Ceiling cassettes and wall mount models are currently two of the most popular mini-split AC indoor air handler options. Both designs are sleek and attractive. Both are also modern enough to fit any contemporary décor.
At the same time, the two differ significantly in size and how they work. For example, while ceiling cassettes recess into the ceiling, wall-mount AC air handlers hang or install on the wall.
In the end, you have two modern and incredibly stylish choices for indoor air handling. So, which one would be the better pick? Let’s begin by understanding each option in more detail.
Mini Split Ceiling Cassettes
Ceiling cassettes are one of the many types of ductless mini-split AC indoor air handlers. A distinguishing characteristic of ceiling cassettes is that most of the devices’ mechanics are concealed behind the ceiling such that only a discrete grille is visible. It’s an innovative design that allows ceiling cassette mini-splits to fit any room and blend seamlessly with the surroundings.
Conditioned air from the compressor unit is released into the house via two, three, or four cassette sides. As with other ductless mini-split configurations, the compressor unit remains outside the house throughout.
Benefits of Ceiling Cassette Mini Split Systems
Like every other ductless mini-split system, the main benefit of ceiling cassette models is high energy efficiency. These units waste very little power. However, ceiling cassettes come with a few more advantages over wall-mount systems;
- Discrete appearance
Of all ductless mini-split AC configurations, ceiling cassette models are the most discrete. For one, the ceiling cassette is installed above the eye, where it offers very little distraction. As a result, you don’t have to worry about the cassette compromising indoor décor. More importantly, 90% of the unit is hidden behind the ceiling such that only the grille is visible.
- Maximum space utilization
Although wall systems also don’t take space on the floor, many people still need the wall for various purposes, such as hanging pictures and artwork. The wall-mount AC may therefore alter your plans and force you to have those favorite family photos elsewhere. Ceiling cassettes are installed/recessed in the ceiling, thus take up no space on the floor or walls.
- Customizable airflow options
Ceiling cassette mini-split systems typically have air outlets on four sides. However, you can open and close the outlets as you wish to direct the cool, fresh air where you need it most. Remember that the vents can also be adjusted as you wish to further control airflow inside the house. It’s a mechanism that gives you a lot of control over the air conditioning process in your home.
- Low noise operation
The average mini split ceiling cassette is also a lot quieter than other ductless mini-split systems. Two key reasons are the type of installation and the location. A recessed ceiling installation means that most of the sound is absorbed by the ceiling or escapes up into the attic. As a result, a 40dB ceiling-recessed fan produces less audible noise than a similar-sized wall-mounted model.
- Serves a wider area
We’ve already seen that ceiling cassettes blow air from all four sides. One benefit of this approach is that the air reaches every corner of the room more efficiently, especially compared to wall-mounted mini-split units. Remember also that the cassette can be installed at the center of the room for even distribution of cool air, whereas the wall-mounted AC is only installed on one of the four corners.
Despite the many advantages, ceiling cassette mini-split systems are known for a few downsides as follows;
- Significant distance between cassette and outdoor compressor
This is arguably the biggest disadvantage of ceiling cassette systems. Since the cassette is installed on the ceiling, ideally at the center of the room, there’s a considerable distance between the air handler and the outdoor compressor. Now, imagine the length of refrigerant lines and power cables needed to link the two! It can make installation more expensive.
- Not applicable in all buildings
This is especially true if you live in a house with many floors. You’re not guaranteed that the ceiling in all the rooms will be good enough for ceiling cassette installation.
Wall-Mounted Air Conditioners
As the name suggests, wall-mounted air conditioners are installed on the wall. Some hang onto the wall like wall art, while others are installed on a bracket screwed to the wall. Whichever the approach, care is taken to ensure that the air handler is safe and can deliver air throughout the room without any obstruction.
Large rooms may require multiple wall-mounted air handlers, though you can cut costs by opting for one powerful unit. The multiple wall-mount units can connect to one outdoor compressor, or each can have its own outdoor condense.
The actual size of the wall-mounted air handler varies from one manufacturer to the next. However, consumers tend to prefer the more compact models.
Key Advantages of Wall-Mount ACs
Wall-mounted ductless mini-split air handlers are the most popular globally. There are several good reasons for this;
- Easier installation
Wall-mounted mini split AC air handlers are arguably the easiest to install of all non-portable models. In many cases, all you need to do is screw the brackets to the selected area of the wall and slide the wall mount air handler into the brackets. It takes less than 10 minutes. Meanwhile, ceiling-mounted cassettes require professional installation.
- They don’t take any space on the floor
Floor space can be at a premium in most homes. Taking out even a few square inches off your living space for the AC may completely change the setup in that area. Wall-mounted air handlers hang from the wall, so you don’t have to worry about potentially moving the sofa and a few chairs to create space for it. You also don’t have to worry about cables running dangerously across the floor.
- Uninterrupted airflow
Similar to ceiling-mounted cassettes, the wall-mounted air handler distributes cool, fresh air throughout the room with minimal, if any, impediment. Compared to floor-mounted units that face obstructions from furniture and other objects in the room, the airflow is smooth and uninterrupted.
- Shorter distance to the compressor
In wall-mounted AC applications, the indoor air handler and compressor are installed on opposite sides of the same wall. Often, the distance between the two is less than two meters.
This makes installation a lot easier than ceiling cassettes that can be up to ten meters away from the compressor. A shorter distance between the compressor and air handler also boosts energy conservation.
Just their ceiling-mounted counterparts, wall-mount ductless mini-split air conditioner air handlers also come with a few downsides, including;
- Higher prices
Wall mount air handlers are significantly pricier than ceiling cassettes. The exact prices vary from one model to another and one manufacturer to the next. However, cassettes tend to be at least 50% more affordable than wall-mounted units.
- Poorer air distribution
This isn’t to say that wall-mounted air handlers are poor air distributors. They’re much better than floor-mounted models in this regard, for instance. However, remember that the wall-mounted AC is installed on one of the four walls of the room.
Typically, the cool, fresh air will be concentrated around this wall, with very little conditioned air reaching the opposite wall. Ceiling cassettes, owing to a more central positioning, can serve the whole room more evenly.
So, Which One Is Better?
It depends on your needs. Ceiling cassettes are the better choice if you’re looking for a more discrete installation. You’ll mostly find them in offices and smaller spaces, in general. Meanwhile, wall-mount setups are better suited to larger areas where smoother airflow is more important than aesthetics.