Choosing between Duct and Ductless Air Systems

Choosing between Duct and Ductless Air Systems
August 27, 2015 nobleair

When you renovate or remodel a home, you’ll certainly have a lot of options, and choices, to make. From the materials to the finished fixtures and features, to the appliances and controls, there’s no shortage of variety. You’ll be picking out this and that, trying to weave together an elegant and cohesive look. In addition, you’ll want to be comfortable and keep monthly energy costs low.

Contractors will have all kinds of decisions for you to make, and, perhaps without enough information. For instance, you might be presented with a choice between a duct air conditioning system and a ductless system.

Choosing between Duct and Ductless Air Systems

Though ductless systems certainly aren’t new — think window units — the recent advancements in technology does make them unfamiliar to most homeowners. You’ve probably seen advertisements for these and are aware of some of their benefits. However, even those with advantages might not be the best choice.

Like central systems, mini splits [or, ductless air systems,] have two main components: an outdoor compressor/condenser, and an indoor air-handling unit. A conduit, which houses the power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing, and a condensate drain, links the outdoor and indoor units. —U.S. Department of Energy

Like many options, there are pros and cons to each type of air conditioner system. Then, there are aesthetic and logistical differences. For example, a central unit is quite large and often is situated in plain sight, though, it can be hidden.

Reasons to Choose a Duct Unit

Renovating a home is no small task, and, if you’re wondering why you’d opt for a duct air unit, here are the most common reasons for this choice:

  • The home is already equipped with ductwork. If the home is equipped with a duct system but it’s dated, the best choice is to simply replace the existing system. It will cost less and take less time.
  • You want to improve airflow. Since duct systems cool every room, airflow is more balanced, rather than higher in one area and stagnant in another.
  • Aesthetics of the system. If you are concerned with the appearance of having a unit inside each room, mounted to the walls, a duct system will fit your interior design better.
  • You want to save money on maintenance. Duct systems, though large, cost less to maintain because there is just one outside unit and one air handler.

Reasons to Choose a Ductless System

In some instances, ductless systems make more sense, because of logistics and cost. Here are the most common reasons for installing ductless units:

  • There’s no room in the walls or ceiling. If there’s not sufficient room to run ductwork in the walls and ceiling, ductless units will be a less expensive choice than reconfiguring the home.
  • You are adding-on to a home. You might have to upgrade your current central air conditioning system in order to cool an addition — making a ductless unit a good alternative.
  • You want different temperatures in each room. If you’d like one or more rooms to be cooler than others, mini splits are the way to go.
  • Dust and particle debris is a concern. Duct systems force air through the ceiling and walls, which in-turn picks-up and broadcasts dust and debris.

Whatever you do, before you make a decision, have a professional technician look at your home to help you make the right choice.