How Much Should An Air Conditioner Cost?

Everyone wants the best cooling solution for their home that’s also cost effective – but what is considered the average or cost effective price for air conditioners anyway?

We’ve put together all you need to know about the costs involved for the 3 most popular cooling systems in Australia. Read on to compare your options and make a wiser decision before you make your purchase. 

Popular Cooling Systems In Australia

Split systems, ducted air conditioners and evaporative coolers are the 3 most popular cooling systems in Australia. 

Split System Air Conditioner

Split systems are by far the most popular type of cooling system in Australia because of its efficiency and versatility. 

The split system is divided into 2 separate units: a wall-mounted indoor unit and an outdoor unit. The outdoor unit draws air from the outside while the internal unit works to disperse conditioned air into the house.

The indoor and outdoor units are connected by electrical wires and gas pipes, to provide power and to also circulate the refrigerant throughout the system.

Ducted Air Conditioner

Ducted air conditioning, sometimes called central air conditioning, provides cooling (and heating) for your entire home through a series of ducts

Ducted air conditioners are able to uniformly cool and heat your home unlike a wall-mounted split system air conditioner. It’s because of this that ducted air conditioners are well-suited for larger spaces, with multiple rooms and floors while split system air conditioners are more appropriate for rooms. 

Evaporative Cooling

An evaporative cooler works by cooling air in your home through the evaporation of water. 

The main difference between evaporative coolers and air conditioners is that evaporative coolers add humidity to the air it blows out. It’s because of this that evaporative coolers are preferred in locations with drier weather, such as Perth or Melbourne. 

How Much Do They Cost?

These 3 types of cooling systems vary in function and complexity, which is why their upfront and installation costs may differ.





Split System AC

$600 to $2600

$600 to $5400

$1200 to $8000

Ducted AC

$5000 to $25000

$600 to $5400

$5600 to $30400

Evaporative Cooling

$2650 to $5000

$1,558 to $3,751

$4208 to $8751

From the table above, you can tell that ducted air conditioning is the most expensive option of the three. This is mainly because it involves providing air conditioning for your entire home so the function of the system as well as the installation process is more complicated vs. the others. 

Factors That Impact Costs


The bigger the area, the higher air conditioning capacity you’ll need to effectively cool or heat the space. 

Common sense would tell you that a larger room or space would require more powerful airflow to effectively cool or heat the entire area. 

You can refer to the following guide on how much capacity is required depending on the size:

Room Size


Estimated Capacity

Small (up to 20m2)

Small kitchen, bedroom, study

2 – 2.5kW

Medium (20 – 40m2)

Small lounge, bedroom with adjoining bathroom

2.5 – 5kW

Large (40 – 60m2)

Mid-sized lounge, large bedroom or kitchen 

4 – 6kW

Extra large (60+m2)

Large lounges, open-plan areas

5 – 9kW

Brand And Model 

The type of brand or model you choose depends on what you prioritise: whether its energy efficiency, reliability, cheaper running costs, sleek design etc. 

We recommend Daikin and Mitsubishi as both brands offer cutting-edge technology for cooling systems. 

To find what’s right for you and your home, make sure you know what you need and do your research first before making a decision. 

Other Features And Functions

Cooling systems these days come with all types of fancy features and functions, which can affect their pricing. Here are some of those features:

  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Smart technology for you to minimise energy wastage i.e. sensors to detect when room is vacant to switch off 
  • Quicker distribution of tempered air
  • Built-in air purifiers that prevent the growth of mould

Air conditioning suppliers are constantly reinventing their products to make it easier for the consumer to use efficiently. But with these special features comes the extra upfront costs. 

Other things to consider when deciding:

There’s a couple other things you should be considering when you’re thinking of buying an air conditioner, namely:

  • Running costs
  • Maintenance
  • Installation time 
  • Effectiveness in different types of weather

Comparison Of All 3 Systems


Split System Air Conditioning

Evaporative Cooler

Ducted Air Conditioning


Power Usage (per day)


21 – 28kW*


*Average 2.5kW system


200 – 400W




Generally energy efficient. 

Models with inverters can achieve 30% more operating efficiency 

Most effective in hot and dry climates. 

Can reach a point of inefficiency if too humid

High upfront costs but cheaper to run in large spaces vs. single units.


Cooling and heating

Only cooling

Cooling and heating (if reverse cycle ducted system) 

Ease of Installation 

(how long, will you need to knock down walls etc)



3 – 6hrs to install 2 wall mounted units



3 – 5hrs but this also depends on whether its a ducted system or standalone unit



Takes 1 full day as ductwork needs to be installed within the roof/ceiling.


Good for very hot climates

Best suited for hot and dry weather.

However, evaporative coolers can reach a point of ineffectiveness if the weather gets too dry or too humid.


Running Costs

$40.11 to $130.33/year

$45 to $80/year

$30 to $70/year for cooling

$220 to $450/year for heating


Lower maintenance and repair costs due to its relatively straightforward system 

Lower maintenance and repair costs due to its relatively straightforward system

Maintenance and repair work is more costly due to it being a more complex system

So, How Much Should You Be Paying For Your AC?

Well, that depends. What are your specific needs and how much money are you willing to spend? We hope the information provided above will help guide you as you decide. 

Nevertheless, to get you started, use our split system air conditioning estimator and get a quote for your home. If you do have other cooling or heating related questions, feel free to contact our Gaschill team today.