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In years past, most people opted for central AC. Recently, though, ductless AC has been surging in popularity, and it's not just being installed in homes without existing ductwork. People are more concerned than ever about energy costs, and ductless systems are big winners in that regard.
Whether you opt for central air or ductless system, you're looking at a major investment and should do plenty of research before making your decision. The initial cost is a major factor, of course, but it pays to consider long-term costs as well. At the same time, you should think about the indoor comfort needs of you and your family. You may think that central air conditioning is the way to go, but you shouldn't dismiss ductless without learning what it's about and what it can do for you.
Before weighing the pros and cons of central air conditioning and ductless air conditioning, you should have a basic grasp of what each system entails. A central air conditioning system typically has two units. The indoor unit is usually attached to the furnace, whose blower forces cooled air through ducts that stretch around the home. The outdoor unit houses a compressor and condenser.
Ductless systems also have indoor and outdoor components, but they aren't built into existing forced-air furnaces. Outdoor units are usually mounted on outside walls, but they may also be installed farther away if necessary. 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.
Some of the most important things to consider when weighing the benefits of ductless systems over central air conditioners include:
The initial cost of having a ductless system installed tends to be higher than the cost of having central air conditioning installed. Focusing solely on upfront costs is misleading, though. After all, ductless systems are much more efficient than central air conditioners, so you will spend a lot less to keep your home comfortable over time and should recoup your investment with ease.
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