What Type of Air Conditioner is Right for You?
Whether you’re a Florida native or a recent newcomer to our beautiful state, you undoubtedly know that air conditioning isn’t a luxury here—it’s a necessity. If you’re building a house in Central Florida or looking to boost home comfort with an upgraded HVAC system, you may be wondering—what are the different types of air conditioners, and which one is best for you?
The three primary categories of residential AC are central air conditioning, ductless heating and cooling, and window units. Learn more about each system and how they compare to help you decide which one to install.
What is a Central Air Conditioner?
Central air conditioning is a whole-house system that uses a blower and air ducts to distribute cooled air to every room. You know a home has a central HVAC system if you can see air registers in the walls, floors, or ceilings.
Most residential central air conditioners are split systems, featuring an outdoor condensing unit mounted to a concrete slab and an indoor evaporator coil attached to the furnace blower. In Florida, heat pumps are more common than AC/furnace combos. In this case, the outdoor unit connects to an indoor air handler used to distribute heated and cooled air.
What is a Ductless Air Conditioner?
Also called ductless mini-splits or wall air conditioners, these systems are a type of heat pump, meaning they can provide year-round heating and cooling. But unlike central heat pumps, they don’t require ductwork to deliver conditioned air.
Ductless mini-splits feature an outdoor condensing unit connected to a wall-mounted indoor unit through a small conduit in the wall. The indoor unit features a built-in air handler, eliminating the need for ductwork. Mini-splits are primarily used to heat and cool individual rooms. Still, whole-home comfort is possible when you link a single outdoor unit to multiple indoor air handlers.
What is a Window Air Conditioner?
As the name suggests, window air conditioners mount to a window frame, often with no permanent hardware required. They are intended as a temporary solution and should be removed in the winter so the window can fully close.
This inexpensive purchase has long been the go-to option for supplementing a home’s cooling needs. Installation is the most straightforward with single- or double-hung windows, but sliding windows can be modified by temporarily installing an acrylic or polycarbonate sheet above the unit. Casement, awning, and hopper windows that pivot open on hinges are incompatible with window AC units.
Central AC vs. Ductless AC vs. Window AC
So how do these three types of air conditioners stack up? Compare them here to determine which one provides the most comfortable, convenient, and affordable home cooling.
Purchase Cost & Ease of Installation
- Window ACs offer a low initial cost, portability, and easy installation. You can buy them at a home improvement store, install them with another person’s help, and even take them with you when you move.
- Ductless ACs cost more to purchase than window units and require professional installation. Still, mini-splits are more feasible than installing the air ducts needed for central air conditioning if your home or a recent add-on lacks ductwork.
- Central ACs are relatively affordable and easy to install, provided your home already has ductwork, making them the go-to choice for whole-home cooling.
Winner: Window AC
- Window ACs are expensive to operate, even if you buy the most energy-efficient units available.
- Ductless ACs have amazing efficiency ratings, resulting in lower operating costs than many central air conditioners. As a bonus, there’s no risk of energy loss from leaky air ducts.
- Central ACs also boast high efficiency ratings, but they require sealed, insulated ductwork to deliver cooled air efficiently. Many homes suffer from leaky air ducts, negatively impacting central air conditioning performance and efficiency.
Winner: Ductless AC
Aesthetics & Noise
- Window ACs are heavy and bulky and block the use of the window. They also operate loudly and seriously undermine home security.
- Ductless ACs have a streamlined and compact indoor unit mounted unobtrusively on the wall or ceiling. This frees up your windows, preventing you from sacrificing the view, natural light, and fresh air on nice days in exchange for air conditioning. Many ductless units are also whisper-quiet, making them ideal for bedrooms and home offices.
- Central ACs are ultimately the winner of this argument. With a completely hidden indoor cabinet, inconspicuous wall vents are the only sign that a central air conditioner is installed. Noise is also hardly a concern when one unit sits outside, and the other is tucked away from the main living space.
Winner: Central AC
- Window ACs have very limited capabilities. All they can do is cool a single room while occupying a window. A remote does allow you to adjust the temperature from across the room.
- Ductless ACs offer zoned cooling, allowing you to control the temperature with a remote in each room where a mini-split is installed. This saves energy and prevents people in different parts of the house from arguing over the thermostat settings. Ductless units can also operate in reverse for home heating in the winter, which window ACs are incapable of doing.
- Central ACs can have dampers installed in the ductwork to create a zoning effect, but the upgrade isn’t as seamless as installing ductless mini-splits. However, smart thermostats are available to control the temperature remotely.
Winner: Ductless AC
Schedule AC Services in Orlando or Orange City, FL
No matter what type of air conditioner you choose, turn to Certified Climate Control for reliable, affordable cooling services in Central Florida. We are A+ rated by the BBB and have been awarded the Angie’s List Super Service Award for over 10 years in a row!
Whether you need AC installation, repair, or maintenance, our knowledgeable team has you covered. Contact us today to join our long list of satisfied customers. You can reach us at (407) 888-0678 if you live in Orange or Seminole County, or call (386) 675-6963 if you’re a Volusia County resident.