Is Ductless the Way to Go? Ducted vs. Ductless

Air conditioning units provide cool air to flow throughout the room(s) it is placed in. However, when it comes to providing a more efficient and effective way of cooling, which is better: ductless or central (ducted) air conditioning? This is a question that always come to mind to that many new homeowners consider. Majority of the homes in the U.S are built with sheet metal air ducts within the walls that connect the main air conditioning unit to other rooms. With that in mind, it would be an easier decision to go with a central (ducted) air conditioning system. But recently, ductless air conditioning have been growing in popularity. In ductless systems, refrigerant from the unit outside is directly send to the handler on the wall or ceiling of a specific room.

Of course there will be pros and cons to central (ducted) and ductless air conditioning but before weighing them in, you should have a basic idea of what they do and how it works. A central air conditioning unit is usually attached to the furnace, whose blower forces cooled air through ducts that are connecting rooms to room. The outdoor unit consists of the compressor and condenser.

Ductless systems also have indoor and outdoor components, but aren’t built into furnaces. These units are mounted on walls, on ceilings or on the floor and without the use of ducts. Depending on the specific need of the home, more than one air conditioning unit may be necessary.

When weighing out the pros and cons of each type of system, consider these:

  • Flexibility:
    With ductless, the unit can be installed in a variety of places. These can be placed in specific rooms that require more air conditioning, which creates comfort and lower energy bills.
  • Heating & Cooling:
    Both are able to heat and cool a home or office; however, central air conditioners must be paired with a furnace or heat-pump and ductless systems can regulate the heat in areas that rarely or never goes below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Zoned comfort:
    With ductless systems, you are able to set different temperatures in different rooms. If a room does not require cooling or heating, the unit could be shut off. With central AC or ducted, setting the temperature of the thermostat adjusts the temperature for the whole house.
  • Energy loss:
    Ducted air conditioning has ducts that allow the cooled air to travel through causing some air to seep out to the unconditioned parts of the home/office. This can result in energy loss. With a ductless system, the issue of leaks is discarded as there is no ducts for the cooled air to travel through. The air is blown out of the air handler, that is attached to the wall or ceiling.
  • Installation:
    Ductless installation, by a professional, is simple. Most of the work is done before the actual installation of the unit. Unlike ductless systems, central AC or ducted systems take longer as the areas for the ducts have to be measured.
  • Design:
    Some people become hesitant on ductless systems because of the installation that is required. A physical unit that may detract from the interior decor. Ducted, on the other hand, is tucked away in the basement with no physical signs of an air conditioning unit.

When making a decision, consider more than just the pricing. Ductless systems may cost more upfront but are more efficient than ducted air conditioning. Ducted air conditioning are reliable and can manage the whole home or office with one programmable thermostat. Consider your lifestyle and your budget when making a decision.



Here at California Air, we provide you with not only HVAC services but also up-to-date information about trending topics and helpful HVAC articles. We try to keep the community updated with what we do and what we hear. The more our community knows about our field and the world, the more we can relate.

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