Ducted Air Conditioning Vs. Evaporative
Which air conditioner is right for your home?
With so many types of air cons on the market, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when deciding on your home’s perfect fit. To help simplify this process, we’ve broken down the pros and cons between two cooling titans: ducted air conditioning and evaporative cooling.
How Ducted Air Conditioning Works
Ducted reverse cycle air conditioning is a heating and cooling system for your home all year round. A ducted air con uses a refrigerant to cool external hot air which is then used to cool your home. When it is used for heating, it warms air from outside and pumps this into your home.
Ducted heating and cooling have a range of pros which make it an attractive solution to keep your home air conditioned:
- Ducts are discreet and seamlessly installed
- One unit for both your heating and cooling needs
- Filters the air
- Works well in all weather conditions
- Zoning control so you can target specific rooms
- More energy efficient
- More environmentally friendly
- Modern ducted air cons use safe refrigerants
Ducted systems have evolved over the years to introduce zoning capabilities to their list of useful features. Zoning allows the user to control which rooms in a home are receiving conditioned air. This has vastly improved the efficiency of ducted systems, as they no longer need to work hard to cool an entire home unnecessarily.
Despite these benefits, there are a few negatives that come along with having a ducted AC. The cost of ducted air conditioning installation, as well as the ongoing cost, can be higher than other comparable air conditioners. For a ducted air conditioner to work efficiently, all your doors and windows must also be shut. If this isn’t the case, your ducted air con will need to work harder, and possibly waste your money, to efficiently heat or cool your home.
Refrigerants in Ducted Air Conditioning
In addition, some older ducted heating and cooling systems use potentially dangerous refrigerants. In 1996, Australia started phasing out hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989. These refrigerants have relatively high global warming potential, and also require special handling. Bulk imports of HCFCs will be banned from 2030 in Australia. Servicing systems that still use them will solely rely on reclaimed HCFCs.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are an alternative refrigerant with less global warming potential than HCFCs. They are currently the most common refrigerant used, however, there is an HFC phase-down as of 2018. When compared to HCFCs, they still have a relatively high global warming potential. However, HFC-based air conditioners are now slowly being replaced by new refrigerants that have little to no global warming potential.
How Evaporative Cooling Functions
Evaporative cooling works differently to ducted cooling. These cooling units are installed on the roof of a home for optimal airflow exposure. Evaporative units draw in the hot, dry outdoor air through a vent and pass it through cooling pads. These pads are soaked with water from an internal cooling tank. As the hot air passes through the pads, the water is evaporated into a cool vapour. An internal fan then pumps the now cool air throughout the home via ductwork.
Evaporative cooling has been a popular choice for Australian homes for a variety of reasons:
- Cheaper to install than ducted air conditioning
- Running cost is more affordable
- Easy to maintain
- Only uses fresh air
This system relies on the air outside being less humid than the air inside, so evaporative air conditioning is most effective in drier climates such as Adelaide and Perth. For locations with greater humidity, such as in Queensland, an evaporative cooling system won’t be as effective.
Additionally, while evaporative cooling has a more affordable installation and running cost, it can only be used to cool your home. If you desire any heating, a second system specifically for heating will need to be installed. Furthermore, evaporative cooling has less temperature control than ducted air conditioning and also runs the risk of a water leak.
Takeaway—What is the Best Air Conditioner?
When choosing whether a ducted air conditioner or evaporative cooling will best suit your home, there is a range of things to consider:
- Installation cost
- Running cost
- Environmental impact
- Temperature control
If you live in an especially humid climate, evaporative cooling likely won’t be the best fit for your home. Likewise, if you want one unit to both heat and cool your home, an evaporative system won’t be the solution for you. Ducted reverse cycle is an effective solution for most homes, but will set you back more upfront.
Choosing the right air conditioner for your home can be a major decision and a big financial commitment. If you’re unsure what type will suit your home, contact Metropolitan Air Conditioning and we can help you in this process.
Published: 10 Jul, 2020