Choosing the right air conditioning system for your home can be a risky choice if you don’t know the good and bad features of the various options available to you. You have to live with the consequences for a long time. If you are building a new house and money is no object then this is not the article for you, but everyone should read on.
New construction allows you to choose any system you want from the standpoint of how it is going to be installed. In your planning allowances can be made for distribution style. Standard duct work, insulated fiberglass tubing, small round pipes are no obstacle. You might even combine more than one system to get your most favorable result. In this case your ultimate choice no doubt will revolve around immediate and long term cost. The standard, bulky duct work system will normally be the most cost effective, short term, while the more efficient mini duct Spacepak system will be more cost effective in the long run, say, ten years or so. Although, as the cost of energy rises this time frame will no doubt become shorter. Another consideration is aesthetics. Distribution vents of the large duct systems are much more noticeable than the small vent holes of a mini duct system.
Ductless units were not put into the equation above because they are usually more costly up front in new construction than a duct system. Yet, there are some real good reasons to choose a ductless system which we will see as we discuss existing construction and older homes. Once a house has been built it becomes more costly to install an air conditioning system that requires duct work. Ductless units can be strategically placed in large rooms and open areas to create an air flow. Ductless units require only a small hole in the wall to hook up to the outside compressor. Ductless units may be bought with different BTU outputs to accommodate the space to be cooled providing another control over energy use. Total areas may be segregated from the rest when not being used, just another savings.
Wrapping up, from a pure aesthetics viewpoint the mini-duct system is the hands down best. In existing homes the ductless units look pretty good though and the short and long term cost are hard to beat. For versatility none compare to the ductless system in any type of construction. For the new home buyer, watching their pennies, your choice will be the large duct system. Of course, the well known large duct systems have a lot repair technicians around to work on them while the other systems are a little harder to get a AC repair technician. But, if your air conditioning goes out on a hot day and you have a duct distribution system the home loses its cool comfortable feel and gets very warm before it gets fixed. In a ductless system and a unit goes out just open a couple of doors and let the other units keep you cool while you wait on a person to repair the downed unit.