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Pro’s and Con’s of a Ductless Air Conditioner

A ductless air conditioner is similar to a central AC system in that it has an outdoor compressor unit and an indoor air handler. However, it requires only a small hole in the wall to link the power cord, refrigerant tubes, and drainage lines between them. Does ductless heating and cooling live up to the hype? If you’re considering it, here’s an overview of the pro’s and con’s to aid your decision.

Ductless Air Conditioner Pro’s

Ductless mini-splits are preferred for their:

  • Ease of Installation: The hassle of installing ductwork is eliminated. The indoor units are also much smaller than a standard central AC air handler, so less space is needed. They mount quickly to the wall or ceiling, depending on the model. A 3-inch-wide hole is drilled in the wall to link the outdoor and indoor components, eliminating the potential efficiency, safety, and security issues of a window air conditioner.
  • Less Expensive: There is much less labor involved in installing a mini-split system, since there’s no ductwork to route or the heavy lifting required for a central air handler.
  • Energy Efficiency: Eliminating ductwork can reduce the energy consumed by your HVAC system by as much as 25%. Ducts can lose conditioned air through tiny holes, cracks, and spaces. Meanwhile, inverter-driven compressors with numerous speed settings allow ductless air conditioners to adjust to demand; this avoids heat/energy loss at start-up and improves efficiency. Some units can approach 30 SEER (compared to 14-17 SEER for most split systems).
  • Temperature Control for Individual Rooms: Multiple indoor units can be connected to a single outdoor unit. Better yet, each can have its own thermostat. This allows zoned temperature control and occupants of individual rooms can adjust the setting to their liking. A unit can be turned off if not needed, with no adverse effects on the system.
  • Quiet Operation: Traditional split systems and window units are notorious for their noise. Oftentimes, a ductless system won’t be any louder than a refrigerator. 

Ductless Air Conditioner Con’s

Although ductless ACs have a lot of perks, they’re not for every home. Some disadvantages include:

  • They Don’t Always Fit: Interior units look like large printers, which may not fit depending on the layout of a room or if you have low ceilings. They’re certainly more imposing than vents, registers, and grills. Usually beige or some other neutral color, the indoor units may or may not work visually.
  • Higher Initial Cost: Ductless air conditioning will save you money over time, in the form of improved efficiency. However, the up-front cost is often higher than for a traditional split system. And the payback for energy savings depends on your climate, local electricity rates, and system usage.
  • Fuel-Based Backup Needed in Cold Areas: Ductless air conditioners provide limited heat, and not all models provide both heating and cooling. If the outside temperature falls below zero, you’ll still need a furnace for ductless heat. 
  • Maintenance Is Required: Ductless systems don’t eliminate the need for maintenance. Their air filters must be cleaned at least once a month, or more if you have kids and/or pets. Debris can quickly take a toll on ductless fans, reducing performance and system lifespan. When you need repairs, ductless units must be removed from their mountings.
  • Exterior Modifications Are Needed: If you live in a condo or your landlord is against these modifications, a ductless AC system isn’t an option. Every landlord has individual requirements, so check beforehand. And know what the system entails so you can explain it (the outdoor condenser/compressor station needs a source of electricity).

Let Us Determine If Ductless Air Conditioning Is Right For You

Black Hills Home Services is a trusted air conditioning installation company in the Olympia area. Ductless AC can be ideal for additions such as garage apartments and sunrooms or for people who don’t need to heat or cool every room. They also avoid fighting over the thermostat. If your home has no ductwork, ductless mini-splits can be a less expensive option. To learn more, schedule your appointment online or call us at 888-402-3514.

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