What are the pros and cons of ducted air conditioning?

Air Conditioning FAQs

Thinking about installing ducted air conditioning? Well, here are some things to think about.

What is ducted air conditioning?

Ducted air conditioning systems are one of the most common types of air conditioners, alongside spilt system air conditioners. Ducted air conditioning is an air conditioning system, where its internal ceiling unit sends air throughout a house through ducting pipes and vents in each room.

How does ducted air conditioning work?

Ducted air conditioning works in a similar way to split system conditioners, where an indoor unit connects to an outside unit. However, with ducted air conditioning the indoor central unit is located in the ceiling of a home. The internal unit has an internal fan coil inside it which connects to the ducting. The ducting is a system of insulated pipes either installed in the floor or ceiling to circulate cool air around the home. Air is released into the home by vents installed in each of the rooms in the home. To control the temperature and timing, there is a control panel which can programme and alter settings.

Zoning is an additional feature, which can be added to a ducted air conditioning unit. With zoning, users can control the temperature or the flow into individual rooms or zones by the control panel. Basically, the user can decide which rooms need air conditioning at that time, instead cooling or heating the entire home. Also the temperature can be set at different levels in different zones in the house.

As with all air conditioners, the ducted air conditioner system works on the heat pump cycle, which is basically the movement or pumping of heat from one place to another to create cool or warm air.

What is ducted heating and cooling?

If you decide on a ducted system, you may choose to only have a cooling-only or heating-only model, depending on your needs and the environment and climate in which you live. If you require both cooling and heating, you will need a ducted system with a reverse cycle system. A reverse cycle system can reverse the heat pump process cycle as mentioned above, allowing either cool or warm air to be distributed.

What are the costs associated with ducted air conditioning?

A ducted system is quite an investment. Costs can range between $8,000 to $15,000. The cost range will depend on the type of premises.

The type of ducted air conditioner required in your home is based on a lot of different factors. Ducted air conditioners are individualistic in their design and installation, so therefore the costs are more. A professional installer will need to inspect your home and discuss your air conditioning needs, before giving a quote.

Pros and benefits of ducted air conditioning

  • Permanent and effective: Ducted air conditioning is the most permanent air conditioning solution and the most effective for cooling or heating your entire home.
  • Discreet: Apart from the duct vent in each of the rooms, the air conditioning system is relative unnoticeable and can be a lot quieter than a split system air conditioner.
  • Zoning: Zoning allows the user to decide whether to cool the entire house or individual rooms or zones. With zoning, also different rooms can have different settings or temperatures, allowing flexible cooling solutions.
  • Adds property value: Generally speaking, a ducted air conditioning system adds value to your home, as it is an expensive and permanent feature.
  • More economical: A duct air conditioner can be more economical than installing several split systems to cover the same amount of space. With a new home being built or an older home which is being renovated, it is actually is easier to install the ducted conditioning during that process and reducing installation costs.

Cons or limitations of ducted air conditioning

It is expensive:

  • To buy: Purchasing a ducted air conditioning unit is much more expensive than a split system unit. There are also additional costs involved if you require zoning or a reverse cycle air conditioner, as these are not part of the standard unit and will cost more.
  • To operate: Generally, ducted air conditioners use more electricity than split systems, even when they are being used in an economical mode. If you don’t have zoning and you only need to cool or heat one area or room at a time, it can be costly to cool the whole house. Ducted systems generally meet minimum legislative energy performance recommendations; however do not hold an energy rating label.
  • To install: To install a new ducted system in an existing home which has never had ducted before, the installation is much more complex and therefore more expensive.

There are extensive installation requirements:

  • Professional installation of the ducted air conditioner is required and can be costly. When installing, lot of things need to be considered like the structure of the house, the layout, positioning of doors and windows, the ceiling space and much more. The installation requires access to the ceiling to fit the system and to install piping into the ceiling or floors, as well as ducts in each room.
  • Some large ducted systems require a three-phase electricity supply, which will be an extra installation cost, if you don’t already have it.
  • The ducted air conditioner is a large system and requires a lot of space throughout the home. Some homes cannot accommodate ducted air conditioning due to the lack of space that is needed or due to their structural design.

Ongoing maintenance and repair: As with any large mechanical system, ongoing maintenance and repair is necessary and will obviously be more expensive than a smaller split system. Just due the internal nature of the system, adds to repair costs and the entire home will be without air conditioning until it’s fixed.


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