When choosing an air conditioning system, you have two options: a central AC or a split AC. It is vital to know the main differences between these two types of units. In this post, we are going to enter the discussion of Central AC vs Split AC.

Central Air Conditioner

For a residential home, this is the most common air conditioning system. It works from a central location and distributes air by multiple fans and ducts. Cool air is carried from the unit to your home via supply ducts and registers. Gradually, the air becomes warmer. Then return ducts and registers push the warm air back to the air conditioner.

Pros of using a central AC

  • Lower Initial Cost: A central air conditioning system is far less expensive than a ductless system. In terms of efficiency, there is not much difference between the two types of air conditioning systems. But in terms of price, the difference is significant.
  • Size and Range: Central AC systems provide consistent heating and cooling and for all sizes of homes. Cooling and heating reach throughout your interiors more easily.
  • Easier Integration with Other Products: Central air systems come with more robust filtration options. Furthermore, adding other air products such as air purifiers, humidifiers, and dehumidifiers is relatively easy. A dehumidifier can also increase the overall efficiency of air conditioning.
  • More Options: When it comes to central systems, many options are available for heat pumps, air conditioners, and furnaces. There are not that many options for split air conditioners. However, you may not care about extra options if a split AC is a suitable option for you.

Cons of using a central AC

  • Utility Bills: This is a crucial point to note in the central AC vs Split AC discussion. A central air conditioning system cools an entire home, and that can lead to higher energy bills. However, the newer models are significantly energy-efficient than, the older ones.
  • Duct Maintenance: You will have to spend some money repairing and modifying ductwork. This additional cost is inevitable even if you keep your unit adequately cleaned.
  • Zone Control: While Split AC systems provide granular control over temperature, Central AC systems don’t. However, this is not a problem if you regularly use all the rooms in your home.

Split Air Conditioner

A split AC operates at a higher efficiency. It comes with an indoor air-handling unit as well as an outdoor compressor linked by a conduit.

A split AC is a more convenient option for older buildings, partly because it does not require ductwork. This AC is used to maintain a constant temperature in your room. In the winter, this AC keeps your room warm.

Pros of using a split air conditioner

  • Efficiency: Due to its highly sophisticated technology, efficiency is the hallmark of a split AC. The unit converts electricity into DC voltage with inverter technology and therefore uses very little energy. 

On the cooling side, the SEER ratings can go beyond 30. The efficiency of a split AC is also indebted to its use of variable speed compressors.

  • Built-In Zoning: Mini-splits are primarily used in individual living spaces such as patios, garages, attics, sunrooms, and finished basements. Some mini-split systems come with multiple indoor units. 

You can keep one running while keeping the other off. This built-in zoning gives you precise control over how you use the units and whether you use a particular system for heating or cooling.

  • Suitable for Homes without Ductwork: If facing the dilemma of central AC vs split AC, look at your home first. Does it have ductwork? A split air conditioner is a necessity for a home that lacks ductwork.
  • Flexibility: Ductless systems come with a zone control that allows you to set a unit to your specific needs. In general, mini-splits are used in a home, even if there is a central air system. 

Rooms such as finished basements, garages, and attic guest rooms usually do not have ductwork. Therefore, a central heating system is not a good option.

Cons of using a split air conditioner

  • Filtration: The air filters in ductless systems are not as effective as those of ducted systems. So, the filtration system in a split air conditioner cannot effectively remove dust, allergens, and odours. Carbon filters can reduce the intensity of allergens. 
  • Line Aesthetics: When thinking about central AC vs split AC, consider line aesthetics. With ductless systems, electrical connectors and condensate drainage lines often run around the corners of your house. These lines can be visible from far away and visually unappealing. However, there is a solution to this issue. You can use a “line hide” to cover a visually unappealing line.
  • Drainage: A split AC collects moisture into the condenser and thus controls humidity. In some cases, to move the water to a drain, a condensate pump is required. And it can add to the overall cost. And if you are a busy person, it can be an extra hassle for you.
  • Maintenance: The filters of ductless systems require more general maintenance and cleaning than central air conditioners. When your ductless system is not sitting idle, you will have to clean it every couple of weeks. Homeowners often ignore this responsibility, but that can eventually reduce the system’s efficiency.

Central AC vs Split AC: Which is Right for You?

Your comfort goals and particular budget should determine the decision. For some homeowners, you may need both types to cool your home adequately. The final decision is up to you. We hope now you have a better understanding of these two types of air conditioning systems, and you will make an informed decision.