In general, a split AC system will do a better job cooling than a window or portable air conditioner, but a split AC is more expensive than either of those units. On the other hand, the price of split AC units is much lower than central air, especially if you plan to cool only one or two rooms.
So this raises the question, “Should you buy a split AC?”
Split AC – Here are some issues to consider before you make your purchase.
Split AC systems are quite similar to central air conditioners in a number of key ways.
A split AC system has an outside condenser and up to 4 indoor units with blowers. These are generally mounted high on the walls. The units are connected with tubing which circulates the refrigerant. The tubing, along with an electric and drain line, is run through a 3-inch hole hidden behind the indoor unit. Each indoor unit cools the room it’s installed in and has its own remote control.
The major difference between a split AC system and a central air unit is that the split AC doesn’t require ductwork. This makes it easier to add a split system AC to a house that doesn’t already have ducts in place.
It is also possible to use a split AC in more than one room. You simply need to have an air handler mounted in each room where you want the air conditioner.
Some split AC units are designed to have two or more air handlers connected to one compressor unit. Each air handler blower is mounted high on the interior wall of the room or area you want to cool. You can control the units with a remote control. This allows you to cool only one room if you wish. This can save you a ton of money on your energy bills.
Split AC – 3 of the Most Popular Units
The Sanyo Split AC KS-1271 and LG Split AC LS122CE (both cost around $1,000) and the $1,200 Mitsubishi Split AC MS-A12WA were all reviewed.
All three rated very well for cooling. Moreover, all three were very quiet and, in fact, were barely audible on the lowest setting.
Each of these three split systems is a 12000 BTU air conditioner. These are big enough to cool a room sized 450-500 square feet. The Sanyo has the best energy efficiency.
All of these split AC systems have a single indoor unit and on outdoor one. All three did an outstanding job in cooling the rooms. Also, all of these AC split systems were quiet. In fact, all three were much quieter than any other window air conditioner we tested. Additionally, the Sanyo and Mitsubishi models handled brownouts easily.
The Mitsubishi model can be purchased here.
So here’s the bottom line. A split AC is pricier than a window air conditioner. You will also have to pay for a professional installation. On the other hand, a split system AC is a great way to cool rooms in your house without tearing down walls to install ducts. For a central air system, ducts are required.
Finally, qualified split AC systems can get you a federal tax credit of 30 percent, up to $1,500, on parts and labor. This can help defray the costs of the unit and the installation. Also, remember that if your home is large, you might need more than one condenser. This, too, will add to the cost.