ducted air conditioner

Ducted Air Conditioning vs Split System: Pros & Cons

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The summer heat can send some people mad, particularly in Australia, so if this is you it might be time to invest in an air conditioner. The most popular types of air conditioners are ducted and split system. To the casual observer, most of the differences between ducted and split system air conditioners aren’t particularly apparent. However, there are quite a few differences that become obvious when you scratch beneath the surface. Read on to find out more about ducted and split system aircons in this Canstar Blue guide. 

Ducted air conditioning

As the name might suggest, ducted air conditioners work primarily through a series of ducts to keep you cool. Ducted A/C has an internal fan coil unit installed in the roof space of the home. From this central location, a series of ducts run from it and into as many rooms in the house as you  desire. From these ducts, this allows you to cool or heat each room individually – called zoning. This is done so by the thermostat on the wall, allowing you to select the temperature and other settings. The ease of cooling a whole house is apparent here, and if you’re constructing a new home or doing major renovations, then ducted air conditioning is a viable choice.

air conditioner key featuresDucted aircon pros and cons


  • Very discreet, tucked away behind walls and ceilings
  • Services the entire house, but each room can have different settings if the AC is zoned
  • Is better at maintaining an even temperature throughout the house
  • Quieter than split system AC


  • Easily the more expensive option to install
  • Some homes cannot accommodate ducted air conditioning due to inadequate space
  • If you’re looking to only cool a single room at any given time you’ll have to pay the energy costs of cooling the entire house (unless your ducted AC is zoned)

ducted air conditioner comparisonSplit system air conditioning

As the name also implies, split system air conditioners are split into two main units. The two parts are distinguished by the inside: the evaporative heat exchanger that blows air into your room, and the outside: condensing heat exchanger. If you were to notice that a house had air conditioning, chances are the owners were using a split system. After all, the writing is quite literally on the wall.

Split system aircon pros and cons


  • Generally more flexible than ducted AC. Can be installed in selected rooms and additional units can be added at any time
  • Cheaper to install than ducted air con
  • Better for smaller houses and single rooms


  • The external condenser units can be considered unsightly, as can the internal unit
  • The internal units can only push air so far, meaning they struggle with large rooms or spaces with interior walls

How much does ducted air conditioning cost?

Ducted air conditioners can cost from around $9,000 to $20,000 to buy and install. Due to their more complicated nature of installation you will find that costs of the unit itself and installation will be included in a lump sum.  

How much does split system air conditioning cost?

Split system air conditioners cost from $600 to $2,800 to buy a unit and can cost an extra $600 to $800 to install into your home. Split system units are relatively cheaper because they are less ‘invasive’ to install, only needing to be mounted on a wall and connected to an external unit. 

Factors to consider when choosing between ducted and split system aircon

Price plays a primary role in choosing between the two types of air conditioners. One is significantly cheaper than the other which could save you some dollars long term, however they both serve different needs too. If you live in a larger home with multiple rooms, splashing a little extra cash for a ducted system could be ideal. Whereas if you’re in a smaller apartment or home a split system unit may suffice. If you’re still not entirely sold on which type to get, compare brands below to get you started.

Compare Air Conditioning Brands

Original Author: Harrison Astbury

Kate King
Casual Content Producer
Kate King was a content producer at Canstar Blue until 2024, most recently in the Home & Lifestyle section. She holds a Bachelor of Creative Industries from the Queensland University of Technology, majoring in Journalism and Media and Communications.

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