Is It Possible to Install AC in My Home Without Ducts?

Air Ducts in Anaheim, CA

Whether you’ve just purchased a historic house or you’ve just decided that you’d like some relief from the summer heat, you need to know your AC options. Unfortunately, your home’s heating system isn’t equipped with ducts, and you need to know if it’s possible to efficiently cool your home. Discover if it’s possible to install air conditioning in your home without ducts and what options are available.

Considerations for Cooling Your Home

The quick and simple answer is yes, it’s possible to install an air conditioner in your home without ducts. You have several options, including installing ducts. However, before we get to those options, you have to consider some things when deciding how to cool your home.

At first glance, you must be able to do two things to air condition any given space. First, you must draw in warm air, and then cool it, and then push it back out. The common forced-air central AC uses ductwork to achieve both of these. If you’re using a different method, you have to think through how much air the unit will move through in any given hour. This is actually part of the equation of system size and how it achieves its capacity rating.

Next, consider how you’re going to distribute that cooler air throughout your entire home. In a central system, the vents create a difference in air pressure at the supply-and-return vents, which causes the air to circulate. So, if you don’t have ducts to create that circulation, you’ll have to explore other methods to evenly distribute your cool air to prevent hot and cold areas around your home.

Use of Window and Portable Air Conditioners

The easiest and probably most commonly thought of option is the use of smaller systems that you can install yourself. This includes the common window-mounted air-conditioning unit or the newer portable floor-model air conditioners. In either case, these are designed for a single room, not for cooling your entire house.

This means that if you want to cool your entire home, you’ll have to purchase several units to install in different rooms. You’ll need to consider the specific needs of each room and get a unit that’s properly suited to cool that particular space.

Unfortunately, there are several drawbacks to this approach. First, you now have several full units that need maintenance and repair. A full unit means that each one has its own compressor plus coils and fan. The compressor has the largest electrical draw of an air conditioner, leaving you drawing a tremendous amount of power with multiple units. This also means you’ll have to consider where to set up the units while avoiding installing multiple smaller air conditioners on the same circuit.

Additionally, these units don’t typically move a large enough air volume to effectively circulate the cool air around a larger space. This means you’ll also need fans to move air around larger rooms and to help cool places like a bathroom and hallways.

Using a Ductless Mini-Split System

A better option is using the more modern ductless mini-split system. Like the units previously mentioned, this system uses several air-handling units installed throughout your home. However, they have one key difference: They collectively use a single condensing unit outside, which means only one compressor. These units also have the capability of circulating a larger volume of air than the smaller, packaged units, so collectively they can effectively cool your home.

Rather than taking up space on your floor or having to install them at a window, they are mounted to an exterior wall. The refrigerant line then runs through the wall and then down the exterior to the single outside condensing unit. If you don’t have ducts already installed, this style of air conditioner is much more cost-effective than trying to install ducts and the traditional central AC.

The ductless mini-split system also offers several benefits a central air conditioner doesn’t. First, it naturally creates zones in your home, with each air-handling unit having its own thermostat. This allows you to vary the temperature in some parts of your house if desired. Second, not every air handler would run at the same time, making the system more efficient than a single-zone central AC.

Finally, ductless mini-split systems are also heat-pump units, meaning they offer heating in the winter. This provides a highly efficient form of heating and cooling your home, with only a single condensing unit to maintain and repair.

People around Anaheim have trusted Alps Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. to provide the right AC solutions to keep their homes cool since 1979. Our NATE-certified technicians provide heating and air conditioning installation, maintenance and repair alongside indoor air quality solutions. Call to schedule your consultation with one of our award-winning technicians to discuss the right AC solution for you.