Air Conditioning Options for Homes Without Ductwork

Real Estate Agent with House Stories

Many homes, especially older ones, do not have ductwork, so central air conditioning is not viable. Installing ductwork in an already built home is a significant renovation and requires some serious funds. However, don’t panic just yet! If your home does not have ductwork, tons of air conditioning options are available that don’t involve tearing down the existing structure.

If you decide to forego central air conditioning, there are many good options available, such as ductless heat pumps, VRF systems, etc. Ductless heat pumps are typically the most popular option for homeowners who cannot install ductwork. Ductless heat pumps are highly efficient and can save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

Let’s take a look at some of the air conditioning options for homes without ductwork:

1.  VRF Systems

Variable refrigerant flow (VRF) systems have been used in the rest of the world for decades; however, they were introduced in the United States only in the 2000s. VRF is a ductless air conditioning system with one outdoor condenser and multiple indoor units. You can use VRF systems to create numerous temperature zones throughout your house. With multiple zones, each family member can enjoy their ideal temperature.

Since VRF systems only need small penetrations for the refrigerant pipes, they are much less invasive than ducted systems. With VRF systems, you can enjoy all the benefits of central air conditioning with none of the overly intrusive ductwork.

2.  High-Velocity Systems

High-velocity systems are like traditional central air conditioners, except they use small, flexible ducts. The ducts are merely 2 inches in diameter and can be passed through walls and ceilings without damaging the existing structure. High-velocity systems are specially created for spaces that cannot accommodate large ducts.

3.  Window AC Units

Many homeowners go for window AC units when dealing with a home without ductwork. They are compact and easy to install since no lengthy ductwork is required. However, window units are generally extremely noisy and an eyesore. They take up a significant portion of your window and decrease the amount of natural light that enters your home. If you like to enjoy the view, a window unit will obstruct most of it.

Moreover, since window units are easily removable, they are also a security risk. Many homeowners prefer to remove them and lock the window while away. This is a lot of hassle, especially when so many other options are available these days.

4.  Ductless Heat Pumps

Ductless heat pumps have two components, the indoor air handler, and the outdoor condenser. The two units are connected through a small hole in the wall, no more than 3 inches wide. Ductless heat pumps are minimally invasive and only cool individual rooms. Ductless AC’s are highly efficient and much cheaper than ducted systems in the long run. Studies have shown that ductless air conditioners can save you up to $1000 to $2000 in running costs annually.

Why Should You Consider Ductless Systems?

Though there are alternatives for ductless systems, such as high-velocity and VRF systems, ductless systems are the most attractive option. You may be wondering, why is that? Let’s take a look at some of their benefits below:

Easy Installation

Installing a ducted HVAC system is no easy feat. Contractors must open walls, floors, and ceilings to make room for the ductwork. These days, when so many other alternatives are available, installing central air conditioning is not worth the hassle or the cost. Ductless systems, on the other hand, only require a 3-inch hole in the wall or a window. It’s even possible to DIY most of the installation to save extra cash.

Energy Efficiency

Traditional ductwork can reduce HVAC efficiency by up to 25% due to leaks in the ducts. Ductless heat pumps do not have to deal with this problem. Instead, they directly provide air to the living space, so none of it is lost through the ducts.


With traditional ducted systems, you must heat or cool the entire house, even the rooms you are not using. As you can imagine, this leads to exorbitant electricity bills and energy wastage. With ductless systems, you can only heat or cool the rooms you are using. Moreover, each family member can set a separate temperature for their space depending on their preferences.

With modern-day ductless systems, you are now ready to enjoy air conditioning without the hassle of tearing down your existing structure to make room for ducts. Enjoy comfortable temperatures and low electricity bills throughout the year with ductless systems!

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