Boston homeowners deal with some major temperature swings throughout the year: from blistering summers to unforgiving winters. In order to keep your home as comfortable as possible during Boston’s hot, sticky summers, you need an air conditioner that’s up for the challenge.

While centralized A/C units have been the standard, ductless mini-split systems are starting to gain traction in the United States.[1]

Here, we’ll pit these two popular approaches to air conditioning against each other to see which comes out on top.

Are Mini-Splits Better than Central Air? Weighing the Pros and Cons

Cost, energy efficiency, and ease of installation are some major considerations when selecting an air conditioner. See how ductless mini-splits stack up against their traditional counterparts.

Are Mini-Splits Cheaper than Central Air?

Nobody wants to spend more money than necessary, even when it comes to something as important as your home’s comfort and air quality. Since the U.S. Department of Energy reports that mini-splits cost roughly 30% more than centralized systems, you might assume that traditional models are a more economical decision.

However, initial costs aren’t the only expenses that need to be taken into consideration.[2] If you’re moving into a new home without any ductwork or an older one that needs replacements, you can expect to pay, on average, around $1,145 in addition to the cost of the A/C unit.[3]

On top of this potential expense, homeowners in the Boston area should also consider the inevitable cost of routine maintenance. Generally, ductless mini-splits require fewer repairs, thus costing you less. Also, these units tend to outlast centralized systems by five to eight years.

Are Mini-Splits More Efficient than Central Air?

Traditional central A/C units lose the energy efficiency battle with their modern ductless cousins because of the energy losses that come from the ductwork. In fact, the inefficiency of ductwork can make up 30% of a unit’s overall energy usage.[4]

Mini-splits avoid this problem altogether by operating without ductwork. This limits the chances of air escaping as it circulates throughout the system.

Even without considering the downsides of ductwork, conventional A/C units still fall short in terms of energy efficiency.[5] Their compressors either operate at full capacity when turned on or not at all. Whether the system needs to change your home’s temperature a few degrees or over 10 degrees, it will run just as intensely.

In contrast, ductless heat pumps only use the amount of energy needed to make your home comfortable, resulting in increased energy efficiency and decreased utility costs.

Do Mini-Splits or Central A/C Units Offer Greater Temperature Control?

One of the primary advantages ductless mini-splits offer homeowners is control. With central A/C units, there’s only one source for controlling temperature settings in the entire home.

By having individual air handling units in each room, ductless heat pump systems offer greater flexibility. Depending on the size of your home, you can have a mini-split system with one, two, or multiple units that all hook up to the same outdoor unit.[6]

Since each air handling unit comes with its own thermostat, you have greater control over each room’s temperature.[7]

Which Is Easier to Install: A Central Air or Ductless Mini-Split System?

If you were ever to build onto your home by adding a garage, porch, or extra room, having a ductless system would once again give you more flexibility.

When dealing with a central A/C unit, you’ll have to run ductwork to the new space through ceilings, walls, and floors. With a multi-zone ductless system, all you would have to do is simply hang up another handling unit in the new space and connect it to the outdoor unit.

Is a Mini-Split Right for Me?

Although centralized air conditioners have been the standard for homeowners, there’s good reason to consider making the switch to ductless mini-splits. These systems are more energy efficient, easier to install, and save you more money in the long run.

If you want to learn more about the advantages of ductless mini-splits and whether they’re a good fit for your home, feel free to reach out to New England Ductless to have your questions answered. We’re a leading expert on ductless HVAC systems and installations in the Boston area, and we’d be delighted to help.

Sources:
[1] https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190821005294/en/Global-Ductless-Heating-Cooling-Systems-Market-Analysis-Trends-and-Forecasts-2019-2025—ResearchAndMarkets.com
[2] https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/ductless-mini-split-air-conditioners
[3] https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/heating-and-cooling/install-ducts-and-vents/#home
[4] https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/ductless-mini-split-air-conditioners
[5] https://www.mitsubishicomfort.com/articles/energy-efficiency/what-to-know-about-seer-when-choosing-an-hvac-system
[6] https://www.energystar.gov/products/heating_cooling/ductless_heating_cooling
[7] https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/ductless-mini-split-air-conditioners