Heating & Cooling Systems That Don’t Require Any Ductwork

by Pacific Heating
3/9/2018 - Tacoma, WA


Heating & Cooling Systems That Don’t Require Any DuctworkIf you don’t have an existing duct system or are renovating your home, you may want to consider going duct-free. There are several ductless options available to you, some better than others.

Let’s start with the most common and effective ductless option: ductless mini-split heat pumps.

Ductless Mini-Splits

Ductless HVAC systems, also known as ductless mini-split heat pumps) are a beautiful and efficient way to heat and cool indoor spaces.

Ductless Mini-Split Advantages


Zoned Heating & Cooling

The main advantage of ductless mini-split heat pumps is the ability to create different HVAC zones. One heat pump can be used to provide heating and cooling to multiple different indoor units. With ductless units, you won’t have to heat or cool any rooms that you aren’t using. Ductless mini-splits will also help solve thermostat disputes within the home since each unit operates independently. For instance, you can have one temperature for the bedrooms and a different one for the kitchen.

Each individual unit that you install in your home is controlled by their own individual thermostat. This way, you can save a lot of money and energy by only calling for cold or warm air in the rooms in which you are enjoying.

Garages, Add-Ons, and Renovations

Another main advantage of ductless mini-splits is their easy installation in areas that don’t utilize air ducts, such as garages and add-ons. Also, if you have a “man cave” or room where you like to smoke cigars, a ductless system is ideal since it won’t carry any smoke throughout the rest of the home.

Unlike window units, a ductless mini-split unit doesn’t need as large of an opening. To install a mini-split system, all you need is a small hole in the wall that carries the refrigerant lines and other important components. Since they are usually installed high on a wall or in a ceiling, they are out of the way, and less visible and audible.

Your ductless mini-split unit will be designed according to the new space and won’t contaminate or interact with any air from other rooms.

Energy Efficiency

In addition to the ability to create different heating and cooling zones in the home, ductless mini-split units also save you money by eliminating all fo the energy losses associated with ductwork.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical duct system loses around 20-30% of its conditioned air to holes and gaps in the ductwork. If you have HVAC systems or ductwork located in unconditioned areas of the home, you could be losing a lot more money and energy due to duct leaks.

A ductless mini-split system will save you energy and money by simply not using any air ducts.

If you don’t want to switch to a ductless system but are concerned about leaks in your ductwork, contact your local HVAC company for professional air duct sealing.

Learn more benefits of ductless mini-split systems here.

Ductless Mini-Split Disadvantages

Despite all of the advantages of ductless mini-split systems, there are still some reasons why you may not want to invest in this piece of HVAC equipment.

Higher Upfront Cost

Due to installation complications, you can expect to pay more upfront costs when installing a ductless mini-slit system.

If, however, you are have a building with no existing ductwork, it’s less expensive to install ductless units than adding a new ductwork system.

Colder Climates Need Supplemental Heat

If you live in a climate that frequently experiences below-freezing temperatures, you will want to consider a fuel-based backup. Since ductless mini-splits rely on heat pump technology, they aren’t as efficient as fuel-based systems during extreme cold.

While ductless heat pumps can still provide greater comfort and energy savings for those living in colder climates, it’s important to speak with a professional about hybrid heating options. Keep in mind that this will add to your upfront and maintenance costs.

Professional Installation Required

Unlike window units, space heaters, and other “ductless” systems, a ductless mini-split system always requires professional maintenance. Not all HVAC companies are qualified and experienced to install ductless units.

If you hire the wrong company, you could risk voiding the warranty and improper operation. Ductless units must be sized and installed properly to provide the associated energy savings and comfort.

Do your homework before hiring a professional HVAC company. Learn how to vet HVAC companies here.

Keep in mind that the job will take at least 3-7 hours, and sometimes more depending on how many indoor units you need. Tricky renovations and installations can extend waiting times up to a week.

Overall, while the upfront costs are high, the benefits and long-term energy savings usually outweigh the disadvantages. Contact Pacific Heating & Cooling if you have any questions about ductless mini-split heat pumps.

Window Air Conditioners

Window air conditioner units are typically installed in a window, but they can also be installed into a custom hole in the wall. Half of the unit is inside while the other half is outside.

They work like a typical air-source heat pump, using refrigerant to send hot air outside, turning warm air into cold.

Since window units are so small, they can only cool one room or small area at a time. If you try to condition the whole building with window units, you will end up spending a lot more money on your air conditioning bills.

Window Air Conditioner Advantages


Cheap Upfront Costs 

You can pick up a window air conditioner for less than $300 and can install it yourself. Window units get plugged into any 15 or 20-amp outlet, making them extremely easy to set-up.

If you are installing a window unit, make sure there at least one other person to help you. It can be dangerous and cumbersome to install yourself.

Also, keep in mind that you will want to remove all window units in the fall/winter to prevent damage and reduce window air leaks.

Through-the-wall units require professional installation, which raises the installation costs considerably.

Small Size

While window units can be unsightly from both the inside and outside, they don’t take up any floor space and generally remain out of the way. The window unit drains water and vents through the back of the unit, eliminating any extra parts.

Energy Efficiency

Window units can be an energy-efficient cooling option for small spaces. Since they don’t use any ducts, you won’t have to worry about duct leaks and inefficiencies. For the best energy-efficiency, look for the Energy Star label.

While window units can be extremely energy-efficient in small spaces, larger spaces will experience greater savings with a central A/C system.

Window Air Conditioner Disadvantages


Security Vulnerability

Window air conditioner units, especially on the first floor, can pose a security risk. Window A/Cs are extremely easy to remove from the outside. With the unit removed, someone could easily enter your home through the open window.


Being in the same room as a running window unit can be loud and uncomfortable. The more window units, the bigger your noise problem. Window A/C units are particularly loud when they are going through their dehumidification cycle.

Window Problems

When you install a window unit, you are basically forfeiting any use of that window. Not only can you not open or close the window, window A/Cs also reduce natural light into the home and visibility out of the home.


It would be hard to find someone who actually likes the look of window air conditioner units. In addition to the unit itself, condensate can drip from the unit and cause staining on the walls and ground below.

Additionally, many homeowner associations have strict bans on window units to keep up the appealing look of their neighborhood.

Luckily, if you want full use of all of your window and don’t like the look of a large block of metal hanging out of your window, there are plenty of other air conditioning options.


It can be hard to effectively cool and condition a space with window air conditioners.


Remember the scene in Seinfeld where Kramer slams the door and causes the air conditioner to fall out and kill the neighbor’s dog? As ridiculous as it sounds, window units have been known to fall out of the window and harm, or even kill, people (and pets).

Indoor Air Contaminants and Humidity Levels

Window air conditioners are not very effective at removing indoor air contaminants or humidity from the air. If you suffer from poor indoor air quality and moisture problems in the home, a central air system is best.

In conclusion, window air conditioner unites can be a useful and energy-efficient ductless alternative, but there are many disadvantages to keep in mind. Before making a decision on window air conditioning, contact a professional heating and air conditioning contractor for more information on your options.

Compare the pros and cons of central air conditioner compared with window units.

Portable Air Conditioners

Portable air conditioning units are similar to window air conditioners, but instead of being installed into the window itself, a special adapter kit is used to vent the warm air outside.

Some options are available that allow you to vent warm air out of the fireplace or through a hole in the wall.

Portable air conditioners share many of similar advantages with window units, but the main difference is that they can be easily moved from room to room. Portable A/C units can help you save money and energy while offering the convenience of portability. Still, there are plenty of disadvantages to keep in mind.

Portable air conditioners cost more than window air conditioners and will probably cost you more to operate. Unlike window units, portable air conditioners do take up floor space and can be quite cumbersome and unattractive.

Ductless Heating Options 

The three main options for heating without ductwork are:

  • Radiant Heating – can run on a number of different fuel sources, including electricity, boilers, solar energy, and wood heating.
  • Solar Heating – uses the sun to heat up either air or water, usually reserved as supplemental heat only.
  • Baseboard Heating – uses electric resistance heating, which may be the most expensive way to heat a home.
  • Space Heater – while less efficient than other heating options, they can potentially save you money when used properly.

If you are interested in ductless heating and cooling options for your home, don’t hesitate to contact Pacific Heating & Cooling: (253) 292-3995.

Our highly trained technicians are experts when it comes to ductless mini-split systems. Enjoy zone-controlled comfort and greater energy efficiency with a new ductless HVAC system from Pacific!

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