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How Effective is a Split System Heat Pump in Winter?

If you need air conditioning in summer and heat in winter, a reverse cycle heat pump seems like a good idea. But, how effective is it compared to a heating only system?

No to Gas

Firstly, we should note that we are not considering gas heating. Gas is a fossil fuel and there is simply no way to run gas appliances without greenhouse gas emissions. However, while electricity is in part generated by coal and other fossil fuels, it doesn’t have to be. You can purchase 100% GreenPower or install solar to cover your needs throughout the year and effectively be greenhouse neutral.

The economics of gas heating also no longer stack up in almost all cases. See Renew’s latest research report on this subject.

gas heater danger

The Australian Government is now taking serious action against gas ducted heating. Regulations for supply and installation has changed as of April 2019 enforcing stricter practices to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, read our article here. One way of avoiding such a deadly event is to upgrade to reverse cycle.

Now that is out of the way, what are the reverse cycle heating options available?

How Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning Works

Reverse cycle air conditioning is also called a “heat pump.” A refrigerant cools the air in summer. When you want to heat the air, a compressor pumps the air into a condenser. The condenser heats the refrigerant and this heats the air that is pumped into your home. A range of filters in the head unit then cleans the air before distributing it throughout your room.


Reverse cycle air conditioning units can be more energy efficient than other types of cooling and heating systems. According to studies, for every kilowatt unit of electrical energy they use, they create three units of heat and you can purchase either a split system or a ducted system to suit you.

Switching from Gas Heating to Reverse Cycle Ducted

Splits are generally the most efficient option. However, single split system has a potential disadvantage is very room you want to heat/cool needs an outdoor compressor. This can mean many outdoor units for large homes with many rooms, which can be aesthetically unappealing and take up a lot of outdoor space. Therefore, multi-head and ducted systems can have one outdoor unit branched off to various rooms in the house you want heat or cooled. For more information about the ducted systems we offer, read Refrigerated Heating and Cooling.

Choosing a Reverse Cycle Air Conditioner

Choosing a reverse cycle air conditioner involves more than choosing the cheapest or most expensive model on the market. Buy a unit that is designed for the size of the area you need to heat and cool is the most important factor. If the capacity of an air conditioner is too low for a room, it has to work overtime to do its job. This wastes energy and shortens the life of the air conditioner. If you buy a unit that has too much capacity, it will cycle more frequently. This can reduce dehumidification and make a room uncomfortable and also wastes energy.

If you choose a ducted system, you want to be sure it is as energy efficient as possible. Adding a zone system will allow you to heat or cool selected rooms rather than the entire house. You also want to ensure that your installer uses insulated ducting. Cheap ducting will lose heat as the air passes through the system.

Some other features you may want to think about:

  • Sensors that detect a person’s presence, automatically idling down the heat pump when no one is in the room.
  • Sleep mode automatically adjusts the temperature when you’re sleeping and lowers noise to sleep peacefully all night.
  • Adjustable or oscillating louvres to direct airflow up or down depending on your preference.
  • Look for an air conditioner with a comprehensive warranty and your installer should also offer a workmanship warranty.

Rapid Cold Air Conditioning are ARC certified.

Rapid Cold are authorized dealers and we offering 5 years warranty on products, and are insured for a 6 year workmanship guarantee.

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