How much does air conditioning installation cost?

With hot weather never far away in Australia, it's time to start thinking about how you'll stay cool in the inevitable heat waves of the summer months. The obvious answer is air conditioning. If you don't already have a system installed, you may want to consider investing in one before the pre-summer rush kicks in.

While getting air conditioning sounds simple in theory, in reality, it can actually be quite complex when taking into account the different types of air conditioners available, what's best suited for you and how much it costs to run and install.

Fortunately, we've put together a guide to help you understand your air conditioning options, and the approximate costs you'll be looking at to install them.

Factors that affect air conditioning cost

Before delving into how much air conditioning costs specifically, it's important to realise that there are many factors that can affect the price. Below, are some things that will affect how much money you'll b spending on your new air conditioner.

Whether there was a previous air conditioning system in place

If your house has had a previous air conditioner installed, you may be looking at reduced costs for the price of AC installation. Ductwork may already be installed through the entire house, and even if it's deteriorated, it may only need fixing - which comes in a lot cheaper price than a full system replacement.

Similarly so, if a wall unit has previously been installed in the same wall, there may be piping and power cables already installed for a wall unit. This will reduce labour costs, and sometimes materials cost, too.

The size of the unit

Another factor that affects the price of installing an air conditioning system is the size of the unit. A small studio apartment is obviously going to take a lot less energy - and a smaller system - to cool, as compared to a large house.

A small apartment can sometimes suffice with a small wall hung unit, while a large house will usually need something more powerful, like a central ducted air conditioner. If a homeowner opts for a split system air conditioner, they'll require multiple units throughout a house in order to cool the entire place.

If a homeowner opts for an air conditioner with ductwork and vents, then the more rooms you have, the higher the costs will be. Air conditioners with ductwork will require ductwork and return air pathways to be installed between all rooms that will be cooled.

Amount of cable ducting required

As we touched on above, if an air conditioner is being installed that requires ductwork, larger houses will cost more. Ductwork is the metal or flexible tubes that transport the cool air (or warm air if you're using a heating setting) around the house.

Most houses that have central air conditioning using ductwork will have ducts to connect all rooms of the house. This requires extensive labour, and the cost of all of the parts will also drive up the cost of AC installation.

The model and brand you choose

If you've ever taken a stroll through an appliance store, you'll know that there are many, many different brands and sizes of air conditioners on the market. Air conditioners with more power have the ability to cool larger areas, and come at a higher cost. Some brands that are established and trusted - like Daikin - may also have a higher price tag than similar models by lesser-known brands.

The type of air conditioning

Below we elaborate on the most popular types of air conditioning units. However, costs range dramatically between the lowest cost option, which is a portable air conditioner, and a premium ducted air conditioner. Though prices vary greatly, there are many benefits to investing in an appropriately sized air conditioning system.

What types of air conditioners are there?

Ducted air conditioning

When it comes to cooling an entire house, ducted air conditioning is one of the most popular options. This type of air conditioning uses ducts to circulate the air throughout the house.

Ducted air conditioning has the evaporator in the houses roof space and, the condenser, and compressor are all located together outside the house or building that's being cooled. Ducted air conditioning is ideal for homeowners who are looking for a one stop solution to cool their entire house and prefer the sleek, unobtrusive look of vents over wall units.

Window air conditioner

After a portable air conditioning system, a window air conditioner is one of the most basic types of AC units there is, and they're often considered a little outdated. Window air conditioners are a unit with all of the working parts of the AC system located within the same unit.

The unit is mounted in a wall or window. They are simple to install but are an inherently noisy form of air conditioning as the compressor (the noisy bit) is mounted in your wall or window.

Wall mount Split system air conditioner

As the name suggests, split system air conditioners are systems with part of the air conditioner located inside the house (or room) and part of the system located outside.

Inside the house, you'll find a wall unit that has an evaporator and fan, and outside the house sits an outdoor compressor with initiates the cooling process. The two units are connected via electrical wires and piping. There are no ducts involved with split system air conditioning.

Split system air conditioners cool refrigerant at the outdoor unit and then using the installed pipes to transport the cool refrigerant to the indoor unit. Air is pushed by a fan over the evaporator coil, which uses the cold refrigerant to cool the air.

The most common type of split system air conditioners are wall mount unit air conditioners. They can be just one indoor wall unit that's connected to the outside unit that's designed to cool one room. Or, a multi-head air conditioning system can be installed, which means multiple indoor units are connected to one outdoor unit.

Each unit can be separately controlled and is ideal for house owners who want to cool just one particular area at a time, instead of the entire house.

Portable air conditioner

A portable air conditioner is the most basic type of air conditioner - it's easy to install and it's usually pretty cheap. However, portable air conditioners are only suitable to cool very small spaces and don't have the capacity to cool many areas effectively.

This type of system uses sits on the floor and is simply plugged into an electrical wall plug. It works by using a single exhaust hose that funnels warm air out of the room, and the refrigerant system inside the unit cools air and then sends it back into the room.

Ballpark figures for installation of each kind of air conditioner

Each different kind of air conditioner has a different installation process, as well as varying costs for the unit itself. For this reason, the package price of the unit and installation fee will differ greatly depending on what kind of air conditioner you pick. The model and the brand you opt for will also affect the price.

While costs do depend on a number of factors mentioned above, below are some ballpark figures for what you can expect to pay when it comes to air conditioner cost.

Ducted Air Conditioning costs

Ducted air conditioning is one of the most complex choices with a high installation cost. This is because the unit is large - as it will usually be cooling an entire house or big area - and each different room requires ductwork to connect them up. Both of these factors increase both unit costs and installation costs.

Another factor that significantly affects the cost of the type of air conditioning is whether there was ever previously central air conditioning install. If there was, all - or some - of the ductwork may already be done, which is a significant cost. Even if the ductwork just needs fixing, it can bring down the price a lot as compared to full duct installation.

To install a central air conditioning system you'll be looking at an approximate cost of around $1000 per kW. A small four bedroom house normally costs between $10,000 and $12,000.

Window Air Conditioner cost

Window air conditioners are very easy to install, and you may even be able to install the unit by yourself, meaning you can cut out installation costs altogether. Even if you do opt for an air conditioning technician to install a window unit, they should be able to finish the job in a few hours. You'll be looking at around $400 - $1000 for a fully installed window air conditioner, depending on the brand and model you choose.

Split system air conditioner costs (wall unit)

The installation of split system air conditioners is more complex than wall units - but much less complex than a ducted air conditioner, as they don't require any ductwork at all. For a split system air conditioner, a technician will need to install the wall unit, the electrical and piping work through the walls, and the outdoor unit. Again, the price will be affected significantly depending on the size, brand and model of unit you choose. However, the approximate cost of a split system air conditioner usually ranges between $1600-$3300, with installation costs included.

Portable air conditioner costs

Portable air conditioners are so simple that they generally won't require professional installation. After purchasing a portable unit, you'll just need to make sure the hose is out a window, so that warm air can be released outside. Then, you simply plug in the unit to an electrical plug and power it on.

Air conditioning replacement costs

Blowing hot air, not turning on or an iced-up air conditioner are just a couple of problems that are commonly experienced with air conditioners.

If you're having a problem with your air conditioner, don't hesitate to get in touch with our office and we will get one of our technicians, who are very experienced at troubleshooting and fixing all air-con related problems, to attend. Where possible we will fix the issue on site, if that is not possible we will prepare a quote for repair and or replacement of your air conditioning system.

If you're weighing up whether it's a better idea to completely replace your air con, or just fix the problem, our team can also advise what they'd recommend, and give you a quote for each option.

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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