Ducted vs Ductless: What’s Best For You?


If you’ve ever browsed an HVAC blog or website, you’ve probably run into a few terms that may be a bit confusing: specifically, “ducted” and “ductless” systems! But what are the differences in how these two systems work – and what’s the best fit for your home? Let’s check out some pros and cons!


The Ducted System

Unless your system has been replaced in recent years, you’re likely currently using a ducted system. This is your typical system that uses ductwork to send air from one central location throughout your home, heating it uniformly at the temperature you select.

Let’s chat about some pros of the classic ducted system!

First of all, its aesthetic benefits can’t be beat! Unlike the ductless system (which we’ll dive into below), the only visible part of your ducted system are your existing heating vents. A ducted system doesn’t require the installation of any units on the interior walls of your home – out of sight and out of mind!

Additionally, the ducted system uses the structure that homes in our area are likely to have. This means, no big system overhaul!

A ducted system also keeps each room in your home warm (or cool) at a uniform temperature, allowing you to set your schedule and walk away!


Let’s check out some cons of a ducted system:

If you choose to add an air conditioner to your ducted system, you may have to sacrifice a fair amount of space, as the unit is large and works in addition to your existing system. Also, the install for an AC unit can be an investment, depending on your needs and your system!

Another potential drawback to a traditional ducted system is that you don’t get to pick-and-choose which areas of your home receive heat and which don’t. For instance, if your basement remains mostly unused, you don’t have the option to only keep your top level heated. Essentially, whether you’re using it or not, you’re paying for a full house’s worth of heat!

A typical ducted system also don’t allow you to take advantage of variable speed technology – in other words, your system has an “on” mode and an “off” mode, nothing in-between. (We’ll chat more about this below!)

We do want to mention that technically, there are add-ons available for ducted systems that implement variable speed technology, but these are an extra upgrade and therefore, an extra cost.

The Ductless System

The ductless system is more nuanced and customizable than a traditional ducted system. It takes up less space and runs on electricity – but much less than a ducted system, which requires more energy whenever starting up! It’s a popular choice if your family is consistently fighting over your home’s temperature, or if you have different needs for different rooms.

Some pros of a ductless system: 

First of all, let’s talk money! Since ductless systems are so efficient and specific, your operating costs are much lower than most other options out there. Additionally, since ductless systems have no carbon footprint, you’re likely eligible for efficiency and green rebates that can save you some big bucks!

Ductless systems also use smarter technology, like the variable speed we mentioned above! Essentially, your ductless system learns your habits and learns to detect indoor/outdoor temperature, making it smarter and able to make small changes to your indoor temperature. (For more info, and a visual demonstration, check out our YouTube video on variable speed here!)

Since your temperature-controlled air is pumped directly into each room, there’s no loss in efficiency.

Ductless systems allow homeowners to create zones in their home, selecting which rooms to heat and at which temperature to heat them. This also allows you to save money, since you can opt not to heat that unoccupied basement!

Ductless systems are also less invasive to install. The technology is simple and quick, and since the systems themselves are small, you won’t have to rebuild walls or give up square footage to accommodate for big ducts.

And speaking of accommodating for ducts… maybe you’ve experienced flooded, deteriorated or disconnected ducts. No worries for that here! With ductless systems, refrigerant lines connect to each indoor unit with insulated copper piping. No freezing, no collapsing, no damage from insects or rodents. You’re good to go!

But of course, as with everything in life, there are a few cons to keep in mind as well!

Ductless systems use wall-mounted units to pump air directly into each home. If you’re interior-design-minded, having an addition to your home that can’t be modified or covered up could cramp your style a bit.

Additionally, since ductless systems cater specifically to each room, you’ll need a wall unit in every room you want to keep heated (besides ambient heat from other rooms, anyway). So ductless systems might not be the best choice in homes with low insulation, or with many smaller rooms as opposed to an open floor plan.

In conclusion, there are many factors to consider when determining which system is best for your needs, and both ducted and ductless systems work great for different types of homes and budgets! We recommend getting a professional estimate, to ensure that you’re choosing a system that will provide you with optimal heating and cooling for your space.


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