Window ACs vs Wall-Mounted Ductless Mini Splits

Window air conditioners are an inexpensive and popular cooling choice for many Boston homeowners. But are they good? The answer is a definite “no,” but let’s take a look at exactly how the two stack up against each other and why a heat pump is the obvious choice between window ACs vs wall-mounted ductless mini splits.

Noise Level

Ductless heat pumps – also called mini-splits – are extremely quiet to operate. On average, a wall-mounted ductless AC produces about 32 decibels (dB) of sound. For comparison, traditional window ACs generate roughly 78 to 82 decibels of noise. An expensive, high-quality unit can be as quiet as 72 dB, but this is clearly significantly higher than the noise level produced by the average ductless mini-split.

A human whisper generates about 30 dB of sound. A humming refrigerator generates about 40 dB, and a normal indoor conversation between two or three people produces approximately 60 dB of sound. The sound of city traffic from inside a vehicle has been measured at 80 to 85 dB, which is on par with the noise level generated by a window AC.

The Winner: Wall-mounted ductless mini-splits

Temperature Control 

Window AC units have a wide variety of temperature and fan settings depending on the make and model of the unit. Some units have only low, medium, and high fan and temperature settings, while other models have digital thermostats. Most do not have smart sensors that turn the unit on and off as needed, but rather, they have to be manually adjusted.

By contrast, a wall-mounted ductless heat pump has variable fan speeds, meaning the unit can operate its fan at anywhere between 30 to 100% capacity. Smart temperature gauges automatically adjust the fan speed to keep the temperature at an even keel.

The Winner: Wall-mounted ductless mini-splits

Installation Cost

When it comes to the cost of installation, window ACs are significantly less expensive up front. Some window units cost only a couple hundred dollars, while higher end models may be closer to $1,000 or even more. Comparatively, the cost of ductless installation starts at around $4,500 goes up from there. A two-unit ductless installation can run anywhere between $8,500 to $12,000.

The Winner: Window ACs

Operating Costs

Although the cost of installing ductless air conditioning is much higher than a putting in a window AC, the ongoing operating costs are significantly less. Energy Bot reports that as of July 2022, the average cost per kilowatt hour of electricity in Massachusetts is 16.21 ¢/kWh, which is a whopping 37% higher than the overall national average.

According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average window AC uses 950 W per hour, or 0.95 kilowatts. Using this data, we can extrapolate that the average window AC unit uses about 22.8 kilowatts per 24 hours and costs about $5.01 per day or $150 per month.

On average, a wall-mounted heat pump uses two-thirds the amount of energy as a window AC, clocking in at an average of 600 W or 0.6 kilowatts per hour. Using these figures, we can calculate that in this scenario, a ductless AC might use 14.4 kilowatts per day. In Massachusetts, this could cost about $3.17 per day or $95 per month.   

The Winner: Wall-mounted ductless mini-splits

Air Quality

Mark Mendell, Ph.D., an affiliate scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, tells Consumer Reports that people should be aware of mold growth when using window ACs. Continuing to use an air conditioner with mold will “increase your chances of having a respiratory infection,” he says.

Wall-mounted ductless ACs can help improve indoor air quality and are easy to clean and maintain. They also pump much less dust and debris into the air, which can improve allergy symptoms like coughing, itching, runny nose, sneezing, and dry mucous membranes.

The Winner: Wall-mounted ductless mini-splits

Interested In Ductless? Call N.E.T.R., Inc. For HVAC Help Today 

Ductless cooling is far superior to window ACs in almost every single category. If you’re considering upgrading your home’s air conditioning system, ductless makes an excellent choice, even when just adding cooling to a single room. N.E.T.R., Inc. is a top HVAC provider in the Boston metropolitan area and can provide you with quality heating and cooling service you can trust. Call today for a quote or to learn more about ductless air conditioning by dialing (781) 933-6387.