Exploring the Differences Between Ductless HVAC and Traditional Heating and Cooling

If you’ve heard about ductless HVAC systems, you may be wondering about the differences between a mini split and traditional heating and cooling. Below, we take a detailed look at the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of technology and how you can get connected with experienced South Shore HVAC providers who can help.

Comparing Tech

Technology never stops changing, no matter what industry you’re looking at. The same can be said of heating and cooling systems. Today’s tech offers more advanced home comfort than ever before, with smart sensors and programmable thermostats that let you “set it and forget it.”

Choosing between systems can be tough though, because most homeowners are on some kind of budget when upgrading or replacing their HVAC equipment. Understanding what each system brings to the table is a great way to narrow down your selection.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each

Like any heating or cooling appliance, there are advantages and disadvantages of both mini splits and central HVAC systems. Let’s take a closer look:

Ductless Heat Pumps

Ductless units get their name because they provide heating and cooling without the need for ductwork. They don’t make heat, even in the winter. Instead, these systems use advanced technology to move heat from inside your home to the outside and vice versa.

You might not think that there’s any heat outside in the winter to extract, but you’d be surprised. Many ductless units can heat your home comfortably in temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit!


  • More energy-efficient than any other HVAC system currently available
  • Can heat your home down to -13 degrees Fahrenheit or lower
  • Heating and cooling come from the same system
  • Superior filtration offers better indoor air quality


  • Upfront installation cost can be higher compared to over-the-counter buys like space heaters or window ACs

To help reduce the cost of switching to ductless equipment, Mass Save offers a rebate for new owners that can shave thousands off your total installation expenses. Plus, we work with Synchrony Financing to offer flexible and affordable payment options that allow you to defer the rest of the cost over the course of several months.

Central HVAC

Central HVAC technology is older than ductless but has proven to be a reliable form of heating and cooling over time. Many homes in South Boston continue to use central heat and AC either as their primary or backup system and today’s modern equipment boasts high efficiency ratings and low operating costs.


  • Heat and cool your entire house with one system
  • Vents are unobtrusive and are flush with the floor or wall
  • More efficient than gas, wood, or oil heating


  • Heat energy is lost through your ducts on its way from your system to you
  • Ducts are dusty and can contaminate your air with debris and particulate matter
Window Air Conditioners

Window ACs are small appliances that fit in most standard-size windows and provide fast cooling for small spaces. These units are usually available for purchase at hardware and department stores in the summer.


  • Small, portable, and easy to move around
  • Affordable and available


  • Loud and musty smelling
  • Expensive to run
  • Short lifespan
Oil, Gas, and Wood Heat

Wood and oil heat are some of the oldest forms of heating on the Eastern Shore of Massachusetts. Gas heating isn’t far behind. Most homes in the area use one of these systems as their primary or backup heating source if the owners aren’t using a central system or ductless unit.


  • Burning gas and wood creates heat quickly
  • Oil creates radiant heat which warms your home evenly throughout
  • Wood is usually cheap and may be readily available if you live in a rural area
  • Gas furnaces don’t require a large oil or propane tank if connected to a city gas line
  • Oil and gas heaters can last 25 years or more; wood stoves often last even longer


  • Gas furnaces tend to be more expensive to install than oil furnaces and wood stoves
  • Gas and wood heat create dangerous carbon monoxide as a byproduct
  • Gas leaks are critical and pose a safety and health hazard to occupants

These disadvantages of these systems can often be mitigated with regular maintenance and awareness of what signs to look for that can indicate a potential emergency. However, both central and ductless heating and cooling are generally more energy-efficient, cost-effective, and healthier for your home and the environment.

When to Reach Out to a Qualified South Shore HVAC Specialist

If you’re considering switching to ductless HVAC or just have a few questions to ask about heating and cooling your home, our technicians can help. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule an appointment by calling (781) 447-0136. We service the towns of Weymouth, Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Plymouth, and surrounding areas on the South Shore.