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Central AC or Mini-Split Air Conditioning — What’s the Difference?

Now that the weather is warming up here in the Twin Cities, many homeowners will be starting to think about how to properly cool their homes during the peak summer months. Central AC or Mini-Split? These two types of home cooling are great in different ways based on the need of the homeowner and their home.

Below, we’ve listed a few of the key differences between each type of home cooling system.

What is Central Air Conditioning?

Central air conditioning runs on electricity and removes heat from the air. When the thermostat in your home signals that the temperature is too high, the air conditioning system will automatically turn on. The unit pushes warm air across the coils in your system, absorbing heat and in turn producing cool air in your home.

A central air conditioner cools in a single location, then distributes that cooled air throughout the house using a series of fans and ducts. When connected to the home’s furnace, the combined central heating and cooling is frequently called “forced air.”

The size of your air conditioner is also important, an AC that’s too small for a home will run constantly, while a unit that’s too big will cool your house too fast and turn off before it completes a full cycle.

Central AC

Other possible considerations when purchasing an AC Unit

  • A variable speed air conditioning system
  • A unit that operates quietly
  • A filter check light to remind you to check the filter after a predetermined number of operating hours
  • An automatic-delay fan switch to turn off the fan a few minutes after the compressor turns off.

What is a Mini-Split?


Like central air conditioning systems, ductless air conditioning systems, also known as mini-split systems, have an outdoor compressor and an indoor unit. The difference is that with a mini-split system, you can cool individual rooms throughout the home. Each of the zones will have its own thermostat. This is a great way to add flexibility to your home — cooling the rooms that need it and one of the best parts is that it’s an energy-efficient way to cool your home.

Popular Reasons to purchase a Mini-Split

  • Homes with costly electric heat (e.g., baseboard, furnace, wall heaters, electric radiant) that will also benefit from cooling.
  • Older homes with no existing ductwork (e.g., radiators or baseboard heat) that have never had central air conditioning before.
  • Existing homes with high fuel costs.
  • Additions or outbuildings (e.g., shed, barn, garage) where extending ductwork or heating/cooling capacity is difficult. Spaces adjacent to unconditioned spaces where ductwork would be exposed to harsher temperatures (e.g., a guest room above a garage).

If you are considering adding central air conditioning to your home, the deciding factor between that and a mini-split may be the need for ductwork.

If you have any questions about how to care for your home cooling system, or you’re looking to upgrade your HVAC system this summer, do not hesitate to reach out to our professionals here at Dean’s Professional Plumbing, Heating, Air Electrical & Drains. 

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