Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning vs Evaporative Cooling

The purpose of today's article is discuss the differences and pro's and con's of two of Australia's most popular cooling systems.  Evaporative cooling and reverse cycle air conditioning are two very different methods of cooling your home each with their benefits and drawbacks.

What is evaporative cooling?

Here we're referring to a roof mounted system that relies on water to cool.  With evaporative cooling, you're taking air from outside the home and increasing the humidity, which has a cooling effect, and delivering that through and out the home. This gives a cycle of fresh air in and out, as opposed to recycling the same air through the house.

What is a reverse cycle air conditioner?

The reverse cycle air conditioning process uses a compressor outside and a fan coil inside where cooling or heating refrigerant passes through depending on the setting it's on. Air taken from the inside of the house is then passed across the heating/cooling fans and back into the home. So it's like a fridge, you put your hand in there and you can feel the cold, and like the fridge you can feel every object in your house going cold.  The key difference in understanding the technologies then is you are locking conditioned air in with a reverse cycle system, passing it through the coil again to continue cooling. It's a cycle that keeps taking the same air back in across the fan coil and delivering it back to the house. Each time it passes through the fan coil it keeps getting cooler and keeps delivering that to your home.

It's important to note that a reverse cycle system can be in the form of split systems on the wall or a fully ducted system in the roof.

Reverse Cycle


  • works in all weather conditions.  dry, humid, freezing and hot.
  • effectively removes humidity from a room for that crisp feel
  • very effective air filtration systems capable of removing dust, pollen, odours and bacteria
  • ability to cool and heat your home from one unit
  • newer models are very energy efficient


  • higher running costs than an evaporative system
  • higher installation costs for ducted systems
  • filters need to be cleaned or replaced regularly to maintain effectiveness
  • doors and windows need to be kept closed for maximum cooling



  • very economical to run
  • slightly cheaper setup costs
  • simple, compact installation
  • ensures a constant supply of fresh, cooled air throughout your home
  • filter pads trap some dust and pollen


  • doesn't not perform well in humid conditions, sometimes making it even more 'muggy'
  • very little temperature control as you can only control the fan speed.
  • basic air filter system only, many airborne irritants or odours missed
  • not ideal for those with asthma or respiratory issues
  • possible risk of water leakage from ceiling outlets unless fitted with covers
  • can not heat the room and you would need a different source of heat


Almost all new homes will opt for a reverse cycle system, which could be fully ducted or split.  Evaporative systems are more commonly found in large workshops that keep their doors and windows open and the system provides a nice, cooling breeze.  They are found less and less in new homes.

If you'd like to discuss cooling options for your home, get in touch with us at Customised Air Conditioning today.

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