Summer’s becoming hotter in the UK, with additional long extended periods of sunshine in the spring and autumn. Therefore, more UK homeowners now install air-conditioning (also known as A/C or air-con) units to maintain cool indoor temperatures rather than leaving their windows open, which is a security risk and allows access for flying insects.
The average cost of installing an air-conditioning unit ranges from £1200-£3500 for a small room to £1500-£4000 for a double bedroom. These air-conditioning prices are estimates as each installation varies with the house and air conditioning system model. But, if you want accurate installation quotes, contact a qualified, local A/C engineer. Alternatively, complete the form on this page, and we’ll pass on your details to qualified air-con companies.
This guide helps you choose from the different types of air-conditioning available, based on your circumstances, size of rooms, and budget. We’ll consider average prices, unit size, and applicable regulations to comply with. Then, when you’re ready, you can buy a suitable A/C unit for your home.
How Much Does an Air-Conditioner Installation Cost?*
Two types of air-conditioning systems require installation by an engineer, split A/C and ducted A/C. The table shows their typical average price ranges for different room sizes. Therefore, use the data to compare with air-conditioning prices you might receive from specialist installation companies’ quotes.
|Air-conditioning Type||Approximate Room Size||Average Cost|
|Split A/C||Single room (office or small bedroom)||£1,200-£2,500|
|Double room (bedroom or lounge)||£1,500-£2,800|
|Whole house (six rooms)||£6,500-£9,500|
|Ducted A/C||Single room (office or small bedroom)||£2,500-£3,500|
|Double room (bedroom or lounge)||£2,500-£4,000|
|Whole house (six rooms)||£10,000-£14,500|
*We compiled these estimated average prices from various resources. Every house is unique, and your requirements vary. So, use the estimates to assist your research and provide a benchmark. Installation prices vary with your location within the UK, the type and model of the A/C system, and the installation company. Always use competent and qualified installation contractors for accurate quotations when installing anything other than a portable A/C unit. Alternatively, use the form on this page.
Installing Air Conditioner Price Factors
Now we have an idea about the basic costs, let’s discuss the factors that affect them. Remember to include these factors within your budget to understand the potential total cost fully.
Various maintenance issues are unique to the UK and other countries with temperate climates.
- The exterior unit becomes clogged with leaves and dirt, thus reducing the system’s efficiency. You should visually inspect them regularly and clean them as necessary.
- Top up the refrigerant now and again. Allowing it to run dry prevents the system from operating and can cause the hoses to crack. Generally, we don’t have A/C units operating continually in the UK, so a top-up shouldn’t be necessary more often than every two years. However, if you find the system loses fluid constantly, have the system checked for leaks immediately.
- Have your system serviced annually, unless it’s in a high contaminant area such as a kitchen or workshop. In this case, every two years should be okay.
Prices vary depending on what needs to be done. But most installers charge around £50-£75/unit for a standard service, and £100-£150/unit for a major service.
Before you buy your A/C equipment, ensure it’s capable of cooling the room. If you don’t, you risk overworking an underpowered system, resulting in a noisy machine that needs frequent maintenance to prevent premature failure. In contrast, a system too large for the room will be using more energy than required. So, an A/C engineer chooses the air-con system to match the size of the room.
To do this, they must consider the room’s volume, number of occupants, location, size of doors and windows, and any items that emit heat.
A few A/C manufacturers provide online calculators to help with this calculation. But, this online calculator, provided by Calculator.net, doesn’t endorse a particular manufacturer and is worth a try. You have a choice between inputting values in imperial or metric units. And it gives the power of the suitable A/C system in BTU (British Thermal Units) or Watts.
Calculating an approximate power requirement allows you to browse a suitable range of machines. However, always leave accurate power rating calculations to a qualified A/C engineer.
Size of Space
To cool a large room needs more electrical power than a small one. Not only does the electricity costs increase, but also you might need a larger A/C unit.
As well as being measured in BTU or Watts, manufacturers sometimes measure an A/C unit’s output in “Tons”. This measurement refers to the weight of air removed from the room in one hour.
Generally, A/C engineers use 1-ton of air removed per hour to be equivalent to a room with a floor area of 37m2.
For example, suppose we use the floor area of an average UK bedroom as 16m2. Then, the ratio gives the amount of air-conditioning needed as about 0.432t (approximately 0.5t). Therefore, if you know how large your room is, you can calculate how many tons of air a particular A/C unit removes per hour, so you know which one to choose.
Type of Air conditioner system
There are three types of air-conditioning:
These units are entirely self-contained, plug directly into an electrical socket, and are completely mobile. Therefore, they don’t need to be installed by an A/C engineer. It’s so simple; plug them in like a portable heater or an electric kettle. Typically, freestanding units are cheaper than the other two types, retailing at £300-£400.
A qualified A/C engineer must install this unit. Usually, a split air-con unit is more expensive than a freestanding unit but cheaper than the ducted version at £1,200-£3,000. We will discuss this type in more depth later in this guide.
A qualified A/C engineer must install this unit. Usually, a ducted air-con unit is more expensive than the other two types at £2,500-£4,000. We will discuss this type in more detail later in this guide.
Typically, cheaper A/C units have fewer optional features, resulting in a lower up-front retail price. However, a modern air-conditioning system has extra control features, resulting in an A/C unit that is more energy-efficient. Although units with more features have a higher upfront retail price than less sophisticated units, overall, it’s more cost-efficient. We’ll discuss this in more detail later.
Benefits of Domestic Air Conditioning
Many benefits of domestic air-conditioning attract ordinary householders. Let’s talk about the most significant.
- De-humidification – Many areas of the UK are humid rather than hot. Moreover, high humidity makes it difficult to control our body temperature satisfactorily. Also, moist air provides a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi.
- Air-purification – Constantly removing air from a room, and replacing it with clean, conditioned air, removes unpleasant odours from cooking and pets.
- Antibacterial– Air-conditioning units include an antibacterial filter to inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms such as legionellae bacteria and others.
- Cooling and heating – Air-conditioning units can add heated and cooled air. Therefore, you can maintain a room at a constant temperature all year-round.
Home Air-Con Types
There are three types of air-conditioning systems available for domestic use.
These are very popular with householders whose air-conditioning requirements are limited to single rooms or need to move the air-con around the house.
They are self-contained units similar to a freestanding room heater or dehumidifier. Furthermore, they don’t need professional installation; all you do is move it into a room, plug it into a handy electrical socket, and turn it on.
- Cheapest of the three types.
- Great if you need to air-condition a small room.
- The unit is self-contained, so easy to relocate to any room.
- Great for rental tenants who can’t install permanent equipment.
- Not as effective as permanent installations.
- Uses valuable floor space.
Wall-Mounted (Split) Systems
Wall-mounted split systems are the most popular permanently installed option. They are more expensive than freestanding units but cost less than ducted systems. Only a qualified air-conditioning engineer can install these units, as they involve specialist skills.
Typically, they need a panel fitted above head height in the room, near the ceiling. Then, a hose connects the panel to an outside fan. These air-conditioners are only suitable for single rooms. However, multiple split air-conditioning panels serve several rooms and connect to the same outdoor fan. Typically, a single external fan unit can serve up to nine indoor panels. Like other air-conditioners, they can heat or cool rooms depending on requirements. Also, they come in various sizes and styles to suit individual spaces.
An advantage of the multiple split units is in their energy consumption. Typically, the power needed to operate the outdoor fan is up to 35% less than the total energy required to use the same number of individual units. There are also fewer outdoor fans. Therefore, they need less space and have lower installation costs.
- When a professional selects the correct unit for the room size, it can be very efficient.
- Uses no floor space.
- Needs a large fan outside your home.
- More visible and less discreet than a ducted system.
Ducted air-conditioning systems are less evident than split systems. But, they are more expensive. Ducted systems need ducting infrastructure at ceiling level, connecting each room to the central fan unit located outside the house, usually bolted to a wall or on a flat roof. For this reason, it’s much easier to install this type while building the house. Retrofitting can be difficult and expensive because the installer needs access above ceilings to install the ducts.
- The most discreet air-conditioning system.
- You can choose to include as many rooms as you want into the ducting system, either singly or in zones.
- The best option for large homes.
- It makes less noise than other systems.
- Many homes don’t have space above the ceilings for ducted air-conditioning.
- Probably not suitable for flats or apartments.
The number of optional extras in your air-con system depends on the model and its price. And, not every system will have equivalent features. Therefore, research carefully to ensure you choose an A/C system suitable for your requirements. Remember, you probably won’t get many features on cheaper units.
Typical additional features include:
- Timer – set it to operate automatically at a time to suit you.
- Remote-controlled app – Load the app on your phone and control the system from the workplace or wherever you happen to be.
- Silent modes – Use the system in night mode, ensuring it operates quietly and more efficiently.
- Climate control – Set the unit to stop when it reaches the desired temperature or humidity.
Optimal Air-Con Placement
Where you place your air-conditioning units depend on your priorities and your home’s layout. However, the most popular installation locations are as follows:
- Conservatories become very hot in the summer, and A/C units reduce the temperature more efficiently than blinds or fans.
- Bedrooms can become uncomfortably hot, and many people find it impossible to sleep. Remember to check its decibel level before buying, or it might be too noisy.
- Many people working from home have computers that throw out a lot of heat. Try a wall-mounted system or a freestanding unit if you spend many hours working on a keyboard in a small room.
Installation of the three types varies in complexity.
- A freestanding unit is no problem and only requires some floor space, the instruction manual and a nearby electrical socket. Therefore, installing one of these is so simple that anyone can do it.
- A single split unit must have a hole cut in the wall to connect the two parts. Then fit the indoor panel and outdoor fan. Typically, a qualified air-conditioning engineer takes about half a day for installation. Moreover, a multiple split system takes longer depending on the number of indoor panels connecting to the outside fan.
- A ducted air-conditioning system takes the longest time because it needs ducting installed throughout the house. Typically, for a semi-detached house, expect installation to take 2-4 days for the ducting to serve all rooms, depending on the ease of access in the ceiling space.
UK Regulation & Compliance
Because domestic air-conditioning in the UK is new, there currently aren’t any building regulations designed explicitly for A/C systems in domestic settings. However, except for the freestanding versions, we recommend hiring a qualified air-conditioning engineer to complete the installation according to the existing general regulations. You can find a suitable person from the Competent Person Register. This register holds details of contractors who belong to a government-approved certification scheme. Furthermore, people on the register are approved by your local authority to self certify work as complying with the Building Regulations.
Ensure the electrical connections comply with Approved Document P: Electrical Safety by using a registered installer.
The A/C unit must use energy efficiently to comply with Approved Document L: Conservation of Fuel and Power.
Be aware of the noise produced by your A/C unit when in operation. If your neighbours complain, the local authority can order you to change the unit or remove it entirely. Locate the unit as far as possible from your neighbour’s property, and use soundproofing methods such as fences, trees etc. Generally, the installation must comply with Approved Document E: Resistance to Sound.
Materials and Workmanship
You must only use recognised brands and approved installation engineers to comply with Approved Document 7: Materials and Workmanship. This regulation ensures all equipment is in good working order, with correct installation.
If you install a small A/C unit, it will most likely be covered under Permitted Development Rights. If so, you won’t have to apply for planning permission. However, if your air-con system is large, you must submit a planning application. Typically, this happens if the planned system is larger than 0.6m3.
Ideally, your A/C unit must be at least 1m from a boundary, so you don’t annoy neighbours. You can get advice from your air-conditioning engineer who will know all the rules and regulations.
Other restrictions require planning permission if:
- The unit is within 1m of the edge of a flat roof.
- You already have a wind turbine installed.
- It’s installed on a flat roof.
- You live in a restricted area, such as National Park, World Heritage Site, or conservation area.
- You live in a listed building.
If you’re not sure, contact your local authority for advice, who can also advise on Building Regulations.
There are regulations for A/C systems installed in commercial premises. These set out guidelines for air-conditioning inspections. The guidelines assist the air-conditioning manager with inspections of:
- Fluorinated greenhouse gases – the manager must ensure the equipment is regularly maintained.
- The equipment’s energy performance – If the building has more than 500m2 of usable space, it must have an Energy Performance Certificate.
- TM44 Regulation – Air-conditioning systems larger than 12kW must have regular inspections to ensure operating efficiency. Although domestic A/C units rarely have problems with the occurrence of legionella bacteria within the air-conditioning system’s condensate water, larger commercial systems must be inspected.
Air-conditioning is an efficient way to ensure your home stays comfortable during long hot, and humid summers. However, you must use an approved A/C engineer for permanent installations to ensure compliance with the various regulations. Furthermore, qualified engineers will charge industry-standard air-con installation costs without ripping you off.
Complete the form on this page for up to four quotes from approved contractors.