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2018 How Much Does Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning Cost?

Last Updated Sep 14, 2018 · Written by Craig Gibson


Image CC by 2.0, by Keith Williamson, via Flickr

Suffering through the sweltering summer without some sort of air conditioning is miserable, but you also don’t want to freeze all winter. Installing the right kind of air flow system is critical to making sure you can keep cool in the summer and toasty in the winter.

Reverse cycle air conditioning may be the answer. But how much does it cost? It depends on which kind you choose, but you could spend less than $1000 or more than $5000. Those are disparaging numbers. Knowing the difference can get you the system you need without requiring you to spend more than is necessary.

The types of things that will affect the cost of the system include:

  • The size and type of unit you need
  • The amount of cabling, piping, and ducting necessary
  • A meter board upgrade
  • The level of access to your home
  • How long it takes to complete installation

First of all, air conditioning tradies charge per hour, and you can expect to pay around $30 per hour for their services. On top of that, you will pay roughly the following for split system air conditioners:

  • $600 for 2.5kW, which is ideal for a bathroom or other small room
  • $1300 for 5kW, great for an office or spare bedroom
  • $2600 for 9kW, perfect for a living room, master bedroom, or kitchen

You’ll spend more than $5000 for a reverse cycle ducted air conditioning system because of the complexities with the unit and the ducting you need.

Simple split systems take one day to install while the more complex units and ducted systems could take two or more days. That means you’re looking at a grand total of between $840 and $2840 for a split system air conditioner and installation, whereas you’ll pay upwards of $6000 for a ducted system.

In addition to upfront cost, you should also consider how much it costs to run each type of system. How much you will pay in your energy bills could be a significant determining factor in which type you choose to have installed.

Types of Reverse Cycle Air Conditioning Systems

All reverse cycle air conditioning systems are made to give you both heating and cooling when you need it. The difference between most systems is the capacity it has for doing this job well.

The volume of space you need to heat or cool will determine how big of a system you need and how expensive it is. There is a calculation that determines the system’s kilowatt output and the amount of space it can serve.

While the cheapest stand-alone units can only cool or heat one room, split systems have a compressor that you install on the outside of your house and a unit with a fan inside the home, making them more efficient. They can power your whole house more efficiently than a stand-alone variety.

If you need to power your whole home, you need a reverse cycle ducted air conditioning system. It’s installed in your home using a series of ducts and returns and keeps the temperature steady from room to room, and provides you with maximum comfort no matter the season.

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Choosing the Right Size Air Conditioner

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You shouldn’t compromise on the capacity you need just to save money, or you’ll be very uncomfortable. Not only does the air conditioning unit have to work extra hard to keep the temperature you want, but it won’t work very well. Chances are you’ll be just as miserable as you were at the start.

It ends up being very inefficient and costs you more money in energy bills. You’ll have to replace the unit sooner because it won’t last as long, requiring even more money and making you more unhappy with your choice.

When considering what size system you need, calculate the square metres of your home, the height of the ceilings, and the number of windows you have. The bigger the house, the higher the ceilings, and the more windows you have, the less energy efficient your home is, so you need a bigger unit.

You should count on needing about 1-1.5 kilowatts per square metre of your home. Reverse cycle air conditioners are labeled with two-kilowatt values. One is for cooling, and the other is for heating. Consider both of these numbers when trying to decide what size to get for your home.

An online calculator or a professional installer can help you determine what size you need or recommend the best unit for your space. When in doubt, rely on someone who knows more about it than you do.

Split or Ducted Air Conditioning

Image CC by SA 2.0, by Jackie Bese, via Flickr

A split air conditioning system is cheaper than an integrated duct system. While an integrated ducted system gives you more control over your temperature settings, it costs more to install.

A split system is generally easy to install after your home is built, but a ducted system should be installed while the house is under construction. It’s not impossible to install it after the fact, but it is more difficult.

Should My Air Conditioning Installer Be Licensed?

Absolutely. People who work with air conditioning units and handle refrigerants should be licensed and registered by the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC). A full Refrigeration and Air Conditioning licence allows them to install any kind of unit while a restricted licence authorizes them to install stand-alone systems only.

Making the Right Choice

You can, and should, always ask for a free consultation and quote from a registered technician so you know up front what you can expect to spend. Your best bet is to have a professional meet you at home and help you determine what you need.

Also, take the time to get references from your installer as well as ask any other questions you may have. Things like how long your job will take and asking for proof of licence should be covered before you hire them.

With the right amount of research and help from a professional, you can determine what you need, how much it will cost, and how long it will take. Don’t cut any corners when it comes to size, or you won’t get the heating and cooling power you need, and pay for a licensed installer who will do it right the first time. Stay cool, my friends.

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