So you have an older home that doesn’t have central air conditioning installed. And you’re not too keen on spending the extra time or money it takes to install ductwork.
Fortunately for you, two other alternatives that don’t require traditional, bulky ductwork include:
- A high velocity air conditioner
- A ductless mini-split air conditioner
Not sure which is the better option for your older home? Well, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of each HVAC system below to help you make your decision.
Want professional advice on which system would work best for your cooling needs? Just contact us and we can perform an in-home inspection.
High velocity air conditioners
How it works:
High velocity air conditioners work exactly the same as a central air conditioner. The only difference is that a high velocity system is about 1/10th the size of a traditional system.
For example, the ducts that deliver cool air to different areas of the home are only 2-4 inches in circumference, which means it can fit anywhere in your older home and the installers won’t need to cut into walls, ceilings, etc (central AC ducts range from 8-18 inches). Air is also pushed into the home via small, 2-inch vents placed strategically throughout the home.
- They’re more aesthetically pleasing. Compared to distracting, wall-mounted ductless units, a high velocity air conditioners’ indoor handler is hidden in a basement or attic. Vents are small and can also be placed in inconspicuous places.
- You only need one unit to cool the entire home. If you are looking to provide cooling for an entire home (as opposed to just one room), a high velocity air conditioner might be a more practical choice. With small diameter ductwork, high velocity AC’s can push cold air into any room or area in your home. Mini-split AC’s, on the other hand, can only cool up to 4 areas per outdoor unit.
- They cool rooms faster. High velocity ACs push cold air into your home at a faster rate, meaning it can cool your home much faster than a mini-split AC can.
- They’re louder. Pushing air through ductwork and vents at a much higher velocity creates more noise than other cooling methods. However, some brands are creating sound muffling technology that can decrease the noise level of high velocity units.
- High speed air can be uncomfortable. Some homeowners find that sitting near vents and having a strong surge of cold air blown on them is uncomfortable.
- It’s harder to get temperature “zoning”. Because a single air handler delivers cool air to the entire house, homeowners with one high velocity air conditioner won’t be able to adjust temperatures in different areas of the home. Instead, the entire house has to be the same temperature. Keep in mind, however, that you can provide temperature zoning with high velocity units if you install more than one air handler as seen here.
Example of a home’s temperature with a high velocity AC.
Ductless mini-split air conditioners
How it works:
“Ductless” air conditioners work exactly how they sound—without the ductwork. That is, the outside unit has a single tube or “duct” that connects to the indoor unit via a small hole in the wall.
So, the indoor unit draws in warm air, cools it and delivers it right back into the room it serves. Then, the indoor unit collects the heat from the warm indoor air and sends it to the outdoor unit where it’s dumped outside.
- They’re quieter. Most mini-split units are less noisy than a high velocity AC.
- Zero ductwork required. Ductless units are a good option for homes with very little space available for ductwork. Instead of ducts, a ductless unit connects the indoor and outdoor unit with small cables and a refrigerant line that runs along the outside of the home.
- They provide built-in zoning. If you have a larger home with more than one mini-split unit, you can set a different temperature for each of the evaporators (indoor units) that your home has. This allows homeowners to set different temperatures for, say, the bedroom and kitchen for optimized comfort.
Example of how ductless units provide temperature “zoning” options.
- The units are more distracting. Ductless mini-split evaporators (the indoor units) are usually mounted on a wall or ceiling in a room. Some homeowners don’t want a bulky unit sticking out like this.
- Multiple units needed to cool an entire home. Most mini-split units can have anywhere from 1 to 4 indoor units attached to one outdoor unit. Which means, depending on the size of your home (and various other factors), you will likely need several units to cool your entire house.
- The initial cost is higher (sometimes). Mini-split ACs and high velocity ACs have comparable installation pricing per unit. However, most homes can rely on one high velocity unit while the same home would likely need several mini-split units installed to cool the entire home. Therefore, when you look at whole-home cooling, mini-split installation typically costs more.
For more information on mini- split ductless installation prices, check out our blog “Cost to Install Ductless Air Conditioning in an Older Minnesota Home”.
Still undecided? Get help from a Minneapolis tech
If you’re still not sure which system would work best for your Minneapolis home, just contact us.
We’ll send over a professional who can perform an in-home inspection to help you decide.