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Mini-Split vs. Central Air Conditioner: Which Is Better for You?

Aircon Comparison

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What's in the article?

Mini split systems and central air systems both provide heating and cooling performance capable of cooling multiple spaces at a time. Both are relatively costly compared to other types of air conditioners, and will require professional installation to operate. So, what's the difference? In this article, we compare the two models, and weigh their pros and cons.

What is a Mini Split Air Conditioner?

Mini split systems, also called ductless mini split systems, or ductless air conditioners, are heating and cooling systems that are sleek, modern, and fit into any home or office. These air conditioning units include an outdoor unit, as well as multiple indoor units that can cool multiple zones at the same time, hence mini split system.


Space Requirements

Mini split systems require minimal wall space, but they do require wall space with an outdoor-facing exterior wall to install the outdoor unit. For multiple indoor units, a series of wires and lines would be looped through the home to connect to the outdoor unit. The mini split system does not require any ductwork to install, unlike central air systems.

Cooling Power

The ductless mini split system varies in BTU rating, with some units having as low as 6,000 BTU, and as high as 56,000 BTU. Multiple units can connect to the outdoor unit, so mini split air conditioners can be used for different zones. Due to the wide cooling capacities available, the ductless mini split system is a versatile model that can fit into any home or office.

Energy Efficiency

Mini split air conditioners were made to be energy efficient, and inverter-type air conditioners that feature variable speed compressors can bring greater energy savings in the long run. A smart air conditioning system can optimize energy consumption for the ductless system, making these units highly energy efficient as they are being used.


Mini split units are relatively easy to maintain. The filter and coils can be cleaned at home without the help of professional technicians, but professional deep cleaning will help maintain the condition of your mini split air conditioning system. You can find aircon services for your ductless mini split in virtually all air conditioner repair companies, including Luce Aircon.



Compared to portable air conditioners and window units, mini splits are comparatively more expensive. The air conditioning system may cost upwards of $500, which is the price for a standard unit with 6,000 BTU. Higher end units can cost up to $5,000 per unit.

What is a Central Air System?

A central air conditioner refers to the outdoor unit, which connects to an indoor unit built into the existing ductwork in the home. Central air units are often built into the space where the furnace goes, and provides both heating and cooling throughout the entire home.


Cooling Power

Central air systems are popular choices for their cooling capacity, which averages 50,000 BTU. This is enough to cool 1,500 square feet of space! More powerful units, like the 120,000 BTU central air systems, can cool more than 4,000 square feet of space with a single unit, making central air conditioners some of the most powerful heating and cooling systems in the market.

Energy Efficiency

Due to their powerful cooling capacities, central air conditioners are thought to be energy-guzzling, but modern models feature advanced technologies to optimize energy use within the unit. Inverter AC systems and smart models are available, and are energy efficient to provide cool air into the space without the high energy consumption and costs.



Central air conditioning units are expensive. This type of air conditioning has some of the most expensive models as they are meant to cool large areas at a time. A central air conditioner costs an average of $5,000 for the unit alone, and installation, ductwork, and maintenance costs will drive the price of the AC system higher.

Space Requirements

Central air conditioning units require existing ductwork in the home to function, and some spaces may opt for ductwork installation prior to installing central air systems. Central air conditioning has a number of requirements to install, and not all spaces are suited for this type of cooling system.


Central air conditioners are challenging to maintain. You can clean the outdoor unit, but the indoor unit and the ductwork will require professional services to clean and maintain. Repairing a faulty air conditioner is another challenge as the technician will have to look through the ductwork to find the problem.

Mini Split vs. Central Air Conditioning: What's the Difference?

Factors Mini-split Air Conditioner Central Air Conditioner
Budget Relatively expensive compared to other types of AC units. 3.5 out of 5 rating Very expensive. 1.5 out of 5 rating
Energy Consumption Inverter units and smart AC units can optimize energy consumption. 4.5 out of 5 rating Inverter models and smart AC models can optimize energy consumption. 3.5 out of 5 rating
Space Requirements Requires minimal space. 4 out of 5 rating Requires existing ductwork. 2 out of 5 rating
Cooling Power Very efficient. 4.5 out of 5 rating Very efficient. 5 out of 5 rating
Maintenance Easy DIY maintenance and cleaning. 4 out of 5 rating Difficult to maintain. 3 out of 5 rating

The Verdict

In choosing between a central air conditioner and a mini split, it is important to check your budget and space to know which unit is right for you. Central air conditioners may give you the most efficient heating and cooling system, but they are costly and require ductwork to install. Mini splits, however, may not provide you the cooling effect you're looking for.

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Staff Writer

This article is written by our passionate staff writers who seek to share our knowledge from our business

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