Most Perth households understand the benefits of having an air conditioning system. With long hot summers and cool winters, having an air conditioner installed can help you feel comfortable all year round. But which type of air conditioner should you invest in?

Two of the most popular types of air conditioning are ducted and split systems. Below we compare the two so that you can make a more informed decision about choosing an air conditioner for your home.

What is ducted air conditioning?

Ducted air con is an air conditioning system that delivers cool air to the entire home through ducts in the ceiling. 

Ducted air conditioning can be refrigerated or evaporative. Refrigerated systems use a special chemical called refrigerant to take heat from the air and deliver cold air into your home. If the system has a reverse cycle, it can also generate and distribute warm air to your home.

Evaporative ducted systems use the natural phenomenon of evaporation to deliver a cooling breeze into your home. Evaporative systems don’t use much electricity and so are more energy efficient than refrigerative systems, however, they aren’t as effective in high humidity climates.

What is split system air conditioning?

Split system air conditioning consists of an inside unit that delivers cool air into the home and an outdoor unit that expels the hot air outside.

Split systems are refrigerative systems and many come with a reverse cycle function to provide warm air too. They are usually installed on the wall of a room, and provide cold air to just that room. In some cases, there may be multiple indoor units in different rooms connected to one outdoor unit.

Upfront costs

Ducted systems will cost more to purchase and install than split systems, simply because of their size and complexity. A specialist will need to access your roof cavity, so installing ducted air conditioning is usually best done during a new build or renovations. Prices tend to be upwards of $6,000, depending on the size and complexity of your home.

Split systems tend to be fairly affordable to purchase and install, usually around $2,000 to $3,000, depending on the model you choose. More energy-efficient models tend to cost more to purchase but will be more cost-effective to run.

Energy efficiency

Ducted evaporative systems are the most energy-efficient as they only use electricity to power a little motor to bring the air in. The actual cooling effect happens through natural evaporation.

Split systems may be more or less energy efficient, depending on the model. Look for models with more energy stars if you want the system to cost less to run. 

Most ducted refrigerative systems are controlled by a central remote where you can set different temperatures for different rooms or turn off the air con for particular rooms at any time. This is often referred to as “climate zoning” and makes the system more energy efficient.


Refrigerative systems, whether ducted or split, will be more effective and consistent with performance than a ducted evaporative system. That is because evaporation becomes less effective with high levels of humidity. 

Ducted refrigerative systems are particularly effective at cooling the entire home. They are also suitable for wide, open-plan homes. On the other hand, split systems can be very effective at cooling a small area or a single contained room. 

When making a decision about which type of air conditioner you want, you should consider the layout and size of your home as well as lifestyle factors. Will you want to cool a single room or the whole home? 


How do the different air con systems perform throughout the year, not just in summer? Both split systems and ducted refrigerative systems offer reverse cycle models which allow you to deliver warm air in winter as well.

This can be advantageous for climates that are hot over summer but can experience some lower temperatures through winter. For example, split and ducted reverse cycle air conditioning in Perth provides both relief over summer and warmth during cold winter mornings.


Whatever type of air conditioner you choose, it will require some maintenance and upkeep to ensure it keeps working effectively. Just as you would maintain your car regularly, air conditioners should be regularly serviced to keep them performing well.

Split systems will require you to periodically clean or replace the filter inside the indoor unit. The filter is what cleans the air and over time it can fill with dust and other particles and reduce the quality of air that is being put into your home. You should also keep the outdoor unit relatively clean by removing dust and grime that builds up.

For ducted air conditioning systems, you should regularly clean the vents on your ceiling of any dust or grime. For more in-depth maintenance and ducted air conditioning repairs, you will need to call a professional. 

Which type of air conditioning is right for you?

Both split systems and ducted air conditioning systems offer advantages, and neither is really better than the other. It all depends on what your needs are.

Split system air conditioning might be right for you if you:

  • Just want to cool one or two rooms, such as the living room and bedroom
  • Want to stick to a tight budget
  • Don’t have the roof space for a ducted system

A ducted system might be right for you if you:

  • Want to cool or heat the entire home
  • Don’t like the look of a wall unit
  • Have an open plan home
  • Have the roof space for a ducted system

For more personalised advice, call your local air con specialists and they will be able to talk you through your options.

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