What’s better and why, ducted heating & air con or a split system?

17-06-22 | Air Conditioning, Ducted Air Conditioning, Split System Air Conditioning

Which Is Better — Ducted Heating and Air Con or a Split System?

If you live on the Gold Coast for its sunny disposition, beaches and standard of life, you may hate those days when the temperature plummets and you need some artificial heat to beat the freeze. If you don’t have any heating system in your home at the moment, you might look at your options and wonder whether a ducted heating and aircon setup is better or if you should choose a split system. What do you need to consider?

Ducted Heating Systems

Ducted heaters and air conditioners rely on a series of individual vents (sometimes called diffuser outlets) that are typically installed in the ceiling of each room on your property. On the other side of these grills, a duct network connects each point to the fan coil unit. This setup allows you to heat or cool the entire property, and it’s very discreet. The compressor and condensing unit will sit outside the home and connect to the indoor fan coil unit, which you may place in the roof space or occasionally underneath the home. While these systems are primarily designed to cool your property in the height of the Brisbane summer, they can also heat your home. 

With ducted systems, it is possible to have different zones throughout the home. Individual temperature controls can be added to each zone with smart controls such as MyAir. This system may be handy if you only occasionally use certain rooms (like a guest bedroom), so you can keep the access door closed and isolate that zone.

myair ducted heating controls


Ducted Heating Installation

There’s a lot of work involved when installing this type of ducted heating and air conditioning system. While brand-new properties may have pre-installed ductwork, older places probably don’t. As a result, you will need to install flexible ducting in your roof space or above a ceiling. This ducting comprises of a steel wire coil covered in polyester insulation and surrounded by insulating material such as aluminium foil. 

A ducted system has some limitations as you will need adequate space in your roof. So, it may not be a viable choice if you have a raked ceiling or don’t have a lot of room in your roof. However, some people fit this type of system underneath the floor if they have a crawl space below, but your property may need to be single-storey for this to work. In addition to being out of sight, one of the main advantages of a ducted system is noise. Compared to a split system, the operation is relatively quiet as the fan unit is hidden away in the ceiling.

Ducted Heating System Cost? 

The average price of a ducted heating system is between $8,000 and $13,500 supplied and installed in your home, a larger two-storey home could cost up to +$25,000.

The final cost will vary depending on many factors such as:

  • The size of your home
  • If you would like independent temperature control in each room
  • The brand of unit you choose
  • The controls option you select
  • How well your home is insulated
  • How many zones & outlets

The price of a ducted system can vary considerably between different contractors due to the quality of the products they use, the quality of work & the warranties they offer on their installation. When investing in a large home appliance such as a ducted heater, research both the brand and the installer.

A professional will take the time to learn about your requirements, review your house plans & select the correct size air conditioner for your home. They will provide you with a tailored solution for your home so keep in mind that the pricing above is just a guide to give you an idea of the costs.

Is Ducted Heating Cost Effective?

Thanks to the introduction of digital inverters, the cost to run a ducted system has reduced greatly over the years as the compressor can reduce its capacity down to around 30%.

A 12.5kW ducted system running at its rated capacity consumes around 3.1kW of electricity per hour, with the average cost of electricity in Brisbane currently at around $0.26 per kWh, which translates to around $0.80 per hour to run your ducted heating system. Keep in mind that is the running cost when the system is running at its rated capacity; as your home approaches the desired temperature, the inverter will reduce its capacity & your running cost could be as low as $0.24 per hour!

When calculating the running costs of any air conditioning system, the temperature at which you set your system can affect the running costs quite considerably.

The below thermostat setting recommendations come from the Australian government website “Your Home”.

Set your thermostat correctly. Each degree of extra heating in winter or cooling in summer increases energy consumption by about 5 to 10%. Set the thermostat to 18 to 20°C in winter and 25 to 27°C in summer. (source: yourhome.gov.au, 2020)

Split Systems

A split system is more affordable than a ducted heating and air conditioning solution. With this approach, the condenser part of the system is positioned outside the house, usually on an exterior wall. The second part of the system is placed inside, fixed to an interior wall or as a floor-standing unit.

heating split system

The split system is perfect if you do not have available room above your ceiling or in the roof space for that ductwork. Also, you do not need to condition the entire home unless it’s necessary. Instead, simply install split systems in the rooms of your choice. In addition, you’ll be able to control the temperature of each room separately through remote control, giving you greater flexibility.

The problem with a split system is that it takes up a lot of space in a given room and may not match your décor. Also, they can be relatively noisy compared to the ducted A/C system, which may be something to consider if you have a light sleeper in the household.

With the simpler split systems, you will need to position the condenser (on the outside) relatively close to the head unit inside. This can present a problem from a practical point of view, although multiheaded split systems may partly alleviate this issue. Here, you may be able to get away with a single condenser on the outside that conditions the air in several rooms within the property.

Otherwise, you may have to install several different split systems, but each will need to have its own condenser outside. You need to decide whether you want to do this from an aesthetic point of view and remember that those additional units will also create extra noise. You might have to take this into account if you have neighbours nearby. And don’t forget, with multiple systems, you may need to spend more on maintenance as time passes.


How to Choose the Best System for You

So, how do you decide which is best in your situation? Should you choose a ducted heating and air conditioning solution or a split system?

As both have pros and cons, you need to work out what is most important in your situation and decide accordingly. For example, do you want a more energy-efficient system or only need to condition certain rooms in a property? In this case, the split system may be better. Split systems tend to be less expensive to install than the ducted alternative and would typically be cheaper to run depending on how many units you have.

Are you worried about noise, both internally and externally? If so, the ducted system should be the better alternative, especially if you need more than one split system condenser outside.

What about aesthetics? Some consider internal split system head units unsightly, and their presence may affect how you furnish or decorate your rooms. Alternatively, ducted systems are hidden away above the ceiling.


In Summary

In general, split systems may be better for smaller houses, while ducted heating and air conditioning solutions cover an entire property and may be best at maintaining an even temperature. You need to determine whether your home can accommodate a ducted system or not, and bear in mind that ducted A/C is typically more expensive to install than a split system. However, it can add value to the home, which will help during a resale.

Making Your Choice

When it comes to different brands, there are plenty of options. Some of the better solutions are made by Panasonic, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, LG, Samsung and Mitsubishi Electric. So, if you’re ready for a new system and want to make your property in Brisbane or the Gold Coast more liveable, get in touch with Smarter Air & Electrical for more information.

ducted heating installation team


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