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Ductless Mini-Splits vs. Ducted Systems

October 5, 2017

Comfort System Showdown

Every summer, air conditioning systems are an essential source of comfort for many homeowners. They allow us to chase away the heat with clean, fresh air when necessary, and freshen the atmosphere of a house. When you choose which air conditioning system to install in your property, you’re going to need to make an important choice: Do you go ductless, or stay traditional?

Ducted air conditioning systems and non-ducted systems, or “mini-splits,” are the most popular options for central air. Though their names outline their key differences, the positives and negatives between ducted and split systems aren’t always obvious. With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at your options in greater depth to help you choose an air conditioning solution that’s both efficient and cost-effective.

The Benefits of Ducted Systems

Duct or ducted air conditioners work using a series of ducts to move air to vents in areas throughout the house. These systems include a central fan coil unit that moves cooled air from a single location. Here are some of the key benefits of duct systems:

  • Ducted systems are designed to service the entire home at once, but there also are solutions that allow you to “zone” the air conditioning for specific rooms.
  • If your home already has ductwork installed, and in reasonable condition, then a ducted system might be the simplest and cheapest option.
  • Ducted systems can be effective at managing humidity, as some models come with systems that allow them to remove moisture from the air.

The Problems With Duct Systems

Unfortunately, a ducted system won’t be the right choice for everyone. Installing ducted air conditioning in a new house can require a great deal of work and expense, which means that people in established homes without ducts might prefer to look elsewhere. Additionally, ducted systems can be more conducive to allergy problems, as dust can sometimes gather in the ducts and be transported around the home. Some common problems of duct systems include:

  • They require a great deal of space, which means that they may not be suitable for smaller homes.
  • If you’re looking to cool only a single room at a time, you can close other ducts — but you system will still work as hard, and your energy costs won’t change much.
  • Duct units should be cleaned regularly to minimize the buildup of dust and allergens.

The Benefits of Ductless Systems

Highly efficient solutions for temperature management within a home, “ductless” heating and cooling systems often include a combination of an outside compressor and numerous wall-mounted units. Ductless systems are far more customizable for modern homeowners, and substantially more efficient than traditional ducting options. Here are some of the biggest benefits of ductless systems:

  • Ductless systems are substantially more efficient. In the average home, you lose as much as a quarter of your energy to your ductwork. Banishing the ducts from your system boosts efficiency and reduces costs.
  • Ductless models can provide heating and cooling when you need it, where you need it, with inverter-driven compressors managing the speed and performance of the system according to your requirements. It’s modern components allow the system to use just part of it’s capacity when only small changes in temperature are needed, raising comfort and saving energy.4e
  • These options are better for smaller houses and apartments, and ultimately take up less space than their ducted counterparts.
  • Ductless systems are more flexible than ducted air conditioning. Units can be added or removed from the system if desired.

Things to Consider with Ductless Systems

Perhaps the biggest consideration with ductless systems is that they require consistent maintenance to keep them performing at their best. Ductless filters and fans can easily accumulate debris that leads to poor air quality within the home, and can shorten the life of a system. It’s a good idea to purchase a maintenance plan with your system if your looking to keep it in top condition without any hassle. Other things to weight with ductless systems include:

  • The high initial cost of the system can be significant for some homeowners. However, the energy savings could make up for this cost over time.
  • The external condenser unit needs to be maintained just as frequently as the internal unit. It’s important to keep both parts of the system free from debris to ensure efficient performance. Again, a solid maintenance plan can take care of this.
  • The internal units are only able to condition so much air, meaning you need to buy the right unit for the each room based on size.

Choosing the Right Option for You

Ultimately, both ductless systems, and ducted systems offer their own share of positive and negative features. The truth is that the decision of which option is right for you will be a personal one, based on your own unique requirements. If you want to cool your entire home and you aren’t worried about energy efficiency, then a ducted system might be fine for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for cost-efficiency, and you can manage the ongoing maintenance, a ductless system may be more appealing.

No matter which option you choose, make sure that you invest in professional installation and management from an experienced, professional team. The team at Bob Jenson Air Conditioning & Heating has been working on HVAC systems all all kinds in San Diego County for 40 years. Get in touch with us today for help with your system.

About The Author

Bob Jenson

For over 45 years, Bob Jenson has been providing quality heating and air services to the San Diego community.

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