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Mini-Split vs. Central Air

Mini-Split vs. Central Air

When the heat of summer strikes, you want to be able to cool down quickly. You might end up debating between mini-split vs. central air. But what are the differences, and which is better?

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In this article, we’ll discuss what each type of system is, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and more. By the end, you’ll be able to choose the best cooling system for your home. 

 What Is a Mini-Split?

A mini-split system starts with an outdoor compressor/condenser. This provides cool air that is then pumped inside. 

Once inside, this cooled air makes its way to one of potentially several air-handling units. These units control the airflow for the room they are in. They are typically small, only providing air for a single room, but can be larger as well, with some being capable of cooling an entire home.

What Is Central Air Conditioning?

Central air conditioning also uses a large outdoor unit to provide the house with cool air. This unit utilizes a compressor, condenser coil, and evaporator coil to cool the air. 

This cooled air then enters the home via the duct system. This system pumps the air through the entire house at once, or at least all areas connected to the duct system. This maintains a singular temperature across the house, usually controlled by a single thermostat. 


Mini-Split vs. Central Air

Ductless mini-split and central air systems are similar in how they cool air. However, they are very different in how they distribute air. 

Mini-split systems do not require a duct system. This means the air for each system in a mini-split system can be adjusted independently. So, a mini-split system has independently adjusted systems in each room while a single thermostat controls a central air system. 

Advantages of a Mini-SplitMini Split AC System

Mini-split systems are becoming more and more popular because of the many advantages they present. 

  • Better temperature regulation: The biggest advantage of a mini-split system is the ability to adjust the temperature independently from room to room. You can set one room to one temperature and another to a completely different temperature. This allows one person to set their room to be warmer while another sets theirs to be a little cooler. 
  • Energy efficiency/savings: Mini-split systems are more energy efficient. They can handle more specific cooling, allowing them to cool less overall. This ends up saving energy and money. So, running a mini-split system generally costs less than running a central air system. 
  • Less space: The final advantage is that mini-split systems take up less space overall. They do not require a duct system and, thus, save the space that would otherwise have to go to that system. 

Disadvantages of Mini-Split

Unfortunately, mini-split systems are generally expensive to install, necessitating a larger upfront cost. So, those on a limited budget who are comparing a mini-split system to a central air system will have to consider if the long-term energy savings of the mini-split system are worth the greater upfront cost. 

In addition, each room with a system generally has the system in a prominent place on the wall, where it is visible to the entire room. Some consider this to be unsightly. 

Central AC Advantages of Central Air

Central air systems are the standard air conditioning option in the US for a reason. They have a number of advantages that make them great in a wide range of circumstances. 

  • Ease of use: With a central air system, everything is controlled from a single point. You don’t have to worry about setting the temperatures of individual rooms. Instead, you adjust one thermostat, and you’re done. 
  • Lower upfront cost: Central air systems are less expensive to install than mini-split systems. This is especially true if your home already has ductwork for your heating system, as the central air system will simply use that same ductwork. 
  • Add value: People generally understand and appreciate central air systems. Because of this, they add value to your home. 
  • Better filters: Central air systems have filters to catch dust, allergies, and other materials. This cleans the air that enters your home. 

Disadvantages of Central Air

The biggest disadvantage of central air conditioning is the increased long-term cost. These systems will generally cost more to run each month when compared to mini-split systems. 

Most cost problems come into play depending on the state of a home’s duct system. If the home doesn’t already have a duct system, it will need to be installed to accommodate central air. This will add more costs. 

In addition, central air requires more maintenance. This comes from the fact that the ducts need to be cleaned and cared for regularly. 

Home Air Conditioning Unit

If you compare ductless mini-split systems to central air systems, there are categories where each wins out over the other. 


Mini-split systems have a greater initial cost but provide long-term energy savings. So, they are more expensive in the short term but potentially cheaper over time. 


When it comes to air conditioning installation, a mini-split system is easier to install but is also more expensive. 


Central air systems work in just about any climate. Meanwhile, mini-split systems don’t work as well when it comes to extreme heat. So, a central air system may be the better choice in an area that often experiences extreme temperatures. 


When it comes to which air conditioner provides a better lifestyle, choosing between mini-split vs. central air comes down to personal preference. 


Air Conditioning Installation

When it comes to air conditioning installation, you need to pick the system that works best for you. Whether you like the increased control of a mini-split system or the convenience of central air, the option for you is out there. 

If you are looking to install a new system, make sure to consider 4 Service Pros. We can walk you through the options and help you install whichever system you want.