Ducted vs Split Air Conditioning: Which is Best For Your Home?

We all want to keep our houses cool and comfortable, and having the right air conditioning is a central aspect of fulfilling that desire. 

If you’re knee-deep in your research on buying a cooling system for your home, you may find yourself at a crossroads of two popular A/C types: ducted and split air conditioning.

While it may seem like these two are equally viable options for your home, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to consider for each type.

And in knowing these distinct features, you can pick the best decision to ensure optimal comfort in your living space.

Ready to cool your place? Read on to discover key factors between each air conditioning option for you to find the ideal one for your needs!

Ducted vs Split Air Conditioning

What is Ducted Air Conditioning?

Ducted air conditioning is a centralised cooling system designed to provide whole-house cooling. 

A central cooling unit serves as the unit’s primary power unit. This cooling unit is connected to a network of ducts that branch to various parts of a home or building. 

A ducted A/C also has an outdoor unit. This is the unit that releases warm air to the outside.

These ducts aren’t visible, typically staying concealed in false ceilings or behind walls. 

And, as the name suggests, the primary function of the ducted A/C unit is to distribute uniform, cool air to different rooms in their designated premise.

How Do Ducted A/C Units Work?

Ducted air conditioning units work by undergoing a heat exchange process. This involves three main components: evaporators, compressors, and condensers.

The first step of the process starts with the evaporators. Evaporator coils extract and suction warm air from inside the house and into the ducts. These coils absorb the warm air and convert it into cool, high-pressure gas. This gas is then released from the vent grilles and into the rooms.

This high-pressure gas flows through the compressor and then liquefies it. Upon liquefication, the liquid gets brought to the condenser coils where it gets cooled by fans. It also goes through an expansion valve where it gets further depressurised. Finally, the air returns to the evaporators, where it repeats the cycle anew.

The continued operations of this process effectively lower the temperature of a confined room and creates a comfortable indoor environment.

Pros of Ducted A/C Units

If you’re unsure if ducted A/C is the way to go, here are some advantages of this particular air conditioning setup.

Climate control and zoning

Ducted air conditioning allows homeowners to control the temperature of their entire house all at once. 

Besides that, ducted A/C setups also have zoning functionalities, enabling homeowners to heat or cool areas of the house on an as-needed basis. This allows you to save on energy and keeps everything controllable in one area.

Aesthetic appeal

With ducts hidden in ceilings or walls, and grilles not jutting out of rooms, ducted air conditioning is great for maintaining a clean and unobtrusive look in interior spaces. 

The absence of visible indoor units contributes to a nicer looking room. You can even put some tapestry in front of it to conceal it outright.

Quiet Operation

The main cooling unit of ducted air conditioning is typically located outside or in a designated area, resulting in quieter operation indoors. 

This ensures a peaceful and undisturbed living space, free from the noise commonly associated with conventional split air conditioning units.

Cons of Ducted A/C Units

Here are the downsides of this type of A/C unit.

Installation Cost

Ducted air conditioning systems typically require professional installation, which can cost a bit more than split A/C. 

That said, installations are also a one and done thing. Plus, many local air conditioning installation experts are able to help you get your ducted A/C unit up and running if your apartment rental allows it or if your home has enough space to set one up.

Limited Flexibility

Once the ducts are installed, changing the cooling configuration or adding zones can be challenging and expensive. Homeowners should carefully plan the duct layout to accommodate future needs.

What is Split Air Conditioning?

Think of any standard A/C box that’s put up on walls. That’s split air conditioning.

More specifically, split ar conditioning, also known as ductless air conditioning, is a type of A/C unit that has only one machine that consists of both and indoor unit and an outdoor compressor. 

It’s a fairly popular and versatile cooling system that’s good for individual rooms. 

How Do Split A/C Units Work?

Unlike ducted A/C units, split A/C does not rely on ducts to operate. 

The machine contains piping and electric cables that allow the refrigerant air to cool and flow through.

How it operates is similar to ducted A/C units. Hot gas pumps through the evaporators and vaporises the gas into a liquid. 

This liquid then enters the system’s evaporator, which expands the molecules and turns the liquid to gas. 

This cooled gas passes through the system. As the refrigerant gas passes through the A/C unit’s cooling unit, it brings cooled air to the room, completing the process by bringing cool air to your living room.

Pros of Split A/C Units

Here are the benefits of buying and using a split A/C type.

Easy installation and flexibility

Split air conditioning systems are easy to install since they do not require ductwork. This makes them a flexible option for simple house designs that don’t have a lot of space. 

Additionally, the absence of ducts grants you more flexibility in placing your indoor units, which is always nice to have.

Energy efficienct

Split A/C units offer excellent energy efficiency, especially when compared to central ducted systems. 

Since each indoor unit operates independently, homeowners can cool specific rooms or areas only when needed, drastically reducing energy consumption and utility costs

Cons of Split A/C Units

Now, here are the drawbacks of this type of A/C unit.

Limited cooling capacity

While split A/C units are efficient for cooling individual rooms or small areas, they are not ideal for cooling an entire house or large spaces. 

Multiple indoor units may be required to achieve whole-house cooling, which could increase the overall cost of the system.

Aesthetic considerations

While the indoor units of split A/C systems are less obtrusive than traditional wall-mounted units, they are still visible in the room. 

Some homeowners may find the presence of indoor units less appealing, especially if they prefer a more distinct and minimalist look for their interiors.


Since the main machine is the box itself, it can generate some degree of white noise. 

While such noise is minimal in most cases, sensitive ears may find it more disturbing than not.

Ducted vs Split Air Conditioning: Which is Best?

Let’s get one thing clear: ducted and split air conditioning are both perfectly fine choices for any household. At the end of the day, it’ll boil down to preferences, cost considerations, your house size, and what your house can actually accommodate.

If you want to cool a large space without getting multiple units, you may benefit greatly from ducted air conditioning.

On the other hand, if you own a simple house and want to keep things budget-friendly while still getting the job done, split air conditioning is a stellar option.

We hope this article helped clear things out for you. Happy shopping!

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