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Evaporative vs Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning: Which One Should you Choose?

Perth summers are baking hot, and that’s the way a lot of people like it. Some homes can breeze through summer with ceiling fans and misting sprinklers (at least until the Freo doctor picks up). For others, their home design and construction means a string of 40-degree days are relentless, and an evaporative or reverse cycle air conditioner becomes an attractive option. 

Reverse cycle and evaporative work on different principles of cooling, with different benefits and efficiencies. We’ve broken them down below so you can decide which one will best suit you and your family. 

Evaporative Air Conditioner

How Does it Work?

Evaporative air conditioning units produce cool air by passing warm air from the exterior of the house, filtering it through a cooling unit (usually on the roof). A pump circulates water on to a cooling pad, so that passing air is cooled by evaporation and dispersed throughout your home. 


  • Fresh air is constantly being pushed into the house to increase the humidity for a cooling effect, while allowing stale, hot air to leave the house, 
  • Promotes a steady, more comfortable temperature,
  • The moist pads filter some dust and pollen, a positive for asthmatics,
  • Uses less energy than a reverse cycle and as such costs far less to install, run and maintain.

Best Climate Match

For Perth’s very dry climate, an evaporative unit increases the humidity of your home and is the most affordable option for energy efficiency to cool your home.


Reverse Cycle Air Conditioner

How Does it Work?

Reverse cycle air conditioning uses a compressor outside and a fan coil inside the unit where cooling or heating refrigerant passes through. Warmer air from inside the house is passed through the fan coil again and again so that the air keeps getting cooler. 

How Does it Work?

  • Reverse cycle systems can heat and cool,
  • Just like a fridge, every object in your house will become cold to the touch.

Best Climate Match

For humid areas, a reverse cycle unit is the best option. In drier areas, it may struggle to get a cooling wave going long enough to cycle air down to a comfortable temperature, no matter what the setting says on the remote.


A Note on Running Costs

Don’t just look at the sticker price. A slightly higher investment will usually afford a higher quality, lower running cost unit. Considering the energy needed for cooling, a reverse cycle unit usually costs more to run than an evaporative unit. This may vary depending on the routine of the householders. It may also provide a lower cost option for heating in winter than having individual headers in each room.

If you’re looking to maximise your air conditioning efficiency, you may also want to consider home automation, that can allow you to set timers for cooling your home just for your arrival home, or turn it on or off from your smartphone.


Pascoe’s plumbers and electricians throughout Perth can help you with all your home renovations, big or small. Book online or call today on 1300 072 726 for a free quote.

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