Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Consistent Cooling: Duct Versus Ductless Air Conditioners

Consistent Cooling: Duct Versus Ductless Air Conditioners

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot

Heating has long been considered to be a necessity in all but the warmest climates. By contrast, for many decades, air conditioning was a luxury reserved only for the super rich, if it was available at all. Box fans, cool drinks and cold showers were expected to suffice when the mercury climbed.

These days, air conditioners are a must-have addition to any new home. In addition, many older homes are being retrofitted with central air conditioning systems. One of the first decisions associated with installing central air conditioning in your home is deciding between a duct and ductless system. Each system has its merits and its disadvantages....

Because of these drawbacks, the conventional wisdom generally favors duct air conditioning systems over ductless systems, especially when ductwork is already in place in the home. However, when space will not allow for the installation of ducts, ductless air conditioning systems are required. Likewise, ductless air conditioning units are often desirable for room additions, or when retrofitting small older homes that do not have ductwork installed.

Duct Air Conditioning Systems Defined

Many air conditioning systems operate by forcing cooled air through sheet metal ducts that run from the central air conditioning unit to each room that is being cooled. The ducts are covered by vents that are installed over the ducts. The ducts and vents are located either in a wall, on the floor or in the ceiling of each room.

Pros and Cons of Duct Air Conditioning Systems

Many homes already have ducts installed, which reduces the cost of installing a duct air conditioning system. Duct systems may also produce better air circulation and are frequently less expensive to maintain and repair than ductless air conditioning systems.

However, duct systems are often very noisy. There is frequently little flexibility in where ducts and vents are placed in a given room. In addition, if your home does not already have ductwork, installation of a duct air conditioning system is requires complex installation by a professional contractor, which can be extremely expensive.

Ductless Air Conditioning Systems Defined

With ductless air conditioning systems, cooled air is filtered directly from the cooling unit to air handlers located in each room. The air handlers in a ductless air conditioning system are located in a wall or in the ceiling of each room. The cooling unit for a ductless air conditioning system is located outside your home.

Pros and Cons of Ductless Air Conditioning Systems

Ductless air conditioning systems do not require the installation of a duct system throughout your home. This can cut the cost of installation considerably. There is also more flexibility in where the air handlers are located. Ductless air conditioning systems are also quieter than duct air conditioning systems of similar size.

However, internal air quality can suffer with a ductless air conditioning system due to poor air circulation. Some homeowners also object to the appearance of the air handlers. In addition, ductless air conditioning systems usually cost more to maintain and repair than duct air conditioning systems.

Charles Talley lives in a perpetually-hot town in the southwest. An avid writer, he likes to post his findings on a variety of blog sites.

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