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Ductless or Split Air Conditioners

A introduction to the pros and cons of Ductless or Split Air Conditioners

As the summer weather start to creep into New England, much slower than in past years we begin to wonder how to stay cool or when the Air Conditioners (AC) should be put in. Air Conditioners are the most convenient way to stay cool inside the home, but which type of AC should I use?

Windowed AC units offer the lowest entry point as far as price is concerned, while Duct Central AC can be paired with existing ductwork in the home from a furnace with a much higher entry point.  In recent years an alternative to these forms has gained a lot of momentum in the market, Ductless or Split AC. A Ductless or Split AC unit is just as the name refers, ductless and split refers to the fact that the AC unit is separate from the compressor. Most commonly a split AC unit is mounted to a wall inside the home, it is positioned where it will provide the most comfort while being as close to the compressor as possible. This installation requires only a small hole to be drilled into the wall for the piping to run to the compressor.  This set up is very desirable for existing homes that would require expensive ductwork for central air.

Windowed AC units are the go to for a quick fix to hot and humid summer days, but they do have several drawbacks that Split AC units take care of. If you’re looking to cool your entire home, or the rooms that you use the most you’ll need about 3-5 ac units whether they are window or split. Split AC units require one installation and until you want them removed or replaced you’ll never have to take the unit off of the wall.  Window units unless they are built into your home will require seasonal installs and uninstalls.  To some this might be a minor inconvenience to others it’s enough not to bother with them all together.

If you desire an entire home cooling solution central air is what first comes to mind. With ductwork throughout the home this provides the most streamline solution to AC. If your home has pre existing ductwork this could be the best option for home AC. Central Air allows for you maintain the same temperature throughout your home with temperature panels where you desire different settings.  For homes without ductwork, the ductwork is the most expensive part of installing the system the actual unit can run around $1,000 to $2,000. While the ductwork can raise the price of the system to $8,000 to $10,000.  Duct units can also lose about 25% of the cool air in the ductwork lowering the energy efficiency of the entire system.  Split AC units do act as individual units they can be linked together to create a central air system.  This will create a central air system without the need for expensive ductwork, the split units can link into a single compressor to further lower the entry point.

Ductless, AC, Split AC, Ductless AC, AC/Heat Pump

AC units account for a large amount of your summer bills, primarily from the increase of electricity that is required to run them.  Modern window units feature energy saving modes that turn the system on only when the temperature rises. However they go from on to off with no build up, spiking the electric use. Window units while they can carry Energy Star ratings are not required to have as high of energy ratings as split units or central air units.  Split AC systems are required by law to carry at least a 13 SEER while window units are only required to carry a 10 SEER.

SEER or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio/Rating, is used to measured how much energy an AC unit will use during the season.  This means that over an entire year the SEER would be much higher due the time of year AC isn’t used.  Most Split AC units carry a SEER of 16 and can reach 27, this is accomplished through monitoring the exact temperature in the room and only firing up the system enough to maintain the desired temperature.

Split AC units do however carry a much larger entry point than window units.  For a single split unit the cost could be anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 per unit. Window units have a price tag of around $200 to $1,000 depending on the size of the unit and the function that is desired. To properly cool your entire home an investment is needed, monthly costs should be considered not just the entry cost.

Split AC units can also come with heating capabilities to providing energy savings throughout the entire year.  While this will save you money on your fuel bills during the winter it will raise your electric bill.  Before relying heavily on the Split system look over energy bills and see what is the best way to save money.

When making the decision on which AC unit to go with it all depends on what your needs are and how long you plan to stay in the home.  If you are looking for the most energy efficient solution over several years a split system is the best way to go.


Robert Stahelski

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