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Pros and Cons of Ductless Central Air Conditioning

Beth Asaff
Central Air Conditioning Unit

If you are looking for an easy way to add central air conditioning to your home, consider using ductless central air conditioning instead of traditional systems. When ducts don't have to be added or rearranged, an air conditioning system can be installed in a lot less time.

Ductless Central Air Conditioning Units

While most home owners are aware of traditional central air conditioning and the duct work that allows it to flow through the home, you may not have heard of ductless central air conditioning. Ductless air conditioning has been used in Japan as an efficient, zoned cooling system for decades and is now becoming popular in the United States.

Ductless air conditioners are also known as split-system air conditioning units. A large compressor is installed outside the home, much like a regular air conditioning unit. A hose is run through the walls, up to 50-feet through the home to an internal unit containing a fan. When the unit is turned on, the exterior compressor works to cool the air, pumping it along the refrigerator hoses to the designated zone where the fan will then distribute the cooled air.

Advantages of Ductless Air Conditioning

Ductless air conditioning has a lot of advantages for some home owners over traditional central air conditioning.

Easy Installation

If a home does not have duct work, and relies on electric baseboard heating, wood stoves or other non-ducted heating systems, it can be expensive and time consuming to add ducts to the home. Not to mention the fact that adding ducts after a home has been built can rob you of living space, since the walls and ceilings may need to be widened to accommodate them. Installing a ductless system can be done easily through your existing wall space, no matter how thin.

Zoned Cooling

Installing air conditioning that cools room-by-room is one of the most attractive features of ductless air conditioning. Hoses need to be run directly to the room being cooled from the main compressor. This allows you to control exactly when and where you wish to have air conditioning. No need to close off vents in unused rooms; just turn on the internal units where you want them.

This is also beneficial for homeowners who may not be able to afford air conditioning in the whole house at once. With a ductless system you can add zones one at a time as you can afford them.

Efficient Cooling

Since the chilled air is directed just where you want it, ductless air conditioning systems can be extremely efficient with no wasted energy or air. With a ducted system, even when vents are closed chilled air may be escaping through them, cooling rooms that may not be in use. This can raise your energy bills over time.

Lower Maintenance

If you've ever lived with ducted air conditioning systems, you know that your ducts need to be cleaned periodically to keep your system running well. Ductless air conditioning systems eliminate this need for maintenance and the expense that goes along with it.

Ductless Air Conditioning Disadvantages


While the efficiency of the unit may save you money over time, the upfront cost of a split-system air conditioning unit can run up 30% higher than traditional central air conditioning units, and twice what a similarly sized window unit would cost. While you won't have the expense of running or adding ducts to the home, the cost of the unit still needs to be factored in.


Placement of the exterior unit is key to a properly installed ductless system. While most units can be installed up to 50-feet from the interior fan, optimal placement is 30 - 40-feet away. So you'll need to discuss the placement of the unit with the installer to try to find an unobtrusive area that will effectively cool your home.


Much like window air conditioning units, ductless units condense air and extract water, draining it from the unit. Proper drainage systems should be installed outside with the unit to avoid staining of concrete or siding.If your home is already ducted for heating, adding air conditioning can be done fairly simply. If your home is older, or non-traditionally heated a ductless central air conditioning system may be the way to go. Consider using a zoned, ductless system and begin to live in comfort today.

Pros and Cons of Ductless Central Air Conditioning