We all come to a point when choosing the right air conditioner becomes a matter of necessity. Like what should you buy—a window air conditioner or a ductless mini split system? For most of us, it’s not necessarily because we want to, but because we have to. Quite often, because the reason is blindingly obvious—we all want to avoid the oppressive heat of summer or the blistering cold of winter.
Window AC Versus Ductless Mini SplitAnd what is the best course of action? Simple; get our acts together and get the right cooling and heating solution. But keep this in mind: before you go out looking for that best-for-your-comfort, perfect-on-budget, and real-life-saver new air-conditioner, never lose sight of the fact that thermal comfort is directly related to the type of home that you live in. It might be a small type of home, an old historic house, a rental property, a condominium, an apartment, or any type of average dwelling space inside a multi-unit residential building.
So, what do these types of home have in common? Well, three things: 1. These are houses that ideally need a truly effective spot cooling and heating system. 2. These are homes where ductwork is completely nonexistent. 3. These are typical households where central air conditioner is simply not an option. Given these situations, you are normally left to pick between two kinds an air conditioning system—window air conditioner and ductless mini split unit. Now, which one is the best option? Forget about portable air conditioners. There is no way they can even measure up, design-wise, efficiency-wise, and performance-wise.
To help you decide, let us try first to briefly define each system and then break down their distinct advantages and disadvantages. This will help you determine which one fits right for your home.
A window air conditioner is one of the basic types of air conditioning systems. They are those highly ubiquitous AC units that you would normally see in many homes across the country. With part of their bulky chassis hanging out the window ledges, they’re not very difficult to spot. Sometimes, these type of system can also be found mounted in the wall and supported by a metal bracket with their rear part facing outside. It is arguably the system that most people use. As a self-contained system, a window air conditioner is built with all of its main components housed in a single housing unit or chassis.
Ductless Mini Split System
Although made available to the market in the 1970s, ductless mini split is a relatively new system in the United States. It is a widely used system in other parts of the world though. Technically speaking, a ductless mini split is an upgraded version of a window air conditioning unit. In fact, it was conceptualized as an alternative to window air conditioners and designed to offset the latter’s limitations in terms of flexibility, efficiency, and performance.
As its name suggests, a ductless mini split is a split-type system, which means it consists of an outdoor compressor/condenser unit that is installed outside the house and an indoor air-handling unit that is mounted inside the home. These two main components are connected by the refrigerant lines, power cable, and the condensate drain that are all passed through a small hole in the wall.
Making a Smart Choice, Factors to Consider
Comparing window air conditioner and ductless mini split requires you to take a look at the following important factors. These elements define the capabilities of each of these systems and should influence your purchasing decision.
How a much a system consumes energy will have a huge impact on your energy-budget. Nobody wants an energy-hog air conditioner, but here’s the reality—all air conditioners are energy-hogs. Now, does that mean that we’ll just have to deal with it? Well, not really. Some air conditioners are more energy-efficient than the others. The point is, the more we accept the fact that air conditioners are naturally energy-consuming, the easier for us to appreciate energy-efficiency as a deciding factor when looking for a brand new air conditioner. In this respect, when choosing between a window air conditioner and a ductless mini split, you have to ask the pertinent questions, such as: Which system consumes lesser amount of energy? Which one are Energy Star-qualified? And which of these two systems have more energy-saving features and components?
Most cooling and heating challenges are mostly related to the inability of a system to be applied in unique applications or be configured based on varied requirements and structural conditions. When you begin to compare a window air conditioner and a ductless mini split, it is important that you will be able to determine which of these systems offers greater versatility in terms of installation. Quite simply, what you need to look out for is the capability of a system to be installed just about anywhere without any effect in terms of convenience, comfort, and cost.
When what you’re after is best comfort, giving due consideration to the operational reliability of an air conditioner does not even merit a question; or an explanation. But then again, it would not hurt to emphasize. After all, what we all expect from an air conditioner is enough capability to give the quality amount of comfort that we really need. That means better cooling and heating performance whenever and wherever we need it. To compare window air conditioner and ductless mini split system in terms of performance, you will have find out the system that is built with better technology to perform at the highest level and even when the weather is extreme.
Air conditioners are priced differently. Some are more expensive, while others are cheaper. When choosing between a window air conditioner and a ductless mini split unit, you will find out a stark contrast between these two systems in terms of cost. When you take cost as consideration, it is important to focus on cost-value than the amount of money that you need to shell out.
What Should You Buy? Window Air Conditioner or Ductless Mini Split?
To give you a better idea on what is the right system for your home, we’ll compare window air conditioner and ductless mini split. Using the aforementioned important factors, we’ll try to determine how each system fares against each other. To effectively do this, we’ll let ourselves be guided by the following questions:
Which one provides higher energy savings?
If you consider yourself among the average household in the United States, the Energy Department says that at least 6% of your energy consumption is spent on space cooling. By using a high-efficiency system, you can effectively slash your energy use by at least 20% up to 50%.Given that, let’s start by saying that it should be no-brainer that energy-efficiency should play an important factor when you start to choose between window air conditioner and ductless mini split. In terms of energy-efficiency, ductless units trump window air conditioners—hands down. They are mostly Energy Star rated and high efficiency ratings, whether in terms of EER, SEER, CEER, HSPF, or COP.
We’re not saying, however, that window ACs are not energy-efficient. In fact, many of the latest generations of window air conditioners are also Energy Star-rated and have decent energy-efficiencies compared with the older models, or even the latest but average ones. But when compared with ductless mini splits, they pale in comparison, mainly due to the make up the system. It is important to understand that a window air conditioner is the most basic type of air conditioning system. Unlike ductless mini splits, it is not typically built with energy-saving components, features, and capabilities. Take for example the compressor technology.
With a ductless system, what you’ll normally get is high-efficiency performance from a variable-speed or inverter-type compressor that adjusts its speed in order to regulate the temperature. Basically, it only uses an exact amount of energy that it needs. Unlike window air conditioners that keep cycling on and off and operate through fluctuating temperature, ductless systems maintain a steady temperature cycle, ensuring precise temperature control that result to high energy savings and result and better comfort experience.
Which System is Versatile Enough for Unique Applications?
Owing to its ductless design, versatility proves to be one of the biggest advantages of mini splits. Unlike window air conditioners that are not too ideal for some really unique applications. Well, except maybe for single-room cooling or heating, ductless mini splits can be installed almost anywhere—regardless of the environment, the type of room, or the size of space. With a ductless mini split, you can have a system a totally flexible system that you can use to cool or heat a single-room or configure as a whole-home climate control system. Designed for temperature zoning, ductless mini splits can be used to every room that needs cooling and heating by just mounting individual air handlers in each room. While the window-type air conditioners remain the standard choice, they have limited capability to be used in some very unique applications in which the style of installation is normally very difficult to tackle, especially for traditional systems. Some examples are room additions, garages, sunrooms, bonus rooms, and many others where the ducted system can’t normally accommodate without having to undergo some costly and complex installation. Ductless units, on the other hand, can be easily mounted no matter the structural limitations.
Which System Provides Better Comfort Experience?
While window air conditioners can have an upgraded version to stretch out its highly limited cooling and heating capabilities, ductless mini split air conditioners ensure maximum comfort level due to its range of powerful features. Built robust and highly advanced, almost every ductless mini split model is equipped with powerful components and capabilities, such as ultra-powerful refrigeration and filtration technologies, as well airflow and control systems. Taken together, these components help create an exceptional level of comfort and convenience that you’d not experience with window air conditioners.
Which System is Cost-effective?
In terms of affordability, window air conditioners are the runaway winner. But when it comes to cost-effectivity, ductless mini splits are way better. We’ll explain why. When we’re talking of air conditioner’s cost, there are three main sources of expenditure: unit costs, installation costs, and accessories costs. Looking at unit costs, window air conditioners are far cheaper. In other words, they are more affordable. In fact, you can quickly purchase a unit without any need for financing. With average prices ranging from $150 to $500 depending on capacity, window air conditioners can actually be an out-of-pocket expense. The additional accessories can cost you around $10–$15. The installation cost would be a different story, though. For a window air conditioner, you can incur a cost of around $1000-$1500. As for ductless mini split, the system alone has an average price tag of $1,500 up to $5,000, although you can still get one with much lower efficiency at a cost below $1000. When it comes to installation, on the average you might have to spend $1,300 up to $3700. Adding up all the costs for the unit, installation, and accessories for the mini split, you can expect to pay at $4,000 to 6,000 at the minimum. The maximum expense would be around $12,000. There are still variables involved, which include the size of the unit, number of air handlers, complexity of installation, and other even the system configuration that needed to be implemented. All of these will factor in to your overall cost. Obviously, ductless mini split requires pretty much a huge amount of money. It is an investment. But to the question, which one should you choose between these two systems, cost-wise? The answer will depend on your specific needs and how much are you ready to pay for. Believe it or not, despite all the price ranges mentioned, ductless mini split emerges as the most cost-effective. That’s right—it is not cheap, but it is definitely cost-effective. Why? Because it can pay for itself. As a high-efficiency system, ductless mini split can give you long-term energy-savings compared with the window air conditioner. Over time, these energy-savings that translate to low energy bill will be tantamount to the total cost that you’ve paid for the unit.
Ductless Mini Split is Your Best Choice
As gleaned from the earlier discussion, the ductless mini split system appears to be the better system. If you have enough funds to cover the costs, this is the best choice. For the comparison summary, check out the table below.Window AC Versus Ductless Mini Split
Window AC Versus Ductless Mini Split
If you are short on budget, using a window air conditioner seems to be the most practical option. Just don’t forget that before you make a decision, consider looking at your own situation and carefully determine all the pros and cons. For a great selection of ductless mini splits and window air conditioners, visit .