The cost of installing a ducted air conditioning system depends on numerous factors. It’s important to note here, as well, the two main aspects taken into account of the overall price. Such as the cost of the actual system that consists of various components and the installation itself, in terms of labour, the complexity of the project and the time needed for the job completion.

So, as a follow-up of our previous post on the pros and cons of split-system air conditioning and ducted air conditioning, today, we’ll look into more detail of how much installing ducted air conditioning will cost you. For the purpose, we will explore these two elements, as well as a few other property-related factors that can influence the final expense.

So if you:

  • are wondering whether you can install ducted air conditioning within your budget;
  • want to know the average installation price of a ducted air conditioning system;
  • are curious about whether you can fit ducted air conditioning at home by yourself;

Then, read on.

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How much does it cost to install a ducted air conditioning system?

Let’s get to the point, then. Ducted air conditioning doesn’t come cheap, especially reverse cycle systems that can both cool and heat your property in the hot and chilly weather months. It’s a serious property improvement investment, as it’s a long-term beneficial addition to your home that actually boosts the value, saleability or rentability of your home.

  • For large houses with 4 or more bedrooms, especially if built over two or more floors, you could be looking at paying up to $30,000 for a ducted air conditioning installation.
  • For a medium-sized property (3 bedrooms), expect to pay up to $13,000 if it’s one-storey and anything above $15,000 if it has two floors.
  • Fitting a ducted air-con system in a smaller house or a flat will cost you about $5,500 – $8,500, depending on how many rooms the property has, of course, as well as on whether there is restricted roof space that requires the installation of bulkhead units and so on.

To note here, however, prices also vary by air-con installation companies. Last but not least, ducted air conditioning installation cost can increase by the various additional features that the system offers, such as air purification, humidity control and enhanced energy efficiency by fitting the right number of temperature control sensors in a said room.

We couldn’t stress more that it’s very important to choose a reputable service provider, even if they are not the cheapest in your area. After all, quality installation is what you want, where no corners have been cut in the process.

Check out: How Much Does a House Extension Cost?

What are the price-formation factors in a ducted air conditioning installation process?

Let’s now explore the different factors, specific to ducted air-con installation, which will affect the final cost. The type of system you choose (conventional or reverse cycle ducted air conditioning), of course, matters, too. Or whereabouts you live can also have an effect on how much you’ll be paying to achieve the optimal thermal efficiency in your home. Say, folks in Sydney may pay less than Brisbane residents.

However, we’ll look into other property-related elements that play a role in how costly or not the fitting process will be for you at the end. Or in other words, what type of home you have and its individual features are the major factors that will affect your heating/cooling system installation expenditure, regardless of whether the job has been quoted at hourly rates or you’ve received a fixed price.

Size of the property

This is no brainer. The smaller the property, the cheaper it will cost you to fit your ducted air conditioning.

The more rooms you want to heat/cool, the more ductwork will need to be installed. Add the number of floors your house has and you’ll be looking at paying for additional vertical duct lines (droppers), which need to be fitted correctly and concealed in cupboards or whatnot. Furthermore, each room can be controlled separately, in terms of the temperature you’d like to set it at, which will also be reflected in the final cost.

Last but not least, the more rooms you have, the more vent grilles you’ll need to be fitted, which requires cutting through ceilings, walls or floors.

Note that floor grilles are a bit more expensive than grilles fitted on the ceiling, as they are usually metal, while the latter are made of plastic.

Zoning your ducted air-con system

Related to how you control the airflow and temperature in each room, as mentioned above, are the zoning properties of your ducted air conditioning.

So, each room can be classed as a different zone that will enjoy a different level of heat. Dividing your system into zones certainly increases the cost of the ducted air conditioning installation. This, however, will prove to be more energy efficient in the long run, as you can control the running costs of your system. Or in other words, there’s no need to heat or cool the guest room if no one is staying there for months.

Complexity of installation

Each home is unique with its own specific structural features. This can make the installation of a ducted air-con system harder or easier, depending on various factors.

For instance, limitations with fitting the exterior unit in a safe way, and without disturbing your neighbours by the noise it generates, can increase the installation cost. Or when it comes to mounting the interior unit and duct lines, you have two standard options – under the floor or in the roof space. People with limited space above the ceiling usually go for installing their system components in the sub-floor space, although slimline alternatives are also available on the market.

Another option is to have individual bulkhead units in each room, suspended from the narrow roof space, and mounted and concealed on the ceiling, where the duct lines are usually thinner so that they can still get fitted above the ceiling. This in effect is a combo version of a ducted and split-system air conditioning.

So, depending again on how many rooms you’ll be air-conditioning, the cost of installation can easily rocket, just because you don’t have enough roof space and the facilities to accommodate there one main internal unit that connects to all the ducts.

Other factors

Other factors that influence the final cost of enjoying a ducted air conditioning at home are related to what type and brand you choose, how powerful the unit is, what its energy star rating is, the quality of the ductwork (some ducts are made from inferior material in comparison to others), etc.

Also, we’ve mentioned above that a dual-functioning system (reverse cycle ducted air conditioning) is more expensive than a cooling-only system. Furthermore, if your system is on the large side, you may need to upgrade your electrics to a 3-phase power supply. And finally, regarding the installation itself, the experience and qualifications of the installers will also affect the cost.

Although all professionals have to be accredited by the Australian Refrigeration Council, in order to legally install ducted air con systems, some younger companies may offer cheaper services in a bid to gain more business than their local competitors.

So, let’s see now what you should hope for to see during an expert installation process and how much it may cost you.

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What to expect from a professional ducted AC installation service?

Installing ducted air conditioning should always begin with a thorough preliminary on-site survey before you even hope to get an estimate of how much it will cost you and what the process may involve, in terms of structural work and the time that the job would take. Nevertheless, expect to pay for the actual installation about 15% to 20% of the price, you’ve paid for the actual system and its components.

The following job aspects will be taken into account for the final installation quote:

  • The size of your property;
  • The time it takes to install the ducted AC system;
  • The complexity of the installation;
  • The cost of the qualified and licensed labour, used in the process.

The installation service will consist of several steps, in general, but of course, each job has its individual requirements, based on the type and size of the property you have and its specific structural features.

So, after your team of installers are done with their site inspection, planning and measuring, they will proceed as follows:

  • Installation of the indoor unit – in the roof space or underneath your floor;
  • Installation of the refrigeration lines, which will connect the internal and external units;
  • Mounting the outdoor unit to a suitable wall and connecting it to the system (via the refrigeration pipes and electrical lines);
  • Securing the main power supply from the switchboard to the outdoor unit;
  • Installation of all the ductwork, including the air return ducts, which are connected to the air return box;
  • Vertical ducting may be installed should you have a two-storey house;
  • Fitting the rest of the components, such as the diverters, the vents and the return air grille;
  • Finally, the zoning system and controls are fitted, connected and tested for their accurate performance and functioning.

As you can see the installation procedure of a ducted air conditioning system is rather complex and requires experience and qualified expertise.

Should you attempt to install ducted air conditioning by yourself?

Well, first and foremost, unless you are doing this for a living and hold all the right certifications and licences, it’s not advisable to even try to install your ducted AC system by yourself.

It’s a difficult job that involves electrical work and the installation of complexly designed components. So, if those are fitted and connected incorrectly, this can put your home at risk. The job usually requires an expert team of professionals, who know what they are doing and have all the valid qualifications, knowledge of safety standards and the right to legally perform such services.

The risk of jeopardising your air-con system’s warranty by installing it yourself in the wrong way becomes quite real, so our advice is to avoid such attempts. Or in other words, not only may your ducted air conditioning underperform and run inefficiently but also any malfunctioning components and maintenance issues will have to be addressed at your expense.


  • The cost of installing a ducted air conditioning system depends on various factors, such as the property’s size, the type of AC, the complexity of the job, any zoning and temperature control requirements, the installation labour cost and more;
  • For houses in the process of construction, it’s best to plan your ducted central heating and its installation before the actual building work has been completed;
  • To avoid the risk of having a ducted AC system installed incorrectly, always shop around and hire a professional and reputable company for the job.

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  • Last update: February 12, 2021

Posted in All Articles, Home Improvement