The Key to Comfort: ductless or Standard AC?

Published on: June 27, 2016
Minisplit ductless unit with man controlling remote | AC Southeast®

During these hot Georgia summers, our homes become a cool safe haven from the oppressive heat just outside our front doors. We rely on our HVAC systems to provide us with that comfort, but are we relying on the right one? Both standard air conditioners and ductless air conditioners come with their pros and cons, but one is likely better suited to your needs than the other. So which should you choose?

Standard Air Conditioning

Before we get into the pros and cons showdown between these two types of HVAC systems, we’ll briefly review how each system works, starting with standard air conditioning (also referred to as central air conditioning). This type consists of an indoor unit connected to an outdoor condenser unit. The outdoor unit pumps cool refrigerant into the indoor unit, where fans blow air across the refrigerant, cooling it and sending it through your home via a duct network.

It’s important to remember that central air conditioners can also clean your air if a whole-home air cleaner is installed as part of your system. This ensures that clean air is blown throughout your home, increasing indoor air quality.


  • Cost: In many cases, a central air conditioner will be cheaper to install or upgrade, since many homes are built with central air conditioning in mind.
  • Consistent Temperature: If you take good care of your central air conditioning system, it will take good care of you by providing consistenty cool air and maintaining your ideal temperature.


  • More maintenance: With more components (especially when you consider the duct system), central air conditioning requires more regular maintenance and care to keep it running in top condition.
  • Air quality:Unless a good air purifier is installed, central air conditioning could potentially reduce air quality if filters aren’t changed or leaks form in the duct network.
  • Energy loss: Central air conditioners may waste air and energy, either by losing it somewhere in the duct network or by cooling areas of the home that are seldom used.


Ductless Air Conditioning

Ductless air, also called a mini-split system, solves many of central air conditioning’s issues by simply removing the duct network from the equation. A ductless system still consists of an outdoor and an indoor unit (or several). The outdoor condenser unit pumps refrigerant to the indoor air handler set on the wall, ceiling, or floor of a room. A fan in the unit blows air directly into the room.

Several air handling units can be placed in different areas of the home, creating “zones” that can be set to different temperatures.


  • Zoning: By enabling you to personalize the temperature throughout your home via zoning, ductless air conditioning units increase efficiency and reduce utility costs.
  • Air Quality: Without a duct network to potentially cause indoor air quality issues, a ductless system has a superior air quality system.
  • Flexibility: The individual handlers can be placed just about anywhere in any room of your home. Not only does this allow you to customize your design, but it also lowers energy costs by not wasting cool air in rooms that are seldom used.


  • Cost: Ductless systems generally cost more to install when compared to a central air conditioning system.
  • Space-Specific: While zoning can be an advantage of ductless AC, the individuality of the handlers means that they will need to be installed in a few different places in order to cool the entire home.

The Verdict

So what’s the bottom line? Well, that’s up to you. Both types of air conditioning will meet different needs. Ductless air conditioning will more efficiently cool different areas of your home, while central air will provide consistent temperature control to the entire home.

If you need more information regarding either of these systems or would like to have one installed, let AC Southeast® find an experienced HVAC technician near you who can help.