Is central air conditioning better than split or room air conditioning?┬áCentral AC vs Split Air Conditioning systems is a question we have wondered about for some time. There are pro’s and con’s to both which we will list in this post! Before we begin, we thought we should explain these terms so that everyone is on the same page. Central AC is installed in many homes and means essentially what it implies. There is one air conditioning unit that provides cool air throughout the home from one location usually in the basement for homes with basements and from just about any other location in homes with no basement including the roof. There is one unit outside that is attached to the furnace which blows cool air throughout the house.

Central AC vs Split Air Conditioning systems

Central AC vs Split Air Conditioning systems have much different foot prints and cost models. Room air conditioners are usually found in one room, sitting in the window and will only cool the room they are in and perhaps adjacent rooms if they are small and the doors are left open. Most people will locate them in the bedroom so that they can get a good nights sleep. These systems are noisy and the fans are loud, so they are something you should get used to.

Split AC Systems

Split air conditioning systems are usually for larger homes and may have an AC unit for each end of the home or for different floors. There will be multiple forced air furnaces as well to blow the cooled air throughout the section of the home that they are to cool. Separate thermostats are provided so that the sleeping area for example can be kept cooler than the rest of the home to enable better sleeping conditions. Various circumstances or design of the home will require different configurations of AC units.

The following are some of the characteristics as well as pros and cons for each:

Central AC

  • most rooms are at the same temperature
  • opening and closing vents is used to control specific room temperature and cost
  • 2nd floor rooms will be hotter
  • Basement will be cold
  • costs are high to cool entire home

Room AC

  • only rooms were AC is will be cool
  • usually in rooms for sleeping
  • cost is lower
  • must endure hot rooms in parts of the house
  • Must endure the noise of the AC fan in the room

Split AC

  • Multiple units outside the home
  • Larger home means more cost
  • Can control temperature in different parts of the home
  • May need to close off sections of the house if not in use

Older homes or homes that are heated with electricity baseboard heaters that do not have any way of forcing air throughout the home will typically go for in room AC, while homes that are heated with forced air gas or oil furnaces can take advantage of central or split AC systems. All air conditioning is expensive to run, using a lot of electricity. Any time you can shut the system off or increase the temperature will reduce the amount of electricity you are using and reduce your electrical bill as well.

If you are on time of day electrical billing with a so called smart meter, you may also want to program your AC so that it runs mostly at night when the cost of electricity is at a lower rate compared to the daytime cost of electricity. Evening rates can sometimes be as much as 50% less than peak rates for electrical use.

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