There is no single answer to which type of air conditioner is the best. Both ducted and split system air conditioners have their pros and cons. When it comes down to it, it depends on the size and layout of your house, and what you want from your air conditioner. In this article we’ll cover the main pros and cons of the two to help you make an educated decision.

If you feel like you might want some help deciding between the options feel free to contact the team on 0403 254 272 for all your air conditioning needs in Brisbane.

Ducted Air Conditioning

Ducted air conditioners are a centrally controlled cooling system that is designed to cool an entire building or house through the use of ducts. Ducted air conditioning units also come in reverse cycle models for both cooling and heating. Some ducted air conditioners are equipped with zone control for the individual heating and cooling of different rooms or zones of the house.


The Benefits of Ducted Air Conditioning

Single Unit Cools Entire Home

Like with any air conditioning system, ducted air con comes with its own list of pros and cons. One obvious advantage of installing a ducted air conditioner is that a single unit will cool your entire home. Through the use of ducts, air is cooled by the main unit and then redirected into every room of the house. This makes it easy for ducted systems to maintain a single temperature throughout the house.

Not only is the maintained house temperature beneficial for those living in the house, the controlled conditions can also help to extend the lifetime of the flooring and furniture throughout the house.

When you are cooling an entire house, ducted systems are much more energy efficient than split system units as only one ducted unit is required.

Visually Appealing

Another advantage of installing a ducted system over split system air conditioning is the inconspicuous finish. Because the entire air conditioning unit is located in the roof, the only visible components of the unit is the wall or floor vents. This gives a much more aesthetically pleasing finish when compared to the eyesore of a wall-mounted split system air conditioning unit. This also makes ducted air conditioners the quieter option as there are no in-room components.


Some models of ducted air conditioners include zoning features. This means that the cooling system is split into rooms or zones that can be cooled individually. Zoning can help to improve the energy efficiency of the system as you are only cooling the areas as needed.

For example, during the day you may only need to cool the living areas of the house. The zoning feature of a ducted air conditioning allows for this type of targeted cooling. This feature reduces energy costs as the whole house doesn’t need to be cooled when a single area is in use.
The zoning feature also allows you to cool different rooms to different temperatures if required.

Set And Forget

A ducted air conditioning system comes with a central control unit – usually a wall mounted panel. You can use this unit to set your desired house temperature. Once this is set the system will constantly maintain the desired temperature throughout the house.

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The Drawbacks Of Ducted Air Conditioning

Running Costs

One question we are constantly asked is whether or not ducted air conditioning is expensive to run. Well, ducted systems can be quite expensive to run without zoning. This is because ducted air conditioners cannot be set to cool a single room. This will drive up your power bill as the entire house will be cooled whenever the system is in use regardless of the area that is currently occupied.

However, with a zoning system ducted air conditioning is much more cost effective as you can cool each area as needed rather than having to cool the entire house.

Upfront Costs

Ducted air conditioning systems are considerably more expensive than a single split system unit. They are also more expensive to install as they require the installation of ducts throughout the house and vents in every room to be cooled.


The appeal of an air conditioning unit that is not visible from the room it is cooling can be enticing. However, this means that the entire unit must be installed somewhere else. This makes ducted air conditioning an unsuitable option for houses without room for the ducts and unit in the roof.

Wall Mounted Control

Unlike the portable remote control of a split system unit, ducted systems require a stationary control unit. This means that you will have to walk to the room with the wall mounted control to cool any area of the house.

However, some ducted systems are smart phone compatible and are able to be controlled through wifi.

Split System Air Conditioning

Split system air conditioning units are designed to cool a single room or area of the house. Like ducted systems, split system air conditioners also have reverse cycle models that can both cool and heat a room.

As the name indicates, there are two components to a split system unit, the indoor unit, and the outdoor unit. Multi split system units are a type of split system air conditioner that can cool multiple areas or larger rooms than a single split system unit.



The Benefits Of Split System Air Conditioning

Upfront Cost

When compared with ducted air conditioning units, split system units are significantly cheaper both in unit cost and installation cost. The minimal installation required for split system units also means that the installation time will be a lot shorter than a ducted air conditioner.

Spread Cost

When cooling an entire home with a ducted air conditioning unit there is a large, unavoidable upfront cost for the entire unit. Conversely, if you choose to cool your entire home with multiple split system units, the cost can be spread by slowly adding new units until each area of the house has one.

Multi Level Use

One advantage of split system air conditioning over ducted units is that they are able to be used in multi level homes and apartments. This is not possible with ducted air conditioning as the ducting cannot be installed between levels.

Running Costs

The running costs of a split system unit is lower than that of a ducted unit as it is only used to cool a single area at a time. Multiple split system units can still be cheaper to run than ducted systems when used correctly. This is because you can cool only the areas of the house that are needed rather than cooling an entire house when only a single room is in use.


When it comes to repairs, split system units have the advantage. This is because replacement pieces for split system units are generally much more affordable than those of ducted systems.

Additionally, if the whole ducted system breaks down, you are left with an entire house with no cooling and a large, expensive unit to replace. Conversely, if one of your split system units fail, the other rooms of your house will remain cool and you will only be facing the cost of buying a single new split system unit.


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The Drawbacks of Split System Air Conditioning


Split system units require a wall mounted model to be located in the room that it is cooling. This means that it produces more noise than a ducted system. The outside unit of a split system air conditioner produces more noise than the indoor. Unit. Though this noise may not affect the house, it can become an issue when living in close proximity to your neighbours. This noise is only increased when multiple units are used simultaneously.


Though the most obtrusive part of a split system unit is installed outside, this system does require part of the unit to be mounted in the room. When compared to the wall or floor vents of a ducted system, the wall mounted unit is undesirable.

The outside component must be placed beside the wall where the indoor unit is installed. Depending on the layout of the home, this could result in a street facing unit. This can damage the street appeal of your home and could mean an additional cost of covering the unit is required.

Energy Use

Depending on the size of the house, the energy usage of split system air conditioning can be greater than ducted. Split system units are designed to cool small areas and, when used for this purpose, they are quite efficient.

However, cooling a large area with a split system unit will require a powerful unit and a lot of energy.

Cooling Power

A split system unit is made to cool only the air in the immediate vicinity of the unit. This means that multiple systems will be required to cool large rooms or rooms with interior walls that will block the airflow.

However, multi split systems can be used to cool larger rooms without requiring the installation of an additional outdoor unit. This makes multi split system air conditioning a viable option for large houses without the room for ducting.


Which is best: Ducted or Split System?

If you want to cool your whole house and value comfort and convenience over cost, ducted air conditioning is probably right for you. Whereas, if you only need to cool a single room or small area, and are not willing to pay the substantial upfront cost of a ducted air conditioner, split system is the way to go.

However, the right system for you will vary depending on your specific budget, requirements, and circumstances. If you want personalised advice on which system is best for you, call your local air conditioning experts on 0403 254 272. Advanced Climate Solutions have a team of highly trained air conditioning technicians on call 24/7 for all of your air conditioning needs.

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