What is a Split Air Conditioning System?

A split air conditioning system is an effective way to cool your home, offering several advantages over traditional window ACs and central air systems. But what exactly is a split air conditioning system, and how does it work?

Let’s delve into the intricacies of this popular cooling solution, as well as its pros, cons, and the costs involved.

What is a Split Air Conditioning System?

A split air conditioning system, also known as a ductless mini-split system, comprises two main components: an outdoor compressor and one or more indoor air handlers.

These components are connected by copper tubing that carries refrigerant between them. Unlike traditional central air systems, mini-splits do not require ductwork, making them an energy-efficient choice for homes without existing ducts.

How Does a Split Air Conditioner Work?

In a split system air conditioner, the outdoor compressor converts refrigerant from a gas to a liquid state, releasing heat in the process.

This cooled refrigerant then travels via the copper tubing to the indoor units, where it absorbs heat from the indoor air.

The refrigerant then returns to the outdoor unit to release this absorbed heat, starting the cycle anew. This process effectively cools the indoor air, making your living space comfortable.

What are the Different Types of Split System Air Conditioners?

There are several types of split system air conditioners, the most common of which is the mini-split system. These are ideal for cooling individual rooms or small spaces. For larger spaces, multi-zone systems can be employed, connecting multiple indoor units to a single outdoor unit.

A more complex option is the central split system, which is a hybrid system using ductwork to cool the entire house. However, they still provide the flexibility and energy savings of individual room control.

What Climate is Best for a Split AC System?

Split AC systems are suitable for a variety of climates, but they perform exceptionally well in areas with hot summers and mild winters. They can also be combined with heat pumps for added heating capabilities in colder climates.

What are the Advantages of a Split AC System?

Split AC systems offer several advantages:

  1. Energy Efficiency: Due to the lack of ducts, energy losses associated with ductwork are eliminated, leading to significant energy savings and reduced energy bills.
  2. Flexibility: You can control the temperature of individual rooms, ensuring comfort and further energy savings.
  3. Quiet Operation: As the noisy compressor is located outside, split AC systems operate much quieter than window ACs.

What are the Downsides of a Split AC System?

Despite their advantages, split AC systems have some downsides:

  1. Higher Initial Cost: While they can save money in the long run, split systems can have higher upfront costs than traditional air conditioners due to the need for professional installation.
  2. Requires Professional Installation: Unlike window units, split systems must be installed by a professional, adding to the initial costs.
  3. Aesthetics: Some people might not like the appearance of indoor units on their walls.

What is the Difference Between an Inverter AC and Split AC?

While the terms “Inverter AC” and “Split AC” are sometimes used interchangeably, they refer to different aspects of air conditioning technology. Inverter AC refers to the technology that controls the speed of the compressor motor to regulate the temperature continuously. This technology can be found in both split systems and central air systems.

What is a Hybrid Split System AC?

A hybrid split system AC, like a standard split system, consists of an outdoor unit and one or more indoor units. However, it also incorporates a heat pump, allowing it to provide both heating and cooling. This versatility makes it an excellent choice for climates with hot summers and cold winters.

How Much Does an HVAC Split System Cost?

The cost of a split system air conditioner varies depending on factors like the brand, the number of indoor units, and the system’s capacity. On average, including installation, a single-zone mini-split system can range from $1,500 to $9,000.


Split air conditioning systems offer a highly efficient, flexible, and quiet solution for cooling homes.

They are perfect for those who want to control their indoor climate on a room-by-room basis, and while the initial installation cost might be high, the long-term energy savings can be significant.

Whether you live in a small apartment or a multi-story home, there is a split system air conditioner that can meet your needs.

About Roy Cohen

Roy Cohen has a burning passion for heating, cooling, and ventilation. He aims to help you save money on expensive repairs and bring you the best HVAC products. He has years of experience behind him in HVAC repair and garage maintenance.

You can find Roy at his LinkedIn or his email: [email protected]

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