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Amongst all types of air conditioning systems, the window type air conditioner would probably be the most popular. It is inexpensive, easy to install, and it can fit in almost any space.
However, mini-splits are also becoming more and more popular for their efficiency and innovative features.
If you are looking into which of these two air solutions would be the best choice for your space, here is an easy and detailed guide to help you decide between the two.
How They Work: Ductless Mini-Spit Vs Window AC Units
The differences between how a mini-split system and window type aircon work lie in how their components are laid out.
The full system consists of three main components: an indoor air-handling unit, an outdoor compressor unit, and a conduit carrying the drain, electrical, and refrigerant lines that connect the indoor and outdoor units.
With a mini-split system, warm air is absorbed via an indoor air-handling unit. The warm air then passes through two sets of coils and refrigerant lines. From the indoor unit to the outdoor compressor unit, the refrigerant cycles back and forth to produce colder air.
If the mini-split system is equipped with heat pumps, it can also provide warmer air by reversing this process.
A single outdoor unit can accommodate up to eight indoor units depending on its capacity. The separate indoor units can function independently to create aircon zones. Aircon zones allow users to customize which rooms will have their indoor units turned on or off. Each aircon zone can also be set at different temperatures.
Window Type AC Units
In a window type air conditioner, the evaporator coils, condenser coils, compressor, fans, and thermostat are all packaged into one unit. You will need to install a window type aircon unit for every room that needs cooling and heating.
Some window type ac units also come with heat pumps so they can be used all year round for both heating and cooling.
Installation Cost Comparison
One of the reasons why window type ac units are a popular choice is that they are an inexpensive option. A window type unit can cost between $200 to around $2,000.
Compare this to the average installation cost of ductless mini-splits that runs between $1300 to $15,500. That is such a vast difference in cost.
Energy Bills Of Running Both Systems
Newer models of window type ac units are now equipped with inverter technology. This makes the units more energy-efficient.
But, if you have several spaces that need heating and cooling, you will have to install one window type unit per room. This can cause spikes in energy consumption and, eventually, energy bills.
Mini-splits have a clear advantage when it comes to energy efficiency especially those that run with variable speed air handlers. Variable speed allows the units to automatically run their fan speeds slower or faster. Once a room reaches the right temperature, the system’s fan speeds change from fast to slow. This feature allows the system to function using less energy.
Ease of Installation Compared
Another consideration when it comes to choosing between a window type air conditioner and a mini-split system is how easy they are to install.
When installing a mini-split system, you can have several indoor units connecting to a single unit outside compressor. To be able to connect these units, you will have to run a series of slim ducts to accommodate the drain, electrical, and refrigerant lines. These can either run within walls, ceilings and sometimes, floors.
Indoor blowers can also be the easier-to-install wall-mounted units or the more complicated ceiling cassettes and floor units.
In all those types of installation, the service of HVAC professionals is a must. Not enlisting the help of qualified contractors can run the risk for both aircon and home damage. This, however, is another add-on to the mini-split installation cost.
The labor costs that come with a mini-split installation can cost somewhere between $200 to $5,000 depending on the complexity of the structure and the air conditioning system.
Meanwhile, a window type ac unit installation can be done by any handyman. Of course, it is always better to get an HVAC expert to work on the installation but it really is a simple construction job.
Just place the window type unit on any window or wall provision, seal any holes around the unit to contain the air within the room, make sure there is provision for the moisture drain, and you are good to go.
Because of the simple way window type aircon units can be installed, the labor costs of having it done by professionals are much cheaper.
Home Structure Considerations
A mini-split system can be installed in almost any type of home structure. As long as you have indoor space to install the air handling units and a proper spot to put your compressor unit, it is possible.
The same goes for window type air conditioning units. All you need is some wall space that can accommodate the unit indoors and the back part where the warm air is blown out faces outside.
Between the two, however, a window type aircon is more portable since it is a packaged unit and all components are safely enclosed within the case. It is easier to take it out of its current place and transfer it to another spot. That is why this is a popular choice for those who are renting or leasing spaces.
Mini-splits have some slight advantage for unconventional home layouts, though. Since you only need to run the conduits from an indoor unit to the outdoor unit, mini-split units can be mounted against an inner wall. This can be quite beneficial for rooms that are not connected to an outside wall.
This is not possible for window type units because the warm air needs to be blown outside.
Home Design Considerations
An issue with having a window type ac is that it needs to be placed on an outside wall. Since it takes up a pretty large space, it can run the risk for home intruders and it can easily be tampered with.
Window type units are also difficult to camouflage so you have to consider its size and shape when it comes to your home’s interiors.
Placing an air conditioner unit within window space can also be another sacrifice for home decor. First, the unit will still be quite visible. Second, it blocks out a good amount of sunlight.
With mini-split systems, the only drawback in terms of interior design is the large indoor units. Like window type units, it is difficult to hide and/or make a part of the home’s design aesthetics.
You do have the option to go for floor units or ceiling cassettes but these typically cost much higher than the simple wall-mounted ones.
Mini Split Pros and Cons
- Energy Efficient
- Lower Energy Bills
- Easy Installation
- AC Zoning
- More Options for Unit Types and Placements
- Initial Costs
- Large Indoor Air Handlers
Window Type Pros and Cons
- Easily Installed
- Low Energy Bills
- Simple to Operate
- Large Indoor Units
- Easy to Tamper Placement
- Not Ideal for Temperature Zoning
- Takes up Window Space
To make the decision easier, think about how many spaces you need air conditioning in. A window type ac is best for cooling single spaces. It is also great for those who are renting or leasing because the units can be easily moved.
Mini-Splits are better for multi-zoned houses. The initial costs can be bigger but because mini-splits function more efficiently, you can still save on energy costs.