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Mini-Split vs. Central Air: What’s the Best Air Conditioner?

Outdoor central air unit sitting outside of Cayman Islands home.

Is your current air conditioner not keeping your family as cool as it should be? Are you renovating your home and looking for extra AC options? Perhaps, you’re just simply ready to upgrade? Whatever the case may be, choosing the best air conditioner for your home is no easy feat — especially when you don’t know much about mini-splits vs. central air conditioning systems

The vast majority of homeowners in the Cayman Islands prefer central air for its powerful performance that keeps homes cool all year long. However, mini-splits do have some unique advantages. 

In this blog, we’ll cover the pros and cons of mini-splits vs. central air and help you decide which system is most suitable for your home!

Mini-Split vs. Central Air: How Do They Work?

Before we debate which type of air conditioner is best for your home, let’s start with the basics. How do mini-splits and central air conditioners operate? What are the similarities and differences between the two? 

Overall, both central air and mini-split units perform the same function: they collect heat from your home and release it outdoors. The resulting cooled air is circulated back indoors for you and your family to enjoy. 

The main difference is that central air conditioners are ducted systems — meaning they rely on ductwork to facilitate airflow — while mini-splits are ductless systems. Let’s break this down even further. 

Central air uses an air handler and ductwork to draw warm air out of your house. This warm air makes its way to the compressor, which is located in the outdoor unit, and goes through the cooling process. The now cool air is circulated back throughout the house via air ducts. As you can see, the cooling process takes place in a central location, and ductwork is essential for air distribution. 

Ductless mini-split systems, on the other hand, have individual units installed in each room or “zone.” Every unit is connected to the outdoor compressor. Therefore, there is no need for air ducts as with central air units. 

Now that you know how each system works, let’s go over the pros and cons of mini-splits vs. central air and discover which air conditioner is best for you!

Homeowner checking if central air vent is open.

Pros and Cons of Central Air Units


Lower Installation and Maintenance Costs

Ideal for Homes of Every Size

Consistent Temperatures

Aesthetic Appeal


Ductwork Is Required

High Operating Costs



For a majority of homeowners, there is no debate when it comes to choosing between mini-splits vs. central air

Central air conditioning systems are perfect for any home, big or small. A knowledgeable comfort consultant will determine the perfect size unit for your AC installation based on your home’s square footage and your family’s comfort needs. This ensures your air conditioner delivers consistent temperatures and remains as energy-efficient as possible. 

One of the biggest advantages of owning a central AC system is that it has lower installation and maintenance costs. And if you keep up with tune-ups as recommended, you don’t have to worry about high operating costs unless the unit is approaching the end of its lifespan.

The only downside is that ductwork is required. If your home doesn’t have ductwork, this might not be the best air conditioner for you. 

Couple sitting in the living room turning mini-split unit on with remote control.

Pros and Cons of Ductless Mini-Split AC Units



Temperature Zoning

No Ductwork Needed

Design Options

Minimal Noise Production


Higher Upfront Costs

Not Suitable for Large Areas

Aesthetic Appeal



We have to give credit where credit’s due. When it comes to mini-splits vs. central air, there is a clear winner in terms of energy efficiency — and it all comes down to ductwork. Leaky air ducts are responsible for up to 30% of energy loss, which forces central air conditioning systems to work a little bit harder than necessary to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. 

Mini-splits don’t utilize ductwork since multiple indoor units can deliver air directly to their respective zones. This increases energy efficiency and allows homeowners to save on electricity costs.

Speaking of zones, this is another reason why some consider mini-splits to be the best air conditioner. Temperature zoning gives homeowners complete control over their indoor climate. Each zone has its own thermostat and can be set to a different temperature. For example, the living room, where family members often hang out, can be set to a cool 70°F, whereas the guest bedroom, which is rarely used, can be set to 78°F to conserve energy.

The energy savings offered by a mini-split system are a great way to offset its higher upfront cost, which is one of its main disadvantages. Depending on the square footage of your house and the number of indoor units you need, mini-splits can cost up to 30% more than a central air conditioner. You may even need to install multiple units in one zone if it is a large area. 

Last but not least, the wall-mounted indoor units may not be aesthetically pleasing to everyone. Luckily, there are tons of design options available to choose from, some of which can be concealed. 

Turn to Polar Bear for a Professional Opinion When Choosing Between Mini-Splits vs. Central Air

Ready to choose the best air conditioner for your home? Our team can help! Polar Bear comfort consultants can determine whether a mini-split or central air is the most suitable option for your home. 

In fact, you can turn to us for all your comfort needs. We have mini-splits, central air conditioners, thermostats, and air handlers for sale. Call us today to learn more. 


Leave a reply

John Thistle
John Thistle
21:32 17 May 23
I recently had my air conditioning unit installed by Polar Bear Air Conditioning in Cayman Kai. I was very pleased with the service I received. The workmen, Jerome, Tony, and Nathan, were all professional and courteous. They arrived on time and were dressed in their uniforms. They laid out carpeting where they would be walking inside the house to avoid leaving debris or making a mess. They worked clean and kept the space tidy. They were polite and provided me a good understanding of the work they completed as well as showed me all pieces of equipment. They emailed me a jpg image of each piece of equipment's information plate so that I could record it in my home management software, as requested.Here are some specific details about the work they did:They installed 3 new high-efficiency air conditioning units that are much more energy-efficient (26 SEER) than my old units.They cleaned and disinfected the air ducts, as well as replaced previously installed flex ducts with rigid duct work that is superior in efficiency and durability.They installed new filters to help keep the air clean and free of allergens.They explained the operation of the new units to me and answered all of my questions.They cleaned up after themselves and left my home in good condition.I would highly recommend Polar Bear Air Conditioning to anyone in need of air conditioning installation or service. They are a professional and reliable company that provides excellent customer service.
Charles Mobley
Charles Mobley
01:19 01 May 23
Our ac stopped working a few weeks ago and Polar Bear sent Roemaine and Tyrone to diagnose the problem. Roemaine and Tyrone very quickly identified the problem and communicated with me. It turns out the best option was replacing the condensing unit which Paul quoted within a matter of minutes and they had expert installation team (Tony and Jerome) complete late in the afternoon with short notice. I’m very happy with their work!
17:26 22 Feb 23
I have, over the years been trying to find a reliable, professional A/C maintenance and repair company. I have tried a few. That search is now over after using Polar Bear. Billy and Jerry were absolutely a pleasure to work with. Knowledgeable and professional from the initial diagnosis to the final repair. I highly recommend this company and the team that came to do work on my AC. Tim.
Gill Gordon
Gill Gordon
01:58 27 Jan 23
Polar Bear technicians are always very polite, friendly and professional in their service. Each of their technicians that we have dealt with have been great and they are always super responsive to getting someone out. Pictured are Antony and Billy who completed our recent service 👍
Zichri M.
Zichri M.
22:27 30 Dec 22
Great work. I received an email and also a call from the dispatcher that the tech would be calling me, and sure enough, the tech (Simon) called shortly after that to let me know he was on his way which was very much appreciated. The customer service from all of the team and updates was spot on, and Simon was very thorough and very knowledgeable. He was also very courteous and professional. I rate Polar Bear as the best company in town. Great work!
Glenroy Miller
Glenroy Miller
03:27 24 Dec 22
Tyrone is very knowledgeable and professional, he gave me a step by step update of what he was doing. He also gave advice on how best to protect not only the unit but my family. My wife and I are totally satisfied with the service.
Kyle Roberts
Kyle Roberts
22:50 23 Dec 22
Polar Bear's service and response was amazing! Nicole who answered my phone call and scheduled me was extremely friendly, accommodating and knowledgeable! The Technician assigned to me was Simon and he was also extremely friendly and very knowledgeable. Within a minute of looking at my system he knew what the errors and issues were! He was able to fix one of the two problems that day, and then came scheduled and came the following day to fix the remaining issue. He was perfectly on time and the courtesy call before arrival both times before arriving was a welcome touch as it made sure that I was ready.Will continue using polar bear for all my HVAC needs! 5*
Kayla Shibli
Kayla Shibli
01:09 05 Oct 22
My experience with Polar Bear has been awesome!!!! From the beginning, the office staff were so professional and kind, then receiving my AC quote, the gentleman has been very prompt in his response time—, the kind of employee that puts customer first and has such a nice and an approachable attitude, very patient in answering my questions and providing guidance as required by me- customer focus completely, then as if that wasn’t enough to convince me to move my AC maintenance and installation to Polar Bear; the technicians that attended to my AC installation provided such excellent service— what stood out was how they used a carpet that was placed on my floor to avoid making any mess on my floor and whatever mess they did make, the technician used their broom to remove it. I know this message is long but I really wanted to express my THANK YOU and appreciation for such excellent customer service that I’ve experienced by Polar Bear — you have won me as a customer!! THANK YOU! Keep up the excellent customer service!!! Looking forward to building a relationship with you as a new customer.
Robert L White
Robert L White
11:48 15 Aug 22
Olivia and Demitri very professional , competent and are delightful people! She came by and diagnosed some issues with our AC system . I am reviewing your estimate at this time..I truly enjoyed meeting them. They both real assets to your Company!Rob
Omari Rankine
Omari Rankine
04:58 10 Jul 22
I am very pleased with the service that was provided by Polar Bear. I had an issue where the ac was not working at one of my rental properties after hours on a weekend. Rohan came all the way out to East End at 10pm and worked on the issue to get the system back up and running. He was very thorough and explained the issue in detail, and the measures I needed to take to prevent it from reoccurring. Excellent customer service

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