A Comparison of Central AC and Ductless Cooling Systems

Ductless or Central Air System - Which One Is Right For Your Home?

Most homeowners have probably heard some debate over which type of air conditioner is better - central or ductless. There’s a lot of noise and no shortage of opinions on the subject, but it can be hard to cut through the chatter and get a simple explanation. The truth is, they both have their advantages and drawbacks, and the decision isn’t exactly cut and dry - what works for one home or family may not work for another. And they do have similarities. 

For instance, they both use the same basic technology to remove heat from the indoor air and release it into the outdoor air. What distinguishes them is the size and number of units needed to cool the home - one big unit in a central system or several smaller units in a ductless system. To explore how these differences impact the house in a practical sense, here is a brief rundown of each system and a few others for good measure.

Key Benefits of Central Air


In a central air conditioning system, the air is delivered throughout the home through a series of metal ducts after being cooled by a large air handler unit installed in an attic, basement, or crawlspace. One benefit of central air systems is that they’re typically quiet and discreet since the ducts are hidden from view, and the unit is tucked away.

Many homeowners like controlling the entire home’s temperature from one thermostat, but this can be a drawback for those who want better zone control. The main advantage of central air for most people is the lower upfront cost. But if the home doesn’t already have ductwork built-in, the cost of installing ducts can be exorbitant. For homes that do have existing ductwork, central AC is likely the best bet.

Key Benefits of Ductless Mini Splits

acDuctless mini-split systems feature much smaller units that deliver cool air directly to the room they’re in. This means the unit is visible (typically installed high up on a perimeter wall), but most are designed to be inconspicuous and quiet. However, the lack of ducts makes mini-split systems more efficient and less likely to be contaminated by dust, mold, or other pollutants that can collect inside the ductwork.

The main drawback of ductless systems is their high initial cost. For most homes, multiple units will need to be installed in the various rooms of the house. But the greater efficiency of ductless systems can help offset the investment over time - one can turn off units in unoccupied rooms, and the unit need not constantly run to keep the entire house at the same temperature. This also means better zone control, so everyone can adjust their room temperature as they like. 

Alternative Options for Home Cooling

There are also some alternatives to central and ductless AC systems on the market. Window units are fairly effective at cooling smaller spaces like mobile homes, but they can be a tad bulky and loud. Being installed in an existing window also makes them a potential security risk in some cases. 

Portable AC units are an inexpensive option that works fairly well for cooling a small space like an insulated garage, work studio, or man-cave. However, these feature an exhaust hose that one must vent out a nearby window, which some find irritating. Ceiling fans and portable plug-in fans can help cool things down a bit, but they’re better used as a supplement to a good air conditioner rather than a substitute.

About J&J Plumbing, Heating & Cooling

With highly trained technicians and a money-back guarantee on system tune-ups, J&J Plumbing, Heating & Cooling are the ones to call for any pesky summer cooling issue. For 30 years, they have provided unmatched customer service in all areas of their work. Contact them for more information about ductless mini-split systems in Akron, OH, today!