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Finding Your Perfect Match: Ducted or Split System Air Con

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Beating the summer sun and achieving year-round comfort is essential for many homes. But when it comes to air conditioning, there’s not just one answer. Two main options dominate the market: A central ducted air conditioning system or and split system air conditioning. Each offers distinct advantages and caters to different needs.

We’ll explore how each system works, discuss its pros and cons, and guide you through key factors to consider when making your choice. So, grab a metaphorical cool drink, and let’s find the perfect air conditioning system to match your home and budget!

Ducted Air Conditioning Systems

Imagine the comfort of consistent temperature throughout your entire home. Ducted systems achieve this by employing a central air handling unit, typically located outside. This unit cools or heats air, distributed through a network of insulated ducts hidden within your walls, ceilings, or floors. Vents in each room allow the conditioned air to flow in and out, maintaining a comfortable temperature throughout your house.


  • Whole-Home Comfort: Ducted systems are evenly excellent or heat your entire home. No more battling hot or cold spots – just consistent comfort in every room.
  • Quiet Operation: Since the central unit resides outdoors, the noise associated with air conditioning is significantly reduced. Enjoy the cool air without the constant hum.
  • Zoning Potential (additional cost): Some ducted systems can be equipped with zoning technology for ultimate control. This allows you to adjust the temperature in specific areas of your home, like creating a more relaxed sleeping zone at night.
  • Discreet Design: Ducted systems are known for their invisibility. Aside from the vents in each room, the rest of the system remains hidden from sight, maintaining a clean aesthetic in your home.


  • Installation Cost: Compared to split systems, ducted systems generally have a higher upfront cost due to the central unit, ductwork installation, and potential modifications needed in your home.
  • Suitability Concerns: Older homes with complex layouts or limited ceiling space might not be ideal candidates for ducted systems due to the challenges of installing ductwork.
  • Maintenance Needs: Ducts can accumulate dust and allergens over time. Regular cleaning of the ductwork is crucial for maintaining optimal performance and air quality, adding an ongoing maintenance cost.

Split System Air Conditioning Systems

Split systems provide targeted cooling for specific areas. Unlike ducted systems, they don’t rely on hidden ductwork. Instead, each room you want to be cooled gets its indoor unit, typically mounted high on a wall. These units cool the air and circulate it within the room. The “split” comes from the separate outdoor compressor unit, which houses the powerful components that generate cool air. Connected by refrigerant lines, the outdoor unit acts as the engine room, sending cool air to the indoor units for distribution.


  • Budget-Friendly: Split systems are generally more affordable to purchase and install than ducted systems. This makes them a good option for those on a tighter budget.
  • Installation Flexibility: Since they don’t require extensive ductwork, split systems are easier to install, especially in existing homes. This can be a significant advantage if modifying your home’s structure isn’t feasible.
  • Zonal Comfort: With separate indoor units, split systems offer the ultimate in-room-by-room temperature control. Want a more relaxed bedroom but a warmer living room? No problem! Adjust the temperature in each room independently for personalised comfort.
  • Targeted Cooling: Do you need to cool just a specific area, like a home office or sunroom? Split systems excel at providing targeted cooling exactly where you need it, saving energy by not cooling unused spaces.


  • Visual Impact: Multiple indoor units mounted on walls can disrupt a room’s aesthetic. While some units come in sleek designs, they still add a visible element compared to the hidden nature of ducted systems.
  • Potential Noise: While quieter than the central unit of a ducted system, the indoor unit in each room can generate some noise during operation. This might be a concern for light sleepers or those seeking absolute silence.

Choosing the Right System for You

Now that you understand the workings and pros and cons of ducted and split system air conditioning, it’s time to find the perfect match for your home. Here are vital factors to consider:

  • Size and Layout: Ducted systems excel in evenly cooling larger, open-plan homes. Split systems are ideal for targeted cooling in specific areas or smaller homes.
  • Budget: Split systems are generally more affordable upfront. Consider installation costs and long-term maintenance needs as well.
  • Temperature Control: Do you crave individual room control? Split systems offer that flexibility. For consistent whole-home comfort, ducted is the way to go.
  • Existing Ductwork: If your home already has ductwork, a ducted system might be more cost-effective than installing new ductwork for a split system.
  • Noise Preferences: Ducted systems minimize noise with the central unit outdoors. Split systems might have some noise from indoor units.
  • Energy Efficiency: Look for systems with high SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings to save on running costs. Both ducted and split systems can be energy-efficient models.
  • Maintenance: Ducted systems require periodic duct cleaning, while split systems require more straightforward maintenance.

Remember: Don’t hesitate to consult with a qualified HVAC professional. They can assess your needs, home layout, and budget to recommend the optimal air conditioning system for comfort and peace of mind.

Final Thoughts

The choice between ducted and split system air conditioning isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Both systems offer efficient cooling solutions but cater to different needs. For whole-home comfort and quiet operation, a ducted system might be ideal. If budget and targeted cooling are priorities, split systems offer a flexible and cost-effective option. Don’t be afraid to seek professional guidance from an HVAC expert. With the correct information and a little planning, you can find the perfect air conditioning system to keep your home cool and comfortable all year round.