Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning vs Heater: Which System is Best for My Home?

 In Residential Air Conditioner System

Reverse cycle air conditioning (also known as a heat pump system) is not necessarily the first solution that comes to mind when you start looking at heating and cooling solutions for your home.

There are several different heaters and air conditioning systems out there. However, which one suits your home, personal preferences, and pocket best?

Each unit works differently and has its advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, understanding how they work will help you decide which one is best for your home and family. We break down everything you need to know to make the decision. 

What is Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning?

A reverse cycle air conditioner is true to the name and effectively describes how the system works. This unit can use a reverse cycle to ensure that you have cool or hot air, dependent on your needs.

This unit is a must-have if you live in an area where the seasons go from sweltering summer to icy cold winter.

A reverse cycle air conditioner contains a liquid called refrigerant used to assist with providing either cold or hot air to your space. This unit extracts hot air from the outside, and then the air warms up the liquid refrigerant.

This then moves over a system of evaporation. After that, the heated refrigerant turns into gas. 

The output of this warm air is circulated in your home, heating large areas evenly. As it transfers heat into the air through a condenser, the refrigerant turns into liquid again. This is transmitted through the system, and the whole cycle can start again.

It might seem like a complicated process, but during summer, the reverse occurs, and you can rely on the system to ensure that you have lovely cold air distributed evenly throughout your house.

Is a Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning System the Right Fit for Me?

When considering reverse cycle air conditioning, you can choose from different systems — for example, a duct system or split system. Ducted systems have ducts that travel from outside into the reverse cycle air conditioning system, and then air is distributed through ducts to different areas. This is usually a more expensive system. 

When installed as a split system, part of the unit is outside the building and the other on the inside. The latter also uses piping instead of ducting, so it is generally easier to install.

Advantages of Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning 

Energy Efficient

When comparing it to other heating systems such as electric and gas heaters, the reverse cycle system is more energy-efficient. This system takes heat from the air to power and progress the cycle, whereas other systems rely on either electricity or fuel for their energy. The running cost is about one-third of that of different heating systems.

Heat Distribution and Temperature Control  

Reverse cycle air conditioners are very efficient in larger spaces as it distributes heat more evenly. It, therefore, works well in open-plan spaces. When opting for gas heaters and electric heaters as your heating mode, you will find that the heating source area will be hot, but the heat distribution is not done as evenly throughout the space.

With a reverse cycle air conditioning system, the temperature is controlled through a thermostat, ensuring an ideal climate, and preventing heat energy wastage by overheating a room. 


A reverse cycle air conditioning unit is convenient if you consider installing a cooling system for the summer. The unit can double up as a heating and cooling system and depends on your needs. It also means that you only have one unit in your house instead of different cooling and heating systems.

The reverse cycle air conditioner can either be wall- or floor-mounted, giving you a choice in what you find to be more aesthetically pleasing.

Disadvantages of Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning 


A reverse cycle air conditioner’s disadvantage is that the upfront costs are far more when compared to buying an electrical, gas, or oil heater. In the long run, it is a bang for your buck as you will be saving on energy costs, and you will have the luxury of a dual system.

The reverse cycle air conditioner also has to be professionally installed, which pushes up the initial costs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Heaters

When it comes to heating your home, there are various types of heaters to choose from. The choice comes down to your requirements, space or other systems you already have in place. Irrespective of the unit you choose, there are a few tips to ensuring that you are using any of your heating or cooling systems correctly. 

If you have no use for cooling systems, only experiencing frigid winters and moderate summers, and you are looking for a quick, simple and cost-effective solution, one of these heaters might be for you.

Gas Heaters 


A gas heater is a relatively good option for any user that already has gas connections in their home. These heaters also tend to have a lower upfront cost, but the fact that gas costs have increased in recent months, heating costs will inevitably be more compared to a reverse cycle air conditioning unit.


One must be very careful to ensure good ventilation when using gas heaters, as carbon monoxide is emitted from these units and can be deadly. The temperature control with gas heaters is also tricky as the area close to the heater will also be warmer, and heat is not distributed evenly throughout a room.

Electric Heaters 


Electric heaters are usually portable and smaller units, making them very functional and convenient to use in different spaces. These units use electricity to heat an element that then radiates heat. This unit is handy for one person or when heating a small room. However, it does not work well in larger spaces. They are also reasonably easy to find in most stores, and they have no installation costs – it’s a plug-in-and-go.  


These heaters can reach relatively high temperatures, and the element when heated up poses a high fire risk. The heating costs of electric heaters are also pretty high, and therefore they are not environmentally friendly either. It is suggested, for example, that for every 2kw of electrical energy used, the output is 2kw of heat. However, with a reverse cycle air conditioning unit, 0.6 kW of electrical power can still output 2kW of heat.

Oil Heater 


Oil heaters retain heat well and are more comfortable than some other heating systems that dry out the air. They also whisper quiet and safer than a gas heater as electric oil heaters do not overheat quickly. 


Oil heaters are similar to electric heaters in that it uses electricity – making it quite expensive in the long term. They are also slow to heat up, and they do not work well in larger spaces.

Let Us Help You Choose the Right Heating and Cooling Solution for Your Home

Different heating and cooling systems will work for you, dependent on your needs. You must assess your space and your year-round needs before deciding on the unit to provide you with cost-effective heating and cooling.

All Air can help you assess your needs and provide you with various air conditioning options for residential or business properties. Contact us today if you need assistance with determining what the ideal system is or receive a quote for installing one of our units.

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