What Is Ducted Air Conditioning?

Everyone should feel comfortable and content in their own home or workspace, no matter the weather. So if you’re fed up with feeling the heat every summer, then it’s time to invest in a quality air conditioner. And when it comes to energy-efficient cooling, ducted systems are hard to beat. But what is ducted air conditioning exactly? 

Popular in offices, shopping centres, libraries and other large spaces, ducted air conditioners are fast becoming a favourite for many homeowners, too. A more discreet alternative to split systems, this central air conditioning can cool your entire space with minimal disruption to home decor and maximum energy efficiency (that’s good news for your electricity bill!).

However, before you decide whether ducted air conditioning is best suited to your needs, it’s important to make sure you know exactly what it is and how it works. Below, we explain the ins and outs of ducted systems so that you can choose the right air conditioning with confidence.


What is ducted air conditioning?

In a ducted air conditioning system, one central unit treats the air and circulates it through a series of ducts into various rooms. 

How ducted air conditioning works

Unlike a ductless split system (which has an individual compressor and indoor unit to cool each separate space), a ducted air conditioner works with just one central unit located in your roof space, under the floor or outside. This single unit cools air before funneling it via a series of ducts to multiple areas. 

The distribution of air can be zoned, enabling you to control the temperature in each room. For instance, maybe you can only fall asleep in a cool bedroom but still love to keep your living area warm and cosy each evening. Temperature zoning is a big bonus for your electricity bill, too, facilitating energy-efficient cooling all year round – more on this later!

To boost these power savings even more, you can fit your ducted air conditioning unit with an inverter. This addition will allow your unit to continue operating at a certain speed and in turn keep a consistent temperature throughout your home. 


Ducted vs ductless air conditioning

Installation Process

The process of installing a ducted air conditioning system differs significantly to that of ductless air conditioning. 

To install ducted air con, there needs to be adequate space for ductwork throughout the whole building – that’s in addition to vents being installed in each zone, and a central unit fitted outside. Therefore, it’s not surprising that installing ducted air conditioning systems is a highly tailored process. You’ll need a professional to install a customised solution for your site, considering factors such as unit size, the number of vents required and the amount of zones to be cooled.

On the other hand, ductless split systems are generally simpler to install because their internal units are connected via piping – this requires less time, effort and modification than ductwork. That said, each room will need to have its own evaporator unit mounted to the wall.

All in all, ducted systems tend to have a greater initial outlay and more complicated installation process than ductless systems, at least for smaller spaces. However, as you scale up to larger buildings with more rooms, installing a single ducted system may become more cost-effective than installing several split systems in various areas.


Temperature Zoning

Ductless split system air conditioning is designed to cool individual rooms separately. Each space has its own indoor unit, which sets a specific temperature for that area. 

On the other hand, ducted air conditioning can cool your entire building or a selection of zones. Not only can you maintain a constant temperature throughout your building, but you can also control which areas to cool and when. This prevents rooms from wasting energy when they’re not being used, keeping costs down without compromising on comfort.


Running Costs & Energy Efficiency

Determining whether ducted or ductless air conditioning is cheaper to run really comes down to scale. With lower energy demands, split systems are generally more affordable to run than ducted air conditioning – up to a point. If you wish to cool an entire building, then it may become more expensive to run numerous split system units than one ducted air conditioning system. 

Ducted air con is often considered more energy-efficient at cooling larger areas in the long run. Thanks to temperature zoning, this type of system allows you to conserve energy where it’s not needed – and that can mean big savings on your electricity bill over time. 

So, as a general rule of thumb, a ducted zone system is better suited to cooling entire buildings and larger areas, whereas split system air conditioning may be more appropriate if you plan to target only one or two rooms.

Learn more about the costs and efficiency of ducted air conditioners.


Cleaning & Maintenance

Regardless of whether it’s ducted or ductless, your air conditioning system needs to be cleaned and serviced regularly to keep it running efficiently for as long as possible. Not to mention the harmful bacteria that can be spread if it’s not maintained properly.

With relatively few components to clean and inspect, ducted air con systems often take less time and money to service. However, both types of air conditioning system should undergo a professional inspection each year. These specialists will be able to identify any issues and ensure your unit is functioning at an optimal level.  

In between these visits, make sure to check that your system is running well on a regular basis. You should clean a ductless split system’s units, coils and filters frequently, and change a ducted air conditioner’s filters twice a year at a minimum. 



Although both ducted and ductless systems feature outside units, they differ significantly when it comes to their appearance inside your building. 

Inside, the operating system behind ducted air conditioning is almost unnoticeable – all you can see are subtle vents that funnel cooled air through the floor or ceiling, and maybe a controller mounted on the wall. Note that although they are very inconspicuous, these systems are still a breeze to access for maintenance or repair. 

Meanwhile, split systems are less subtle as their indoor units are installed high up on interior walls. Depending on personal preference, you may view this oblong box as a barrier to decorating your space or find it super easy to look past.


Want to learn more about ducted air con for your space?

If you want a long-term, cost-effective and energy-efficient air con system for a larger home or workspace, then ducted air conditioning is your answer. 

Before you buy, make sure to get some professional advice that’s tailored to your unique property. New Age Air Conditioning is here to help you select the most suitable ducted air conditioning system for your space. Call us today on 02 4956 5888 or complete our quick form for a free online quote.

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