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Tired of AC Ducts Ruining Your Decor? Get AC Without Ductwork

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Last Updated on April 26, 2019



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Maybe you’re looking to renovate your shop and have a particular style design in mind, but the unsightly HVAC ductwork is crimping your vision for your space. Or maybe you already have designed your boutique and have everything aligned with your distinctive taste, except for those ugly ducts. Believe it or not, you may be able to pluck those ducts from your space and have a beautiful air conditioner system. Imagine this – you can have an AC without ductwork.

Ducted and ductless differences

Most of us are familiar with a ducted air conditioning systems. The ducted unit distributes cool air and often hot air too through a network of ducts. Though sometimes these ducts are installed behind walls or ceilings, you may have a system which includes sheet metal ducts not concealed behind walls (commonly found in NYC commercial space). This type of ducted system has an industrial look that may not match your design concept.

A ductless system, also known as a ductless mini split system, doesn’t utilize ducts to circulate air. Instead of one central unit dispersing cool air, a ductless system features smaller air handles or blowers at various locations in your space.

Why AC without ductwork may be right for your business

If exposed ductwork is a blemish on the atmosphere you are trying to create, AC without ductwork is an option. Though a ductless system has wall-mounted boxes or air handlers, these smaller units are easier to hide or camouflage with a little creativity. By using a little ingenuity, you can have a beautiful air conditioner system without ductwork.

Read this blog for some ideas for hiding AC equipment: 24 Clever Ways to Hide an AC Unit Indoors & Out

With a ductless system, air handler boxes are usually installed on ceilings and walls. Each air handler blows air directly into the area of its location. A ductless system is different from having multiple window units because a central condensing unit supplies refrigerant to each air handler through a conduit pipe.

Though eliminating ductwork or maybe even bulky window units may be your aim, there are many other valid reasons to install AC without ductwork, besides aesthetics. Let’s take a look at other compelling reasons for choosing AC without ductwork.

7 advantages of AC without ductwork


If you own a furniture store or home décor business, a layer of dust on your furnishings could discourage sales. If you are a proprietor of an art gallery, you can’t afford to have dust on works being scrutinized by discriminating buyers. AC without ductwork may be a good choice for you and any business owner sensitive to dust because a ductless system doesn’t have ducts where dust can accumulate and be spread throughout your space.


AC without ductwork can be a good choice if you have rooms within your space that have different heating and cooling needs. If you own a restaurant, the kitchen where your chefs are working over hot grills and stoves might have different needs than where your customers are dining or where food is stored. A room containing historic documents might be a good candidate for multiple zones. Any business that has a computer room, which often have different cooling and heating requirements, could benefit from a zoned system.
Zoned systems provide flexibility because each air handler can be individually controlled, which allows you to customize climate conditions within your space.


If you are lucky enough to have a thriving business that needs more space, you might want to consider AC without ductwork for your addition whether you’re adding new space or converting an area not currently served by air conditioning. You may already have a fully functional HVAC system in your existing space and a ductless system may be a good way to supplement your existing system in your new area. This will save you the cost of replacing the entire system.


Ductless systems can be more energy efficient because heat and air can dissipate when traveling through ductwork. Also, efficiency is achieved by having greater control of temperatures in different rooms at varying times. You might have a conference or room for a large gathering room that isn’t used on a daily basis and frequently doesn’t need to be supplied with the same degree of heat or air conditioning as other rooms. Think of the money you can save by independently controlling the temperature needs in different rooms.


When interior design is a priority, a ductless system offers you the flexibility of installing air handlers at varied locations. The air handlers can be mounted to a wall, suspended from a ceiling or located within a drop ceiling. There is also a floor model option.


If a quiet, serene atmosphere is important to your business than AC without ductwork may be a good alternative to central HVAC system. Ductless systems can be quieter than central air conditioners and window units, which tend to rattle in a window frame.


Though this isn’t a concern for those who currently have ducts, but would like to get rid of them, at many locations in the city space is at a premium and there may not be room for ductwork. If you’re adding square footage by absorbing existing space from a basement or other adjacent space, the added part of your building may not be able to accommodate ducts.

AC without ductwork: consider a VRF system

A VRF (Variable Refrigerant Flow) system has the capability of supplying heat and cooling and can do both simultaneously at different locations in the same building. The system consists of small air handlers that can be individually controlled. This is particularly useful for historic buildings, museums and art galleries that house a collection that must be preserved.

A ductless VRF system is a good fit buildings with spatial constraints. These quiet systems are energy efficient because its variable speed compressor only runs at the capacity when needed for current conditions.

Learn more: Ductless AC System? NYC: Think VRF for Comfort & Efficiency


Do you have older HVAC or commercial refrigeration equipment? Due to EPA regulatory changes, R22 refrigerant (the standard used to power AC and commercial refrigeration systems for decades) will be phased out come January 2020. Get informed about how this change impacts you with this information bulletin. R22 Refrigerant Phase Out: Do You Need to Replace Your AC?

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For the design conscious, AC without ductwork offers versatility

If you renovating your retail space and feel ductwork isn’t in sync with the aesthetic climate you’re trying to achieve, AC without ductwork can help you accomplish your goal of outfitting your space with a beautiful air conditioner system. Air handlers typically are about three-feet long and extend seven inches from a wall or other surface location. Let’s look at some of the inventive ways to hide or camouflage air handlers in a ductless system:

  • Wall-mounted units can be integrated into shelving or cabinets
  • Use ceiling cassette units, which are less noticeable
  • Air handlers can be incorporated in a recessed wall or false beam
  • Wall-mounted units can be located above a door or window
  • Wall units can be installed inside an entertainment center or open bookcase
  • Air handlers can be hidden behind a custom slatted or lattice cover that matches your furnishings
  • Create a box with shuttered doors to hide your AC unit
  • Use artwork to hide your AC unit
  • Paint your AC unit the same color as your walls, so it will blend in
  • Use decorative metal gratings or grilles to cover your AC unit
  • Install the unit close to the ceiling to remove it from your sight line

These are just some of the creative ways to conceal your AC unit. Whatever route you take to make your air handlers less obtrusive, make sure you do not completely block airflow.

AC without ductwork is not for everyone

Though your goal is to eliminate unsightly ductwork, ductless systems aren’t always the best choice. If you have a fully functional ducted system, you may not want to go through the expense of replacing it.

If you run a business that generates a lot of humidity, ducted systems are superior at removing moisture from the air. If airflow is a concern, a ducted system moves air around your space to balance air pressure conditions. Ductless systems are designed to cool targeted areas and don’t necessarily move air between spaces.

Consult an HVAC professional

If you’re considering installing a new HVAC system or upgrading an existing one, contact a qualified HVAC company, which can assess your space, discuss options and come up with a design to suit your needs. Whether you go with a ducted or ductless system, proper design and continued preventative maintenance will be the key to keeping your system up and running without any interruptions that could cost you customers.

Think all HVAC maintenance contracts are the same? Definitely not! Get our helpful guide to learn about the differences and how to get the service that’s right for you: HVAC Preventive Maintenance Contracts: How to Find The Right One For Your HVAC Infrastructure.

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Arista Air can design a system and provide you with a full range of services guaranteed to keep your customers and your employees comfortable, which is essential for your success.