Answers to Commonly Asked Questions about Split-System Air Conditioners

Split-system air conditioners are like a cross between central air units and window units. Split systems don't go through all the ducts and vents of your home like a central unit but are vented directly out a wall. However, the unit can be installed in a wall or ceiling so it doesn't take up space in the window, and it is a permanent installation, unlike a window unit. If you're thinking of having a split-system air conditioner installed in your home, note a few commonly asked questions and then discuss this option with a contractor.

1. Can these systems be installed myself?

While a split system unit is not like a central air conditioner that needs to be connected to your home's furnace and ductwork, it does need a direct vent out one wall. It also needs to be connected to your home's electrical circuit panel rather than just plugged into a wall like a window unit. Installation of a split system can involve cutting and drilling to make the hole needed for its vent and electrical work that may be outside your area of expertise. You also need to cut a hole in the wall or ceiling of the room where you'll install the unit. This too can be more complicated than you might imagine, so it can be good to leave the installation up to a contractor.

2. Do split systems work with a thermostat or do you just manually turn them on and off?

This will depend on the type of unit you purchase; a very basic model may simply have an on/off switch like a window unit, but other models may have a thermostat that you set, like with a central unit. They then come on and off automatically based on the room temperature. These can be a better option if you prefer the added convenience or if you want the system to run when you're not home in order to keep the space cool.

3. What is the difference between a suspended and recessed unit?

A suspended unit juts out from the ceiling or wall whereas a recessed unit is set back so that it's flush with the ceiling or wall. This type of installation usually doesn't affect the power or cooling ability of the unit, but is chosen for which look you prefer. A recessed unit may have a cleaner look that doesn't interfere with the room whereas a suspended unit may be more noticeable.

If you'd like professional help with your split-system air conditioning installation or with choosing the right kind for your needs, speak with a contractor in your area.