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Central Air vs. Ductless: BEST Heating System for My Home?

It's mid-Fall and temperatures are beginning their overall decline into the freezing temperatures. Early mornings call for turning the heater on after their summertime hiatus, which some of us may find ourselves in the spot of considering a new heating system.

Whether you're looking to replace your furnace or boiler or potentially switch to ductless, we're here to help make your decision a bit easier.

Before jumping into our comparison, I want to mention that the #1 way to reach a decision would be to make an appointment with a professional home HVAC company to examine the layout of your home and propose the best options specific to your home!

If you're in Fairfield County, CT, the team at Service Stars can do just that for you with a complimentary consultation in your home. Otherwise, we highly recommend doing your research on reputable and trustworthy HVAC companies for your area.

Now that that's out of the way, let's begin.

Is it Time for a Replacement?

Depending on the age of your home, you may have a relatively new heating system installed or potentially have one on its last legs. Here's some noteworthy average lifespans to keep in mind with the age of your home:

  • Lifespan of a Furnace - 15-20 years
  • Lifespan of a Boiler - 10-15 years
  • Lifespan of a Heat Pump - 10-15 years
  • Lifespan of a Ductless Mini-Split - 20~ years

If your heating system is aged near the end of its respective lifespan, it's worth consideration for a replacement.

With ductless mini-splits being relatively new and having technology advancements, their reliability has been increasing. As a result, their life expectancies are generally longer than traditional heating systems.

So What Are The Differences?

There's quite a bit of them, but we'll start with what most homeowners care about first:

Heating Efficiency - How Well Does It Heat?

Traditional central air options like furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps all rely on fuel to burn to create their heat; typically gas or oil for Northeastern homes. There's no doubt these units get hot enough to warm up your home!

Electric versions of these units exist for areas that seldom need heat, but they're relatively inefficient and expensive to operate in colder regions.

With ductless mini-split systems, they run on electricity instead of gas or oil. If you've read this far in and haven't realized yet, ductless units can in fact heat well!

They're usually seen as wall-mounted air-conditioners for the hot summers, but since they are technically heat pumps, they can be utilized for efficient heating.

Contrary to electric central air options, ductless units are efficient enough using electricity to heat that it's actually comparable to the heat output from furnaces and boilers!

There are options available in central air and ductless units to heat homes of all shapes and sizes, so it's safe to say both are great options for keeping your home cozy and warm.


Depending on the size and infrastructure of your home, one option will be more favorable.

Homes with already existing ductwork have a big advantage in sticking with their central air options. Larger and older homes tend to find themselves in this scenario.

Meanwhile, homes lacking the space to place ductwork will benefit the most from the flexibility of ductless units. These units do well being installed in spots of the home where central air would be too expensive or impractical.

However, there will be specific homeowners that will find themselves at a crossroad with their options. Their home's layout could technically work either way they choose.

In cases like this, it'd be smart to get a consultation from a professional to aid in decision making!

Costs of Install & Operation

In regards to the costs of installation between the systems, Energy.gov mentions that ductless units can cost "about 30% more than central systems (not including ductwork) and may cost twice as much as window units of similar capacity."

With how compact and efficient ductless units are, they do have a premium upfront. However, the savings made in efficiency can close the gap in costs versus central air if installed correctly.

Homeowners in the market should also consider the costs of fuel in the area for the central air options vs. the added costs to the electricity bill for ductless options.

Additional Benefits

Aside from costs and heat efficiency, central air and ductless both have their unique properties that set them apart.

For central air units, options for air filters are available to help clean the air circulating in the home. This is a huge plus for homeowners with pets, children, and anyone who has seasonal allergies.

Because of the nature of central air infrastructure, the systems can also keep the entire home at a consistent equal temperature.

For ductless units, an advantage they have is much lower noise levels. Compared to a central air system kicking on, a ductless wall-mounted is nearly silent. 

As mentioned earlier, the compact size of ductless units are also a major advantage. As long as there space on the wall for the unit to mount, it's almost limitless as to where you can install these systems.

So What's the Best Heating System for My Home?

It's unfortunately not an easy clear-cut answer to make here. With how every home is unique, we could only advise once again to get an appointment with a professional HVAC company to consult with. The small details of a home matter just as much as the large ones, like how many windows and doors are in each room.

We hope that the info provided did help inform readers who are on the fence to make the decision at least a bit easier!

If you're in the Fairfield County area of Connecticut and are looking into heating options for your home, the technicians at Service Stars can help you out! Just give us a call at (203)-796-5555.

We hope this week's blog post was of some sort of value to homeowners doing their research and/or are in the market for heating systems. We'll see you next time!







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