Ductless vs. Ducted HVAC: How to Choose?

Picking an air conditioning unit is one of the complex decisions you have to make when installing or upgrading your system. Contractors make the matter worse by throwing different options at you without any explanations. Eventually, you run into a ducted vs. ductless mini-split issue, and it’s a daunting task to pick one. 

Although it’s not easy choosing between a duct vs. ductless HVAC, you must get it right. Apart from the installation costs, you’ve to decide on the system that best suits your housing and family heating and cooling needs. 

Read on to know more about ductless vs ducted air conditioning. It certainly will make your decision easier. 

Ducted vs. Ductless Mini Split: The Difference

Ducted Air Conditioning

In this type of system, air ducts are used to deliver heated and cooled air throughout the house. The ductwork usually is made of metal and is located within the walls and ceilings of the house. These ducts often serve both the heating and cooling systems. 

Heated or cooled air travels from an air conditioning unit or furnace through these air ducts and is delivered into each room via vents. They have a central air handler that sends conditioned air to the different zones in the building, giving your house or building the most comfortable environment. 

Ductless Mini-Split

On the other hand, ductless mini-splits are also known as split-ductless systems. This HVAC system provides cooling and heating in a single room or zone. They are often used in homes, offices, warehouses, and other commercial buildings.

A ductless mini-split system does not use ductwork; instead, it uses individual units mounted in different rooms. Mini-splits do not cool an entire house; they blow air into individual rooms as required. The mini-splits make them more efficient than central systems because there are fewer moving parts.

The main difference between these two systems is that ducted systems require only one air handler that serves the entire building. In contrast, the ductless HVAC system has multiple air handlers throughout the building or home, heating or cooling different zones or rooms independently.

Ductless vs Ducted Hvac: Choosing the Right HVAC 

Despite both HVAC systems having pros and cons, each works well in different circumstances. You should consider several factors before deciding between a ducted vs. ductless mini-split.

When to Opt for Duct vs Ductless HVAC

Here’s when a ductless mini-split will be the best choice for you, compared to a ducted system.

You Have Limited Space 

If you love high ceilings and you’re not willing to give that up, a ductless mini-split is ideal for you. The ductless HVAC is also suitable in spaces with no existing ducts. 

It is expensive to create more space for installing duct air conditioning.

You’re Adding  Space in Your Current  Room

Do you need extra space for a garage or workspace? In this case, it will be challenging and costly to add ductwork to your new room and connect it to the system. 

Also, your existing HVAC system may not have the capacity to cool the extra space, and you have no plans of replacing it. Instead, you can install a ductless air conditioner to supplement cooling the additional space. 

You Want to Reduce Dust in Your Space

One major disadvantage of the ducted HVAC is that it collects dust and the air sends the dust to your living space. 

Ductless HVAC lowers the chances of dust passing through the ductwork, into your house.

You Prefer Multiple Zone Control

Ductless HVAC has different air handlers for every room. You can individually control the rooms according to your cooling needs. 

Basically, you can lower the temperature of one room while increasing the temperature in the next room. This factor makes ductless HVAC ideal for shared living or working spaces where people prefer different temperatures.

When to Opt for Ducted Air Conditioning

In some circumstances, a ductless mini-split may not work for you. Here are situations when ducted air conditioning is suitable for your needs, and you are deciding between a ducted vs ductless mini split:

Your Space has Available Ducts

Does your space already have installed ductwork? And, is it in mint condition?

Here, ducted air conditioning would be a suitable option as it saves you time and money. You only have to connect it to the central duct, and you’re good to go.

You Live in a Humid Area

Duct HVAC removes moisture better than a ductless system. It’s a matter of connecting the unit to the current ventilation. 

The duct system saves you the hassle of buying a dehumidifier.

You Need a Better Airflow

Choose ducted air conditioning if you want good air circulation. The central ducts push air efficiently in each room. And, you won’t experience air pressure problems or stagnant air with a ducted system.

Aesthetic Appeal

Ducted HVAC has a discrete look, and everything is tucked away behind the walls. If you value appearance, this system is the best choice. 

You Want to Minimize Maintenance Costs

The ductless heat pump is cheaper to service because it has fewer parts. You only need to clean the system occasionally, and the components need less upkeep.

Choosing Between Ducted vs Ductless Mini split

Why not have the best of both worlds? 

You can find a middle-ground when debating between ducted vs ductless mini split. Combining ducted and ductless systems provide you with the ultimate goal of efficiency, comfort, and convenience.

Just think about it; it’s easier to air-condition rooms that might be expensive or difficult to add new ducts, like an attic, shed or garage with a ductless system. Also, you can use the ductless system to cold and hot spot the rooms. 

Furthermore, combining the two systems offers a solution to spaces that experience constant thermostat wars.

To Duct or Not to Duct?

There is no rule in choosing a ducted vs ductless heat pump. Air conditioning is a complicated process that needs you to think a lot about. Your final choice between ducted vs ductless mini split entirely depends on your specific needs.

Whether renovating or building from scratch, you must consider your budget, the space that needs temperature control, and zonal control. You need to analyze these factors before buying an air conditioning system. 

Undoubtedly, with the different brands in the market, you’ll find what works for you.

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