Split Systems vs Ducted Air Conditioning

How do you know if you need a split system or ducted air-conditioning for your home or business?

Like any big life decisions (and this is up there in importance), choosing the right one takes time, consideration, and a bit of understanding. So grab a cuppa and get ready for today’s Cool School education segment, by the end of this lesson everyone will want you on their trivia team.

What is a Split System?

Basically, it’s an air conditioning system where part of the system (the condenser) is located outside the house, usually on an external wall, while the rest of the system (the head unit) is located inside, either fixed to an interior wall or as a floor-standing unit.

With us so far?…

The Advantages of Split Systems

One of the main advantages of a split system is that they’re usually cheaper than ducted and can be installed in one part of the house at a time. So if you have an upstairs, a split system is your best bet. Believe us, installing ducting between levels is near impossible, even for the young skinny apprentice. They’re also a better option in smaller properties, or where you only need to cool one room, as they generally have lower installation and running costs than a ducted system. The best thing about split systems… wait for it… you simply control the temperature with a touch of a button, as long as you don’t lose the remote.

The Limitations of Split Systems

As with everything in life, there are some disadvantages. One is the cosmetic impact of a split system and the necessity of having a condenser unit located outside your home. While our installers will always make an effort to position the unit as discreetly as possible, they are hard to hide. So we encourage you to consider the aesthetics of the room where the unit will be situated, perhaps you could make it into a feature. Thankfully, there are a range of options to make your air-con unit look like part of the furniture, like our Toshiba Haori. With various fabric covers that are easily removable for cleaning or to change up your look – split system innovation has come a long way!

What is a Ducted System

If you haven’t heard of a ducted air conditioning, it’s could be because you can’t see them, and you can barely hear them. This system differs from a split system in that the entire unit is concealed, either in the roof space, or housed (unobtrusively) outside the property. The cooled air is directed to multiple rooms or zones within the building, via a system of concealed ducting and visible vents.

The Advantages of Ducted Systems

Given the amount of installation required, a ducted air conditioning system is more expensive than a split system. However, it can be worth it, as one system will cool your entire home or business. Centrally controlled by way of a thermostat, and arguably quieter than a split system, ducted systems allow you to maintain an even temperature throughout, and you don’t need to worry about another remote to lose.

Some ducted systems can also be zoned, depending on the model. This is great, as you can turn off the cooling in rooms you’re not using, saving you some money in the long run. Another great feature is you can cool different rooms to different temperatures, and like their split system relatives, some ducted systems have the option of being reverse cycle units, so you can heat your home in winter, removing the need for energy-draining heaters and whinging kids. You could even make Aunt Beryl’s room overly chilly when she begins to outstay her welcome 😉

The Limitations of Ducted Systems

Ducted systems can only be installed where there is adequate space for ducting, so they are unsuitable for some structures. Unless you opt for a system that enables control via Wi-Fi or smartphone, the controller is normally hard-wired to a wall and lacks the convenience, portability (or losability) of a remote control. It’s a good idea to consider the enhanced value and marketability a ducted system can add to your property, which may outweigh the increased installation and operation costs.

So, now it’s time for the big life decision… split system or ducted?

Our team at Coolabah suggest you consider factors such as your property’s floor plan and orientation, your lifestyle, the emphasis you place on aesthetics, the climate you live in and most of all, your budget.

We hope you were paying attention in Cool School today. If you would still like some professional advice on choosing the right system, call 1300TOOHOT today and let our air conditioning experts, servicing the Tweed and Northern Rivers region, help you out.


Coolabah Cooling is your source for quality air conditioning services, including maintenance and repair. Our team of air conditioning professionals will be more than happy to answer all your questions and address your needs. Talk to us today!