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Written on: July 22, 2019

What are the different types of home cooling systems?

man heat fan
Cooling your home can be a challenge here in the Northeastern US (as we have seen so far this summer). The question is, what is the best way to meet that challenge with a cooling system for your Pennsylvania home?

Here are the three most common home cooling system options, and the pros and cons of each:

  1. Room air conditioner – A room air conditioner (a window or portable unit) provides spot cooling for a single room.
  2. Pros:

    • Least expensive up-front cost
    • Flexible placement


    • Poor installation can lead to excessive air leakage and diminished performance
    • Generally less efficient than central A/C or ductless systems
    • Can be loud and light-blocking
    • Window units cannot be used in rooms with no window
    • Will not last as long (10-12 years) as a central A/C or ductless system
  3. Central air conditioner – A central air conditioner circulates cool air throughout the home using a series of ducts and vents.
  4. Pros:

    • Will provide the most even cooling throughout the home
    • Can be cost-effective if ductwork is already installed
    • Quiet, convenient to operate and more efficient than window units
    • Typically has the longest lifespan of the three cooling system options (can be 15+ years with proper air conditioning maintenance)


    • Expensive to install without existing ductwork
    • If ducts are poorly maintained, they can be a source of air quality problems
  5. Ductless mini-split system – A ductless air conditioner provides zoned cooling without ductwork.
  6. Pros:

    • Highly efficient (typically more efficient than central A/C because no cool air is lost via ductwork leaks)
    • Ability to use multiple air handlers from a single compressor enables efficient zoned operation
    • Quieter than a window air conditioner, with no blocked windows
    • Flexible placement (can be used even in rooms with no windows)
    • Can be an affordable alternative to installing a ducted system
    • Can be used as a supplemental cooling source for home additions
    • Some mini-split systems can provide cooling and heating


    • Can be more expensive than a central A/C in homes that already have ductwork
    • Not practical for single-room use
    • May require more vigilant care /cleaning than a central A/C unit
    • Some may not like the aesthetic of air handlers

Need help deciding which home air conditioning equipment option is right for you? Contact the cooling pros at Walton for a FREE, no obligation home assessment and estimate today!

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