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For as much as we enjoy central air conditioning, it’s a relatively new addition to standard household equipment. Houses constructed as recently as the 1980s may not be equipped with the necessary duct system to immediately install central air. So how does a homeowner go about installing central air in a house without ducts?
Installing Central Air in a House Without Ducts: Option 1
The first option is to install the necessary ductwork in your home, then install a central AC system.
This can be pretty expensive and will take extra time as contractors work to build the ductwork. The cost can range greatly, as it’s based on a lot of different factors, such as:
- The design of your house
- Whether the ductwork can be installed in your attic or basement
- The number of vents/ rooms you want to receive air conditioning
- The number of stories in the house
The process for building ductwork has evolved over the past decade, and contractors will now try to hide as much of the structure in closets and hidden areas, making as few cuts as possible. However, this will still take a significant amount of time, as it’s important to map out the structure of your house and any wires or plumbing that might be in the way.
Installing Central Air in a House Without Ducts: Option 2
There is also a relatively new option on the market for installing air conditioning in older homes that don’t already have ducts in place: a ductless mini-split AC system.
A standard central air system has an outside component- the condenser unit- and a large main evaporator unit inside. The two are connected with refrigerant lines to create the cooled air, while a fan unit pushes the cooled air through the ductwork.
A mini-split AC system is very similar in structure. It has an outside condenser unit and an inside evaporator unit. However, instead of relying upon a fan system to deliver air everywhere, there’s a vent, a mini-split AC system allows you to add up to four inside units per condenser. Each inside unit has its own fan system and can cool a room comfortably.
With each room receiving its own source of air conditioning, you can control which room is cooled, and when, by turning that particular inside unit on or off. This can bring added efficiency to your electric bill, as you rotate which rooms are cooled based on time of day and usage. Unlike standard central air systems, you have control over which rooms are cooled, and each room can enjoy a different temperature. No more fighting over control of the thermostat!
This system may call to mind old-fashioned window AC units, but the indoor fan-coil units of a mini-split AC system are much more advanced. They’re smaller and quieter since the larger main compressor unit is located outside. You can place the indoor unit on a wall or ceiling. Many modern mini-split systems include remote control, which gives you the ability to change the temperature from anywhere in the room.
Before you make your final decision for installing central air in a house without ducts, call 844-962-2681 to schedule a consultation with HVAC experts in your area. A trained professional will come to your house to discuss your best options for installing central air- with or without ducts. You’ll receive a full consultation, along with a no-obligation estimate for the scope of the work needed.
Years ago, installing central air in a house without ducts would have meant a huge undertaking to install the necessary ductwork, but today, a mini-split ductless system may bring huge savings, as well as relief from the hot weather.
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Frank is the chief editor and director at Specialty Air, where he oversees testing, research, and editing for all air quality-related articles. Frank is an expert in the air quality space with extensive experience testing, researching, and reviewing air purifiers, air conditioners, air filters, air fresheners, fans, and more. He also has over 4 years of experience with issues surrounding mold remediation, radon mitigation, moisture management, air duct systems, HVAC, and insulation.