Stay Comfy Blog

Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Ductless HVAC System


Keeping the great outdoors outside is the reason HVAC systems were invented. We expect comfort indoors throughout the year and that’s why HVAC systems have a long history of innovation. The most common type of HVAC system in Minnesota uses a series of ductwork, vents, and grilles to bring comfort to the home, but what if a space doesn’t have vents and ducts? What if you added on an addition to your home or converted a porch or garage to be used all year? For that, many turn to ductless systems. Let’s look at the pros and cons of going ductless! 

The Pros 

They’re Space Savers

Ductless systems can go in many different places and can fit in areas that ducts can’t fit. They are a space-saving solution that can provide comfort in homes that just don’t have the real estate for bulky vents and ducts but that need the extra cooling and warmth just like other places in your home. 

Cost Effective

In addition to being great space problem solvers, they are also cost effective. If you have an addition or three-season porch you are converting to a four-season room, it may be too expensive to upgrade your entire central HVAC system. Ductless provides easy install and less mess and renovation.

They’re Flexible

Like we already mentioned, they fit wonderfully into additions and porch conversions, but they are also a great choice for homes that don’t use ductwork, says our expert, Keith Hill, technical support manager for Minnesota Air.

“They are great in homes with no ductwork – such as homes with baseboard heat or in-floor heat,” he says. “Also great for additions, three-season rooms, and in rooms where some extra cooling is needed.”

The Cons

Ventilation Air

Keith says one of the major cons of a ductless system is that outside air – or ventilation air – can’t be integrated into the ductless system like it can be in one that uses ducts. 

“In a central system, outside air can be brought in to a central location and distributed throughout the home,” he says.

Can’t Use Central Unit Add-Ons

Think of all the cool additions that can be added on to a central heating or cooling system – whole house humidifiers, dehumidifiers, air cleaning, and air purifying systems. Ductless systems aren’t able to use any of that because there isn’t a way to distribute it to the whole home easily.

Upfront Costs Can Be High If Going Ductless For Whole House

If you are planning on doing an entire home using ductless ACs or HVACs, the upfront costs can be high, according to Keith.

“If your goal is to cool a multi-room home to the same level of comfort as a central unit, you will need an indoor terminal unit in each room,” he says. “With newer multi-head units – one outdoor unit with multiple indoor terminal units ­– it can be less expensive than multiple single head ductless systems. But one indoor head in every room will add up to be much more than a ducted central system.”

The Department of Energy agrees that the main disadvantage of ductless mini-split AC is the cost. According to their website, “such systems cost about $1,500 to $2,000 per ton (12,000 Btu per hour) of cooling capacity. This is about 30% more than central systems (not including ductwork) and may cost twice as much as window units of similar capacity.”

So, depending on your project and home’s needs, ductless may be the answer to your problems. You’ll just need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of going ductless before you make the leap.

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