Central () air conditioning offers whole-house or large-commercial-space cooling, and often offers moderate multi-zone temperature control capability by the addition of air-louver-control boxes.
The primary disadvantage of ductless air conditioners is their cost. Such systems cost about US$1,500 to US$2,000 per ton (12,000 BTU per hour) of cooling capacity. This is about 30% more than central systems (not including ductwork) and may cost more than twice as much as window units of similar capacity."
Advantages of the ductless system include smaller size and flexibility for zoning or heating and cooling individual rooms. The inside wall space required is significantly reduced. Also, the compressor and heat exchanger can be located farther away from the inside space, rather than merely on the other side of the same unit as in a PTAC or window air conditioner. Flexible exterior hoses lead from the outside unit to the interior one(s); these are often enclosed with metal to look like common drainpipes from the roof. In addition, ductless systems offer higher efficiency, reaching above 30 SEER.
Split-system air conditioners come in two forms: mini-split and central systems. In both types, the inside-environment (evaporative) is separated by some distance from the outside-environment (condensing unit) heat exchanger.
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