Older homes, additions and apartments aren’t always fit for central air conditioning. When it comes to keeping your place cool or warm, you have a handful of options. You can rely on your ceiling fans and hope for cool breezes in the summer, bundle up and keep the fireplace alight in the winter, or you can opt for one of the two forms of ductless air conditioning. Window units and ductless mini split systems both bring different forms of cooling to the table. Which is right for you? You decide! Here’s an easy breakdown based on facts and features.
The ductless mini-split system is the clear winner in this AC beauty pageant. Where window units are loud, bulky and obtrusive, the quiet, ductless mini-split systems are available in several slim and stylish options. Window units block natural light from your window and take away from your home’s beauty both indoors and out. Ductless mini-split systems don’t require any window space and can be mounted high on your wall and out of direct eyesight.
This category is another big win for ductless mini-split systems. Only a small hole is used to connect the indoor air handler to the compressor outside. And since it is mounted inside, there is no way risk of forced entry or theft. Conversely, window units are easily removed, making them an unsafe option for the ground floors of your home. The unit itself could be stolen or simply removed to gain entry to your home. Also, on higher floors, improper installation could send a window unit toppling down on whatever walks unsuspectingly below.
Installation and Cost
This is where the window unit comes to play. Window units can cost 5-10 times less than a ductless mini-split system and are the least expensive air conditioning options available. On top of their lower cost, the buyer would save on a professional installation, as it is easily accomplished with the help of one or two friends. Another perk of window units is that your home will not be altered in any way during the installation. Ductless mini-split systems must be installed professionally. A hole must be drilled through your home to the outside for the air handler to connect with the compressor. For proper operation, the compressor must be professionally installed and mounted outdoors, making it more costly than a window unit.
This is a knockout for the ductless mini-split system. Window units can be tricky to seal, letting hot, humid air in during the summer and your warm air out during the winter. Even central air units are generally more efficient than window units (and they can lose up to 30% of their conditioned air to their ductwork). The mini-split systems won’t lose conditioned air to windows or ducts, and they can be programmed for heightened efficiency. One of our favorite mini-split features is Mitsubishi Electric’s I-See Sensor. The air handler actively scans your room, high and low, for hot and cold spots and then corrects them for even comfort throughout the room.
Once you tally it up, it’s clear that, if you own your home and can afford it, the ductless mini-split systems are the way to go. If you’re renting, window units might be your only option due to the alterations needed to install a mini-split system. When selecting either, aim for the highest SEER rating on a programmable unit. Proper air conditioning management can keep you comfortable and save you big money on your electric bills.