Central Air vs. Split Air Conditioner in Hawaii

January 27th, 2021

When most people think of the Hawaiian islands, they think of warm breezes, beautiful tropical settings, and plenty of sunshine.

If you aren’t from the islands, you may also assume that houses in the area primarily require air conditioning units and no heaters. 

While many homes have a split air conditioner in Hawaii, these homes’ heating and cooling needs are different from those in other areas of the United States.

A technician removing a filter from an A/C unit

Hawaii Air Conditioner and Heater Requirements

Contrary to popular belief, the Hawaiian islands go through seasonal changes, even if they are not nearly as drastic as in the Midwest and Eastern Coast of the United States. Indeed, many homes in Hawaii do not require a traditional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) unit. 

The average temperature ranges between a balmy 78- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit. However, that doesn’t mean that houses don’t have some form of heating unit in them, especially for those chillier winter months.

Seasonal Changes in Hawaii

Unlike the rest of the U.S., Hawaii only experiences two seasons throughout the year. 

Summer and winter.

These seasons don’t fall within the same periods as it does in other parts of the U.S. The winter months on the mainland usually occur from December through February, and the summer months are typically June through September. 

In the Hawaiian islands, these seasons are split up a bit differently. The summer months usually fall between May and October, while the winter months fall between November and April. While the average temperature between each season is only about a seven-degree difference, when you’re used to warm, tropical temps, even 70 degrees Fahrenheit can seem cold. 

Instead of installing a large HVAC unit, most homeowners choose to go with a ductless heating and air conditioning system.

Maintaining a Comfortable Home: HVAC or Mini-Split Unit?

When it comes to maintaining a comfortable home in Hawaii, it’s essential to know your options. 

For some people, their homes are designed so that the natural Hawaiian trade winds provide plenty of air movement and ventilation throughout the home, and they may have no real need for an HVAC or mini-split unit. 

However, what one person finds comfortable, another may find too chilly or even stifling hot. For this reason, more Hawaiian homes are being remodeled and built with heaters and air conditioners. The choice then hangs between whether to install a traditional HVAC unit or a mini-split unit. 

So, how do you choose between one or the other? By being properly informed on how each one works.

Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Units

A traditional HVAC unit is an extensive system that keeps air moving throughout your home by using a complex duct system. These systems help control the temperature and humidity within your home while also filtering the air you breathe. 

The system’s functioning begins outside with your central unit. It draws in the surrounding air and runs in through a series of filters (the number and location of filters will depend on the individual system), helping to rid the air of any large particles or pollution while also reducing access humidity. The air is then either heated or cooled and distributed throughout the home via the duct system. These run underneath the floor, through the walls, and/or the ceiling. 

There are several different types of HVAC units worth considering, including: 

  • Single-stage 
  • Multi-stage 
  • Zoned systems 
  • Systems with or without humidity control options 

Mini-Split Units

These units are often referred to as ductless heating or air conditioning unit. Some consumers mistake them for a traditional window or wall AC unit, yet they are quite different. 

Mini-split air conditioning and heating units are hung on the wall. But, they only require a small drilled hole instead of keeping your window cracked open or requiring a massive frame built for a wall unit. 

Mini-split units come in several different forms, including: 

  • Single-zone 
  • Multi-zone 
  • Wall-mounted 
  • Floor-mounted 
  • Ceiling cassette 
  • Concealed duct 

Many people enjoy these split AC and heating units because they are only used in a single room, which helps cut energy costs for the home. 

Can You Get by with Only a Split Air Conditioner in Hawaii?

The good news? Yes, most individuals can get by and live a healthy, comfortable life with just a simple split air conditioner in the home. 

Since the average temperature on the islands doesn’t reach far below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, there really is no need to install a dedicated heating unit in the home. However, with temperatures that can rise well above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, many people, especially the elderly and those with breathing conditions, require some form of AC unit in the home. 

An AC unit can also help: 

  • Decrease the number of viruses and insects in your home
  • Improve your overall sleep quality 
  • Decrease your chances of dehydration due to constant sweating 
  • Decrease the overall noise pollution in the home, especially for those living in busy cities
  • Keep your electronic devices from overheating, and more 

That said, if you are looking for a system that can heat and cool your home, you do not necessarily need a clunky HVAC system. Instead, you can opt for a ductless system that produces both hot and cold air. You simply need to get a heat pump for the outdoor unit. 

Get an Expert Opinion from Island Comfort Air Conditioning

When it’s time to decide between the right heating and cooling system for your home, you should seek the best possible advice. If you’re unsure about whether you need a traditional HVAC system or a split air conditioner in Hawaii, you should have a conversation with the experts. 

Our Island Comfort team isn’t only familiar with the many options for mini-split units but is also familiar with traditional HVAC systems. This means that we can help you decide not only what’s best for your home but also what’s best for your overall health and wellbeing. 

Island Comfort air conditioning services go well beyond selling you a product. We’ll also manage your installation and help with maintenance and repairs. We treat your home as if it’s our own, leaving it better than we found it whenever possible. 

We’ll come to you for your consultation, delivering years of experience and know-how to your door. If you choose to do business with Island Comfort, please know that your satisfaction means everything to us. 

Contact Island Comfort Air Conditioning to schedule your consultation today.