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Central Air Conditioner or a Split Air Conditioner

Aug 9, 2022AC Installation

Which Is Better, a Central Air Conditioner or a Split Air Conditioner?

Split air conditioners are an excellent high-efficiency zone cooling solution. It can be suitable for open concept homes with a few rooms looking to invest in a long-term solution.

Central air conditioners are better for cooling multiple rooms in an area and can be more cost-effective because it uses the same system to cool all places, lessening energy costs. The central air conditioning unit is mounted outside on the roof or somewhere higher up than inside, saving space indoors.

Central Air Conditioner installation is more costly than the installation of a split air conditioner. Still, it is worth investing in for those looking to save money and invest in long-term savings.

For central air conditioners, the lifespan varies from 12 to 15 years, whereas for ductless mini-split air conditioning units, the longevity is as high as 20 years.

Whether which of the two conditioners is better comes down to what you want from an air conditioning unit.

The primary distinctions between a ductless mini-split system and a central air conditioning system are the cost, amount of maintenance, and overall appearance of each system. Ductless mini-split units are more expensive and less appealing, but they require little to no maintenance. Central air conditioning systems, on the other hand, are less expensive and nearly unnoticeable, although they do require regular maintenance.

Mini-Split System with No Ducts

An exterior compressor and an indoor air-handling unit are the two major components of a ductless mini-split system. A conduit connects the outdoor and indoor units.

The Benefits of a Ductless Mini-Split System

A ductless AC system mounted on a wall, with a hand reaching for the control.
The ductless mini-split system, as the name implies, does not require ductwork, making it the more convenient cooling alternative for older buildings with thick walls. It essentially maintains a consistent temperature in your room, as opposed to an air conditioning unit that cycles on and off during the day. In the winter, the system reverses its operation, absorbing heat from the outside air and transferring it indoors to heat your home as well.

Their small size allows for greater temperature zoning flexibility—air conditioning is limited to the rooms where the air handlers are installed. These systems are less noisy than central air conditioning systems and are simpler to install. Some ductless mini-split air conditioning systems offer the greatest efficiency rating of any form of air conditioning system.

The Drawbacks of a Ductless Mini-Split System

Although a ductless mini-split system can save you money in the long term, the upfront installation expense can be prohibitively expensive. Finding skilled, experienced installers may be tough. Improper sizing or location can cause your unit to run inefficiently. Some homeowners are also concerned about the aesthetics of a wall-mounted unit.

Central Air Conditioning System

A central air conditioning unit was built on the side of the house.
A central air conditioning system treats air centrally and distributes it to and from rooms via one or more fans and a network of ducts. The cool air from the air conditioner is delivered to the home via supply ducts and registers. As the air travels throughout the house, it warms up and returns to the central air conditioner via return ducts and registers.

The Benefits of a Central Air Conditioning System

If you want to keep your entire house cold, central air conditioning is probably your best bet. Newer models provide efficient, cool, and comfortable temperatures, as well as lower humidity.

In addition, the system is virtually inconspicuous and adds value to your home.

Disadvantages of a central air conditioning system

As with the mini-split system, cost issues can arise if the unit is not adequately sized. (However, the upfront cost of just replacing an existing system with a new central air system rather than a ductless mini-split system is far lower.)