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How Much Do Air Conditioners Cost (To Buy, Install and Run)

When planning to invest in an air conditioner, you must not only consider the cost of buying and installing it but also the ongoing cost of running it. Based on this, choosing the best air conditioner for your needs is a big decision.

Not only are you choosing for the initial out of pocket costs, but your decision will also affect each power bill for as long as you have and use your new AC unit.

Of course, the model you choose will also affect your ease of use and comfort level, so you must choose wisely. But we will leave that for another discussion. In this article we will purely focus on the pricing aspect.

Your Air Conditioner Options

If you have done any research into air conditioning options for your home or workplace, you will know there are a plethora of choices on the market today. These options can be broken down into the following categories:

  1. Portable units
  2. Window Wall units
  3. Split Systems
  4. Ducted systems

Portable & Window Wall Units

For the purpose of this article we won’t be talking too much about portable or window wall units. From a pricing point of view these are the cheapest for purchasing.

Also, the installation cost is usually minimal as you can often do it yourself.

While these models work as a good option for renters who may be moving home regularly, the main issues with these models is their limited cooling / heating capacity.

As such they are not as efficient or effective in providing the level of comfort that is achieved with split and ducted systems.

Split & Ducted Systems

These models provide the best levels of comfort in your home or workplace. If you are looking to invest in air conditioning for your home these are most likely your best options.

When looking at split system and ducted air conditioners, there is a variety of different brands in the market such as Daikin, Panasonic, Mitsubishi and many others.

Each brand offers different ranges and models within that range to provide plenty of choices.

Maybe you have already started looking at models to see what features you want. But a smarter way is to start with a budget. This will then tell you what type of model you can afford.

Mitsubishi Ducted AC System

How Much Does It Cost to Buy an Air Conditioner?

Let's first look at each type of air conditioner separtely.

Purchase Price of Split System Aircons

Split systems are widely available and are sold in many electronic retailers in Australia such as Harvey Norman, The Good Guys and even Bunnings. This helps keep their purchase price competitive which is great for the consumer.

However, it is important to note that split systems require installation from a licensed electrician or air conditioning installer.

Some of these retailers provide an installation service however if they don't, you will need to find an installer yourself at additional costs.

For this reason, we suggest dealing directly with an air conditioning company. With a dedicated aircon company such as ours, you get aircon sales, service and after sales support.

We also provide a free consultation to ensure you are selecting the best model to suit your requirements and budget.

Risk of Retail Stores

Selecting the wrong model by choosing one found in a retail store purely based on a sale price, may result in poor efficiency.

This can result in your energy bills increasing much higher than needed and it may not even deliver the comfort you desire. Ultimately this will end up costing you more in the long run and you will be disappointed all round.

By talking with us, we will help you choose a model to suit your needs and budget, both now and for future power bills.

In Australia, split systems range in purchase price from around $600-$5000 (excluding installation).

Purchase Price of Ducted Systems

Ducted air conditioners are typically not available in the same retail stores that sell split-systems. Reason for this is that ducted aircons need to be selected carefully to suit the property they are being installed into.

Also, they require a much higher level of installation including planning and equipment.

For this reason, ducted systems are usually only available to purchase from a licensed air conditioning installer, such as us. This usually means you are unable to purchase a ducted system and then look for an installer.

The benefits of this is you will not risk buying a ducted model that is not suited to your specific requirements. As mentioned, this can occur with split systems if purchased directly from a retailer.

Instead a qualified and experience air con installer will help you choose the best model to suit your needs. They will then perform the installation and charge you one price that includes the purchase price and installation.

Ducted systems, including installation, start at around $5000 and the price goes up depending on a range of factors as mentioned below.

Purchase Price Factors

As with split systems there are a range of options for ducted systems. How many rooms you are looking to climate control and the size in square meters of each room, determines the size of the system you need.

Obviously, a larger area to cool or heat will require a larger, more powerful and more expensive system. Other factors include: 

  • Temperature Options – Cooling only or heating and cooling.
  • Features – As the number of features and technology increases, so will the price. This can include WiFi, etc.
  • Energy Efficiency Rating - The higher it is, the more the unit will cost to buy, but it will cost less to run.
  • Brand - Different brands price their air conditioners differently. Normally the leading brands are more reliable, have better warranty and cost more.
  • Design – A range of styles and designs to suit all decors.
  • Discounts – Keep a look out for discounts and specials to save on purchase price.
Special Prices Board In Front of a Store

How Much Does Aircon Installation Cost?

Once again we will look at each type of aircon individually.

Price of Split System Installation

If you are considering purchasing a split system and then looking for a licensed electrician to install it, the installation cost will depend on the level of work required.

An electrician may charge you a total cost based on the work involved or an hourly rate of around $90+ per hour.

If you choose to buy a split system from an air conditioning company such as us, we provide you with one total price which includes the purchase price and installation cost.

Split system options usually start around $2000 for leading brand names and less for low quality brands. This price includes purchase price and installation.

Split system prices increase based on pricing factors listed below. Also, multi-split systems cost more as they have one outdoor unit and multiple indoor units.

For these more advanced setups prices can easily go over $10,000 for the purchase and installation costs.

Ducted System Installation Cost

Ducted systems are typically sold as packages which include installation. And while you may find some as low as $5000 the prices can go well over $30,000.

However as previously mentioned, your air conditioning investment should not be based purely on the purchase and installation price.

The ongoing running cost and the level of comfort that your chosen model provides, need to also be very carefully considered in your overall decision.

Installation Pricing Factors

When looking at the costs of installing either a wall mounted split or ducted system, your specific situation will influence this cost. These specific pricing factors include:

  • Type of System – Wall mounted split systems cost less to install, as there is less work involved.
  • Size of the Equipment - The larger the equipment, the more time and labour to install.
  • Complexity of Installation – As the amount of wall mounted units, ducted zones or other equipment requirements increase so too will the amount of time and labour to install.
  • Ease of Access – If access is restricted due to multi storey complexes this will also increase costs.
  • Any existing ductwork – If existing ductwork can be used this may lower the installation cost.

How Much Does It Cost to Run an Air Conditioner?

Once you have your aircon purchased and installed the cost to run it will be with you for the life of the AC system. Or until you move to a new house or upgrade, but hopefully that is not for many years or decades to come.

As such, the cost of running your aircon is a huge factor that you need to consider. Here are several factors that will determine how much it will cost to run an AC split or ducted system:

  • Power in KWs (Cooling / Heating Capacity) - The higher power, the more it will cost to run.
  • Energy Efficiency - The higher the efficiency, the lower the running costs.
  • Level of Insulation in the Property – This will affect the efficiency of your system.
  • Selected Temperature – The harder your air conditioning system has to work the more it will cost.
  • The Cost of Electricity – Your location and energy provider will determine your electricity cost per KWh (Kilowatt hour). This cost often changes in Peak and Off-Peak times.
  • Frequency of Use - The more you use it, the more it will cost. Also, when you will be using it (Peak or Off-Peak) will affect this too.
  • Regular Maintenance – If an aircon system is not regularly maintained it can become less efficient causing it to cost more per hour than when brand new.

To work out exact numbers is tricky as there are so many factors involved such as those listed above. However, below is a rough guide:

  • Wall Mounted Split System
    • Cooling: Around $0.25 - $1 per hour.
    • Heating: Around $0.13 - $0.50 per hour.
  • Ducted System
    • Cooling: Around $2 - $4 per hour.
    • Heating: Around $1 - $2 per hour. 
Woman Surrounded with Question Marks

Split Systems Vs Ducted Systems

At first glance you may think that a ducted system is more expensive to purchase, install and run. However, you must realise what you are comparing.

One split system cools or heats one room, whereas a ducted system operates across multiple rooms, if not a whole house.

So, to really compare split systems to ducted aircons you need to make it a fair comparison. When you start adding split systems in multiple rooms the purchase and installation costs increase. As does the running costs.

For this reason, a ducted system is a better value investment than running many split systems across an entire home. Also, the level of control is better, they are quitter and are hidden away.

But of course, if you do not have the budget then 1 or 2 split systems will easily provide a great solution on a smaller budget.

Choose Wisely

Before investing in an air conditioner for your home or office space, the overall costs are a must to consider. How much is the initial cost for installation? How much will it cost to run and maintain?

Start with a budget first. Then do your research, comparing costs from different brands and contractors. However, do not compromise on the quality of the system as the system performance will vary.

Remember this is a long-term investment that should bring you comfort not disappointment.

Also avoid trying to find the cheapest model you can in order to save money on the purchase and installation cost.

Doing this could lose you tens of thousands in the long term with expensive power bills and ongoing maintenance bills if you buy an inefficient and unreliable model.

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