Window air conditioners vs mini-split ductless cooling system – Forbes Advisor

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If you are looking to replace your air conditioning unit (or are looking to add one to a residence without one), you will find that there are a lot of options to consider. Two common choices are a window air conditioner and a ductless mini-split cooling system.

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In this article, we discuss the two options so that you can determine which one is best for your home.

Key differences

Which AC unit is the best?


Window air conditioner
Window air conditioners are typically designed to cool one room at a time, with their cooling capacities measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). If you wanted to cool an entire house using window air conditioners, you would need to purchase and install multiple units.

Mini-split ductless cooling system
Mini-split ductless cooling systems can cool multiple rooms at once, and one handy thing about this system is that you can use it. So if you originally designed your ductless mini-split cooling system to cool a few rooms in your house, and later decide that you want to cool your whole house using the system, you won’t have to. no need to scrap the original work you did and start from scratch. Rather, you can add to it and even cool your entire home using just one system.

Maintenance and care

Window air conditioner
In general, it is advisable to wash the filter screen on your window unit at least once a month. Using a putty knife, you will need to remove the mesh filter and then wash it with the grill using soap and water. If you notice mold on the filter, clean it thoroughly with hydrogen peroxide.

You should also clean the evaporator and condenser coils with a vacuum, ideally with a brush, to get rid of any debris, and use a fin comb to straighten out bent coil fins. Also, be sure to dust the outside of your air conditioner weekly.

Mini-split ductless cooling system
The maintenance protocol for a mini-split is not much different from that for maintaining a standard window unit. Clean the filter once a month, wash the coils as needed and be sure to dust the outside. You will also want to clean the pipes, as they are responsible for the quality of the air distributed in your home.

In addition, most suppliers will suggest that you schedule a professional maintenance check every year.


Window air conditioner
8-10 years

Mini-split ductless cooling system
About 20 years


The cost between window air conditioners and mini-split ductless cooling systems is quite significant, with each window unit costing up to $ 600 and a ductless system costing up to $ 4000 per unit.

  • Window air conditioner: $ 150 to $ 600 per unit, $ 200 to $ 300 for installation
  • Mini-Split Ductless Cooling System: $ 2,000 to $ 4,000 per unit, $ 500 to $ 2,000 for installation


Window air conditioner
It’s fairly straightforward to install an AC window yourself, as long as you take proper precautions like measuring the space in advance and having someone nearby to make sure you don’t hurt yourself (or leave drop the unit out the window).

It’s a fairly straightforward process, but if you’re unsure of your self-installing abilities, it’s not too expensive for most to hire someone to do it.

Mini-split ductless cooling system
Unless you’re a pro, you’ll probably want to outsource this work.

Energetic efficiency

Window air conditioner
The energy efficiency of a window unit will depend heavily on the model you choose.

Mini-split ductless cooling system
It’s a winner, hands down, when it comes to energy efficiency. A standard mini-split will consume 40% less energy than a traditional window air conditioner.

Resale value

Window air conditioning
This can vary greatly depending on the model and age of your AC unit.

Mini-split ductless cooling system
About $ 700

Final result

A window air conditioning unit is the most efficient solution in the short term, given the low initial cost and the relatively easy installation procedure. But if you can afford a mini-split ductless cooling system (with the cost of installing one), this might be a better option for you. It’s more energy efficient, much more durable, arguably better for cooling the home, and can even add value to the price of your home. A ductless mini-split cooling system can improve your quality of life and even save you money in the long run.

The best brands

The following brands are not only popular among consumers according to reviews, but are widely available across the country.

Window air conditioner

Mini-split ductless cooling system

  • Mitsubishi
  • Fujitsu
  • Green crown

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Karl M. Bailey

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