Key Differences Between Ductless Mini-Split & Central AC Systems

a green sign showing pros and cons


Whether you’re installing an air conditioning system in a newly constructed home or replacing your old furnace, there are many issues to consider.

What’s the differences between a central AC system versus a ductless mini-split system?

After reviewing the information below, hopefully it will become clear which system is best for you.

Central Air Conditioning & Heating

    • Most central AC systems are comprised of two units – one indoor and one outdoor. The outdoor unit houses the compressor and condenser. The indoor unit is generally attached to the furnace and will blow cold air throughout the ducts in your home.

    • Whatever you set the temperature to is what your entire home will be. Therefore, unless you close the vents (which is not recommended), air will blow through the vents into every room.

    • A central system can only be used to cool a home. It must have a furnace or heat pump with it in order to warm a home.

  • Significant energy loss can occur with a central system because of air seeping through the ducts due to cracks and holes.

Ductless Mini-Split Heating & Cooling

    • As its name implies, with ductless AC there are no ducts for air to travel through. There is less energy loss associated with standard ductless system because of this fact.

    • Ductless systems also have indoor and outdoor units, but they differ slightly from central systems . “Outdoor units are usually mounted on outside walls, but they may also be installed farther away if necessary, says Mitsubishi Electric. “Depending on the heating and cooling needs of a home, more than one outdoor unit may be needed. Similarly, there is one or more indoor air-handling unit. These units may be mounted high on walls, on ceilings or on floors. With multi-split systems, different temperatures may be set for different zones.”

    • With ductless systems, you can zone temperature control for different rooms. For example, if there’s a room you never use, you do not have to cool it. This can save you money on monthly energy costs.

    • Never having the need for ducts, installation is easy if installed by a professional.

    • A disadvantage to the ductless system is that it is seen in each room as opposed to being tucked away in the basement. However, many can be installed in such way that it minimally disrupts the interior design of each room.

  • Purchasing a ductless system will most likely be more expensive upfront. However, the long term energy savings can be significant compared to a central system.

If you’re considering a new system, determine what suits your needs.  To learn more about ductless systems, read here.