How Does Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning Work?

reverse cycle air conditioner remote

Australia has one of the best climates in the world, with long summers and comparatively mild winters. Reverse cycle air conditioners are purpose-built for Australian conditions, cooling your home in summer and warming your home in winter, all in one energy-efficient unit! But how reverse cycle air conditioning work? Read our post to find out!

What is reverse cycle air conditioning?

Reverse cycle air conditioners (also known as a heat pump) offer both cooling and heating to provide the ultimate year-round climate control. Instead of ‘creating’ energy like conventional heating and cooling systems, reverse cycle air conditioners absorb outdoor air and use refrigerant gas to cool or heat the air, before pumping it inside. This is a much more energy-efficient climate control technique.

How does reverse cycle air conditioning work?

Reverse cycle air conditioners filter and dehumidify surrounding air to heat your home in winter and cool your home in summer. Let’s take a closer look at how reverse cycle air conditioners work. 


In winter, the reverse-cycle system extracts heat from outside air and draws it inside. It doesn’t have to be warm outside for the unit to do this, a good reverse cycle air conditioner with an automatic defrost cycle will effectively heat your home, even when the outside temperature drops as low as -15℃. 

When the reverse cycle system is set to ‘heat’, refrigerant gas is passed through an external coil, absorbing the heat from outside air. This is then pumped by a compressor, down into a condenser. As the refrigerant is compressed, it warms up. This hot air is then pumped out by a fan, out into the room. Once this is completed the refrigerant flows through another evaporator to cool it down before being pumped back into the condenser to repeat the cycle. 

You can read more about the heating benefits of reverse cycle air conditioners here.


With a flick of a switch, the reverse cycle air conditioner can operate in cooling mode. 

When the process is reversed, the unit will absorb heat from the air inside your home and pump it outside, leaving your home cooler. Modern reverse-cycle air conditioners can cool your home in temperatures as high as 46℃. 

Ducted reverse cycle vs split system

Both ducted and split system air conditioners utilise reverse cycle technology to provide year-round comfort to your home. The main things to consider when deciding whether to purchase a ducted or split reverse cycle air conditioner is the cost of installation and your aesthetic preferences. Read our post to find out more about the differences between ducted and split system air conditioners


Ducted air conditioners are the most expensive reverse cycle system, as they require ducting and vents to every room that you want to heat or cool. However, they do provide whole-home heating and cooling in one system. Each vent is usually capable of heating a room with an area of 80m2. 

Split system

Split system air conditioners consist of an outdoor and indoor unit. The outdoor unit contains the compressor, while the indoor unit contains the condenser and evaporator. The units are connected via piping that carries the refrigerant gas. 

If you only want to use the air conditioner as a heater, you should install the outdoor unit closer to the floor to allow for more efficient operation. But, if you want to use the system for both heating and cooling, you’ll need to install the outdoor unit higher up the wall. Split system air conditioners can provide heating and cooling for a room up to 100m2.

Check out our post to find out more information about split system air conditioners. 

Advantages and disadvantages of reverse cycle air conditioning

The advantages of reverse cycle air conditioning far outweigh the disadvantages. That’s why reverse-cycle air conditioners are the most popular heating and cooling systems in Australia! 


  • Energy-efficient and environmentally friendly
  • Adaptable systems 
  • A single system to heat and cool your home
  • Safer than stand-alone heaters


  • The increasing cost of electricity
  • If you lose power, you will also lose heating and cooling

Talk to the experts today!

If you’re considering buying a reverse cycle air conditioner for your home, talk to the experts at NewAge Air. We stock the best air conditioner brands for energy-efficient, reverse cycle air conditioning and can determine the correct size air conditioner for your space.

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