Reverse Cycle Air Conditioner – What is it & How Does it Work?

Reverse cycle air conditioning is a type of aircon unit that can heat or cool your space to provide comfortable temperatures throughout anytime of the year.

Traditional air conditioners were designed to cool the air for those hot summer months. However, in winter when it was too cold another heating device would need to be used to gain comfort.

Reverse cycle aircons removed the need for an additional heater as they can not only produce cool air but also heat.

While you will have to spend a little more to get a reverse cycle aircon as opposed to a cooling only model, many will argue the costs are well worth it. Especially when temperatures drop extremely.

How Does Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning Work?

As you shop for a reverse cycle air conditioner, you may be interested to know how it works.

In simple terms, the unit transfers heat from indoors to outdoors when in cooling mode and then reverses the process in heating mode.

This means that it will cool and heat the indoors as required. Besides heating and cooling, many reverse cycle air conditioners also filter and dehumidify the air to provide cleaner and purified air.

When in Cooling Mode

The exact functionality behind how a reverse cycle air conditioner provides cooling is explained in our article on how split systems work. This is the process in point form:

  • In the outdoor unit, a refrigerant gas is pumped into a condenser coil via a compressor.
  • Under immense pressure caused by the compressor, the gas is condensed into a liquid.
  • The liquid passes through an expansion point which converts the liquid back to a cold gas.
  • This conversion releases heat which is blown away from an extraction fan outside.
  • The cold gas is pumped into the inside unit and passes through an evaporation coil.
  • Air is blown over the evaporation coil which cools it as it is blown into the room.
  • The gas is then pumped back into the compressor and cycle continues.

When in Heating Mode

When the unit is in heating mode, the roles of the condenser coil and evaporator coil change positions.

The outdoor condenser unit discharges cold air as it acts as the evaporator coil.

As such, cold air is produced outside and blown away with the extraction fan. In addition, the indoor evaporator coil produces heat by acting as the condenser coil.

This is how the cycle is reversed to make the unit useful all year round.

Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning Features

Besides being effective in ensuring temperatures are comfortable throughout any time of the year, reverse cycle air conditioners are also extremely efficient.

On top of this many models also provide other features such as purifying the air quality as well as those listed below:

Cool: This feature works to keep the space cool. The air conditioner gets rid of the heat from indoors to outdoors.

Dry: Although not like in cooling mode, this feature helps to cool the space and dehumidifies the air inside.

Eco or Economy: Air conditioners are known for increasing electricity bills but with this feature, they can be reduced.

Heat: This feature is about heating the room. The outdoor unit in conjunction with the indoor unit work to provide hot air inside.

Thermostat: With this feature, you can set the room temperature as per your preference and the thermostat will adjust the output accordingly.

Auto: This feature will choose the right mode to maintain the temperature in a room automatically.

Sleep mode: This is an excellent feature that adjusts the temperatures as you sleep. It does so in steps making it comfortable throughout the night.


If you’re looking for AC experts who are well-rounded in heating, cooling and fresh air ventilation systems, Impact Air Solutions is the company you can trust.