Ducted Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning vs Evaporative Cooling

Australians suffer through some of the world’s hottest summers. Staying comfortable can be a challenge, which is why many of us turn to whole-home cooling systems.

Whole-home air conditioning and evaporative coolers are a great way to beat the heat. Modern systems are more affordable and efficient than ever, so they’re perfect for any budget.

The only real challenge is choosing a system that provides the cooling power your home needs. When it comes to whole-home solutions, ducted reverse cycle air conditioning and evaporative cooling are the two main contenders. Each type of system has its pros and cons, and we’re going to discuss the differences to see which is right for your family.

How Ducted Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning Works

Ducted reverse cycle air conditioning works the same way as other refrigerated cooling systems. Each system contains an indoor unit (typically mounted in the ceiling) and an outdoor compressor unit.

The internal fan unit contains coils and pipework that are filled with refrigerant gases. Air is drawn up from inside your home and passed over these coils. The refrigerant in the pipework absorbs heat from the air, and the chilled air is then distributed back into your house through ductwork.

From there, the heated refrigerant is pumped outside to the external compressor unit, compressed, and the heat is dissipated using a large fan. The refrigerant is then ready to begin its journey again.

In heating mode, a reverse cycle ducted air conditioner works in the same way, but the system contains a valve that reverses the flow of refrigerant. This allows the refrigerant to absorb heat from outside and transport it inside your home, where it can be distributed through ductwork as normal.

grille of a ducted reverse cycle air conditioner

Pros and Cons of Reverse Cycle Ducted Air Conditioning

Beating Australia’s summer temperatures can be tough. Millions of Aussies have turned to reverse cycle ducted air conditioning because it provides plenty of cooling power, even on scorching days.

These large systems cost more to buy and operate, and they’re less energy efficient than evaporative cooling, but they’re a good choice for most homes. Below, we’ve made a list of the pros and cons of reverse cycle ducted air conditioning:

Pros Cons
Highly effective for cooling Higher upfront purchase price
Reverse cycle air conditioners can be used for heating Expensive installation process that isn’t suitable for all homes
Efficient whole-home cooling solution Higher ongoing running costs
Increases the value of your property Less effective for heating than gas ducted heaters
Ducts can be separated into zones for efficiency and comfort
Easy to maintain

Reverse cycle ducted air conditioning is a flexible option that’s suitable for most climates. The ability to cool and heat your spaces makes it perfect if you don’t have a separate heating system installed.

The major drawback of ducted air conditioning systems is the cost. These systems are large and expensive to purchase. This dramatically increases costs when compared to evaporative cooling.

How Evaporative Cooling Works

In an evaporative cooler, a cooling unit is mounted to the roof of your home. This unit contains a series of filter pads that are kept damp using water that’s stored in a tank at the base of the unit.

Outside air is drawn into the system through the wet filter pads. The water in the filter pads absorbs heat from the air and evaporates, cooling the air in the process. The cooled air is then blown into your home and distributed to each room by ductwork in the ceiling.

Evaporative cooling is one of the world’s oldest cooling technologies. While the principle is simple, this type of cooling is efficient, highly effective, and it’s a cost effective alternative to refrigerated air conditioning.

Pros and Cons of Evaporative Cooling

Evaporative air conditioning in Adelaide is a popular choice in Australia. These systems are affordable, efficient and have very low maintenance requirements, making them suitable for many homes.

The trade off with evaporative cooling is that it performs best in hot, dry climates, like Adelaide, Perth and Central Australia. For a detailed look at the pros and cons of evaporative cooling, check out the table below:

Pros Cons
Low running costs Performs best in low-humidity climates (<30% humidity)
Affordable installation costs May be less effective for cooling than ducted air conditioning
Energy efficient Limited control over system temperature
Provides a flow of fresh air Not suitable for providing heating in winter
Easy to maintain

The major drawback of evaporative cooling systems is their lack of heating capacity. Reverse cycle air conditioners can be used for heating during the cooler months. An evaporative cooler won’t provide the same flexibility, and needs to be paired with gas ducted heating if you live in a cool climate.

evaporative air conditioner on the roof of a house

Ducted Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning vs Evaporative Cooling: Which is Better?

Ducted air conditioning and evaporative cooling are both an effective way to keep your house cool. Because the two systems work very differently, the best option depends on how you intend to use your central cooling.

When choosing between ducted reverse cycle air conditioning and evaporative cooling you need to consider:

  • The upfront purchase costs
  • Installation costs
  • Running costs
  • Ongoing maintenance needs
  • Your local climate
  • Whether you need cooling and heating

For instance, if you live in a colder climate and already have gas ducted heating installed, you may be better off with an evaporative cooler. On the other hand, if you live in a high humidity zone, ducted air conditioning is probably the better option.

We recommend talking to your air conditioning technician for more information. Your installation needs to be tailored to your home, budget and climate, and professional advice is the best way to choose the right system.

Keep Your Heating and Cooling in Top Condition with the Air Conditioning Doctor!

Reverse cycle ducted air conditioning and evaporative coolers are a great way to beat the summer heat. But, both types of cooling are a serious investment, so it’s important to book regular maintenance with the Air Conditioning Doctor!

Air Conditioning Doctor provides servicing, repairs and maintenance for evaporative cooling and refrigerated air conditioning across Adelaide. Our technicians are highly experienced with all types of systems. We offer maintenance programs that take the hassle out of maintaining your air conditioning, ensuring your systems are always ready for action.

The best time to have your cooling system serviced is in the lead up to summer. Booking now means your home will be ready for the hot days that lie ahead!

Get in touch with us to find out more about air conditioner repairs in Adelaide or to make an appointment with the Air Conditioning Doctor.