Installing air conditioning in a home with forced air heating is pretty straightforward. Your HVAC technician can just install a compressor and coil, and the cold air will circulate through the same ducts used to deliver heat in the winter. But when you have a boiler system, things get more complicated. Your home does not have ductwork, and installing ductwork is a huge endeavor -- it's often not even possible without extensive remodeling that involves tearing down walls. However, this does not mean you have to suffer endlessly in the sweltering heat. Here's a look at your options for air conditioning in a home with boiler-style heating.
Window units have the reputation of being a nuisance, since you have to install and uninstall them each year. However, they do have their advantages in homes where central air is not an option. Window units are inexpensive; you can purchase them at a home goods store and install them yourself without having to call an HVAC company. They allow you to control the temperatures of rooms separately, and today's models are relatively efficient. Today, you can find very powerful window AC units that are capable of cooling rooms up to 650 square feet.
If you only plan on using your air conditioning on the hottest days of the year, or if you really need a system for cooling your home right now, window units are not a bad choice. On the other hand, if you live in an area where security is a concern, you may want to steer clear of this option. (Window units making breaking in easier.) If you have limited mobility or are otherwise incapable of safely lifting and installing the units, you should also steer clear of window-based air conditioning.
Ductless Mini-Split AC Systems
If you're seeking a more permanent AC option and don't mind waiting for a professional to install a system in your home, you'll want to look into ductless mini-split AC systems. These systems consist of an outdoor condenser unit along with one or more air handling units that blow the cooled air into your home. The condenser and air handlers are connected via outdoor tubes rather than indoor ducts.
Ductless mini-split air conditioning systems give you a lot of control of the temperatures throughout your home, since you can adjust each air handling unit individually. For example, you can cool your living room to 70 degrees and let the upstairs climb to 75 if you desire. They're also rather unobtrusive. Since modern models feature remote controls, the air handling units can be mounted on the walls close to the ceiling, where they're less apt to get in the way. Once in place, the system will stay there -- you don't have to install or uninstall anything when the weather changes like you do with window units.
Ductless AC units are a great choice for many homes with boiler systems, but they're not perfect. They do come with a pretty high price tag. Expect to pay between $2,000 and $5,000 to have this type of system installed in a smaller home, or up to $7,000 if your home is close to 2,000 square feet. Ductless mini-split systems need to be installed precisely, so it's a job that an HVAC technician will need to handle -- not a DIY project.
Whether you're better off using window units or having a ductless mini-split system installed truly depends on your needs. Do you have a tight budget, no reason to worry about security, or an immediate need for cooling? Installing window units might be a better choice. But if you can afford to spend a bit more, ductless mini-split systems are more convenient and less intrusive on your space. Contact a company like Metro Air for more information.