split system air conditioner

The Ultimate Guide to Ducted Air Conditioning

Split system air conditioners are great. They’re affordable heating and cooling solutions that provide captivating comfort for a single room or living space.

But what about the rest of your home? How are you going to survive the night in the blistering heat or unforgiving cold if the air con only services the living room?

This is where a ducted air conditioning system comes in. Ducted is the ultimate form of climate control. There’s potential here for you and every member of the family to experience the benefits no matter where you are. But how exactly does ducted work and is it as expensive as everyone says?

Let’s take a closer look at ducted air conditioners.

What is Ducted Air Conditioning?

Ducted air conditioning is the whole home solution that adds complete temperature control to as many rooms as you want.

A ducted system includes an outdoor compressor and a centralised indoor unit installed in the ceiling or under the floor. A series of concealed air ducts span from the central unit to subtle vents around the home, providing the desired cool or warm airflow.

Ducted air conditioning commonly features reverse cycle technology, meaning it can provide both heating and cooling. This means you can heat and cool multiple rooms with ease.

The temperature and settings are managed by a wall-mounted thermostat, with many modern systems also benefiting from smart features where users can manage airflow over Wi-Fi using an app.


How Much Does Ducted Air Con Cost Upfront?

Ducted air conditioning is the most comprehensive form of climate control available. So, installation costs are higher when compared to alternative air con systems.

Beyond the central unit and outdoors compressor, you will also need to take into account the necessary air ducts, wiring, drainage, labour costs and potential removal of an existing system.

It’s best if you regard ducted air conditioning as an investment. One with immediate returns.

The price of a system will always vary from home-to-home. So, ducted work warrants a fixed price quote. This way, you know exactly what to expect from the get-go and can’t be hit with unexpected hidden fees on top of your investment.

You can also take advantage of our interest free** payment plans to experience ducted air con now and take care of the costs at a rate that suits your lifestyle and budget.

How Much Does Ducted Air Conditioning Cost to Run?

The cost of running ducted air conditioning will depend on a variety of factors including the type and size of a system, its energy rating, the size of a home, operating temperature and local electricity tariffs.

Comparison website Canstar Blue estimates that the average household can add up to $450 a year to existing electricity costs based on a 6kW output operating for 80 hours per quarter.

When calculating the costs of new appliances, you would typically refer to their Energy Rating presented on a familiar red and yellow sticker. However, ducted air con systems are not required to carry this information. Some units do, while others do not.

So, this is how you determine the maximum running costs of a ducted air conditioning system:

  1. Look for a printed label on the unit or an online description that states the air conditioner’s kilowatt usage per hour, or kWh.
  2. Find your most recent energy bill which will reveal what you pay per kilowatt. Energy prices differ from state to state. So, you will get a more accurate reading from a previous statement rather than an online search.
  3. Multiply the air conditioner’s kilowatt usage with the kWh price on a recent bill to learn what you would pay per hour.

You can then use this number to work out daily usage costs based on how many hours you expect to run the air conditioner. Then take this data further to estimate quarterly and annual running costs. Consider that there’s a difference between on peak and off-peak energy prices and that cooling uses more energy than heating.

Suppose you’re looking for a more accurate forecast of long-term running costs. In that case, the Energy Rating website has tools for calculating the expected costs over a 10-year period which is considered the average lifespan of an air conditioner.

ducted air conditioning diagram

What is an Inverter Air Conditioner?

If the estimated running costs are higher than expected, consider a ducted air conditioner that makes use of inverter technology. An inverter controls the speed of an air conditioner’s electric motor. This way, less energy is consumed in the early stages of use, potentially reducing running costs.

Air con manufacturer Carrier estimates that inverter systems use anywhere form 30-50% less energy than older fixed-speed systems.

Inverter technology is also continually adjusting performance to retain the desired temperature, instead of stopping and starting repeatedly.

The Benefits of Switching to Ducted

With great price comes great responsibility to deliver a system that justifies the purchase. Thankfully ducted lives up to its reputation with many benefits that can quickly outweigh the initial costs.

Climate Control for the Entire Home

Ducted air conditioning takes the desirable airflow beyond a central living space and expands into bedrooms, dining rooms, home offices and wherever else you desire. For example, an LG ducted air conditioner with a 12.5 kW output can provide cooling for up to 8 zones or rooms simultaneously.

So, instead of installing a split system and discovering it’s not sufficient on the hottest days of the year, you could go with ducted to get it right the first time if you’re looking for year-round comfort.

Zoning Increases Energy Efficiency

Zoning is an optional feature of ducted that enables everyone to enjoy their ideal temperature and airflow. Using the thermostat, you can adjust the cooling and heating of each room individually or shut down zones altogether to save on energy.

Choose to heat just the living room and master bedroom in winter or cool the rooms in direct sunlight during the summer.

When the extended family comes to visit, add alluring airflow to every room. It may help keep squabbles to a minimum.

Ducted Can Cost Less to Run Than You Think

Making use of zoning and only treating necessary rooms at any one time can reduce the running costs of ducted air con and so can adjusting the temperature. Origin Energy suggests that you should never set your thermostat below 24°C, because every degree lower consumes 5% more energy.

Even using the air conditioner for an hour less each day can save you between $31 and $93 per year. Also, things like ceiling insulation, double glazed windows, curtains and planting trees for shade can all help reduce the costs of air conditioning.

Ducted is Aesthetically Pleasing

Despite the best efforts of designers, split systems remain intrusive and can potentially disrupt the aesthetics of your home. With ducted air conditioning, the entire system remains concealed within the roof, walls and under the floor if required.

The only aspects visible throughout the interior are the subtle vents that can be coloured and styled to suit your décor.

The thermostat will also be available in modern designs to match your other smart technology. You can install a ducted system for comfort and remain house proud.


Best Ducted Air Con Brands

Most cooling and heating brands have a range of quality ducted systems. We’ve selected three of the best brands based on energy efficiency, innovative features and ability to withstand the harsh Australian conditions.


ActronAir is the Australian brand offering a range of reliable ducted air conditioners with a focus on energy efficiency and systems to suit a variety of lifestyles. Their range includes everything from slim models designed to fit into spaces only 249mm high through to premium models that deliver performance up to 75% more efficient than fixed speed air conditioners.

The premium Actron Air systems use unique outdoor Vertical Discharge compressors purpose built to meet the needs of Australian homes. All models make use of an analogue thermostat and remote control, or the systems can be upgraded with smart NEO Connect controls and app connectivity.

Mitsubishi Electric

Don’t confuse the name with your local car yard. Mitsubishi Electric brings comfort and convenience into the home with its extensive range of ducted air conditioners. The Mitsubishi Electric range includes low profile systems ideal for tight ceiling spaces, models with built-in dehumidifiers and systems with impressive output up to 22 kW cooling capacity and 25 kW heating capacity.

Additional Mitsubishi Electric features include quiet operation and flexible ducts that ensure systems suit all potential homes. Upgrading to a zone controller is a must. Zone control provides anywhere from 4 to 8 individually managed zones for meeting personal preferences and the ability to save on energy use.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is an award-winning manufacturer of quality air conditioners built for both residential and commercial use.

Our technicians favour their residential air conditioners, and Mitsubishi has been delivering quality products for more than 130 years.

It offers a range of different products for both residential and commercial purposes including:

  • Wall-mounted split systems
  • Floor-standing
  • Ceiling concealed systems
  • Ducted systems
  • Multi-split systems
  • Airzone zoning solutions

Fujitsu Air Conditioning

Leaders in residential heating and cooling, Fujitsu air conditioning has a range of ducted systems that seamlessly integrate into the home with quiet operation and high energy efficiency. The Fujitsu range offers flexible installation and energy efficiency along with support for up to 8 zones in total all while using a standard single phase power supply.

All Fujitsu air conditioning models feature DC fans and DC compressors which are more efficient than older AC systems. Functions including fan speed, temperature and zoning can all be managed by your choice of three user friendly thermostats.


Is Ducted Air Conditioning Worth it?

Ducted air conditioning is not a one-size-fits-all solution. If you’re finally building that dream home and want the best system money can buy, look no further than ducted.

However, it does require roof space and, if you’re living in an open-plan apartment or single-bedroom home, you could find a split system satisfactory.

There’s no skirting around the high upfront costs, but when you look at the many benefits and the simple ways to reduce running expenses, ducted air conditioning sure does sound appealing.

Call us today to explore the possibilities of ducted air conditioning including our interest free** payment plans.

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.

Published: 2021-02-05

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