You don't always need to rely on a ducted air conditioner for your home when it's time to have a new system installed. There are other models that may provide all the cooling you need, but which might cost much less and be much easier to install. Note a few of your options, along with their pros and cons, so you can determine the best choice when you need a new air conditioner for your home.
1. Window or portable units
The benefit of window or portable units is that you can take them with you when you move to a new home, and they don't require any professional installation. However, note that a window unit might need added bracing on the outside, something that can be difficult for a second-story window. Also, portable units still need a nearby window for their vent, so they aren't a good choice for basements with no windows. While these may seem like the most convenient choice, don't assume that window or portable units would work for any room of the home.
2. Heat pumps
A heat pump works by moving around air; during summertime, it will take cooler air from outside and pump it into your home, while removing warm air that is trapped inside. This type of system often also works in reverse during wintertime, taking warmer air from outside while removing cold air from interior rooms. A heat pump means a smaller unit that works year-round, so you don't space for both a furnace and central air conditioner. It may also require less electricity, as it doesn't need to work so hard to heat or cool air before pumping it into your home. However, a heat pump may not be as powerful as a standard furnace and air conditioner, so you may not get the cooling and heating you would with another type of unit.
3. Ductless mini split system
A ductless system blows cool air through a front panel that is installed in a wall or ceiling. This type of system doesn't work through the home's ducts, but it does still need a direct vent outside; this requires specialized installation and a hole in the side of the house. A mini split system is much smaller than a standard split system, so it's easier to install and less obtrusive. A mini split system is meant for a small space like a bedroom, whereas a standard split system might cool your entire living room, dining room, and connected spaces. The mini split system may be less powerful but it's also less noticeable inside and outside the home.