How to Choose the right HVAC System for an Older Home

August 15, 2023

Are you adding air conditioning to your home and wondering how to choose an the right HVAC system? Have you heard about high velocity mini ducts or mini split air conditioning but aren’t sure which one is better? It might depend on your house and what you’re looking for in an air conditioning system.

Here, we’ll break down the pros and cons of Unico’s mini duct system, mini split or ductless air conditioners, and traditional HVAC. To find out how to choose the best HVAC for your home, answer these questions. Be sure to scroll to the bottom to find our easy checklist.

Want draft-free rooms?

While AC is essential for a comfortable home in the summer, no one likes feeling cold air blow on their shoulders.

Where you place the air outlets can make a big difference for a comfortable home. With Unico and traditional AC, you can place the outlets where they won’t be blowing directly onto the homeowners. Mini split air conditioning, on the other hand, requires a unit placed on the wall that takes up a lot of space. So it’s not likely that you’ll be able to place them in unnoticeable spots, and you will feel the draft when you sit near a mini split air conditioner.

You should also take into consideration how the air is circulated in a room. Traditional systems have a “dump and throw” airflow direction, where air gets blown into a room through one vent and air will flow into another. If the outlets aren’t placed for optimum airflow, this can create an uneven buildup of conditioned or heated air throughout the room.

Mini split systems blow air out from the wall-mounted unit, but the air is not circulated, resulting in much colder air near the unit than further away from it.

See how Unico circulates air compared to other air conditioning systems:

Unico’s high velocity air, which is released through small round outlets, creates a vacuum that draws in air and circulates it. This mixes the air, so homeowners get even temperatures from top to bottom and side to side throughout the room.

Want energy efficient airflow?

Modern homes are generally more energy efficient thanks to improvements in window types, vapor barrier protection, and calculating optimal airflow and duct placement. But if you have an older home, the Unico System can still provide efficiency with airtight duct design. Unico’s mini ducts have lock-and-release tabs that ensure an airtight fit, so 100% of the conditioned air is utilized. Traditional metal ducts lack that airtight fit and lose air at the seams no matter how well they’re installed.

The Unico System with its nylon interior is designed for efficient airflow. The mini ducts are wrapped in an insulating vapor barrier that protects against thermal loss. On the other hand, traditional metal ductwork has no thermal protection. Metal is a good conductor of heat, so it’s more difficult to control the temperature through the system. Unico uses 100% of the conditioned air for your living space, but metal ducts lose heat energy into the walls and elsewhere.

Mini split systems don’t have central airflow, and the indoor air must be conditioned by a separate unit in every room.

Have limited space for ductwork?

Traditional air conditioning is the type with large, metal ducts. If your house doesn’t already have ductwork, your installer will need to work with you on where to run the ducts and whether you’ll need to add dropped ceilings or soffits to hide them. If you own an older home, this could ruin the aesthetics of the home’s interior.

Mini split and Unico systems can be installed in a home where there is no ductwork. However, with mini split units, the installer will need to cut a large hole in the wall to install it. Unico uses small, flexible mini ducts that can be threaded through existing walls without major renovations.

Want the unit out of sight?

Mini split is the wrong way to go if you want to preserve the aesthetic design of the home. These large, bulky units need to be placed high on the wall in each room.

Traditional HVAC doesn’t need to be placed in a room like mini split units but depending on where the ductwork needs to be run it may still be visible.

Unico air handlers are much more compact than the units of other systems. They can fit into attics, crawl spaces or even a closet. Then the mini ducts are threaded through the existing walls, hidden out of sight. Ask about our painted, vertical unit specifically designed to take up as little closet space as possible.

Live in a humid region?

A Unico condenser has thicker cooling coils than those found in a traditional system, and the increased surface area allows more condensation to collect on the coils, pulling more humidity from the air. In a controlled study by the Florida Solar Energy Center, Unico was found to remove 30% more moisture from the air than traditional AC.

Unico is designed with humidity control in mind while other systems are not. The refrigerant in a Unico cooling coil is colder than in a mini split system. So, Unico collects more condensation, pulling humidity out of the air.

Already have an outdoor unit? Compatibility is key!

If you have an outdoor air conditioning unit for central AC, you’ll want to capitalize on its capabilities for better indoor comfort. Traditional central air conditioning systems are usually compatible with most brands, as is Unico. Also, Unico has partnered with ECOER, which uses modern inverter technology and uses less energy than a traditional system.

Mini split systems are split off from the rest of any central air system that may be in place, so you wouldn’t make use of an outdoor unit that you may have. Also, homeowners with mini split air conditioners need to maintain multiple units throughout the house, which can quickly drive up maintenance and repair costs.

Already have ductwork?

If your home already has traditional central air with ductwork and you’re just looking for a replacement unit, you’ll probably want to stick with traditional AC to make use of the existing infrastructure. However, if you’re renovating and replacing the ductwork, rather than replacing an outdated technology, you can choose Unico mini ducts to help you reclaim some space. And if you already have ductwork, cutting large holes in the walls for mini split units doesn’t make sense.

Want your investment to last a long time?

With correct installation and regular maintenance, many Unico systems last 20 years or more. When you install a Unico system, you will have peace of mind that it is a good investment. Traditional central air conditioning systems have a similar lifespan of 15-20 years. Mini splits tend to last only 5-10 years, so while the initial cost might be a bit cheaper, you’ll end up replacing the unit much more often.

Find a Contractor in your area to schedule a free quote and ask how The Unico System can be installed with minimal adjustments to your home’s interior. Many of our trained and certified UPCs have experience retrofitting older homes.

Or, contact our free Design Services team to find out how to receive a duct design and layout to match your home.

Need Help With Your Next Project?

Have a historic retrofit or a custom home project? Unico offers FREE Design Services for all of your upcoming projects.

Contact Us

Related Resources

You May Also Like

We'd love to hear from you

Do you have a project worth sharing in a Unico case study or a topic that would be perfect for The Outlet blog? We'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

Submit a Case Study