Split system air conditioners are something of a cross between a central air conditioner and a window air conditioner; the split system doesn't push air through ductwork, but through a front panel, like a window system. However, it is a permanent installation, like a central unit. Split systems are also typically more powerful than window units, and can be a great cooling solution for buildings that don't have ducts, like a garage or barn. If you need a new air conditioning system for your home or an outbuilding on your property, note a few questions about split systems, and you can then decide if this is the right choice for your air conditioning needs.
Why does it need professional installation?
A split system air conditioner is installed in a wall or ceiling, but this doesn't mean you can just cut a hole in that surface and slide the unit in. The compressor for the unit sits outside the home and is connected to the front panel by a tube for venting, and by electrical wires, all of which need some expertise in their installation. You might also need an electrician to rewire the home, so that the system is on its own circuit, avoiding the risk of having a circuit shut down when you turn on the unit.
Is it loud?
A window air conditioner is often loud because its compressor is contained in that piece that sits in the window. The compressor for a split system, which is typically the part that makes the most noise, sits outside the home, just like the compressor for a central air conditioner. In turn, the only sound you might hear from a split system would be that of the air coming through the panel, and this noise is usually no louder than that of a central air unit.
Is it expensive to operate?
A split system unit should actually save you money on air conditioning costs, as the unit isn't going to lose cool air through leaky ducts in the home, as does a central unit. The unit will also have a larger "reach" than a window unit, so it cools a large room very quickly; in turn, you don't need to run it as long as those smaller units. Because a split system doesn't run through the home's ductworks, you also are not cooling empty rooms when you turn it on, so this also means less wasted cost on your home's cooling.