When is a Ducted Air Conditioner a Better Choice Than a Ductless System?

When choosing a new air conditioner, you might be thinking of a ducted system, also sometimes called central air and which is hooked up to all the ductwork in your home, versus a ductless model. The ductless model is vented directly out a hole in your outside wall and the air is not connected to a home's ductwork but blows out the front panel or face of the system. While a ductless system is often cheaper to purchase and have installed, note when the central air or ducted system may be a better option for your home.

When the home already has ducts

If the home has already been constructed with ductwork and had a central air conditioner in place, you may want a central air system. In these cases, it might actually be cheaper to install than a ductless system, since it just replaces your older model and hooks up to the ducts. A ductless system is often chosen for homes or buildings without ductwork in every room; if ducts are already installed, the central air system may not be as costly, versus the ductless system, as you may assume.


If aesthetics are important to you, a ducted system may be the better choice. The only part seen in each room is the vent opening to the duct. With a ductless system, the panel may sit in the ceiling or be recessed in the wall, but it's still very visible.


The blower unit for a central or ducted system sits outside the home, so there is little noise when the system runs. While ductless units are not necessarily as noisy as a window unit, they do still create noise from the front panel as they operate. For a child's room, a room where you watch movies, and other such setting, this may be very distracting and a ducted system would be better.

Humid environments

A ducted system not only makes a space cooler but also works to remove humidity from the space. A ductless system doesn't remove humidity in the same way, so that some environments may be uncomfortable with this smaller system. While you may be able to invest in a dehumidifier for the space, this can mean added noise and also means not having that humidity removed from all areas of the home. This humidity can get trapped in the attic or upper floors, sometimes allowing mold and mildew to form on building materials.