Can you install air conditioning yourself?

Skipping out on some expensive air conditioning installation costs and installing your own AC unit may sound like a great idea for your bank balance. In Australia, you must have both electrical and refrigeration licencing in order to legally install an air conditioner.

That being said, there are a couple of basic air conditioning units that can safely be installed as a DIY job. Read on to find out which units are safe to install at home, and why some units pose serious safety threats.

Types of air conditioners

We'll quickly run through the different kinds of air conditioning units that are available on the market, before delving into the risk (or methods, in the safe cases) involved with installing them yourself.

Ducted air conditioning

Ducted air conditioning is commonly installed in large buildings with multiple rooms. The air conditioning is connected between rooms via ductwork and flows into each room through a vent. This type of air conditioning is best for people who are looking to cool an entire area at the same time.

Window air conditioning

Window air conditioning is a compact system with all of the components within the same unit. These units are installed in a window or wall-mounted on a supporting bracket/frame.

Split system air conditioning

Split system air conditioners are a unit with an evaporator inside a wall unit disturbing cool air, and an evaporator in an outside unit releasing warm air.

They are very popular and are either used as a single unit to cool one area or have multiple different wall units throughout a building that are connected to the same outdoor unit but can be operated separately. They're ideal for people who are looking to cool one room or are looking to cool different rooms at different times.

Portable air conditioning

Portable air conditioners are commonly available and are normally a floor unit with wheels that is transportable. They are designed to cool small areas and are relatively cheap. They work by sending warm air outside through an exhaust hose, and by sucking in room temperature air and distributing it back into the room cold.

Which of these air conditioners can you install yourself?

Window air conditioning

Window air conditioning is a very simple form of air conditioning, and it can sometimes be possible for a homeowner to install this type of air conditioning themselves. However, it's important to note that a window air conditioning unit is very heavy (around 50kgs), and a DIY installation job runs the chance of an accidental drop which can damage to both the unit and to the person installing the air conditioning system.

However, if you're set on installing your own window air conditioning unit, and are willing to do so at your own risk, you can follow the step-by-step guide below.

DIY installation of window air conditioning

Tools required

  • Screws and brackets (that should come with the AC unit)
  • Scissors
  • Screw driver
  • Measuring tape

Step by step guide

  1. Measure the width of your window and mark the exact middle spot.
  2. Open your window
  3. Attach the side panels to the air conditioning unit. The method to do this will depend on the unit, but usually, these are screwed in.
  4. Place the unit in the window and close the window so it sits on top of the unit.
  5. Make sure that the unit is exactly in the middle of the window. You may want to ask for assistance when placing the unit because it can be very heavy.
  6. Once the window is in place, install L brackets to ensure that the window will be locked into place. If the window cill is wooden you can use a screw to set the bracket in place.
  7. The unit should be in place now, however, there should be an open air gap on either side of the unit. This gap will need to be closed up with a panel. Window panels should come with the unit. Place these on either side of the unit and fix them into place.
  8. The window air conditioner should be installed now, all you'll need to do is plug it into an electrical socket and turn it on!

Portable air conditioning

Portable air conditioning is one of the only types of air conditioners that we can confidently advise that it is easy to install at home. A portable unit will likely come with installation instructions, which are straight forward and installation time should be minimal. While each unit might be slightly different, the below is a basic guide on how to install a portable air conditioner.

1. Attach the exhaust hose fitting to the rear of the system

  1. Place the window fitting in a nearby window frame and hold in place by closing the window

3. Join the system fitting to the window fitting with the supplied hose

4. Plug air conditioning system into power outlet and turn on


How much does it cost for air conditioning installation in Australia?


price of air conditioner installation depends on a number of  factors including:

·        the type of air conditioner

·        the size of the air conditioner; and

the location of the indoor and outdoor units. A simple A simple

replacement installation of a wall mount split air conditioning system may cost

as little as $575 including gst.

What specific dangers are involved with me installing my own air conditioning unit?

In Australia it is illegal to install your own air conditioner for two reasons:

1.       In order to install and air conditioner you need to handle refrigerant. In order to legally handle refrigerant you need a refrigerant handling licence.

2.     When removing or installing an air conditioner you will need either a full or restricted electrical licence depending on the type of work you are carrying out.

 So, not withstanding the dangers of handling electricity and refrigerant gases, it is illegal to do so without the proper licences.

If I have a technician install the electrical part of my split system air conditioner, can I do the rest?

As noted above even if you have an electrician carry out all electrical work, to handle the refrigerant gas needed when installing an air conditioner you will need someone with a refrigerant handling licence to carry out the work legally.

What is the most expensive type of air conditioner to install?

Ducted air conditioning is generally the most complicated type or air conditioner to install. Followed by a multi-head system.

The simplest ducted air conditioner installation would start at about $4,400 including gst

Is it safe to repair my own air conditioner?

Repairing an air conditioner that has stopped working almost always involves electrical work, which requires a restricted electrical licence (which all our technicians have). In many cases it also involves handling refrigerant gas which also requires a licence. Most electricians are not licenced to carry out repairs to air conditioners.

Irrespective of the licencing requirements, the complexities of modern air conditioners mean knowledge and experience of air conditioners, often of that particular brand, are required in order to arrive at the correct diagnosis of the fault on an air conditioner.

If the problem with your air conditioner is a serious issue, you may be considering whether it's a better idea to fix it or just completely replace it. Whenever our technicians attend at your house we will collect enough information to quote both repair, where possible, and replacement options.

Wherever possible we will provide options for repair of a faulty system. We will also give you our recommendation about whether repair or replacement is the best option from an economic value perspective.

Read more about our air conditioning repairs.

I'm trying to avoid paying installation fees, can a window air conditioner or portable air conditioner effectively cool my room?

Portable and window mount air conditioners are both cost effective options when it comes to cooling a room. Neither of these systems require any type of licence to install.

The main drawbacks of both systems are:

- Noise. The compressor, which is the noisy bit. Is in the room or window with you

- Capacity. There are limits to size you can get, particularly with portable systems, which make them unsuitable for large rooms.

Ready for a quote?

If you're interested in installing an air conditioning system, fixing your current one or would just like some more information about your options, get in touch with our friendly team for a quote or to schedule an at home inspection.

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