Thinking of giving yourself, and your family, the gift of a new HVAC system this holiday? If you’re in the market, we’ve got a quick and easy guide to choosing between two of the most popular home heating and cooling solutions for Texas families: Central HVAC and the Mini-Split (or Ductless) System.

Central HVAC: The Traditional Choice

Most folks are familiar with this type of home climate control, which is built around a central cooling and heating unit that pushes warm or cool air to various areas via a network of ducts hidden in the walls of your your home. The furnace and the air conditioner use the same ducts, depending on the season, and this solution can be especially appealing if you’d like to take advantage of existing ductwork when replacing your HVAC system.

This type of system also has the benefit of being virtually invisible in your home. With the compressor outside the home and the furnace tucked away in the basement, the only thing you’re likely to see on a daily basis is the vents—easy to paint for concealment or coordination with decor—carrying air into the various living areas.

Some of the more challenging aspects of central HVAC include greater expense and inconvenience when adding a system to a home without existing ductwork; annual maintenance for not only the system, but the ductwork and filters; and potentially less long-term savings as compared to ductless systems (although this absolutely depends on placement, type of system, and number of units used).

Small But Mighty: The Mini-Split System

The flexible and customizable mini-split system is ideal for both new construction and replacements, since it doesn’t require ductwork. These systems are technically heat pumps and, as a result, flip the script a bit; instead of a central unit that connects to a complex network of ducts throughout the home, mini-split systems create climate zones with multiple wall-mounted units connected to an exterior compressor.

Each of these units has its own refrigerant coil and sends cool (or, if the system is reversed, warm) air directly into the room where the unit is mounted. This gives these systems a much greater degree of flexibility than traditional systems, allowing you to provide climate control in the areas of your home where you need it most—and save money by skipping it where you don’t.

You’ll also avoid the muss and fuss of annual ductwork cleaning and the associated hassles of that can come with duct-related air quality issues, although you’ll definitely want to have an annual service check-up just to make sure your system is operating at peak efficiency.

Of course, not everyone loves the look of a wall-mounted HVAC unit in every area they’re cooling or heating, and while mini-split systems can absolutely save you money in the long run, installation costs for ductless systems can run as much as 30% over traditional HVAC (although of course these costs vary depending on make, model, and installer).

Ultimately, choosing the system that’s right for you, your home, and your family will depend on your specific needs, budget, and aesthetic sensibilities. Traditional or ductless, reaching out to your local HVAC pro for a consultation is the first step toward a new HVAC system that keeps you comfortable during the holidays and all year long.

Mini-Split Vs. Central HVAC: Which is Right for You?
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