Older homes present unique problems when it comes to adding modern climate control systems, mostly due to the difficulty of adding ductwork without tearing apart the whole inside of your home. Luckily, there are a few great solutions that allow you to add modern air conditioning services to your home without the extra headache and cost associated.

Read on to better understand the issues with installing modern air conditioning options in older homes without ductwork, and the potential solutions that Unique Indoor Comfort offers.

The problem: Where to put the equipment and ductwork?

Most homes in the Philadelphia area were built with some form of central heating system, but in many cases this takes the form of a boiler and radiators in each room, or some other traditional distribution system that does not require ductwork to distribute the conditioned air. This means that the home was generally not built with ductwork in mind.

Since traditional ductwork can easily be 6” to 12” wide, this can present problems with where to put it. This often means tearing walls apart and creating extra soffits, or areas behind the walls or ceilings to hide the ducts, which means altering the architecture of your rooms and often significant cost.

Another common problem is where to put the equipment itself, which can be large and often has specific requirements for where it should be placed in relation to the rest of the home and system. This can be especially difficult in the rowhomes that are so common in the Philadelphia area, and often don’t have much space to spare either inside or out.

The result of these issues is that many people think the only answer is to fill every room of their house with noisy, inefficient window units that are often removed and stored during the off-season. Don’t worry though! Unique Indoor Comfort offers a variety of air conditioning solutions that are less expensive and less disruptive to traditional central cooling systems.

Air Conditioning Options for Homes Without Ductwork

Unique Indoor Comfort offers two primary solutions that will meet the needs of most homeowners looking to install central air in a house without ducts.

High Velocity Systems

A high velocity air conditioning system can be an ideal air conditioning retrofit solution for any home, no matter its age or construction. These systems deliver cool air through 2 inch flexible ducts designed and engineered to fit existing framework, meaning that there are no big, unsightly ducts. The compact air handler can be easily installed in attics, basements, crawl spaces or even closets, allowing the design to fit in almost any construction.

This means that we are able to preserve the architectural integrity and charm of the home, making it an ideal solution for the older rowhomes that we see all over the Delaware Valley. From restored barns to simple colonials and city rowhomes, retrofitting your property with high velocity AC provides comfort without disruption or renovation.

Learn more on our High Velocity Air Conditioning Systems page.

Mini Split Systems

Ever wonder why you have to turn on the AC system for the whole house just to cool the one room that you’re sitting in? Well, Ductless Mini Split Systems allow you to install and use cooling solutions one room at a time, instead of having to cool the whole house at once. Ductless split systems operate using two main components: an outdoor compressor/condenser and an indoor air handler.

These systems are smaller than traditional central air systems and don’t require the extensive ductwork to distribute the chilled air, making it much easier to install in a house. The inside components of the system require minimal installation and can be mounted almost anywhere in the home that has access to electricity. These systems are ideal for additions and renovations, where you may be adding a room or two that need climate control, but don’t necessarily need to cover the entire home. Split type air conditioners can also be a great replacement for your window units, as they are cost-effective and easy to install in older homes with limited space.

Learn more on our Ductless Mini Split Installation & Service page

Have questions about either High Velocity or Ductless Mini Split systems? Call us any time, we’re glad to answer them!

Key factors to consider when choosing an AC solution

There are a variety of factors to consider when deciding which type of solution is most fitting for your needs:

Space for installation

Do you have the space to install the High Velocity system, and are you prepared to run the ducts throughout your house? These ducts are much, much smaller and easier to run than traditional systems, but are still more disruptive than a wall mounted split system.

Installation cost

A high velocity system will commonly cost $20,000-$45,000 depending on the specifics of your home, while a mini-split system will usually start at $4,500. Mini-splits also allow you to focus on a room or two at a time, which greatly saves on installation costs and can break up the costs into smaller projects.

Central system or modular?

Do you prefer to have a centralized air system that can be controlled with a thermostat in each zone, or are you interested in having a separate “zone” in each room? Setting each room’s temperature separately with a mini-split system certainly has its upsides, but it can also be a pain to manage.


Following on the last point, having individualized control for each room means that you can only cool the rooms that you are using at any given time. If you take this seriously it can save you a lot of money on your monthly energy bill for climate control.

Cooling needs

Are you looking to cool your whole house, or do you just need a boost in a few rooms? Mini-split systems allow you to target a few rooms, without having to retrofit your whole home. If you have those loud, annoying window units in every room of the house though, maybe it’s time to think about installing a high-velocity central air conditioning system.

Some final thoughts…

While any form of installing central air in a house without ducts will require some cutting and modifications, using a high-velocity or mini-split system can provide a much less intrusive, more economical solution in many cases. Our climate control specialists are happy to answer any questions and walk you through the process of deciding what type of system offers the best solution for your needs.

Give us a call to talk about the best solution for you!