I'm trying to replace two central Air conditioners (one per each floor. 2-3 ton each) in my home and I'm not sure if I should go with Ductless (because of a much lower cost) or pay higher and replace the central air conditioners.

The current Air conditioners are about 20 years old. I had a HVAC guy come in. He said that the current ones are of high quality. Why replace them? He acknowledged that the old refrigerant has been banned but that still doesn't warrant replacing both the units. The problem I have with my current units is that the electricity bill goes to around $500 during peak summer.

Replacing central air would would be around $6000 for parts (2x Air conditioners) and another $6000 for labor, so I'm looking at $12k.

If I install 2x ductless in the lower level of the home, the cost would be around $2000 total (DIY + hire hvac for final inspection). I have about 1500 sqft in the main area and four 10x12 rooms upstairs.

Central air

  1. Ducts are already installed, so we would be taking advantage of that. No additional holes/changes to be made to the structure of the home
  2. Expensive

Split air

  1. Inexpensive
  2. Have to install 2 systems in the main area and window units in each room upstairs. Look of the home is affected
  3. Need to make additional holes to install the (cold) unit inside the home

What do you guys think?

  • 1
    First what had been banned? I can still get R22 on line. Even r12 if you have deep pockets, it can no longer be imported but the supplies that are here are still legal. I would want to compare systems and monthly costs, new is more efficient but 5 tons is a lot of cooling , if your systems still work let’s say you save 100$ how many years to pay the new systems off? About the time they die new stuff doesn’t last as long. – Ed Beal Jun 11 at 19:52
  • 1
    Concerning terminology, your current "central" system is a split. Split refers to the separation of the evaporator cooling coils from the condenser/compressor unit in contrast to their proximity in a window unit or through-the-wall unit. The ductless are often called mini-split. – Jim Stewart Jun 11 at 23:37

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