Staying cool during summer is a must, but the price of air conditioning can be high. Did you know the most common type in Australian homes is a split-system air conditioner? This blog will guide you through finding the cheapest way to install cooling systems in your home.

Read on for savings!

Key Takeaways

  • Portable air conditioners are the cheapest option upfront, costing between $300 to $1500. They’re good for small spaces and don’t need installation.
  • Split system air conditioners cost more at first but save money in the long run because they use less power. Installation is about $600 to $800.
  • Installing your air conditioning in late autumn or winter can be cheaper since demand is lower, giving you better deals on units and labour costs.
  • Getting multiple quotes and choosing energy-efficient models helps reduce overall expenses for any type of air conditioning system.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Air Conditioning Installation

A technician installing a split system air conditioner in a residential home.

The type of air cooler you pick and how hard it is to put it in play a big part in the cost. Going for a simple window fit might be cheaper than setting up a full house system with all the pipes needed.

Types of air conditioners

Air conditioners come in various types, each fitting different needs. Split system air conditioners are a common choice for Australian homes. They cool single rooms or areas efficiently.

I have one in my own living room and can vouch for its convenience and effectiveness. On the other hand, multi-split systems connect multiple indoor units to a single outdoor unit, perfect for cooling several rooms at once.

Ducted systems are ideal for larger homes needing full coverage. They use a network of ducts hidden in floors or ceilings to distribute air. Installation is more complex and costly but offers seamless heating and cooling throughout the house.

For those seeking flexibility, portable air conditioners move easily from room to room, offering an immediate cooling solution without permanent installation.

Costs vary widely across these options depending on size, energy efficiency, and features like smart thermostats or reverse-cycle capabilities for both cooling and heating. Next up, let’s explore what impacts the installation complexity of these diverse air conditioning options.

Installation complexity

Installation difficulty depends on many things. The type of air conditioning units plays a big role. For example, split systems and multi-split systems need wall mounting and connecting indoor units to an outdoor compressor.

This can be tricky and requires skilled tradies who know how to handle the electrical and piping work safely.

Ducted air conditioning system installation is more involved. It needs creating spaces in walls or ceilings to lay out ducts that will carry cool air throughout the house. A professional service with licensed plumbers and electricians must do this job.

They make sure everything meets the standards set by the Australian Refrigeration Council. These experts also check if your home’s electrical system needs an upgrade, which adds to the overall effort and cost.

Comparing Costs: Different Types of Air Conditioners

A comparison of air conditioners with price tags in a store.

Looking at the price tags for different cooling devices can be a game changer. Each type, from split systems to portable coolers, comes with its own set-up and running costs.

Split system air conditioners

Split system air conditioners range in price from $600 to $5500. The cost depends on size, brand, and features. To install one, you might pay between $600 and $800 or more. If you’re looking for an efficient way to cool your home, placing the indoor unit high on a wall works best.

This setup allows cool air to spread evenly.

I placed my outdoor unit in a sheltered spot. It’s attached firmly on brackets against the house wall—this keeps it safe from weather damage. You could also set the unit on a sturdy concrete base if walls aren’t an option.

For homes with less outside space, think about using multi-split systems rather than single units—sometimes they fit better into tight spots.

Multi-split system air conditioners

Moving from single-unit solutions, multi-split air conditioners offer a versatile option for cooling and heating multiple rooms. These systems connect one outdoor unit to several indoor units, allowing different temperatures in each room.

This setup is perfect for homes with limited space outside because you only need one external section for up to five inside parts.

Prices vary based on how many room segments you want to control — each can cost anywhere from $600 to $5,000. Factor in installation fees, and the total expense ranges between $3,000 and $10,000.

Despite these numbers, choosing a multi-split system can be more budget-friendly over time if you’re aiming to adjust climates in various areas of your home simultaneously. They’re especially practical if expanding your living space outdoors isn’t an option.

Ducted air conditioning system

Moving from multi-split systems, ducted air conditioning offers a seamless solution for cooling larger spaces. This system uses a network of channels in the ceiling or floor to distribute cool air.

It works with one main unit, making it very efficient for medium to large homes. The setup can cost between $5,000 and $15,000 or more based on the house’s size.

For those with bigger houses, considering installation costs is key. Installation ranges from $6,000 for smaller places up to $30,000 for expansive homes. Ducted systems provide an even temperature throughout and are hidden away, keeping your interior design intact.

They require professional fitting by someone holding a refrigeration & air conditioning licence from the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC). Choosing this system means investing upfront but enjoying lower energy bills and consistent comfort later on.

Portable air conditioners

Portable air conditioning devices are the go-to for quick cooling solutions. Priced between around $300 and $1500, these units cater to different room sizes without needing complex setup.

They plug right in and start working, offering immediate relief from the heat. This makes them a cost-effective option for those looking to avoid installation fees.

Despite their upfront affordability, portable coolers might not be as energy-efficient as other systems. This could lead to higher electricity bills over time. They also tend to be louder and may not cool as effectively as split system models.

Yet, portable devices serve well in small spaces or as temporary fixes during hot spells, making them an important consideration when weighing up air-cooling options for your space.

The Cheapest Way to Install Air Conditioning

Choosing the cheapest way to cool your house involves looking at portable air-cons and split system units. A portable cooler will cost you less upfront, around $300 for smaller spaces.

This option lets you move the unit from room to room, giving flexibility without installing anything permanent.

If your budget can stretch further, consider a split system installation. It costs between $600 to $800 but offers more cooling power and efficiency for larger areas. These systems also save money in the long run by using less electricity than older models or multiple portable units running at once.

Opting for a newer, energy-saving model means lower bills over time, making it a smart choice if you’re planning to stay put and use it regularly.

Seasonal Timing for Air Conditioning Installation to Reduce Costs

Picking the right season for air conditioning installation can save you a heap of money. Most people rush to get their systems in before summer hits or during a heatwave. That’s when tradies are busiest and might charge more.

I found it cheaper to install mine in late autumn. Demand was lower, so I snagged a better deal on both the unit and labour costs.

Winter is another smart pick. Tradies have fewer jobs lined up and might offer discounts to keep their schedule full. Plus, you won’t be stressing in the summer heat, waiting for an available installer.

Thinking ahead really pays off with air conditioning systems – both for your wallet and comfort at home.

How to Reduce Air Conditioning Installation Costs

Cutting the cost of getting an air conditioner installed doesn’t have to be hard. Here are smart ways to save money without cutting corners.

  1. Get multiple quotes: Talk to several companies about their prices for installing your air-conditioning system. This way, you can compare and find the best deal.
  2. Choose the off-season: Install your A/C unit during cooler months. Companies might offer lower rates when they’re less busy.
  3. Look for discounts or rebates: Some manufacturers offer special deals on their air-conditioning units or installation services. Check if there are any you can use.
  4. Go for energy-efficient models: These might cost more upfront, but they save money in the long run by lowering your energy bills.
  5. Do some prep work yourself: If you’re handy, you can do minor tasks like clearing the area where the A/C will go. Just make sure not to tackle complicated tasks that should be left to professionals.
  6. Keep your current ductwork if possible: If you already have ducts in place, use them instead of getting new ones installed for a central air system. This can cut down a big part of the cost.
  7. Avoid over-sized units: Bigger isn’t always better with A/C units. Get a professional to calculate the right size for your space so you don’t overspend on a too-large model.


Finding the cheapest way to cool your home comes down to a few key points. Portable air conditioners offer low upfront costs, making them a budget-friendly option for smaller spaces.

For those needing cooling in more rooms, split-system air conditioning strikes a balance between cost and efficiency. Remember, buying during off-peak seasons can also lead to big savings on installation.

Lastly, choosing energy-efficient models saves money on power bills over time. So, getting the right type at the right time makes all the difference in keeping costs down without sacrificing comfort.

Discover how you can save even more by choosing the right season to install your air conditioning.


1. What’s the most budget-friendly air conditioner to install?

Well, if you’re looking for a cost-effective option, portable air-conditioners top the list. They’re easy on the wallet both upfront and in terms of installation – basically, there’s no real installation needed! Just plug it in, and cool down your space without breaking the bank.

2. Is reverse-cycle air conditioning worth the investment for saving money long-term?

Absolutely! Reverse-cycle air conditioning might seem like a big investment at first, but it’s a champion in energy efficiency. This means lower electricity bills over time because it can heat your home during winter and cool it down in summer – all while being kinder to your pocket and the planet.

3. Can central air conditioners be an affordable cooling solution?

Here’s the deal – central air conditioners are generally more expensive up front compared to other options. However, they offer significant energy savings if you’re looking to cool multiple rooms or a large area efficiently. Think of them as an investment that pays off with reduced energy costs over time.

4. How does ducted heating fit into an economical cooling plan?

Ducted heating systems might not seem like an obvious choice for cooling; however, when paired with reverse-cycle technology, they become a versatile option for both heating and cooling your home efficiently. It’s like getting two systems in one: great value for money plus consistent comfort year-round.