Mini Split AC vs Window Unit, Which is The Better Option?

are mini splits more efficient than window units

As temperatures start to soar, finding the perfect cooling system for your home becomes a top priority. Window air conditioners, or window units, have been a go-to solution for homes without central air, especially when one or two rooms need extra cooling. However, with advancements in technology, mini split air conditioners are becoming a more popular option for homeowners who want to cool multiple rooms efficiently. Here we look at the differences between a mini split and a window unit in order to help you decide which cooling system is the best choice for your home.

When it comes to choosing a cooling system for your home, there are a few options to consider. Window air conditioners have been a popular choice for years, while central air systems offer whole-house cooling. However, there is a newer option on the market: the ductless mini split system. This cooling system uses multiple indoor units connected to an outdoor unit, providing efficient and targeted cooling to multiple rooms in your home. 

Air Conditioners

Air conditioners are devices used to cool indoor spaces during hot weather. The most common type is the window air conditioning unit, which is installed in a window frame and cools a single room. Window unit air conditioners are easy to install and relatively inexpensive, but they take up valuable window space and can be noisy. In recent years, a ductless AC unit called a ductless mini split system has emerged as an alternative. 

This type of cooling system consists of an outdoor unit and multiple indoor units, which can be placed in different rooms to provide zoned cooling. Ductless mini-split systems are more expensive than window units, but they offer greater flexibility and control.

How Does it Work?

When you’re considering how to cool your home in the summer, you have several options, including window air conditioning units, central air systems, and mini-split systems. A ductless mini-split system combines an outdoor unit with one or more indoor units, allowing you to cool multiple rooms with a single system.

Mini-split systems work by using an indoor unit to distribute cool air in each room. Instead of cooling the air and blowing it out a single window unit like a window unit air conditioner, the mini-split AC unit circulates the cool air through an air handler installed in each room. The outdoor unit is typically mounted on an exterior wall and contains the compressor and refrigerant, while the indoor units are installed on interior walls and are connected to the outdoor unit by a conduit. The cost of a mini split can be higher than a window unit upfront, but they are much more efficient and quieter, and they are generally more affordable than central air systems.

Types of Air Conditioners

When it comes to air conditioning, there are two primary types: window air conditioning units and ductless AC systems. Window AC units are a familiar sight in many homes, with a unit installed directly into the window space. On the other hand, ductless AC systems, also known as mini-split systems, have been growing in popularity as a more energy-efficient and versatile option. But what are the differences between these two types of AC units, and which is the better choice for your home? Let’s take a closer look.

Ductless AC Systems

If you want to keep your home cool without the hassle of a window unit, a ductless AC unit might be the perfect solution. These units, also called ductless systems or mini-splits, are energy-efficient and easy to install. Unlike portable AC units, ductless systems can cool your entire home, with one outdoor unit connected to multiple indoor units. While the mini-split cost is higher than a window unit, the benefits can outweigh the added expense. With a ductless AC system, you can enjoy quiet, efficient cooling throughout your home without sacrificing your window space. 


Ductless mini-split units are more versatile than window air conditioners, providing both cooling and heating for year-round comfort. They allow more control over the temperature and can cool or heat specific zones or rooms as opposed to the entire home. Additionally, mini-split systems are whisper-quiet compared to window units, making them perfect for light sleepers or quiet environments.


The upfront cost of a new mini-split system is higher than that of a window air conditioner. However, mini-split units can save you money in the long run by lowering your electric bill. The outdoor condenser calls for less energy to operate, making it more energy-efficient than a window unit air conditioner.


Ductless mini-split units are more aesthetically pleasing than window units since they do not require a window space. The indoor unit can be mounted on a wall or ceiling, taking up minimal space and blending in with your home’s decor.

Installation Cost

While the upfront cost of a mini-split air conditioning unit is higher than a window unit, it requires professional installation. A mini-split system is installed with an outdoor condenser and one or more indoor air handlers. This installation cost is higher than installing a single window AC unit yourself.

Energy Efficiency

Mini-split systems are highly energy-efficient compared to window air conditioners. With a mini-split system, you have one system for the entire home, meaning there are no cool air leaks or energy waste as there can be with multiple window AC units. A mini-split system can help lower your electric bill in the long run.


Mini split air conditioners have a longer lifespan than window units. With proper maintenance, mini-split systems can last up to 20 years, whereas a window air conditioner generally lasts between 8-10 years. Needless to say, the numbers on lifespan can change depending on the maintenance and use patterns. 


The maintenance required for a mini-split system is similar to that of a central air system. The outdoor condenser needs to be kept clear of debris, and the indoor air handlers require regular cleaning. Additionally, the mini-split units may be used as heating systems, so it’s important to have them inspected by a professional to ensure they are working correctly.

Windows AC Units

is it cheaper to run a window air conditioner

When it comes to cooling a single room, a window unit air conditioner is a popular and budget-friendly option. These air conditioners are designed to fit into a window frame and use a single unit to cool a space. While they are not as energy-efficient as ductless mini-split systems, they are an excellent choice for those on a budget. They are also easy to install. 

With a window AC, you won’t have to worry about the additional costs of installing a ductless mini-split system or purchasing multiple indoor units, and you only need one outdoor unit. Plus, with the latest advancements in technology, window AC units are now more energy-efficient than ever, making them a great cooling solution


Window units are made to cool a single room or area, with most window units offering only one air handler. This means that if you want to cool multiple rooms or zones, you would need multiple units. However, they are portable, and you can move them from one room to another.


Window units are a more affordable option when it comes to upfront costs, with most window units ranging between $150-$500. However, the energy bills associated with running window units can quickly add up, making them more expensive to run in the long run.


One drawback to window units is their lack of aesthetic appeal. They take up valuable window space and block natural light. They can also obstruct views from windows, which can be especially frustrating if you have a nice view. They will make you turn on your lights earlier every evening, especially as there will be less natural light throughout the day. 

Installation Cost

Window air conditioners are a cost-effective option for cooling a single room. The initial cost of a window unit is usually lower than that of a ductless system or central air, making it a popular choice for homeowners. However, keep in mind that the long-term costs of running a window AC can add up due to its higher energy usage.

Energy Efficiency

While window units may be more affordable upfront, they can be expensive to run. They use a lot of electricity, which can cause your energy bill to skyrocket. This is not ideal, especially during the summer months when you may need to use the AC frequently.


The lifespan of a window AC can vary depending on how well it is maintained, but they generally last between 8-10 years. With proper cleaning and care, you can extend their life to a certain extent. However, this lifespan is shorter than that of a ductless system, which can last up to 20 years with proper maintenance. In the long run, investing in a ductless system may be more cost-effective than replacing window units every few years.


Window units require regular maintenance to keep them running efficiently. This includes cleaning the filter, checking for leaks, and ensuring that the unit is in good working order. Failure to maintain the unit can lead to decreased performance and a shorter lifespan.

Airconditioner: Window Units vs Mini Split Systems

When deciding between a window unit and a ductless mini-split system, there are a few key differences to consider. Window units can be installed without professional help, but require frequent cleaning of their condenser coils to maintain efficiency. Ductless systems, on the other hand, require a new system to be installed, which can be more costly upfront but provide more control over maintaining a comfortable temperature. Additionally, ductless mini-split systems are designed to be whisper-quiet, while window units can be quite noisy.

Comparison PointWindow AC UnitsMini Split Systems
FunctionalityCools one roomCools multiple rooms
CostLower upfront costHigher upfront cost
AestheticBlocks window viewMore visually appealing
Installation CostDIY installationProfessional installation
Energy EfficiencyLess energy-efficientMore energy-efficient
LifespanShorter lifespanLonger lifespan
MaintenanceEasy to maintainProfessional maintenance
NoiseCan be noisyWhisper-quiet
ControlLimited temperature controlMore precise temperature control
Heating CapabilityNo heating capabilityCan also act as a heating system


Window ACs are a popular choice for many homeowners because of their low upfront cost and ease of installation. They are a great option for cooling small rooms or for those on a budget. In addition, they do not require professional help for installation and can be easily removed and stored during the off-season.

Mini-split systems offer several advantages over window ACs, including more control over the temperature of your home, increased energy efficiency, and the ability to cool multiple rooms with just one system. They also tend to be more aesthetically pleasing, with the indoor unit blending in seamlessly with the room decor. With the outdoor condenser placed far away, they also tend to operate more quietly than traditional window units.


While window AC units are relatively inexpensive upfront, they tend to last shorter than other types of cooling systems. They are also typically not very energy-efficient, which can lead to higher electric bills. Additionally, they are generally noisier than other cooling systems and can be an eyesore on your home’s exterior.

One of the biggest disadvantages of mini-split systems is their upfront cost, which is typically higher than that of a window AC unit. Additionally, their installation can be more complex and may require professional help, which can add to the overall cost. While they are generally more energy-efficient and provide better temperature control, they may not be the best option for larger homes or those with multiple rooms that need to be cooled.


What Happens if a Mini Split is Too Big for the Room?

If a mini-split system is too big for a room, it will cycle on and off more frequently, which can lead to premature wear and tear on the unit. Additionally, the system will not properly dehumidify the room, which can lead to moisture problems and mold growth. It is important to choose the right-sized unit for your space.

Is Window AC Better or Split?

Window AC units and mini-split systems both have their pros and cons. Window units are generally less expensive upfront and easier to install, but they can be noisy, take up window space, and only cool one room. Mini-split systems are more energy-efficient, quieter, and have the ability to cool multiple rooms, but they are more expensive upfront and require professional installation.

Do Mini Splits Use a Lot of Electricity?

Mini-split systems are more energy-efficient than window AC units, but they still use electricity. The electricity usage depends on the size of the unit, the temperature set, and how often it runs. However, because they are more efficient at cooling and heating, they will generally use less electricity than a window unit.

Are Mini Splits Worth it?

Whether mini split units are worth it depends on your specific needs and circumstances. Mini-split systems are more expensive upfront than window units, but they are more energy-efficient and can cool multiple rooms. They are also quieter, more aesthetically pleasing, and have the ability to act as heating systems as well. If you value these features, then a mini-split system may be worth the investment. However, if you only need to cool one room and don’t mind the noise and aesthetics of a window unit, then that may be a better choice for you.


Choosing between a window AC and a ductless mini-split system depends on your preferences and circumstances. Window ACs are more affordable and easier to install, making them a good option for cooling individual rooms or small apartments. On the other hand, mini splits offer greater control, energy efficiency, and versatility, as they can cool multiple rooms with a single system and also provide heating during the colder months. Additionally, mini splits tend to be more aesthetically pleasing and have a longer lifespan. 

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