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Written on June 27, 2024
Ducted vs Split System

Ducted vs Split Systems: What Is Better?

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of air conditioning options available? It’s a common dilemma. As temperatures change and you seek comfort in your home, choosing the right air conditioning system can be a daunting task. You might be wondering, “Should I go for a ducted system or a split system?” Each option has its own advantages and drawbacks. So, it is crucial to know which system fits your needs best.

As experts in HVAC systems, we understand the importance of making an informed decision. This article compares ducted and split systems. It will help you make the best choice for your home, budget, and comfort. 

By the end, you’ll understand both systems. You’ll know their costs, how to install them, their energy efficiency, and their maintenance needs. 

Let’s dive in and find the perfect heating and cooling solution for you.

What is a Ducted Air Conditioning System?
A ducted air conditioning system is a comprehensive heating and cooling solution designed to provide consistent temperature control throughout your entire home. This system uses a central unit that is typically installed outside your house. The air generated by this unit is distributed through a network of ducts, which are hidden in the ceiling or walls, and released into different rooms via vents.

What is a Split System Air Conditioner?
A split system air conditioner is a popular heating and cooling solution. It is ideal for single rooms or specific areas in your home. As the name suggests, this system is split into two main components: an indoor unit and an outdoor unit. The indoor unit is typically mounted on a wall. It sends air directly into the room. The outdoor unit is installed outside your home. It contains the compressor and condenser.

Ducted vs Split System


Pros and Cons of Ducted Systems

Pros:

  1. Whole-home Heating and Cooling: Ducted systems are designed to heat and cool your entire home. They keep a steady temperature in all rooms.
  2. Discreet Appearance: The system is hidden within the ceiling or walls, with only the vents visible, maintaining the aesthetic of your home. There are also a range of vents including customisable, to further suit your aesthetic. 
  3. Zoning Capabilities: You can control the temperature in different areas of your home. This enhances comfort and energy efficiency.
  4. Increased Property Value: Installing a ducted system can add value to your home, making it more attractive to potential buyers.

Cons:

  1. High Initial Cost: The installation of a ducted system involves significant upfront costs, including the system itself and the necessary modifications to your home.
  2. Complex Installation: The process can be invasive and time-consuming, requiring professional installation and a variety of modifications for the vents.
  3. Eligibility: Some homes do not offer adequate roof or under floor space for the ducts to be installed. Homes with raked ceilings, or custom designed homes can lack this space making the installation of a ducted air conditioning system near impossible.

Pros and Cons of Split Systems

Pros:

  1. Cost-effective Installation: Split systems are generally cheaper and easier to install compared to ducted systems, as they don’t require extensive ductwork.
  2. Flexibility: You can install units in specific rooms, allowing for targeted cooling or heating where you need it most.
  3. Energy Efficiency: By heating and cooling only the rooms in use, split systems can lead to lower energy consumption and reduced electricity bills.
  4. Easy Maintenance: Maintaining a split system is usually simpler and less costly than maintaining a ducted system.

Cons:

  1. Limited Coverage: Split systems are best suited for single rooms or small areas. Heating and cooling large homes or multiple rooms requires multiple units, which can increase costs and space usage.
  2. Aesthetic Impact: The indoor units are mounted on walls and can be visually intrusive. 
  3. Installation Type: The further away the outdoor unit is installed to the indoor unit can increase the installation cost. The ideal installation is considered “back to back” where both units are installed on the same wall, one inside and the other outside,  in a back to back fashion.

Cost Comparison:

When choosing between ducted and split systems, understanding the cost implications is crucial. Let’s break down the initial and long-term costs associated with each option.

Ducted Systems:

  • Purchase Price: Ducted systems are generally more expensive to buy. They cost $8,000 to $15,000 or more. The price depends on your home’s size and the installation’s complexity. (This price is including the installation)

Split Systems:

  • Purchase Price: Split systems are more affordable, with single unit costs ranging from $1,200 to $3,500, depending on the unit’s capacity and features. (This price is including the installation)

Ducted vs Split System
Graphic Image Sourced: Samsung.com.au


Long-term Costs

Ducted Systems:

  • Energy Consumption: Ducted systems can be more expensive to run, especially if the entire house is cooled or heated  regularly. However, the use of zoning can help manage and reduce energy consumption.
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance is essential. It ensures the efficiency and longevity of the system. Annual maintenance costs can range from $200 to $500. At Lenergy we recommend the unit to be serviced once a year, or every 6 months if the system is constantly run.

Split Systems:

  • Energy Consumption: Split systems can be more energy-efficient since you only heat or cool the rooms in use. This targeted heating and cooling can lead to lower electricity bills.
  • Maintenance: Maintenance is simpler and cheaper for split systems. Annual servicing costs range from $100 to $200 per unit. We also recommend serving your split system yearly or every 6 months depending on usage.
Ducted vs Split System
Graphic Image Sourced: Daikin.com.au

Installation Considerations

Installing an air conditioning system involves more than just the initial cost. The complexity, time required, and potential disruptions to your home life are important factors to consider.

Ducted Systems:

  • Complexity: Installing a ducted system is a significant project that often requires modifications to your home. This can include cutting into ceilings and walls to install the ducts and vents.
  • Timeframe: The installation process can take several days to complete, depending on the size of your home and the system’s complexity.
  • Professional Installation: Due to the complexity, professional installation is a must. it ensures the system is properly installed and optimised for your home.

Split Systems:

  • Simplicity: Split systems are easier and quicker to install since they do not require ductwork. The indoor and outdoor units are connected by a refrigerant line, which requires minimal alterations to your home.
  • Timeframe: Installation is typically completed within a few hours to a day per unit, causing minimal disruption.
  • Professional Installation: While simpler, professional installation is still recommended to ensure the system operates efficiently and effectively.

Energy Efficiency and Environmental Impact

Choosing an energy-efficient AC cuts your bills. It also reduces your environmental impact. Let’s compare the energy efficiency and environmental impact of ducted and split systems.

Energy Efficiency

Ducted Systems:

  • Whole-home Heating and Cooling: Ducted systems are designed to cool or heat multiple rooms or an entire home simultaneously. This can be less efficient if you only need to heat or cool a few rooms, leading to higher energy consumption.
  • Zoning: Modern ducted systems come with zoning capabilities, allowing you to cool or heat specific areas of your home. Proper use of zoning can significantly improve energy efficiency by reducing unnecessary usage.
  • Energy Star Ratings: Look for ducted systems with high Energy Star ratings, as these are designed to be more efficient and environmentally friendly.
  • Refrigerants: Modern ducted systems use environmentally friendly refrigerants, like R23,  which have a lower global warming potential (GWP) compared to older systems

Split Systems:

  • Targeted Heating and Cooling: Split systems are more energy-efficient for small spaces or single rooms. You only heat or cool the areas in use. This targeted heating and cooling can result in significant energy savings.
  • Inverter Technology: Many split systems come with inverter technology, which adjusts the compressor speed to maintain a consistent temperature, enhancing efficiency and reducing energy use.
  • Energy Star Ratings: High Energy Star-rated split systems are available. They ensure you choose a unit that is efficient and has low environmental impact.
  • Refrigerants: Similar to ducted systems, many split systems use eco-friendly refrigerants with lower global warming potential (GWP), most commonly R32.
Ducted vs Split System
Graphic Image Created By Lenergy


Ducted or Split System, We’ve Got You Covered.

The most important thing to take away from this, is which system is actually going to work for your space and budget. 

Consider where you spend most of your time at home. Is having consistent temperatures throughout your house more important than just cooling or heating specific areas like the living room?

Now you’ve decided between a ducted or split system, let us handle the installation to ensure your home stays comfortable all year-round.