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Ductless Mini Split vs Central Air: A Quick Comparison

February 24, 2021 By Amanda Jacobs

Part one

Indoor temperatures affect us more than we think. Regulating the temperature in your home is important for your overall comfort, health, and even your productivity. The right cooling system can make a marked difference in your quality of life, but choosing the right system for your home and lifestyle is crucial.

If you’re deciding between central air and a ductless mini split system, it’s important to understand the basics of how each system works and consider the benefits and drawbacks of both options so you can make the best choice for your home, needs, and budget.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about central air and ductless mini split systems and compare the two:

What is a Ductless Mini Split System?

Ductless mini split systems consist of two parts: an outdoor compressor/condenser and one or more indoor air-handling units. Units are installed in each room or “zone” of your home that requires cooling, and each is controlled separately by individual remote controls. The system’s indoor units are either wall-mounted or suspended from the ceiling and are connected to the outdoor compressor by a refrigerant line. That’s why the system is ductless — it doesn’t require a duct system to exist or be installed in your home.

Although it’s common to hear people refer to it as a “ductless AC,” it’s important to note that ductless mini split systems are technically a type of heat pump and not an air conditioner.

The number, size, and location of indoor mini split units determines how quickly and efficiently the system will cool your home. There are single-zone and multi-zone systems, depending on whether you need to cool a small space, like an ADU or a single upstairs bedroom, or a larger space, like a full one- or two-story family home.

What is Central Air Conditioning?

Central air conditioning is the most common type of cooling system in the Canada, and is ideal for cooling large spaces all at once. A central air conditioner uses your home’s duct system to cool the air. This helps to keep the temperature consistent and even throughout.

Air conditioners involve three main components: a compressor, a condenser coil, and an evaporator coil. The three components work together, absorbing and removing heat by converting refrigerant from gas form, to liquid, and back to gas at a rapid speed. These systems can help improve indoor air quality; the more they run, the more particulates they can capture.

Central air is typically controlled by a single thermostat, which essentially acts as the command center for your home’s entire cooling system. When the system senses that room temperature is too high, it sends a signal to the system to begin the cooling process.

Similarities and Differences

Both ductless mini split systems and ducted air conditioning systems are effective ways to regulate your home’s internal temperature. But as the name suggests, ductless mini splits don’t require a duct system.

Another major difference between ductless mini splits and central air is that a mini split’s indoor units can be adjusted separately by remote control, while central air is controlled via a central thermostat. With a mini split, you could keep one room or zone at a cozy 72 degrees, while another zone is set to cool to 65 degrees. With central air, your whole home will remain evenly cooled to a consistent temperature based on the setting you select.

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