Planning to purchase an air conditioning system, but overwhelmed by the many options you have? You know, if choosing between ducted air conditioning and a split system was a black and white matter, we’d give you a straight answer. But it’s far more complicated than that.
In this article, we will discuss what makes ducted and split systems different from each other so you can make an informed decision before you make any purchase. The differences between them may not be particularly apparent, but you’ll discover some key differences when you scratch beneath the surface.
Before we discuss the pros and cons of each type, let’s first define what these two air con systems are:
Ducted AC and Split AC in a Nutshell
As its name suggests, the ducted type works by using ductwork in the walls and ceilings of your home. Don’t look anywhere for the main unit of this air con system because, unlike the split type, its condenser is typically out of sight.
That’s one of the major differences between the ducted and split systems. With a split air con system, the condenser, which serves as the outdoor unit, is usually outside the home. This air conditioner applies pressure to the refrigerant, which then runs through tubing that’s connected to the indoor unit, known as the evaporator.
Now, let’s compare them based on the factors that make them distinct from each other.
Ducted vs Split System: Key Differences
When choosing an air con, what matters is the size of the space you need to cool. If the space is small, you can go for a split air conditioning system. Or, if there’s one room that’s been added onto your home, but can’t tie into your existing system because its location doesn’t allow it, a split system should, again, be your first choice. If you are living in a two-storey apartment, you can’t choose the ducted type since installing ducting between levels is impossible.
The good thing about ducted systems, however, is that they can cool a space as big as your home. You can even have this air con type zoned to cool only certain rooms in your home! The result of this would be energy efficiency and cost effectiveness. If you’re just building a new home, or retrofitting your home, this type of air conditioning would work since you may include the space required for ducting in your design plans.
Since the split air conditioning system is designed to cool individual rooms and not your entire home, you will find that even when you install several air conditioners in every room, the multiple units would still not be enough to uniformly cool your house’s interior. And since additional units mean additional power consumption, at some point there would be reduced returns in terms of energy efficiency.
When it comes to ducted systems, you’ve probably heard critics cite leaks between ducts as one of the reasons these air cons are inefficient. Actually, you can avoid this by making sure your unit is installed only by a professional. Moreover, ducted air cons can still provide air conditioning within your house. If there’s one thing that makes ducted air conditioners inefficient, it’s how they cool your entire home even when you are only using a portion of your home.
Have you ever experienced hearing a loud buzzing noise coming from an air conditioning unit? That is one of the common problems associated with air cons, and we bet you don’t want yours to be like that. Usually, the noise coming from an air conditioner is the compressor expanding and reducing pressure during the heat transfer process. Sometimes, it’s a result of loose parts, some debris or faulty blades. Fortunately, both ducted air conditioning and split systems are quiet types of air conditioners. Since the condenser of a split air conditioner system is located outside your home, you don’t hear any noise coming from its condenser. Just the same, the attic of your home absorbs much of the sound produced by your ducted air con.
You can’t look past convenience and flexibility when shopping for an air con. Luckily, both the split type and ducted type offer a good deal of both. For instance, a split system unit is more flexible in terms of how you install it, since you can simply mount it on the wall or ceiling of your home. This air conditioner is also programmable, very easy to operate and comes with remote control options for convenience. Meanwhile, a ducted air conditioner also requires little effort to operate once installed. You control it via panels at various locations in your home. You can even find brands that offer remote access to your ducted system via a phone app! How cool is that?
Yes, you read that right. Aesthetics also matters, even for air conditioners! If this factor is important to you, we suggest that you go for ducted systems. With only its vents showing in each room, you’ll find that ducted systems are virtually invisible in your home. On the other hand, you may find that despite its trim profile, a split system tends to look obtrusive because of its evaporator. Although this type of air con varies in size, you may find that even its smallest unit is still visibly apparent. Even if its outdoor condenser is positioned to blend with your landscaping, you may need some additional shrubs to make sure you achieve your desired aesthetics outside your home.
We understand that budget is one of your most important considerations when buying an air con, so let’s talk about the cost of installing each type. Several factors contribute to the cost of installing air conditioning, including the size of the space to be air conditioned, the size of the unit, comfort level, and so on. Generally speaking, however, split system air conditioners are much cheaper than their ducted counterparts. For a single installation, a split system can start in the range of $2,000, while a ducted system will start at around $10,000. Take note though that while the split system looks like the obvious winner here, you should also balance their initial costs with your long-term goals. For example, when it’s time to sell your home, your split system may not be as appealing to homebuyers, but the aesthetics and utility of a ducted system will definitely make this type a huge plus to your home.
Ducted Air Conditioning vs Split System Air Con: Which is the Better Choice?
Still undecided which, between the two types of air conditioners, to buy? Truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all answer as to which air conditioning type is the best. As you make your choice, consider your needs and your budget, and what you are looking for in terms of cooling.
While the initial purchase and installation cost of a split air con system is much less than having to install ducted air conditioners, it could be beneficial for you if budget is your driving force.
Meanwhile, a ducted air conditioning system costs more than the other, but it operates more efficiently. If you plan to stay in your home for a long time, you may consider this option because it is more cost effective in the long run, and can also add value to the selling price of your property.
Whatever your choice, make sure that you contact an air conditioning specialist to help you choose the air con system that’s best for your home.