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When considering alternatives to standard AC systems, Boston homeowners are faced with a choice between ductless window units and ductless mini-splits. Both are designed to keep your home cool and comfortable without the need for expensive and complicated ductwork, but there are some important differences to consider when choosing between the two. Although window units have been the conventional choice for decades, mini-splits are quickly becoming a favorite among homeowners.

The Advantages of Window Units


Price is one of the first things people think about when searching for new HVAC systems. No matter what kind of unit you go with, it’s still a considerable investment. Within that context, however, windows AC units are more affordable than their mini-split counterparts. They generally cost around $250, according to Home Advisor, while ductless mini-splits can cost around $3,000. Don’t stop your search there, though. Initial cost isn’t the only expense to factor into your decision.

Ease of Installation

Window units and mini-splits are well-known for their compactness compared to centralized systems, but window units excel in this category. With a self-contained condenser, window AC systems don’t have any additional unit or appliance. Once situated in your window and plugged into an outlet, there aren’t any extra installation requirements. It’s a quick DIY job that anybody with some minor handyman experience can handle without any issues.

The Downsides of Window Units


You shouldn’t have to suffer through constant whirring, hissing, and rumbling noises to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Unfortunately, window units don’t generally offer a break from these common HVAC sounds. They might beat centralized, ducted systems, but they still lose out to mini-splits.

Security Issues

Because of their precarious positioning, window units can expose your home to security threats. They provide burglars and other criminals with an easier access point to your home than would otherwise be available. Of course, there are countermeasures available, but mini-split alternatives don’t leave this vulnerability.


There’s no point in denying it. Window units are ugly. They’re boxy, clunky, and awkwardly protruding from windows. Even if you’re able to hide the unit away in a side or backyard-facing windows, you’ll still have to deal with the unpleasant sight from inside.

The Advantages of Mini-Splits


All ductless HVAC systems give homeowners a greater level of flexibility when compared to centralized systems, but mini-splits take this to a whole other level through a process known as zoned heating and cooling. Mini-splits give homeowners temperature control in individual rooms using multiple handling units. To achieve the same level of flexibility with window units, you’d have to install one in each room which isn’t even possible in rooms without windows.

Quiet Operation

Another favorable advantage of ductless mini-splits is their whisper-quite operation. While windows units are known for rattling and hissing, mini-splits are nearly noiseless. The outdoor compressor, where most of the noises originate, is located outside with mini-split systems unlike window units that have them built in. This means better sleep at night and improved concentration during the day.


Air conditioning accounts for over 6% of the average homeowner’s total energy consumption. Any bit Boston homeowners can save on AC expenses automatically reduces their monthly energy costs. Due to their highly efficient design, mini-splits tend to expend less energy for their cooling effects than window units. This improved energy efficiency ends up saving Boston homeowners in the long run even though mini-splits cost more upfront.

The Downsides of Mini-Splits


Installing ductless mini-splits is considerably cheaper and quicker than dealing with ductwork. However, the process is more involved than with window units. It requires the work of qualified and trained technicians, but Boston homeowners have the advantage of knowing their units are installed professionally for optimum performance.

Upfront Cost

The initial cost of ductless mini-splits is higher than that of window units. The operative word here is initial since mini-splits are more cost-effective in the long run. The money Boston homeowners save through improved energy efficiency adds up over time and ends up making mini-splits more affordable than window units overall. So, don’t let the upfront price deter you from this more economical option.

The Bottom Line: Mini-Splits Are Superior AC Alternatives.

Whether you need to supplement your centralized AC system or switch over to ductless alternatives completely, mini-splits are the superior choice. Mini-splits have quickly become the favored ductless HVAC systems due to their improved energy-efficiency, whisper-quite operation, advanced flexibility, and higher-quality operation overall. The only setbacks of higher upfront cost and installation time are easily compensated for with long-term savings and working with an experienced ductless HVAC provider.

Ready to switch over from centralized HVAC systems to a ductless mini-split alternative? The experts at New England Ductless can help! We specialize in helping homeowners make the most of these energy-efficient and cost-effective ductless systems. Schedule an appointment with a mini-split specialist to get the inspection, repair, or installation service you need.

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