If you’re building a new home or renovating an old one, you have a nearly endless number of choices in front of you. What kind of furniture do you want in each room? What color scheme do you want for the paint? What kind of appliances do you need in the kitchen? It can be tiring, but making a home your own is rewarding in a way that few other things are.
One of the less exciting, but most important, choices you’ll make is what kind of HVAC system to put in the house. As your HVAC experts in Vancouver, WA, we may not be able to advise you on which table set really ties the dining room together, but we can certainly make sure your home cooling and heating fits your needs. You might feel a bit overwhelmed by all the options out there, so let us walk you through the basics and help you make your choice. Here’s a bit on the two main kinds of HVAC systems you’ll see and some information on how they relate to you.
Ductwork vs. Ductless: What’s the Difference?
Most people looking to install a new HVAC system in Vancouver, WA, will be faced with the choice of whether they want a system with ductwork or one without. The basic difference is in the name, but it’s worth understanding the finer points.
A system with ductwork circulates and distributes heated and cooled air throughout the house through a system of ducts. If you’ve ever seen a movie where an action hero army crawls through a cramped vent system made of sheet metal, you’ve seen a much more glamorized version of ductwork. While we can’t endorse or suggest you use the ductwork in your home to sneak around undetected, we can say that ducts are a tried-and-true method of controlling the climate in your home. The ductwork is attached to both your furnace and your air conditioner, transporting heated or cooled air to each room as needed.
A ductless system, as the name implies, is an HVAC system that doesn’t utilize built-in ductwork. Instead, it utilizes smaller air handler boxes to individually control the climate in each room. These boxes are capable of producing heated or cooled air and circulating the air as needed, instead of drawing it from a unit attached through ductwork. This is still different than, say, having a window air-conditioning unit or space heater in your room, as the boxes still lead back to a central source of refrigerant and power.
Ductwork: The Pros
Ductwork HVAC systems have been around for ages, and it’s easy to understand why. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, they are the least obtrusive method to control your home’s climate. There’s no need for huge radiators or standalone air conditioning units. All the air you need is delivered through the vents built right into the walls. They’re also much cheaper to maintain, as there are fewer complicated parts. Instead of having multiple heating or cooling implements throughout your house, you only have to worry about the one central unit connected to the ducts.
As long as you make sure it gets cleaning and maintenance from time to time, and if the ducts are sealed to prevent air leakage, you’ll be able to keep your costs low. Finally, systems with ductwork are much better at controlling humidity and airflow. By circulating the air in your home through one central system, they’re able to remove excess moisture and prevent rooms from becoming stagnant.
Ductwork: The Cons
The main problem you’ll find with a ductwork system is that if you don’t already have one, it can be a real challenge to install. Many people looking for new HVAC in Vancouver, WA, are buying homes with existing ductwork or building from the ground up, which circumvents this problem. If you’re replacing a system in a home with existing ductwork, then installing a new one is as simple as hooking it up to the house. If you’re building something from the ground up, you might as well include the ducts.
However, installing a ductwork system in an older house without existing ducts can quickly become very costly. At best, you’re looking at a new home renovation project. At worst, you might find your house unsuitable for ductwork of any kind.
Ductless: The Pros
One of the big benefits you’ll see with a ductless system is flexibility, both in its installation and its use. There are some beautiful old homes in need of an HVAC update in Vancouver, WA, and sometimes it’s just not feasible to undergo major renovations. With a ductless system, you can install a reliable system without having to commit to a huge construction project that might damage the house.
Once it’s installed, you’ll also have a lot more freedom to individually change the temperature of each area of your home. Since a ductless system utilizes an individual air handler box in each room, you’ll be able to adjust each one separately. Without having to rely on centrally circulated air, everyone in your home can have their room just the way they like it. That individual control can also help you save on your power bill in the winter and summer, as you can avoid overly heating or cooling rooms that don’t see much use.
And if dust or allergies are a concern for you or anyone in your home, you’re in luck! With a ductless system, you won’t have to worry about dust or allergens being blown about into other rooms.
Ductless: The Cons
Ductless systems can end up being quite expensive. While installing a new ductless system can be cheaper than tearing open your walls to put in brand new ductwork, the systems can still be pretty costly. Additionally, you’ll see higher maintenance costs in the long run. Each air handler box is its own discrete device, and as such, each will need individual maintenance and monthly cleaning.
Costs aside, a ductless system isn’t always the most effective HVAC choice for a home. Due to the fact that each air handler box has to regulate the temperature of an entire room, they’re most effective in smaller spaces. With larger open rooms, a single box might not cut it.
What’s the Verdict?
In the end, there’s no clear-cut answer as to whether to go with a ductwork or ductless system. Only you’ll be able to determine what makes sense for your home, but Entek would be happy to help. We’ve been working with HVAC in Vancouver, WA, for long enough to know what people in our area need. If you think you’re ready to move forward, or just want to walk through your options, feel free to get in touch. We’re here to make your choice as easy as can be.