Should You Choose a Ductless Mini Split or Window Unit Air Conditioner?

Should You Choose a Ductless Mini Split or Window Unit Air Conditioner?

Here, we’re going to compare the old standby – the window air conditioning unit – with a newer cooling system called the ductless mini-split cooling system – aka the mini-split. While each system has its advantages and disadvantages, the mini-split is a considerably better choice for most in terms of efficiency, utility bills, actual cooling, view obstruction, and a host of other concerns.

Window Unit Air Conditioner

The window a/c is practically an American standard; in fact, even most of the brand names for them are familiar brands to many Americans, such as LG, Kenmore, and Frigidaire.

Advantages of Window A/C

The window a/c has its advantages: it’s easy to install and most people can often even install them on their own, it effectively cools the whole room, and it’s cheap to purchase. If you’re moving a lot, installing and uninstalling and reinstalling a window a/c makes sense. Unfortunately, this is about the only time when purchasing one makes sense; if you have the option to purchase a mini-split and you don’t move around much, it makes sense to go with one.

Disadvantages of Window A/C

That’s because window a/c units are notoriously loud, extremely inefficient, aesthetically displeasing, and they can actually increase your utility costs over the course of the cooling season. They leave you a potential victim to burglars (if you can install and uninstall it pretty easily, so can criminals) and they gobble up the view when they take up the majority of a window. When there was no viable alternative to central air, they made sense for many who couldn’t afford to have central air installed.

Ductless Mini-Split

Mini splits -ductless mini-split cooling systems- are highly efficient, lower utility bills during the cooling season (when many see theirs soar), operate quietly, and can be expanded upon. Up to four interior units can run on one exterior condenser coil, so the system can be made larger and larger as necessary to accommodate large American homes without knocking out all available windows. They are virtually noiseless, and they are ductless. Because they are ductless, there’s also no reason to carve out the interior walls of your home to try to fit ductwork in or, if you’ve been told that you can’t run ductwork or install central a/c in your home for any reason, mini- splits are a much smarter, more efficient, and safer alternative to window a/c. Mini-splits offer a considerably more effective cooling system.

How to Decide Between Ductless Mini Split and Window Unit Air Conditioners

It might seem like a simple choice already: you want the mini-split, right? Well, just like the window a/c, the mini-splits come with a few disadvantages, too.

Advantages of Mini-Splits

One point about the cost, however, is that over time, this system will pay for itself both in efficiency and in utility bills. Instead of seeing an upswing in your utilities due to running a window a/c or more than one for the summer, you’ll see them drop, because it costs a lot less over the cooling season to run a mini-split versus a window a/c. Mini-splits aren’t the gobblers of electricity that window a/c units are, so they simply don’t cost as much. In fact, they use about 40% less energy than a window unit does. And since the system, once installed, is easy to expand upon, you can soon be running your whole home on a mini-split system, whereas only rooms with accessible windows can be kept cool with a window a/c.

Disadvantages of Mini-Splits

Mini-splits are much more expensive than window a/c units: window a/c units tend to run about $150-$600, while mini-splits are more in the $2000-$4000 range per unit. They also need professional installation by HVAC technicians who know their way around these systems, whereas most people can install their own window a/c, and if you do need to hire a professional for a window a/c installation, it usually runs no more than $300. For a mini-split, expect to pay about $4000 per unit for installation. Mini-splits can’t be easily uninstalled and reinstalled like window a/c units, either, so window a/c really is a better option if you move around a lot.

That, however, is the end of the disadvantages when it comes to mini-splits. If you can’t afford this system, including installation charges, it may not be for you.

Ductless Mini Split or Window Unit AC: An Overview

Sometimes, it can be helpful to look at the two systems in an easy graphic format, to compare and contrast them side by side, especially when weighing the pros and cons of each. This table may help simplify the comparison and better understand the differences between the mini-split system and the window air conditioning system:

Ductless Mini-Split Cooling System

Window Air Conditioner


  • Cools individual rooms well

  • Can be expanded - up to four units on one condenser - to cool up to the entire home

  • Similar cleaning protocol: filter, condenser coils, evaporator

  • Lifespan: 20 years

  • Higher efficiency

  • Long-term advantages are stronger: up to 40% lower utility bills and longevity of system make it an easy choice for any who can afford it

  • Attractive units that don’t obstruct the view from the window

  • Cools individual rooms well

  • Similar cleaning protocol: filter, condenser coils, evaporator

  • Lower cost (about $150-$600 per unit)

  • Easy to install, often DIY

  • Flexibility for people who move often: can easily uninstall and take with you

Ductless Mini-Split Cooling System

Window Air Conditioner


  • Significantly higher cost (about $2,000 - $4,000 per unit)

  • Unless you’re a professional yourself, you’ll want to call one in, need to be installed by qualified techs

  • Installation is more expensive than window a/c units

  • Doesn’t effectively cool more than one room

  • Lifespan: 8-10 years

  • Lower efficiency, depends largely on which one you choose

  • Noisy

  • Lack of security - burglar can easily break in by removing the unit

  • Unattractive, bulky

Discover the Benefits of a Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner

The HVAC professionals at LEGACY have you covered in terms of choosing the right mini-split system for you and installing it into your home. Our technicians have the experience and expertise to ensure a smooth and seamless installation of your mini-split, and we’ll be happy to discuss alternatives with you, as well as help you determine the best option for your home. We always want to take the best care of our customers; our dedication to your health and happiness is second to none. We hope to hear from you soon!





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