Right Choice: Ductless or Central Air Unit?

For many years, central air conditioning systems have been the top choice for reliable home cooling here in Portsmouth, VA. That is primarily because they were the only real choice for the longest time. There have always been window-mounted units as well, but that’s always been more of a half-measure. However, today there are also mini-split ductless AC systems that can compete with central air.

Conventional Central Air Conditioning

Central air has been a major component of most HVAC systems for a long time. The system relies on a single air conditioning unit that sits outside the house. This large unit implements a refrigerant cycle to provide cool air to your home’s ductwork.

This ductwork is the central part of central air conditioning. It runs through your home, providing a single network that distributes cooled air throughout. You’ll have grates in each room of the house that allows air to enter and can typically be shut to prevent airflow to specific rooms.

These systems rely on the same ductwork used for heating. A furnace or other heating system is also connected to the ducts, making use of cooling and heating. That makes central air conditioning an excellent choice for homes that have existing central air heating systems.

And we can see here the major limitation of the central air conditioning system. You need extensive ductwork running through your entire home. In almost all cases, this is difficult, if not impossible, to install after the initial construction. If your home doesn’t have existing ductwork, central air conditioning may be out of reach.

It’s for this reason that we see window-mounted air conditioning units. These aren’t very effective or efficient, but they’ve been just about the only option for any home that doesn’t have ducts. However, with mini-splits, there is now another choice.

Mini-Split Ductless AC Systems

These units are just what they sound like, AC systems that do not rely on ducts to distribute cool air. Much like window-mounted AC units, each home will require several ductless AC units. They won’t necessarily need one for every room, but your home will be divided into cooling zones serviced by individual mini-splits.

Unlike window-mounted units, mini-splits are efficient and effective. They provide adequate cooling without running up exorbitant power bills. Like a central air conditioning system, each mini-split has a condenser that sits outside.

The condenser cools the refrigerant, which cycles between it and the interior unit. Inside, the cooled refrigerant absorbs heat from the inside, providing conditioned airflow. The coolant passes through a small conduit passed through an exterior wall, generally no larger than three inches in diameter.

The Benefits of Ductless AC Systems

If you’re considering a new AC system here in Chesapeake, VA, mini-splits could be just what you’re looking for. First of all, they can be installed in homes with no existing ductwork. Secondly, they’re highly efficient and can save you money on power. Finally, mini-split ACs give you more control over your home’s temperature.

In general, ductless AC systems are significantly more efficient than central air. Ductwork provides ample opportunity for cooling losses with plenty of potential surface area for leaks to develop.

Because you will have individual units for your home’s distinct cooling zones, you’ll be able to have better control over the temperature in each. You can set a different temperature on each unit. It’s as simple as that. Some central air systems can be upgraded to offer better zoning, but this typically involves installing expensive internal dampers.

Making the Right Choice

Ductless AC units are a great innovation, but there are still many places where central air conditioning is appropriate and effective. Large homes over 2,500 square feet can benefit from having a single large AC unit putting out significant cooling. At larger sizes, central air conditioning systems can be very efficient and effective.

Homes that already have ductwork for an existing heating system should consider their choices carefully. Mini-splits could still be a better choice even though central air conditioning is an option. Calling in an HVAC professional for a consultation is your best bet for making the optimal cooling decision for your home.

All Kinds of AC Installations

Energy Pro Heating & Cooling is the top choice for HVAC repair near me and any of your installation needs in Suffolk, VA. You can contact us today to book a consultation for your next AC system installation. Our team of expert HVAC technicians can help you make the right choice for your unique cooling needs.

August 12th, 2021 | Heating and Cooling