Ductless AC and Central Systems: Can You Combine These Air Conditioners?

Can you get a ductless air conditioning system if you already have central AC? If you want to upgrade your HVAC system, take a look at what you need to know about home cooling, ductless mini-split air conditioners, and your options.

What Is a Central AC System?

This type of air conditioner has a central unit inside of the home, an exterior compressor, a series of air ducts to deliver cool air throughout the home, and individual vents in each room or space. It also has a series of return vents and ducts that, as the name says, return the air back to the main part of the system.

What Are the Benefits of a Central AC System?

Central air conditioners use one thermostat to control the temperature, making it possible to keep your entire home as cool or warm as you want. Along with the ability to cool the entire indoor space, these systems can also help to reduce humidity levels and improve the indoor air quality.

What Is a Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner?

As the name implies, this type of cooling system doesn’t rely on ducts to deliver air to the interior of your home. Instead, it uses individual indoor air handlers and an exterior compressor to cool your home in zones. Each zone is one room or enclosed area. This approach makes it possible to keep specific spaces cool without the need to waste AC energy usage on unused rooms.

What Are the Benefits of Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners?

The ability to cool in zones makes it possible to reduce AC-related use costs. Not only can these systems reduce cooling costs by using a zoned approach, the elimination of ducts can also lower your energy bills. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, duct-related cooling losses account for over 30 percent of the energy a central system uses. You won’t have this type of loss with a ductless model.

Ductless mini-split systems are often easier to place and use than central air conditioners. The indoor air handlers are easy to install near the top of walls or in out-of-the-way places. This means you won’t need to worry about blocking them with furniture or anything else.

Can You Combine Central and Ductless AC Systems?

Yes, one home can have both types of AC systems. The U.S. Department of Energy notes that the average system can include up to four indoor air handler units per one exterior compressor/condenser. This can present challenges in larger homes or homes with many rooms. If you need to cool more than four separate zones or spaces, you will need either another AC option—such as an existing central air conditioner—or more than one mini-split system.

Reasons to combine these two types of home cooling systems include:

  • Limited use of air handlers. Again, it’s not always possible to cool an entire home with one mini-split system’s air handlers. A combination allows you to keep every space cool during the summer months.
  • An addition. Do you have plans to construct a new addition to your home? Instead of extending the central system, add a mini-split air conditioner in the new space. This eliminates the need for extra duct work.
  • Insufficient cooling. Does your central system cool your home evenly? Ducts and vents that are far from the central unit may not work as well to cool your home. Extra air handlers from a minis-lit system can help to improve interior comfort.

If you’re not sure whether your home could benefit from a combination of AC systems, talk to a professional. An HVAC contractor can evaluate your cooling needs, inspect the current system, and make recommendations.

Do you want to learn more about ductless cooling? Contact American Air Heating and Air Conditioning for more information.