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How much does air conditioning cost? | 2023 cost guide

15th Feb '23 • By Jared Jeffery

Air conditioners are essential during the hot summer months. New air conditioners are powerful, more energy efficient and quieter than older versions. But how much will it cost you to install and run a new air conditioner?

How Much Does It Cost to Have Air Conditioning?

Depending on the unit you choose and the complexity of installation, you can expect to pay anywhere from $600 to $6,000 for air conditioning.

Air conditioning is a necessity in most Australian homes, offices, and commercial buildings. With a number of air conditioning systems available, you are sure to find the best fit for your budget and your needs.

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person holding air conditioner remote in front of unit

Article Overview

  • Air conditioning costs
  • What different types of air conditioning are available? 
  • What size air conditioning unit should I choose?
  • Air con running costs 
  • Does my air con installer need to be licensed? 
  • How much do air con installers charge? 
  • Obtaining air con installation quotes
  • Air conditioning FAQs

Air Conditioning Costs

Air conditioning installation can cost anywhere from $600 to $6,000, depending on the unit and installation. 

Smaller Split Systems

For smaller budgets, a smaller split system may be your best choice. They range from $600 to $750 for the unit approximately.

Larger Split Systems

Larger split systems begin at approximately $2,400 and are suitable for large homes, offices, commercial buildings and so forth. 

Ducted Systems 

Ducted air conditioning systems are becoming a popular choice, ranging anywhere between $2,500 and $6,000 for the unit and installation.

outdoor air conditioning unit

What different types of air conditioning are available? 

There are three primary air conditioning systems available in today’s market. At, we recommend discussing your budget and needs with your chosen air con installer to find the right fit for you. The three options are as follows:

Portable Air Conditioning Unit 

Portable air conditioning units are lower in price, readily placed anywhere with a plug/power outlet and primarily used to cool (or heat) one single room. Their output is weaker than other options and is best suited to someone living in a share house, an office that requires extra cooling, or a similar situation. 

Split Systems

Split systems are the typical go-to air conditioning option, consisting of an internal head unit and an external condenser/compressor. Split systems are rectangular shaped, mounted on the top of a wall and are relatively affordable. It is worth noting that coverage is limited to ‘per room’, meaning you may require a few units to air condition an entire house. An ideal choice if you are just looking to cool the living room, for example.

Ducted Systems 

While ducted systems cost more to purchase and install, their benefits are plenty. Typically integrated into the ceiling, ducted systems will cool or heat your entire home. You also have the option of cooling certain areas of the house and not others. Ducted air con systems are visually more appealing than the alternatives and often come with an electronic control system. 

white air conditioner on wall

What size air conditioning unit should I choose? 

Deciding upon what size air conditioning unit will best provide for your needs comes down to a few key factors. For one, you should establish what capacity air conditioner you require. This may be configured by considering:

  • Property size: Larger properties will require more, and multi-storey properties might need units per zone, adding to your price. 
  • Ceiling heights: High ceilings require more air conditioning power to efficiently cool the space. 
  • Number of windows: Windows have a major effect on keeping your home warm in winter.

Air Con Running Costs

Running costs can be affected by room size, number of windows, insulation, and how shaded your home is. The average cost for running each system is outlined below.

  • Portable units: $0.30–$0.50 per hour
  • Reverse cycle split systems: $0.45 per hour
  • Ducted whole house: $2.30–$2.70 per hour

hands installing air conditioner unit

How much do air con installers charge? 

The next question you might find yourself asking is, "How much do air con installers charge?". Well, this depends upon a few factors such as your property location, air conditioning unit choice, number of units being installed, and property accessibility. 

Air conditioning installers typically charge per hour. Bear in mind that if a price sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While the allure of a low cost can be tempting, this may result in issues down the line. 

Lower Price Range 

An air conditioning installer who has just received their license and is inexperienced may charge a lower hourly rate as they are just starting out and may be quite slow. This can range anywhere from $40 per hour to $50 per hour. 

Medium Price Range 

An air conditioning installer who has been in the business for a few years and is building their portfolio may charge between $55 and $80 to install your units. You will receive faster service and more in-depth knowledge of best practices. 

Higher Price Range 

On the higher range of hourly rates, you can expect to pay anywhere from $70 to $150 per hour to install your air conditioning unit. What you are paying for here is a premium service, which will be smooth, fast and professional. This is someone extremely experienced and established within the industry, they have worked up to a place where they can honestly charge this rate for their service and, more often than not, mean you won’t have any unexpected costs to pay down the line. 

man installing air conditioner

Does my air con installer need to be licensed? 

Absolutely! Tradies must be licensed to carry out any air conditioning installation due to the handling of refrigerants. The Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) states all air conditioning installers and technicians must hold a full Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Licence. 

They may hold a restricted licence that permits them to only install split-system air conditioners. We strongly encourage property owners to check whether installers are licensed prior to commencing work. 

Air conditioning installation can be carried out by a range of different tradesmen, such as licensed plumbers who can install, maintain and repair piping and ducting, and licensed electricians who assist with master control panels and wiring involved. Basically, as long as they are licensed and approved, they can be hired for the job.

Obtaining Air Con Installation Quotes

As we recommend with any service, obtain a handful of quotes from different air conditioning installers to get a clear understanding of the industry standard price for your job. Consider whether the preferred installer is licensed, can provide referrals and can justify their price.

Ensure all costs of the job are outlined in the quote. Check the service provider's past work history, reviews, and relevant licence and insurance numbers.

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Air Conditioning FAQs

How often should I clean my air conditioning air filter?

Typically your filter light will flash when cleaning is required, however, we encourage cleaning about once every season for homes and once a month for commercial properties. 

Read more: Air Conditioning Maintenance

Can I switch my air con off at the power point or fuse box? 

Yes, you can, and this may be ideal if you are going away for a long period of time. Air con units will typically have a low-wattage crankcase heater keeping the compressor warm, and if the compressor gets cold, damage may occur at the startup. If you do decide to turn off your air conditioner, allow 12 hours with the power back on before using it. 

Further Reading

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