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Ductless VS. Central: Which Is The Better Fit For Your Home?

Lady researching the difference between ductless and central air conditioning.

Ductless VS. Central: Which Is The Better Fit For Your Home?

Are you in the market for a new air conditioner?

Whether buying your first system or replacing an outdated one, you want to ensure it’s the best fit for your home.

It should be reliable, energy-efficient and budget-friendly.

But which system is better - ductless or central?

This is an age-old question that we’re here to answer for you!

Let’s start with the basics:


What is a Central Air Conditioner?

A central air conditioner is a whole-home cooling system. It uses air ducts and fans to circulate cooled air throughout your entire house.

Typically located in the framing of your home, these ducts connect each room together.

This ensures each room experiences a consistent temperature.


What is a Ductless Air Conditioner?

A ductless air conditioner offers zoned cooling - a way to customize the temperature of each room.

These systems have two parts - an outdoor compressor and an indoor air handling unit.

The indoor unit is typically mounted on an indoor wall. This indoor unit connects to the outdoor condensing unit via a refrigerant line.

These systems do not connect via ductwork, so they do not offer whole-home cooling.

Instead, they offer personalized comfort - room by room!


Which Air Conditioning System is Better?

To answer this question, we’ll have to dig a little deeper.

You see, both systems offer effective indoor cooling. They are both efficient systems with budget-friendly options.

Either is a great choice!

But the best A/C system relies on your home’s unique needs, preferences and values.

That’s why we’ve created the list of questions below!


8 Questions To Ask Yourself When Choosing Between Ductless and Central A/C

These questions help define which system best fits your unique needs. Read them through and answer honestly!

If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact one of our expert technicians. We’ll point you in the right direction of your best fit.

Let’s get started!

1. Do you already have ductwork installed?

This one is pretty self-explanatory.

Do you already have ductwork installed in the area you need cooling? If so, a central system is more cost-effective.

If you do not have ductwork installed, you have the option!

A ductless system only requires a 3-inch hole drilled into a wall. Not full-blown ductwork construction.

That makes a ductless system easier to install! 

Another scenario where you may have a no-ductwork situation is a new addition.

In this case, you must either,

a) Reconfigure your existing ductwork or

b) Install a single-room ductless unit.

2. How big is your home?

The size of your home is a huge contributing factor when selecting a new HVAC system.

As a good rule of thumb, we recommend a central system for larger homes and a ductless system for smaller ones.

Is your home 2,500 square feet? Or more?

If so, go central! These systems have more power and offer better efficiency for larger areas.

Is your home 2,000 square feet? Or less?

If so, go with ductless! These systems ensure you’re not wasting energy where it’s not needed.

3. How important is energy efficiency to you?

Energy efficiency is a game changer when it comes to cost-effective cooling.

The more efficient your system is, the less energy it’ll waste!

Thankfully, both central and ductless systems offer energy-efficient solutions. But there are a few factors to consider when finding the most efficient unit for your home.

As mentioned before, the size of your home is one of them!

Another factor to take into consideration is ductwork.

A typical duct system can lose up to 30% of its cooling energy. This can happen through unnecessary twists and turns, improper seals/insulation or leaks.

In fact, a duct leaking only 20% of the cool air passing through can make your system work 50% harder!

That’s a lot of wasted energy.

The solution?

  1. Install and maintain a well-designed ductwork system (i.e. repair leaks and optimize airflow).
  2. Avoid energy loss by installing a ductless system.


4. Does your home need zoned cooling?

As mentioned above, ductless systems have a unique feature called zoned cooling.

These units cool your home room by room rather than as a whole. Each has its own thermostat, so you can control the temperature of each room for optimal comfort.

If you’re looking for a consistent temperature throughout your home, a ductless system isn’t for you.

But if you’re looking for affordable zone control, you’ll definitely want to consider it!

Zone control is perfect for areas in your home that need unique temperature control. Oftentimes, those areas include a basement apartment, bedrooms or additions.

5. Do you care how loud your A/C is?

Many homeowners opt for the quietest air conditioner they can find. You're probably the same if you’re sensitive to noise in your home.

When customers come to us with this concern, we ensure they're aware of the noise level of each system.

While most ductless units are quieter by nature, there are many quiet central systems too.

Contact your GPHE technician to ensure your system fits your noise preferences.

Note: Other factors may affect the noise level of your air conditioner. These include:

  • The temperature outside
  • Dirt blocking the fan blades
  • System age
  • General wear and tear

6. Would you rather your A/C be visible or invisible?

It may not seem very important, but aesthetic appeal is a crucial considering factor when choosing a new A/C.

After all, you have to live with it for years to come!

Would it bother you to have your A/C system visible in your home?

While ductless systems aren’t typically unobtrusive, they do take up space. Generally speaking, a wall-mounted air handler is about a foot high, 2 ½ feet wide and 9 inches deep.

A ductless system is a fine choice if this wall fixture doesn’t bother you. But if it does bother you, we recommend choosing the central system.

Central air conditioners are relatively invisible indoors. Most homeowners hide the ductwork within their home's structure (i.e. walls, ceiling, flooring).

You will see the outdoor unit. But even that is easy to hide with a simple privacy screen.

7. What is your budget?

Whether you choose central or ductless, there are many budget-friendly units available.

The most important thing is that you,

a) Understand the extent of the installation before you install,

b)  Calculate the associated operating costs, and

c) Consider the necessary long-term maintenance needs.


Contact Our Air Conditioner Experts at GPHE

At GPHE, we always ensure the best fit for your home.

Our team works with you to ensure your new system meets your expectations, goals and budget.

Need help to find your new A/C this summer?

Give us a call at +1 705-687-3402 or contact us online!

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