Conventional or Ductless Split – Which AC is Best for You?

Rod Johnson Cooling and Air Conditioning

Everyone knows that air conditioning can make home life much, much more comfortable. However, something that many people fail to realize is that there is more than one type of air conditioning system. The most common types of air conditioners are conventional split systems and ductless split air conditioner systems. There are other types as well, but they’re usually reserved for commercial use, and we won’t cover them in this post.

Before we get into which type of AC is best for you, we should first spend a little bit of time talking about the kinds of systems themselves. Then, once you have a more thorough understanding of the types of AC systems, we’ll talk about the best-case uses for each type. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

What is a Conventional Split Air Conditioning System?

Conventional split AC systems are, by far, the most common type of air conditioner found in the Stockton and Central Valley areas. In traditional split systems, there are two main sections of air conditioner: the air handler (indoor unit) and the compressor (outdoor unit). The air handler takes supercooled liquid refrigerant and passes warm air over it to cool the air. Then, the air handler dispenses the cooled air throughout your home. After the air handler cools the air, the once-liquid refrigerant is now gaseous. The system takes the gaseous refrigerant and passes it to the compressor unit outside. Then, the compressor uses a combination of a compressor and return air to turn the gaseous refrigerant back into a supercooled liquid. Once complete, the compressor sends the coolant back to the air handler, and the process starts all over again.

Another essential thing to note about conventional split AC systems is that the indoor unit is connected to the supply vents via ductwork.

How do Ductless Split Air Conditioning Systems Work?

A ductless split air conditioner works almost identically to conventional split systems. The major difference, however, is that ductless split ACs do not use ductwork to dispense cold air or to connect the compressor side to the air handler side of the system. Instead, ductless split air conditioning systems use outside air to help compress the gaseous refrigerant back into a supercooled liquid.

The Pros and Cons of Conventional Split AC Systems

Just like any other piece of technology, conventional air conditioning systems come with their own list of pros and cons. Let’s break it down:


  • Size: Conventional AC systems are available in several sizes and capacities. They can cool anything from the smallest room to entire office buildings.
  • Long Lifespan: Traditional air conditioners last a long time. In fact, they often last for over a decade!
  • Consistent Performance: Since conventional AC systems have relatively simple mechanics, performance is typically very consistent. In other words, traditional systems just work the way they’re supposed to.
  • Ease of Maintenance: Maintenance for conventional systems is relatively easy and straightforward. It’s so easy that most maintenance procedures can be performed on your own and without professional assistance! However, regular professional maintenance from us here at Rod Johnson Air Conditioning is recommended to check electrical and mechanical components.


  • Expensive to Install: Since conventional air conditioning systems are typically large and cumbersome, they can be quite costly to install. They also require ductwork to function, which significantly adds to the price of installation (if no ductwork currently exists in the building).
  • Need Ductwork: Conventional air conditioning systems need ductwork to function. They can also only cold areas connected via ductwork. That alone makes them quite limited in their ability to adapt to changing building interiors.

The Pros and Cons of Ductless Split Air Conditioners

The pros and cons of ductless split AC systems are as follows:


  • Size: Split systems are small and very efficient. They can cool entire rooms and take up very little space.
  • No Ductwork Needed: Perhaps the biggest pro of ductless split systems is the complete lack of ductwork. That lack of ductwork makes them perfect for installation in older homes and buildings that don’t have existing ductwork or enough room to install it.
  • More Control: Since air handlers for ductless split systems can be installed (quickly) in any room of your home, they allow for greater comfort control. Imagine being able to keep your home office fresh and your living room cozy all at the same time! Well, with a ductless split, that’s entirely possible!


  • Bulky Interior Components: Since you need an air handler in every room that you wish to heat or cool, ductless split systems can be quite hard on the eyes.
  • Expensive to Purchase: While you’ll most likely save on installation fees for ductless split systems, the units themselves are often quite expensive.

So, Which is Best for You?

Okay, now you have a decent understanding of the pros and cons of each system and how each type of system works. So, which one is best for your needs? Well, that is entirely up to you. Usually, we recommend conventional split systems for homes and businesses that wish to keep the entire space fresh, and we recommend ductless systems for people who want to control the climate of individual rooms and spaces. However, both types of systems work well in almost any home or business. So, the choice is yours!

Once you decide, feel free to contact us here at Rod Johnson Air Conditioning for fast and reliable installation services.