What are Ductless Air Conditioners?

So, what is a ductless air conditioner? What makes it different from an HVAC system, or a portable air conditioner? Out of the three words, “ductless” is the keyword. To understand what a ductless air conditioner is, you must first know what ducts are and how they function.

PIONEER Ductless Air Conditioner
PIONEER Ductless Air Conditioner

Do you have an HVAC system? If so, you probably have an air duct that snakes throughout your home. These air ducts open each in many rooms in the form of air vents. This is the system that essentially moves air around the home. An HVAC system is not required if you want to live in a temperature-controlled climate. That’s where alternate forms of cooling come into play, such as with a ductless air conditioner.

So say goodbye to ducts. You don’t need them! Ductless air conditioners are commonly called mini split air conditioning systems. This is because the ductless air conditioner is two separate, but connected units. You’ll understand this better when we get to the “how they work” section. For now, know that one of the units is indoors and the other unit is outdoors.

Energy.gov is an extension of the U.S. Department of Energy. They provide information about everything related to energy. With regards to ductless air conditioners, they detail why someone would benefit from owning the system. “Ductless, mini split-system air-conditioners (mini splits) have numerous potential applications in residential, commercial, and institutional buildings. The most common applications are in multifamily housing or as retrofit add-ons to houses with “non-ducted” heating systems, such as hydronic (hot water heat), radiant panels, and space heaters (wood, kerosene, propane). They can also be a good choice for room additions and small apartments, where extending or installing distribution duct work (for a central air-conditioner or heating systems) is not feasible.”

The article continues to talk about the benefits and drawbacks of ductless air conditioners (but we’ll talk about that soon). For now, the important thing to know is what they are and why you would buy one. Extending the home is a perfect example! Let’s say a growing family needs a home with more space. They have two options: move to a new home to make their current home bigger. It’s not uncommon that the homeowner could create an addition to the home. When they do, they’ll be happy with an extra bedroom, a bigger kitchen, or a larger den. There’s only one problem: the new room is not part of the air duct system!

This presents a unique challenge to the homeowner. What happens in the summer on a hot and humid day? The room would be almost unbearable to spend time in. A wall fan isn’t going to do the trick. The homeowner has a few options. They can extend their duct system to the new room. Or they buy a mini split, portable air conditioner, or window air conditioner. Extending the duct system to the new room would probably be the most expensive option. Furthermore, there could be a loss of air strength in other rooms since the HVAC system will be stretched to the additional room. Because this guide is geared towards ductless air conditioners, we are going to focus solely on that option. And let’s be honest folks, if it was me I would go with the ductless as well as I like the idea of saving the money of routing the extra ducts.

Next, we are going to talk about the benefits of ductless air conditioners. And there are many benefits! Let’s take a look at what those might be.


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.

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.