Ductless vs Ductwork: A Cost Comparison

air conditioning ducts

If you do not have ductwork in your home, thinking about adding it to install central air conditioning is something you must carefully consider. With this comparison, you will have a better idea of the cost differences between ductless air conditioning and a traditional system with ductwork.

What Does Ductwork Require?

People who cope with a window air conditioner or other summer cooling method because they do not have ductwork probably know that this situation is not ideal. A window air conditioner is not the most efficient or effective cooling method, but it often costs a lot less than having central air conditioning installed. In order to have central air, you must be able to get ductwork installed. Ductwork is a system of large, flexible hollow tubes that have to be placed throughout the home so that they can connect to vents in each room. To have ductwork, you must have the space for the ductwork to sit, in a basement, attic or crawlspace. The cost to install ductwork varies depending on the home and its size, but you can expect to pay at least $1,000 to have it put in. Ask your Sacramento HVAC technician for specific information.

How Does a Ductless System Differ?

By comparison, a ductless air conditioning system does not require as much space outside of the room. Central air relies on a forced-air system that connects an outdoor air conditioning condenser/compressor to an indoor system that removes heat from the air and sends it through the ductwork. Homes with central air need an interior air handling unit to push the air to the ductwork, and many homes rely on furnace technology to manage this aspect. By comparison, ductless air conditioning splits the air handling into several different rooms of the home. The condenser/compressor sends refrigerant to each of these rooms, where the heat is removed and blown directly into the room. Installation is more space-efficient, because all that is needed is enough space for the small refrigerant line.

Why Is Ductless A/C More Expensive?

If you already have ductwork, you may notice that purchasing and installing a new system for ductless air conditioning can be thousands of dollars more than the cost to buy and install a new condenser/compressor for a central air system. This is because the installation for a completely new ductless system is more complicated than just replacing an exterior unit. If you are comparing the cost of installing new ductwork for central air to a ductless system, you might find that central air is about the same price or even more expensive than ductless air conditioning. It all relates to the extra expense of installing ductwork into your home.
These days, you can choose between central air and ductless cooling, depending on which is ideal for your home. Ductless systems often cost more, but they may be more practical for some houses. To learn more about installing air conditioning in your home, contact the experts at Ace Plumbing.