By Julie Curnow

What’s a Multi Head Split System Air Conditioner?


Have you heard about a multi head split system air conditioner but don’t know if it will suit you?
Discover more about it here.

A multi head split system air conditioner comprises a compressor – the outdoor unit – which can be used to power two to five heads normally (or up to 14 with a Daikin VRV-S). The head is the name of the indoor fan coil unit. The head can be a wall split, cassette, floor console, bulkhead or ducted system or any combination of these.

When To Use a Multi Head Split System

A multi head split system is used instead of

  • several wall splits (or other room split system) so that you don’t need several outdoor units spoiling the appearance of your home or taking up valuable space
  • ducted reverse cycle:
    • where there is not enough roof space to fit a ducted system. This is often the case with flat roof homes
    • in a double storey home where there are no penetrations (space to fit ducting from the roof to the ground floor) or
    • in tropical climates like northern West Australia as it is too humid for ducted systems.


Daikin Wall Mounted in situCan You Convert a Split System into a Multi Split Air Conditioner?

The question we are most often asked is, “Can You convert a normal split system into a multi room split system air conditioner?” Unfortunately, no you cannot. Whilst the indoor and outdoor unit of a multi room split system may look the same as a standard wall split they are different.

There is good news however. You can add a further head to an existing multi split as long as the outdoor unit is sized to heat or cool the larger area.

Multi Head Split System or Ducted. Which is Best?

A multi split system air conditioner provides more flexibility than a ducted system. A multi split has one controller per head so you can control the temperature and airflow in each room.

The running costs of a multi head split system are lower than many ducted reverse cycle air conditioners as each head is sized for and treats just the room you are using. Ducted systems need internal doors open for air to flow to the return air grille (The big grille typically in the hall that takes all the air back to the indoor unit in the roof space for further heating or cooling).

The temperature sensor is in the room being heated and cooled so you get a more accurate temperature reading. With a ducted system the temperature sensure is at the controller or the return air grille unless you spend extra to get a sensor installed in each zone.

So Why Aren’t Multi Head Split Systems More Popular?

The main reason multi head air conditioners aren’t more popular is cost. Per kilowatt of heating and cooling output, multi head split systems are more expensive to buy than wall splits or ducted reverse cycle air conditioners. You have to buy a specialist multi-head outdoor unit which is relatively expensive.  
You also need more refrigeration pipework and electrical cabling than ducted reverse cycle or standard wall splits as each head is run back to one outdoor unit.This also makes it impossible to accurately quote the amount of extra pipework and cabling (pipe and cable runs are not straight) and that cost can be significant.

Add to this the benefits of multi head split systems over ducted systems are not as strong as they used to be and you can understand why multi head split systems are not for everyone:

  • Actron and leading brand ducted reverse cycle air conditioners that can be controlled by a MyAir or iZone 320 controller  (Daikin, Fujitsu, LG, Panasonic and Toshiba) have optional zone temperature control so you can have a different temperature in each zone. Imagine 20 degrees in your kids’ bedrooms to get them to sleep and 24 degrees in the lounge room on those hot summer nights.
  • More people are turning to ducted reverse cycle with an iSave system so they can slash running costs
  • Actron and the premium series Daikin ducted systems allow reduced air flow to keep running costs down when only treating a small area.

Air and Water Residential, in Perth, are specialists in the supply and installation of Daikin, Panasonic and Toshiba multiple split system air conditioners. Call us today on 6363 5343 for a free quote for your home so you discover which air conditioner is best for you.

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