Mini-Split vs. Central Air Conditioner: Which Is Better for You?

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Looking for a cooling system for your home, office, or shop? There are a couple of types of air conditioners already on the market, but the ductless mini-split system and the central air conditioning system are two of the most popular kinds of air conditioners, particularly for large homes and commercial spaces.

Let's take a look at the differences between these air conditioner units, and how each fares over the other based on Budget, Energy Consumption, Space Requirements, Cooling Power and Maintenance!

Mini-Split Air Conditioners

Ductless, and split into two units, the mini-split air conditioner definitely has the most minimalist aesthetic when it comes to air conditioners, but just how effective is this type of unit, exactly? Let's find out:

Man holding remote to air conditioner

What are Mini-Split Air Conditioners?

A ductless mini-split system is composed of two units: an indoor cooling system, and an outdoor unit or condenser. The two parts are connected through a main pipeline, which channels the warm air out of the room through the outdoor unit.

The main pipeline is composed of three or more tubes, which channel the refrigerant line, the electric line, and the drain line to keep the entire mini-split system up and running smoothly without hindrance. Mini-split systems are suitable for cooling large rooms, especially as no heat pumps into the room.

Pros and Cons of Mini-Split Systems

1. Easy Installation and Requires Little Space

The mini-split system is relatively simple to install. All you need is a wall space big enough for the indoor unit to be mounted on. You will need an adjacent space for the outdoor compressor as well. A hole will be cut through the wall for the pipework.

2. Maintenance is Simple

Mini-split air conditioning systems are also fairly easy to maintain, with the air filters manually cleaned once every two weeks. The unit will need to be checked by an experienced technician twice a year for maintenance. The unit also does not drip water, and often comes with a remote or control panel for convenient temperature setting.

3. Initial Costs are More Expensive than Most Types

However, mini-split systems tend to be pricier than most types of air conditioners. Depending on the model you're eyeing for, they may cost more than central air conditioners as well. 

4. Inverter Models are Energy Efficient

Still, they are known for their energy efficiency, which may save you on electric costs in the long run. Inverter types can save you between 30%-50% of electricity costs, and are deemed environmentally friendly. 

5. Cooling Power is Moderate

The mini-split type of AC can effectively cool small to large spaces without problems, but unlike centralized ACs, this type of unit can only cool one room at a time. The cooling power depends on the HP as well, where larger rooms will require higher horsepower than those sufficient for small to medium spaces. 

Central Air Conditioners

Practically invisible and out of the way, centralized systems use up unnoticeable ceiling space, but are these systems worth the renovations and construction in installing them? Let's review how this type of unit fares versus ductless systems:

What are Central Air Conditioners?

As its name suggests, a central air conditioner has a centralized ductwork that connects to various rooms in the house, cooling or heating these areas simultaneously. This type of air conditioner is popular in temperate climates, as they also come with heating systems as well as cooling ones.

Central air conditioners come with a large, outdoor unit which connects to central air systems laid out all over the house. Unlike the ductless system, central air conditioners supplies warm or cool air throughout the entire home or office, distributed by the central air systems. A control panel is used to set the temperature, which is conveniently located in a common area indoors.

Pros and Cons of Central Air Conditioning

1. Installation Requires Space and Existing Ductwork

Central air conditioners require a lot of work compared to the ductless system. For one, homes will need to have ductwork already laid out for the air conditioner to connect through. 

2. Initial Costs may be Expensive

Installation may be more cost-effective than ductless mini-split systems, but if the house needs to lay out the ducts, then the costs may go up.

3. Can Cool Multiple Rooms at Once

Central air conditioners are highly effective in cooling multiple rooms at once, which most other air conditioners cannot without multiple indoor units. The central system also makes it easy to operate the indoor units through one channel, but may also be a hindrance if an issue with the control panel arises.

4. High Energy Consumption

The central air system is high in energy consumption - it cools down an entire house after all! The costs of running a centralized air conditioner may be costly in the long run. 

5. Requires Professional Maintenance

Maintenance is also a big factor, as this type of cooling system will require professional cleaning, repairs, and maintenance from time to time.

Mini-Split AC vs. Central AC: Comparison Guide

Factors Mini-split Air Conditioners Central Air Conditioners
Budget Relatively expensive compared to other types of air conditioners. Expensive when needed to install ductwork.
Energy Consumption Latest technology in terms of energy efficiency. Being non-inverter, consumption is high
Space Requirements Requires little indoor and outdoor space. Existing ductwork required; central air system courses through the entire space.
Cooling Power Can effectively cool off one large room at a time. Cools off multiple rooms at the same time; can be used to cool or warm spaces in temperate climates.
Maintenance Filter easily cleaned at home; maintenance twice a year. Requires professional cleaning, maintenance, and repairs.

Which Air Conditioning System Should You Get?

As a general verdict, both air conditioning systems can effectively cool down large areas, but the mini-split can only cool off one room at a time. On the other hand, the central air conditioning system may cool off multiple rooms at once, but installation can be costly and a hassle for you and your household.

Check out our blog for more aircon cleaning tips and tricks!

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