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Ductless AC vs. Central AC Unit: Which One Is Right For Me?

When choosing an air conditioning system for your home, you may be surprised to learn that you have so many different options. Isn’t all air conditioning pretty much the same? While there are many specifications to consider, the choice you must make first is whether a ductless or central air conditioner is right for you. Let’s break down the pros and cons of each to help you decide. 

Central Air Conditioner 

Central air conditioning has been the go-to for American homes for many years. They work by distributing cool air to all parts of the home at once via a ductwork system. 


One of the best parts about central air conditioners is that they can cool the entire home simultaneously. The ductwork ensures that every room receives cool air. Central systems also offer more opportunities for improved air quality. Many homeowners enjoy that the system is nearly invisible once installed, showing only in the vents in each room. 


The ductwork that defines central air conditioners can make the systems difficult to install, and the air ducts themselves are prone to damage and leaks if not cared for properly. Central air conditioners are typically less efficient than ductless ACs, as well. While there are high-efficiency units available, they tend to cost much more money upfront. Depending on where the outside unit is placed and the unit itself, some central air conditioners may be noisy. 

Ductless Air Conditioner 

Ductless AC systems are common in other countries, and they’ve grown in popularity in the United States over the past few years. These wall-mounted AC units provide cool air directly to a given space rather than using ductwork to cool an entire home at once, just like the name implies. 


Ductless systems are highly efficient, costing up to 30% less to operate. Installation of these wall AC units is also fast, easy and much cheaper than installing a central AC because there isn’t any ductwork. Once installed, many homeowners enjoy their sleek design and quiet operation. Ductless mini-splits are also a great solution to family thermostat wars, allowing full zoning control between rooms. 


You’ll likely need more than one ductless system to cool your entire home. Because of this zoning, you may feel like the house isn’t being cooled evenly. In addition, ductless ACs don’t offer an opportunity to improve air quality or reduce allergens via advanced air filters or purification systems. Some homeowners dislike that they can see their air conditioning units, as well. 

Which One Is Right For Me? 

In the end, the choice between ductless and central air conditioning lies in your specific situation. While switching from one to the other is possible, it can be very expensive and isn’t recommended. Why pay extra to go ductless when you already have ductwork in place? Similarly, why pay to install ductwork when you already have the perfect ductless setup? 

Many homeowners find that ductless systems are perfect supplementary solutions for homes with central AC. For example, cooling a guest house, a finished basement or other home add-ons is difficult and expensive if you’re trying to add ductwork or need a bigger AC unit to accommodate the extra room. In these situations, it’s much easier to cool the extra space with a ductless system. 


Whether you’re thinking of replacing your current AC system or are making a choice for new construction, Southern Air is here to help you find the perfect solution. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a service request. 

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