Split systems vs ducted air conditioning systems

Air Conditioning FAQs

The two most common household air conditioners are the split system and the ducted air conditioning system. Here we will discuss the pros and cons of these two air conditioner types.

Split System Air Conditioners


  • Easy to maintain: They have washable filters, which are easily removed and replaced. The outside unit doesn’t require cleaning, however has an easy to clean design.
  • Visually appealing: The indoor central unit typically has an attractive, sleek and modern design, which makes it easy to blend into most modern decor. It is also positioned usually high on a wall, out of the direct line of vision, making it less intrusive.
  • Quiet: The inside unit has a very soft noise level and is discreet and quite unnoticeable.
  • Temperature efficient: Split systems are controlled by a thermostat, to ensure that the set temperature is maintained effectively.
  • Energy efficient: Split systems are more efficient and less expensive to run than ducted air conditioners. You can choose the rooms that you need cooling or heating, therefore reducing electricity costs and is better for the environment. Split systems also come with an energy rating label, giving consumer the ability to choose systems which have a higher energy efficiency rating.
  • Affordable: A split system is less expensive than a ducted air conditioner, with a lower purchase price and installation costs.
  • Easy installation: Installing a split system air conditioner generally can be completed in a day or less, with no big construction requirements.
  • Range of types and models: There are a range of brands and models within the marketplace. This gives consumers the choice of brand, cooling or reverse cycle and power output size.


  • Price: Although a split systems purchase price is much cheaper than a ducted system, depending on the size of your home, you may need multiple units to effectively cool or heat all of the rooms and areas. Therefore, with a larger home, multiple units may required, which may become quite expensive.
  • Installation restrictions: The external and internal units of a split system need to be placed within a certain proximity to each other, due to the available length of the tubing that connects them. Due to this restriction, there may be difficulties in positioning of each unit or it may be a challenge to install a split system in apartments or taller buildings.
  • Noise: The outside compressor unit can make a quite lot of noise and may be disturbing to neighbours or when home owners are outside the home.
  • Cooling/heating range: Split systems are generally effective in small spaces or rooms; however in larger rooms or in open plan spaces, they lack the ability and reach to cool the whole space effectively. In these cases, multiple units may be needed.

Ducted air conditioning


  • Effective cooling: Ducted air conditioning is the most effective system for cooling or heating a whole house.
  • Discreet and quiet: The ducted system is virtually unnoticeable, both in appearance and in noise level. Only the duct vent in each of the rooms is visible and is quieter than a split system air conditioner.
  • Reverse cycle and zoning options: Ducted systems can have a reverse cycle feature, which offers both heating and cooling. Also a zoning feature allows the air conditioner to be programmed or controlled to cool the entire house or only individual rooms or spaces. Zoning additionally allows for flexibility, with different rooms being able to have different settings or temperatures.
  • Increases property value: A ducted air conditioning system can increase the value of a property as it is an expensive and permanent feature.
  • Economically efficient: For a larger home, a duct air conditioner can be much more economical than purchasing individual several split systems for each room. Also it is more economical for a ducted system to be installed in a home being built or renovated as the installation is much easier and less time consuming.


  • Expensive: A ducted system is much more expensive to purchase, install, maintain and to power than a split system.
  • Purchase: Apart from the higher purchase price, reverse cycle and zoning are additional features and cost accordingly.
  • Installation: Ducted air conditioners require more complex installation than a split system, it is easier to install in house in the process of being built or renovated. Ducted air conditioners are individualistic in their design and installation and require a professional installer, which will increase costs.
  • Maintain: As a large ceiling mechanical system, maintaining and repairing the ducted air conditioning will cost more than a split system maintenance.
  • Power: Being a bigger system, ducted air conditioners use more electricity than split systems. They also are not required to have an energy efficiency rating label. If you don’t have zoning, the whole house will be cooled each time you use it, even if you only need one room cooled.
  • Space requirements: Ducted air conditioner requires a lot of space throughout the home, due to the central unit and ceiling ducting. Some properties will not be able to have ducted air conditioning installed due to the lack of required space or structure.

Summary: Split system verses ducted air conditioning

  Split System


Ducted Air Conditioning




·      Less expensive to install, run and purchase

·      Better for small houses or single areas or rooms

·      Simple and quick installation

·      Reverse cycle option for both heating and cooling

·      Easy to maintain

·      Energy and temperature efficient

·      Visually appealing

·      Quiet indoor unit

·      Best for larger or multi level houses or buildings

·      With zoning, each room or area can be controlled separately

·      Discreet and barely noticeable except for vents

·      Maintains temperature throughout a house effectively

·      Virtually noiseless

·      Reverse cycle for both heating and cooling

·      Adds to property value

Cons ·      Expensive if multiple units are required

·      Installation restrictions

·      Noisy outside unit

·      Better for smaller spaces, so multiple units may be needed for one house

·      Visible indoor unit

·      Complex and expensive installation

·      Expensive to purchase, maintain and run

·      Cannot be installed in homes with space constraints

·      Without zoning, the whole house needs to be cooled even if you only need one room conditioned

·      Zoning and reverse cycle are additional extras on standard duct air conditioning

·      If the system stop working due to mechanical problems the whole house will be without power until its resolved

With both the split system and ducted air conditioning types there are considerable pros and cons for each. The best air conditioning option will ultimately be based on your own personal air conditioning needs, the type of property you have and your budget.


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