As the weather warms in the Decatur, AL area this spring and summer, you’re likely thinking of air conditioning, and how best to cool your home, especially if you’re renovating, upgrading, or moving into a new place. And with more options for AC on the market today, you may be wondering which one is right for you.

There are a few different types of air conditioning systems: central AC, window units, and mini splits, which are the newest type available today.

What is a Central AC System?

Central air conditioning is any type of air conditioning that cools your entire home at once. Most often, central air consists of an indoor and outdoor unit that combines with your furnace and uses the same ductwork, but heat pumps can also cool your home.

Central AC has several benefits, including:

  • Central air conditioning does not need to be installed/uninstalled every year.
  • Can be paired with smart thermostats and zoned systems to reduce energy costs.
  • Newer models are more efficient than ever
  • Cools a space better than a window unit
  • A well-maintained unit and filter can improve a home’s air quality
  • A generally longer lifespan than other unit types

Drawbacks include:

  • A higher installation cost, unlike a window unit
  • More expensive maintenance, especially as the system ages
  • Uses ductwork, which can lead to more maintenance than other AC types
  • Can lead to higher running costs unless paired with a smart thermostat or zoned system

What is a Mini Split System?

Recently, mini split AC systems have come onto the market. These systems consist of an indoor and outdoor unit, and are smaller than central systems. Mini splits are ideal for cooling small homes and single rooms. It is possible to install multiple split systems throughout a home to achieve zoned cooling.

Mini Split benefits include:

  • A more permanent installation than window units
  • Are more efficient than window units at cooling a room
  • Use less energy than central AC as they’re designed to cool only one area
  • Can be installed in a heavily-used area, allowing the homeowner to cool only one room
  • Can install multiple mini splits as part of the same system
  • Energy savings
  • No ductwork required

Drawbacks include:

  • A higher installation cost and general cost than window units
  • Professional installation is required
  • Can only cool one small area
  • Are less able to lower humidity than central air

The Window Unit

Everyone has seen window units, which have been around for a long time. These small, versatile units can be useful in some circumstances, but do have some drawbacks. Window units have varying strengths, but are designed to cool one small area.

Benefits include:

  • A low upfront cost
  • Easy installation (though you may need a friend to help you install)
  • Low maintenance and simple controls
  • Good for single rooms and areas without ductwork

Drawbacks include:

  • Less efficient than other AC types
  • Many units are noisy
  • May lead to an unsecured window
  • Cooling is unlikely to extend past a single room, even with the aid of fans
  • Window units don’t last as long as mini splits or central air

If you’re looking to renovate your home, install a new AC system, or simply aren’t sure which type is right for you yet, don’t hesitate to reach out to Southeastern Mechanical Services if you’re in the Decatur, AL area. We are here to help all year long.