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Ducted Aircon vs. Split Systems

Choosing between ducted air conditioning and split systems can be tricky. Ducted aircon uses hidden ducts to cool or heat the whole house or office, perfect for bigger places. Split systems have two parts: one outside and one inside, great for smaller spaces or just cooling one room.

Split systems are cheaper to install and run, easy to use with a remote control, and you can add more units later if you need them. Ducted systems let you control different zones’ temperatures and can warm your place in winter too but cost more at the start and need space for the ducts.

Both need to be checked by a professional every year to work their best. When picking which one is right for you, think about how big your place is, its layout, how much money you want to spend, and what fits your life better.

Both types can also do reverse cycle heating which saves energy and lowers bills while being kinder to the planet. Get ready to learn more!

Understanding Ducted Air Conditioning Systems

Ducted air conditioning systems provide a discreet way of cooling and heating your entire home. They work through a series of ducts installed in the ceiling or floor, offering consistent climate control in every room.

Key Features

Ducted air conditioning systems offer even temperature control throughout a property. They work through concealed ducting, with only the vents visible in each room. This setup allows for potential zoning, where different areas can be heated or cooled to specific temperatures.

Additionally, these systems can include reverse cycle heating, providing both cooling in summer and heating in winter.

Split system air conditioners consist of an outdoor condenser and an indoor unit, often mounted on the wall. These are ideal for cooling smaller spaces or single rooms without the need for extensive ductwork.

Key advantages include lower installation and running costs compared to ducted systems. Users enjoy remote control operation, making it easy to adjust settings from anywhere in the room.

Moreover, split systems offer flexibility; you can add more units as needed while keeping energy efficiency in mind.

Pros and Cons

Choosing the right air conditioning system involves weighing the benefits against the drawbacks. Each type of system, whether it’s a ducted aircon or a split system, comes with its own set of advantages and limitations.

  1. Offers even temperature control throughout your property, providing comfort in every room.
  2. Zoning technology allows you to heat or cool specific areas as needed, enhancing energy efficiency.
  3. Reverse cycle functionality gives you the convenience of both cooling and heating, making it ideal for all seasons.
  4. Integrated into the structure of your home or building, they are less visually intrusive compared to other options.
  1. Installation costs are generally higher due to the complexity and scale of ductwork required.
  2. Adequate space for ducting is essential; it may not be suitable for all homes or buildings.
  3. Can lead to energy waste if used indiscriminately, cooling spaces that aren’t in use.
  1. Lower upfront costs make split systems an economical option for many users.
  2. They offer remote control operation, providing ease and convenience in adjusting settings.
  3. You can install additional units over time, allowing flexibility with budget constraints.
  4. Designed for quiet operation, making them less disruptive in your living or working environment.
  1. The outdoor unit can affect the aesthetics of your property’s exterior appearance.
  2. Cooling capacity is somewhat limited; large areas might need multiple units.
  3. Managing numerous indoor units increases maintenance efforts and costs over time.

The Role of Insulation in Ducted Air Conditioning Efficiency

Moving from the advantages and disadvantages, it’s important to discuss how insulation significantly impacts ducted air conditioning systems. Good insulation keeps cool air in during summer and warm air in during winter.

This means your ducted system doesn’t have to work as hard, saving energy and reducing bills.

Insulation in the ductwork prevents heat loss or gain as air travels through your home. Properly insulated air ducts maintain the temperature of conditioned air. This leads to a more efficiently run system, conserving energy and ensuring even temperature control throughout your property.

Understanding Split System Air Conditioning

Split system air conditioning units consist of two main parts: an outdoor unit and an indoor head unit. These systems are known for their efficiency in cooling individual rooms or spaces within a home.

Key Components

Split system air conditioners have two main parts: an outdoor condenser and an indoor head unit. The outdoor condenser does the heavy lifting by cooling the refrigerant, which then travels to the indoor head unit.

This part of the system blasts cool air into your room. These units are energy efficient, making them a popular choice for those looking to conserve energy and reduce their kilowatt-hour usage.

Ducted systems work differently. They use a central unit connected to a series of ducts hidden in your home’s walls or ceiling. Cool air flows through these ducts and comes out through vents in each room.

This setup allows for even temperature control across different areas, with options for zoning to heat or cool specific rooms as needed. Ducted systems can be more discreet since all components are concealed, creating a seamless look throughout your property.

Comparing Ducted and Split Systems

Ducted and split systems both offer unique benefits for cooling and heating your home. A thorough comparison helps you determine which system best meets your needs.

Installation process

Installing a ducted air conditioning system involves placing concealed ducting throughout the property, with vents being the only visible parts. This requires significant planning and space within ceilings or under floors to accommodate the ductwork.

Professionals must carry out this installation to ensure efficiency in central heating and cooling.

Split systems have a different setup, consisting of an outdoor condenser unit connected to an indoor head unit through piping. These systems are easier and quicker to install compared to ducted aircons.

They suit smaller spaces well, like apartments or single rooms, making them ideal for targeted heating and cooling without needing extensive duct work.


Ducted air conditioning systems blend seamlessly into a property, making them an aesthetically pleasing choice. Only the air vents are visible, ensuring the decor remains uninterrupted.

This system is ideal for maintaining the aesthetic value of larger properties or offices without the need for multiple units.

Split systems, on the other hand, require wall-mounted units that can impact a room’s look and feel. However, they offer a practical solution for cooling smaller spaces or single rooms where installing ducted systems might not be feasible due to space constraints.

Their design has evolved over time to become more sleek and less intrusive, appealing to those looking to maintain room aesthetics in smaller areas.

Next, we explore performance differences between these two options.


Split systems often excel in smaller spaces due to their targeted cooling or heating capabilities. They quickly adjust the temperature in single rooms, making them energy-efficient for specific needs.

However, they might struggle with evenly distributing air in larger homes without multiple units.

Ducted air conditioning systems shine by offering consistent and even temperature control across an entire property. With reverse cycle options available, they can heat or cool different zones efficiently.

This ability ensures a comfortable environment throughout the house, regardless of its size or layout.


Ducted air conditioning systems need regular checks to work well and avoid breakdowns. This includes looking for leaks in the ducts and making sure they are well insulated. These steps stop energy from being wasted.

A professional should service these systems at least once a year. They will spot any problems and keep everything running smoothly.

Cleaning filters, coils, and fans is vital for split system air conditioners to perform their best. Dust and dirt can build up more quickly in these units, both indoors and outdoors, requiring more frequent maintenance efforts.

Just like ducted systems, split-system units also benefit from an annual check-up by a skilled technician to prolong their lifespan and prevent expensive repairs.

Factors to Consider when Choosing between Ducted and Split Systems

Choosing between ducted and split systems for air conditioning requires careful thought. It’s important to weigh several key factors before making a decision. Here are some crucial considerations:

  1. Property Size and Layout:
  • Ducted systems offer even temperature control, making them ideal for larger properties with multiple rooms.
  • Split systems work well in smaller spaces or single rooms because you can install units as needed.
  1. Installation Costs:
  • Installing a ducted system usually costs more upfront due to the complexity of adding ductwork.
  • Split systems have lower initial installation costs, allowing for gradual expansion within your budget.
  1. Running Costs and Efficiency:
  • Consider the kilowatt hour usage of both systems to understand their energy efficiency.
  • Ducted systems can be more cost-effective for whole-house heating and cooling but might lead to higher utility bills if not properly zoned.
  • Split systems may provide lower running costs, especially in smaller homes or less frequently used spaces.
  1. Aesthetic Impact:
  • Think about how each system will look in your home. Ducted units are almost invisible, with only vents showing.
  • Split systems require wall – mounted units inside your home, which may not suit every interior design.
  1. Maintenance Requirements:
  • Both systems need regular maintenance to prevent issues like mould growth and ensure reliable operation.
  • Ducted systems often require professional cleaning of ducts and vents.
  • For split systems, homeowners can easily clean filters themselves but might need professional service for deeper issues.
  1. Lifestyle and Comfort:
  • Consider how each system aligns with your lifestyle. If zoning is important for controlling temperatures in different areas, ducted might be better.
  • Split systems offer flexibility with remote control operations, perfect for adjusting settings on the go.
  1. Future Flexibility:
  • Think about whether you plan to expand your property or make significant renovations that could affect the air conditioning system choice.
  • A split system allows you to add or remove units according to changes in space use while changing a ducted system layout might be more complex.


Deciding between ducted and split air conditioning systems depends on several key factors including property size, budget, and personal preferences. Ducted solutions offer seamless whole-home comfort but carry higher upfront costs.

On the other hand, split systems provide flexibility and lower initial investment but may require multiple units for larger spaces. Carefully weigh these considerations to find the most suitable cooling solution for your needs.


1. What is the difference between ducted aircon and split systems?

Ducted air conditioning sends cool or warm air through ducts in your ceiling to every room, while split-system air conditioners target individual rooms with a unit mounted on the wall.

2. Which is more energy-efficient, ducted or split system air conditioners?

Split-system air conditioners often have higher Energy Star ratings for single rooms, making them more energy-efficient for small spaces. Ducted systems can be efficient for cooling or heating multiple rooms if designed correctly.

3. Do both ducted and split systems offer reverse cycle options?

Yes, both ducted and split-system air conditioners come with reverse cycle options, providing cooling in summer and heating in winter.

4. How does the cost of installing ducted compare to split system air conditioning?

Installing ducted air conditioning tends to be more expensive than installing a split system due to the complexity of adding ductwork throughout your home. However, the choice depends on your needs for entire house comfort versus single-room solutions.

5. Can I use either system for both heating and cooling my home?

Absolutely! Both systems offer evaporative cooling and electric heating options, making them versatile for year-round climate control within your living space.

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