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Mini-Split Vs. Central: Which Air Conditioner is Right For You?

November 13, 2018 | Blog

Different buildings require different types of HVAC equipment. If you’re considering replacing your current AC and heating setups, you’re probably wondering whether ductless or central air is the best for you.

What’s the difference?

If you’re not familiar with ductless air conditioning, we’ll explain the difference: there are no air ducts in ductless AC. A ductless system is similar to the traditional central unit in the sense that it uses a condenser that sits outside of the house and an air handler that sits inside. However, ductless systems cool single areas rather than using ducts to distribute cool air throughout the home.

Having a small, easy to install air conditioning system is a huge benefit to some homeowners, which is why mini-split units are growing in popularity. However, there are still some instances in which it might make more sense to choose the traditional central HVAC system. Here are some factors you’ll need to look out for when you’re considering your next air conditioning system.


When picking the type of air conditioning system you’ll use, this is one of the biggest factors to keep in mind.

Many homes in Texas already have ductwork installed. If this is the situation you’re in, the most cost-effective solution is likely a traditional central air conditioning unit. Many newer homes already have ducts intact, so if you’re purchasing a modern residence, it may be best to use a traditional HVAC appliance. This will allow you to maximize what you currently have instead of working around it or paying a hefty fee to get rid of it.

However, the older the residence is, the less likely it is that ductwork will already be installed. If you’re considering purchasing a home that doesn’t currently have any ducts in place, a ductless air conditioner is a great choice for you. While they still require the attention of a professional HVAC technician, these systems are smaller and easier to set up than central air conditioning units. Instead of worrying about the installation of ductwork followed by a new central cooling system, you’ll be able to bypass this problem in favor of a simple mounting process.

Living in a home that doesn’t have pre-existing ductwork makes a mini-split system a great option. This system will also make it easier for you to maintain your indoor air quality. Because there aren’t any ducts that need to be inspected, cleaned and maintained, this means you won’t have to worry about a buildup of dust and contaminants circulating around your house.


Depending on the layout and decor of your home, you may not want to have any sort of HVAC material in plain sight. If you’re trying to make your air conditioner as inconspicuous as possible, then a central air conditioner is right up your alley because ductless systems must be mounted on a wall in your home. While they have a sleek aesthetic and there are some creative ways to style them to your existing interior, the unit will be in sight. If your home is larger, you’ll likely need more than one unit.

Central air conditioning systems rely on outdoor compressors and condensers, and the parts of the system that are indoors are out of sight. Installing this type of HVAC unit means you won’t have to worry about the appliance getting in the way of your interior decor.

Zone Cooling

Central air conditioning units are circulating cool and hot air all through your house. Because of this, your energy bills may end up being a bit more expensive than you’d like. Some people see this added exertion as a waste if they’re living in a home that contains multiple rooms they don’t spend much time in, like guest rooms and bathrooms. If you want to experience zoning cooling and filter your air to specific areas of your residence, a ductless cooling system is exactly what you’re looking for.

This is one of the best benefits of the ductless AC system. Ductless AC units have the ability to utilize and harness zoning cooling, a method of pinpointing the areas of your home you want to heat or cool. In many instances, we only want to focus on the rooms we use the most, such as our bedrooms and bathrooms. This also prevents the thermostat wars that wage when one family member prefers different temperatures than another.


If you’re only looking at the initial installation, mini-split systems appear to be more expensive than central air conditioning units. However, a mini-split unit can actually save you money in the long-term by consistently providing you with lower energy bills than a central system.

The best ductless units are incredibly energy efficient, and they easily surpass their central counterparts. The top mini-split air conditioners generally max out at 27 SEER, while central systems are capped at 21 SEER.


In most cases, a ductless cooling system will be easier to maintain. This is because you won’t have to worry about duct leaks occurring and paying for expensive air conditioning parts and supplies. Newer central air conditioning systems are more durable and easier to fix when issues occur, but they still don’t compare to the longevity and simplicity of mini-split systems.

Picking the right air conditioner for your home is important. As a homeowner, you most definitely want to maximize efficiency and comfortability while staying within your budget.

As a licensed company, Mission AC & Plumbing has the experience you need to help you make the right choice for your unique needs. Our expert technicians can evaluate your home and ensure we recommend the best product for you.

Contact us today for more information about ductless and central AC installations.


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