Mini-split air conditioning systems are a good option for homes where installing ductwork or central air conditioning is not feasible. These systems are easy to install, quieter, and more energy efficient than central air.

A mini-split air conditioner is like a scaled-down version of a central air conditioning system. Like central air systems, mini-splits have two main components: an outdoor compressor/condenser, and an indoor evaporator/air-handling unit. Mini splits can have up to four indoor units connected to the outdoor unit, which means one mini-split can cool up to four rooms. Each indoor unit is linked to the outdoor unit by a power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing, and a drain for condensation.

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of mini split air conditioning systems.


  • Ease of installation – Installing ductwork for a central air conditioning system is difficult and time consuming. Instead, with a mini-split air conditioning system all you need to do is drill a three inch hole in the wall for the conduit. In addition, manufacturers of these systems have a variety of different size conduits for every floor plan, to make the air conditioner as unobtrusive as possible.
  • More options for installation – The outside unit does not need to be right next to the house to operate. It can be up to 50 feet away from the indoor evaporator. There is much less energy loss with a mini split system than you get with ductwork. In addition, you can place the mini split unit just about anywhere in your home.
  • More energy efficient – Each indoor mini split unit has its own thermostat, so you won’t waste money by cooling empty rooms.
  • Added security – Wall mounted air conditioners can be knocked out by burglars, giving them access to your house. The mini split needs only a small hole in your wall, which is not big enough to cause a security problem.


  • Qualified installers are hard to find – Even though the installation is easy, you still need professional help to make sure your mini split doesn’t waste energy due to short cycling or having too large a system for the space needed. Because qualified installers are rare, some contractors may not even bring up mini split systems as an option.
  • Appearance – These units are larger than window air conditioning units, and they tend to stand out in a room. There are some models that are more decorative looking, but the unit still takes up usable space.


  • Split system air conditioning is a fairly recent addition to the residential air conditioning market. Sometimes referred to as mini-split air conditioning, they have been used in commercial, institutional and retail buildings for almost two decades now. Many times they are used in multifamily housing, or in buildings with “non-ducted” cooling or heating systems. Split system air conditioning can be a good choice for room additions and small apartments, where adding ductwork would be too difficult or expensive to tackle. Split air conditioning systems are, as their name implies, split into two or more units.
  • A split air conditioning system has two components: an indoor air handling unit (sometimes it’s wall mounted), and an outdoor condensing unit. The two components are connected by refrigerant piping so that heat is removed from the indoor space and vented to the outside. Most manufacturers make heat pump units that allow the system to double as a heater during the winter. The units range from 9,000 to 30,000 BTU.
  • These systems are easy to set up. Ductwork takes time to install, and you eliminate that issue with split system air conditioning. The indoor unit can be up to 100 feet away from the outdoor condenser, and you only need a small home in a wall for the copper tubing and control wiring that connects them.
  • Cool air can escape through ductwork, and if the ducts are in an attic that is unfinished these losses can account for more than 30 percent of energy consumption in the summer. With split system air conditioning, the losses range from one to five percent.
  • Unlike some other systems, mini split air conditioning systems are quiet. There are units on the market that operate at 22dB, which is comparable volume to whispering.
  • The biggest thing these systems have in their favor, however, is their cost-effectiveness. Not only does the lack of ductwork mean energy savings, split system air conditioning allows you to control the temperature level of individual rooms in a building, thus saving on overall energy costs. You can cool living rooms during the day and bedrooms at night, for example.
  • In traditional central air conditioning systems, the whole house is cooled when a thermostat in one location is calling for cooling. You have much more control with a mini split air conditioning system. Also, you save energy because smaller fan motors are used, and inside wall or ceiling units can distribute the cooled air more efficiently.
  • Split system air conditioning is worth a look if you want to save the expense of installing ductwork, and if you want to try an energy efficient cooling system that allows you more temperature control over sections of your house or building.


Split air conditioning systems are, as their name implies, split into two or more units. In the typical setup, one component is inside the building, and one is outside. First seen in Japan, split air conditioning systems are becoming more popular in other parts of the world. Many central air conditioning systems have their compressor outside, on the ground or on brackets hung onto the wall. Some models come with multiple indoor units that use a single compressor. They are sometimes call ductless air conditioning units, since they do not use ducts to circulate the air.

  • Easy Installation – Since there is no ductwork to install, the units are easy to set up. The indoor unit can be up to 100 feet away from the outdoor condenser, yet the only space required is a small hole in a wall for the copper tubing and control wiring. The condenser unit can even be positioned on a flat section of roof if available.
  • Easy Maintenance – Split air conditioning systems are easy to maintain. They have washable filters and require only routine cleaning periodically. Outdoor units are designed for easy access for maintenance and repair.
  • Quiet Operation – The indoor units of these systems are typically quiet enough for libraries, classrooms, boardrooms, and bedrooms. The outdoor components can be installed under a window or near a patio without disturbing anyone.
  • Heating Capability – Most split air conditioning units provide “climate control” with additional heating as well, so you can live and work comfortably year-round.
  • Cost Effectiveness – Split air conditioning systems work well in situations where rooms only need to be cooled at certain times, for example, living rooms during the day and bedrooms at night. Inside wall or ceiling unit can distribute the cooled air with precision and more cost effectively. You save energy, since smaller fan motors are used and individual units run at different times.
  • Simple Control – Most units come with a remote control, as well as a wall mounted thermostat, and temperature control is easy and convenient.
  • Attractive Design – Instead of a big, clunky window unit you have air conditioning units that blend well into indoor décor. There is no need to block your windows either.

Split air conditioning systems have many advantages that make them worth considering when you’re shopping for an air conditioner. An HVAC professional can give you more details about which system is best for your needs.

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