Ducted vs Split System Air Conditioning – The Pros and Cons

By March 20, 2017Home Designs, Tips and Hints

Weighing up how you’ll cool your new home is a big decision.  There’s no single right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing between ducted and split-system air conditioning: it depends factors like your budget, your needs, and the appearance.  It’s a decision you really need to get right the first time, so have a look at this list to help you make your choice.

Ducted air conditioning: the system is concealed, usually within the roof space.  Cool air travels through a system of ducts concealed within the roof and walls, into each room through a vent.


  • It’s discreet: all you see are the vents in each room
  • It’s easy to cool your whole house
  • You can “set and forget”: just set your thermostat, the system maintains an even temperature
  • You can get a zone system, to turn off the cooling in rooms you’re not using.


  • More expensive to buy and install
  • Can be expensive to run, especially if your system doesn’t have zones- it is always cooling the entire house.
  • If the system needs repair, your whole house is without air conditioning until it’s fixed.

Split system air conditioning: generator is on an exterior wall of the home, while the head unit is inside, mounted on a wall.


  • Cheaper to install
  • Generally cheaper to run than ducted, because you only use them when and where you need them
  • Since you use one system per room, if one needs repair you can still rely on the others to provide relief from the heat
  • Budget friendly- you can start, for example, by installing one in your living room, then adding them to other rooms later as your finances allow.
  • Repair and replacement costs are lower than for ducted


  • Since you only use one system per room, you need to buy many systems if you want to cool the whole house.
  • Can be unsightly- the generator needs to be outside the house.  This might be an issue if it’s in a prominent position, or if you have several units.

If cooling your whole home is important to you, and if budget allows, ducted will probably be your choice.  It’s likely to add more value to your home than split systems.  While it’s generally the more expensive option, choosing a zoned system will help keep the running costs down.

If you only want to cool one or two rooms, and if you don’t mind the compressors on the outside of the property, you might prefer split systems.  Either way, look for a system with a high Energy Star rating and make sure it has the right capacity for the space you’re looking to cool.