What are the Drawbacks on Ductless Air Conditioners?

Nobody likes to focus on drawbacks or cons of items they either own or are about to buy. For example, I know many people who own iPhones. I don’t hear them complaining! That’s because they love their iPhone. It’s similar to owning a ductless air conditioner. There might be small drawbacks here and there; however, the pros outweigh the cons! They are cons, however. They are:

  • Mini splits require regular maintenance
  • They may not be aesthetically pleasing
  • Potentially large upfront costs

So there you have it. There are three potential drawbacks to either owning or buying a mini split system. Each of the cons, as you’ll soon see, have ways to be mitigated. But there’s no getting around, for example, regularly maintaining a system like a ductless air conditioner. Let’s talk about that one first:

Regular Maintenance is Required

Most major appliances or systems need to be maintained at some point. So it should come as no surprise that the ductless air conditioner needs to be maintained as well. After all, HVAC systems, portable air conditioners, and window air conditioners need to be maintained as well.

People want convenience. I’m not different! If I’m going to spend money on something, especially something that might be pricey, I want to “set it and forget it”. I don’t really want to spend more than money (I’m talking about time) working on a system, especially if I’m not familiar with maintaining such a system.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, however. You don’t necessarily have to maintain your system. You can pay someone else to do it! And by that, I mean a professional, similar to an HVAC technician. If you are unfamiliar with maintaining systems like a ductless air conditioner, it’s probably a good idea to just leave it to the professionals.

I’m not going to talk about how to maintain a ductless mini split system, yet. After all, I have an entire section that will talk about that! So let’s move right into the next con.

Ductless Systems Might Not Look Attractive

What do you like about your home? Do you like everything to have its place? Does everything need to look neat, organized, and aesthetically pleasing? Depending on your room, a ductless mini split may or may not look good in your room. It might not match the overall color scheme. It might be too “blocky”. Or there might be another reason it “doesn’t match” with the rest of the room. I’m talking about the interior unit here. There are also aesthetic concerns relating to the outdoors unit.

Tuckey, a home and commercial services and manufacturing conglomerate, had a few things to say about the aesthetics of ductless air conditioners. They write “the refrigerant and drain lines need to be able to penetrate walls to get outdoors to the outside unit and/or drains. This requires running the pipes, etc. in what is called “slim duct”. This will hide the lines; however, you may have to have the piping on a finished home exposed on the outside (depending on the home and installation). Normally it can be worked around but could be less than pleasing to the eye depending on the specific circumstance. To some, this is a big concern, especially when it comes to the aesthetics of the home (both interior and exterior).”

So there you have it. There are interior and exterior concerns when it comes to the look and feel of the ductless air conditioning system. When holes are drilled, walls are penetrated, pipes are fitted, will it still look good afterward? In a perfect world, the answer is yes, of course. But this isn’t a perfect world. The good thing about the look of the interior unit is that you get to choose which one it is before you buy it (obviously). When you’re shopping, I’m sure you’ll consider aesthetics as you go through your options. And we’ll share some favorite ductless mini split systems later.

Let’s first talk about the third con of buying a ductless air conditioner: upfront cost.

Mini Split Systems can be Expensive at First

The key words here I want you to focus on are “at first”. Remember those. I’ll get back to those soon. But for many people, they might look at the initial cots of buying a ductless air conditioner and take a step back. At that point, they might look into other options such as replacing their HVAC system or researching portable air conditioners.

HGTV, a beloved television channel by many, recently ran an article about the pros and cons of mini split systems. They touched on these air conditioners possibly being pricey. Later, we’ll talk about where you can find some great deals. But first, let’s read what HGTV said. They write “For a single-room solution, ductless units cost several times more than comparable window units or baseboard heating units (thousands of dollars versus hundreds). And in whole-house terms, if you replace your existing central heating/cooling system with a complete ductless solution, you may pay two-to-three times the cost of simply replacing with another ducted unit.”

The thought of “expensive products” can immediately make a person more reserved; however, you can find quality ductless air conditioners and not pay a large amount of money for them. So, how much do mini splits cost? Sure, you can find great ones that cost thousands of dollars. But, as you’ll read more about later, it’s possible to find a very nice ductless air conditioner for under one thousand dollars.

Now, do you recall when I said to remember the words “at first”? In context, it was “mini split systems can be expensive at first”. What did I mean by that? I’ll tell you. Sure, you might pay one or two thousand dollars up front. However, over time, you’ll be saving money. How is this possible? Because you’ll be using less energy by using a ductless system and an HVAC system! The article from HGTV continues “you’ll get lower energy bills in return, but the payback period depends on your climate, your use of the system, and your local electricity rates”. So there are a few different factors at play here.

It’s always a smart idea to think long term. Think about delayed gratification. Sure, the ductless air conditioner is going to cost you money. But, over time, it will save you money on your monthly electric bill. If you own it long enough, it just might pay for itself!

And now, let’s get into some technical things. It’s time to learn about how ductless mini split air conditioners work.


Well, there you have it, folks! I hope that I was able to answer your question and also shed a bit of light on ductless air conditioners in general. If you find yourself wanting to read and learn more about ductless air conditioners then I highly suggest you take the time and read our in-depth buyer’s guide which can be found by clicking here.

Remember though folks, that ductless units aren’t your only option. After reading this article if you find that you are leaning towards an alternative air conditioner such as a portable or window unit consider checking out our best of guides on these. Click here for our best window air conditioner article and click here for our best portable air conditioners. There are many ways to stay cool nowadays, the question is which one will you choose?

If you have any further questions about ductless air conditioners you can contact us. Also, if you want more guides and articles like this, make sure you subscribe to our email list. As always, thanks for reading! And make sure to return in a few days for a new article from RefrigerantHQ.