based Comparison

We’ve looked closely at both central air and mini-splits, but now it all comes down to dollar signs. Which one is cheaper? Well, the answer depends on your long-term needs. Consider both central air and mini-splits as permanent purchases that should pay for themselves in the long run. Sure, central air seems more expensive at first, but it can add value to your property. If you ever want to sell your house, a central air conditioner represents an awesome perk for a prospective buyer.

If you own a large house with a big family wandering room to room 24/7, you’ll want to air condition each room you inhabit; a central air conditioner will prove a more inexpensive option in the long term. If you have a smaller ranch style home perhaps where your primary traffic is in your TV room and bedroom, then having two separate mini split units in both those rooms will sufficiently cool your home, no problem.

Summer’s always gonna be hot, but it doesn’t hurt to cut back on the A/C once in a while. Check out our recent blog post to find great tips on how to keep your home cooler without A/C while saving on energy and electric bills.

You’ll Feel The Difference!

At Haller Enterprises, our goal is to ensure our customers’ homes are as comfortable as possible, whether is the middle of summer or the dead of winter. We’ll make sure you have all your ducts in a row (Ha! Gotta love HVAC humor) this summer.

Still unsure about what air conditioning system is best for you? Schedule a free in-home consultation with our experienced Design & Sales team members – they can provide even more information on specific units, review our selection with you, and help you decide which unit might fit your household needs. Whether you’re leaning toward central air or a mini-split, we’ve got ya covered. Have a cool summer and give us a call at 888.565.0546.

Ready To Talk To A Haller Home Services Specialist?

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