Installing air conditioning in your home can provide much-needed comfort during hot summer months. While it is recommended to hire a professional installer for complex installations such as split system or ducted air conditioners, there are certain situations where you may be able to install your own air conditioning unit. This article will explore the things to consider and steps to take if you are considering a DIY air conditioner installation. When assessing whether this is something you should undertake yourself, its important to consider the following:
- Do you possess the necessary experience and licenses for electrical work? Carrying out electrical work without proper training can be hazardous & it’s also illegal. Ensure you have the required licenses or hire a professional qualified electrician.
- Will you be working with refrigerant (split & ducted systems), and do you hold a refrigerant handling license? Working with refrigerants requires specialized knowledge, licenses and licensing. If you lack these, it’s best to hire a professional.
- Are you comfortable working with tools and equipment? Installation requires specific tools and the skill to use them. Assess your comfort level with hand tools & battery powered power tools before proceeding.
- Have you ever installed any type of air conditioning system before? Previous experience can be invaluable. If this is your first time, consider seeking professional guidance.
Sizing your system
Prior any air conditioner installation, you first need to consider the cooling and heating requirement for the space to correctly size your system. To calculate this, factors such as room size, insulation quality, and local climate conditions must be taken into account. The room size dictates the volume of air that needs to be cooled, while insulation levels influence how effectively the cooled air is retained. A conservative rule of thumb used by professional installers, which comfortably covers a range of scenarios whilst balancing energy efficiency, is to calculate the cooling requirement at 160watts per m2. For example, if you are seeking to cool a 12m2 space, this would require approximately 2kW of air conditioning (12m2 x 160watts).
Types of DIY Air Conditioner
Ducted Air Conditioning Units
Ducted air conditioning is a comprehensive cooling and heating solution that utilizes a network of ducts to distribute conditioned air throughout a home.
It has separate indoor and outdoor units requiring connection by a qualified refrigeration mechanic and electrician. Installing ducted air conditioning in a home requires careful thought and planning to balance the cooling requirements of the entire space as energy-efficiently as possible, whilst meeting homeowner expectations, budget, and aesthetics. Because of the licenses required ducted air conditioning is a task best suited for a reputable company specialising in air conditioning that holds the relevant licences & insurances.
At Smarter Air & Electrical, we often get asked, “Can you install ducted air conditioning yourself?” While we don’t recommend doing the whole installation on your own, we’re all about finding ways to help save you money. That’s why we invite our clients to help with specific tasks, like cutting ceiling diffusers into the plasterboard or running some of the ductwork. This way, you can be involved in the process and reduce the cost of your installation, while we take care of the technical aspects to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Before you get stuck in, you would need the help of a friend, a detailed duct layout design, and to be comfortable with crawling around in the roof space. We recommend communicating openly with your contractor about your plans and ensuring that you understand the requirements and risks involved.
Split System Air Conditioner
A split system air conditioner is the most energy efficient and cost effective option to air condition a single room due to the lower installation costs. Similar to ducted air conditioning systems, they have separate indoor and outdoor units with connections for electrical wiring and refrigerant piping to carry the gas between them. While a split system air conditioner to suit one room might seem simple to install, it still requires both electrical work and refrigeration work, unfortunately, it is not a DIY job.
Window Air Conditioner
Installing a window mounted air conditioning unit is an achievable DIY job that homeowners can undertake without contacting an air conditioning specialist. First, remember to calculate the heat load to find the appropriate sized unit and ensure there adequately sized power point available, smaller units will plug into a standard Australian 10amp power point (GPO) but larger units may require you to engage an electrician to fit a dedicated 15amp GPO. A new system will come with installation instructions which typically includes step-by-step directions for securing the unit in the window frame or wall. The installation process usually involves making a space for the system, either cutting an opening into a wall or removing a section of existing window, to attach the mounting brackets. Following this, you insert the unit into the bracket opening, and then securing it in place as outlined in the instructions. Remember to properly insulate any gaps around the unit to prevent drafts and ensure efficient cooling.
Portable Air Conditioning Unit
Installing a portable air conditioner is one of the most cost effective options which most homeowners will be able to install themselves with no trouble. Follow the below steps to get your new unit setup and working in the most energy efficient way:
- Start by selecting a suitable location near a window and an electrical outlet.
- Open the window and extend the window kit, attaching it securely to the window frame. This kit usually consists of an adjustable panel and an exhaust hose. Connect the exhaust hose to the back of the portable AC unit and then insert the other end into the window kit.
- Make sure all connections are secure and airtight to prevent hot air from coming back into the room.
- Attach the drain hose as per the manufacturers recommendations and run the hose to a suitable drainage point. Some units do not come with a drain hose but rather have a drain tray that needs to be emptied periodically.
- Plug in the unit and turn it on, setting your desired temperature and fan speed.
- Keep the area around the unit clear for optimal airflow.
- Regularly clean the air filter, check the exhaust outlet for any blockages and empty the condensate water pan.
Is DIY Air Conditioning Installation Right for You?
While large complex air conditioning installations like ducted and split system air conditioners require the expertise of licensed professionals, there are great DIY options available to cool your home that you can successfully install yourself. Window-mounted air conditioning units and portable air conditioners fall into this category. Window units can be easily installed by carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions and ensuring proper insulation. Portable units, on the other hand, provide a convenient and cost-effective solution that homeowners can confidently install with a few simple steps outlined above.
When contemplating a DIY installation, it’s crucial to assess your comfort level with tools and equipment, your electrical expertise (All electrical work should be left to a professional), and any local regulations that may apply. If you’re not certain about the installation process or lack the required skills, it’s always wise to opt for assistance from licensed professionals. Ultimately, whether you’re trying to cool a single room or an entire house, finding the right balance between personal capabilities and the complexity of the installation process will help you find the best solution. If you’re looking for an obligation free quote, or just some friendly advice, please contact our friendly team today!