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Split vs Ducted Air Con

Last Updated Aug 28, 2014 · Written by

Air Conditioners

"Shall we buy a split system or lash out and buy a ducted air con system?" It's easy to put off buying any air conditioning system while you weigh the pros and cons of split vs ducted air con systems in the balance. Each type of system has its advantages and disadvantages. The trick to choosing the right system for you is finding out which one suits your budget and lifestyle the best.

Ducted Air Con


There are a lot of advantages to ducted air conditioning. A ducted system can cool your entire home via its network of ducts. The ducts are hidden in the wall and only discreet wall panels are visible. A "set it and forget it" system, all you have to do is set the thermostat to the desired temperature and your house is always at the perfect temperature. If you pay extra, you can get reverse cycle air conditioning to heat and cool your home. For even greater control, you can get a zone system that allows you to air condition as many or few rooms at a time as you like.

Ducted air conditioning systems are more expensive to buy and install, but their running costs can be offset over time. Getting the right system from a reputable air conditioning installer can help reduce running costs.

Split Systems


A split system is designed for one room only. A single unit is therefore less expensive to buy and have installed, though this will depend on how many rooms they are installed in. Because they have lower energy demands, running costs on split systems are generally lower than ducted air con running costs.

The two most frequently cited disadvantages of split systems are their appearance and limitations. The compressor is fairly big and has to be located outside the house. This can detract from the appearance of the house if the unit has to be located in a prominent position. Although a split system is cheaper than a ducted system, it can only cool a single room. If you want to have air conditioning in the living room, bedrooms and other rooms, you have to buy air conditioners for each room.

At first glance, ducted air conditioning seems like a better solution if you want to air condition your entire house. However, many homeowners have chosen split systems instead and prefer them, saying they offer some hidden advantages:
  • Buying a split system is more affordable because you can add on to the system as your budget allows.
  • If one unit requires repair, the others continue working and repair costs are lower.
  • Replacement costs are lower.
  • Running costs are lower because split systems are used only when and where needed.

Whole Home Cooling


If you want discreet air conditioning for your entire house and your budget allows, a ducted zone system is probably the best choice for you. If you only need air conditioning for one room or don't mind having a few compressors located outside the house, you might prefer a split system. In either case, buy an air conditioner with the right capacity for the space you're cooling and look for one with a high Energy Star rating.  Then you'll know you're getting the most out of every kilowatt of energy your air con uses.

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