Air Conditioning Installation Costs in London

A family sat under an air conditioner

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February 21, 2024

There’s no denying the summer months here in the UK are getting warmer and as a result, more of us are considering the benefits of having air conditioning installed in our homes.

Read this guide to discover the various different types of air conditioning out there, as well as what you should expect to pay to have it installed.

Average Costs for Air Conditioning Installation in London

Air conditioners tend to come in four different types – a split air conditioning system, a ducted air conditioning system, a window air conditioner and a portable or freestanding air conditioner.

The latter, which can cost from £100 to £400, doesn’t need to be installed and can simply be set up once it’s out of the packaging. The three other types do require some form of installation though, which means adding to the cost of the unit.

The split air conditioning installation cost is anything from £800 up to £2,500 for a single bedroom and up to £2,800 for a double room. Install it so that air conditioning is available in the whole house and you’re looking at paying anything between £6,550 to £9,550.

A ducted air conditioner for an entire house comes in more expensive, setting you back anything from £10,000 to £14,500. In a single room expect to pay from £2,500 to £3,500 and up to £4,000 for a double room.

A window air conditioning system in a single room will cost up to £1000 (single room) and up to £1200 (double room).

Total Costs

In addition to paying for the actual air conditioning system itself, the cost of installation – where it applies – will also have to be added.

Day Rates

When asking for a day rate for your air conditioning unit installation, expect to be quoted a minimum fee. In other words, if the work to install your ac unit takes just five hours, you’ll still pay for the whole day ie seven hours (or around £350). It’s typical to be quoted a rate for the entire installation though.

Hourly Rates

An air conditioning engineer typically charges around £50 an hour, although prices vary depending on the type of air conditioning you’re having fitted and where you live in the UK. The air conditioning installation in London costs are much more expensive, for instance.

A split air conditioning system can cost as much as £80 an hour for a single room and up to £100 an hour for a double room. If it’s the entire house that’s being fitted with a split air system then the hourly rate may go up to £160 (since more than one tradesman may be involved).

A ducted air conditioning system can result in labour charges of £100 an hour for a single room, up to £200 for a double and as much as £400 for the whole house.

Labour costs for a window air conditioner can be up to £160 an hour for a single room and up to £200 for a double.

System Costs

The cost for the air conditioning system itself can be very wide-ranging but is mostly more expensive than the actual installation work itself.

A kitchen with an air conditioner

Air Conditioning System Types & Costs

There are various different types of air conditioning systems to choose from. To help you with your your selection, we’ve listed the main types right here, along with the pros and cons of each.

Portable Air Conditioning Unit

The least expensive form of air conditioning is a portable (or freestanding) unit. This isn’t just the cheapest to buy in the first place (from £100 to £400), but it doesn’t have any installation costs either. It’s simply a matter of taking it out the box and setting it up wherever you like.

This means it can be used whenever needed, although it’s not as effective at cooling a larger area as a ducted system or split ac unit.

Window Air Conditioner

A window air conditioning unit usually sits within the opening of a window, or actually on the glass. It can also be installed in a nearby wall hole. It works by exchanging the warm air inside the property with the cooler air from outside.

The downside is that the system can restrict the view from the window and, unless you have a sash window, the unit can require a structured framework or brackets to remain in place. They can also be quite expensive to buy.

These tend to be the AC unit of choice for an apartment, thanks to their ease of movement and the fact they’re so quiet.

Ducted Air Conditioning System

A ducted system is the most expensive form of air conditioner you can buy. But there’s a reason for that. Not only is it super-efficient, but it’s also discreet. That’s because the air conditioning outlet is ducted on the ceiling of a room (rather than being wall-mounted). The downside is that a large fan has to be attached to the outside of the home’s brickwork or timber.

The ducted system is efficient in the way that you can switch on air conditioning for specific rooms only ie those in which people are sitting, rather than having to put it through the whole house. This type of air conditioning system also tends to be very quiet.

Split System Air Conditioner

The most common form of air conditioning in our homes today, the split air system works by means of a panel fitted low down on a wall or above head height in a room.

A compressor is attached to the outside wall. The air is cooled down as it circulates over a refrigerant.

Split air conditioning systems can be added to further rooms as time goes on, but they do need to be maintained at least once a year. They can be expensive to purchase too – anything from £800 up to £9,500.

Central Air Conditioning

Central air conditioners work by circulating cool air via ducts. These are for both supply and return air. The cool air is pushed into the home via holes in the wall, ceiling or flooring (which are covered by a grill) from the central air conditioner. After circulating through the home, it is then expelled via a return duct.

Ductless Mini-Split System

Also known as a ductless air conditioner, the mini-split can cool particular ‘zones’ in a home and, each of these zones can, in turn, be set to a different temperature. This makes them much more efficient than a traditional air conditioning system – or warm air heating system, for that matter.

Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner (PTAC)

A packaged terminal air conditioner (PTAC) unit tends to be wall-mounted or part of a window. There’s a ventilation option, ensuring cold air is brought in from outside.

There is a condensing coil on the outside of the building and an evaporator coil facing inwards. A fan is used to push cold air into the room. PTAC is an American term for what, in Europe, is actually known as a window air conditioning unit.

This type of air conditioner can also be fitted with a heat pump, known as a Packaged Terminal Heat Pump (PTHP). This allows the unit to provide cool air in hot weather and warm air during the colder months of the year. In other words, giving it a dual purpose.

Hybrid Air Conditioner

A hybrid HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system is energy efficient and better for the environment since it can contain a heat pump. The modern pump works alongside the traditional forms of heating such as a gas furnace and air conditioning unit.

Costs Breakdown

As well as the cost of materials and air conditioning installation, there are other expenses you may incur when having an ac unit fitted. We list some of these below.

A living room with an air conditioning unit

Materials

The cost to buy a split system (floor and wall-mounted air conditioning unit) can vary by as much as £600 to £2,500. For a freestanding or portable air conditioner, expect to pay £150 to £400. To buy a ducted air conditioner, be prepared to pay anything from £2,000 to £3,500. A window air conditioner can come in at anything from £500 to £1,200.

Labour

A tradesman who is gas-certified can install a basic air conditioning system for around £180 a day on average. If it’s a big air conditioning installation then two workmen may be involved, instantly doubling the cost. A wall-mounted air conditioning unit should take around four hours, while a window air conditioning system takes a whole day.

Plastering

Fitting an air conditioning unit can cause damage to a nearby wall (however small). This will, however, usually require a little plasterwork to neaten things up. This can cost around £200 at most.

Additional Insulation (Optional)

Loft insulation is excellent for ensuring that your air conditioning unit doesn’t do its thing. Just as insulation helps keep the heat in during the colder months, it can retain cool air during spring and summer. The cost of loft insulation goes up from £2.50 p/m2.

Draught Proofing (Optional)

Draughts can interfere with the ability of an air conditioning unit, just as they can allow heat to escape. So, in order to rectify this problem – and ensure you get the most from your air conditioning installation – it makes sense to double-check that your windows are door are up to the job. If not, it’s time to replace them. New uPVC windows can cost as little as £300.

Factors That Affect Costs

An air conditioning unit

Your choice of air conditioning system and the size of your property are the two things which will most dictate how much your installation will cost. But there are other factors to work in too. We list many of them below.

The Size and Type of Air Conditioning System

Obviously, the type of air conditioner system you choose will greatly affect the price. If you have a large home or big rooms then you’ll need a system which is powerful enough to deal with this. If you’re only looking for one double bedroom to be cooled then a smaller window air conditioning system may be the best bet.

Property Type and Size

The bigger your property is, the costlier the system will be. Larger properties also tend to have bigger rooms to cool so this will also need to be taken into consideration ie a free-standing air conditioning unit probably wouldn’t reach far enough. If your house is large it may be that two – rather than one – tradesperson is required. This will also bump up the cost of the installation.

A/C Repairs

Things don’t work forever – and that includes air conditioning systems. It’s worth bearing in mind that you may need it repaired at some stage further down the line. Chances are, that won’t be cheap. It may even be that you need some major parts replaced.

Access to the Installation Site

If the access to the installation site for your air conditioning unit proves difficult then it will take longer for it to be installed, adding to the labour charges. This doesn’t just mean the unit can be wall mounted in a tight spot, but rather that your home is tidied beforehand to save time on the day of the installation itself.

Electrical Works Required

You may need some electrical work done before your air conditioning system can be fitted. Again, this will add to the overall cost of the installation.

Geographical Location

Tradesmen often charge more per hour for the same job in London and the South West of England than in Scotland or the northern regions of England. That’s because the cost of living in general is higher here.

DIY Vs Hiring a Professional

It can prove dangerous to attempt to install an air conditioning unit yourself ie in a DIY fashion, if you don’t have training. That’s because some of the refrigerant agents can be extremely toxic and harmful to humans.

For this reason, it’s more sensible to get a gas-safe registered engineer, plumber or air conditioning installation expert. That’s even if the air conditioning unit is advertised as ‘DIY friendly.’ It’s simply not worth taking the risk to you and your family’s health.

Another reason why you shouldn’t attempt to install air conditioning on your own, without qualified help, is because it will invalidate your home insurance policy.

Not only that but lifting some of the air conditioning units can prove extremely onerous. Not surprisingly, this will make them even harder to fit. It may be too that you don’t have the necessary safety equipment at hand. This includes goggles, gloves and protective clothing.

Finding Someone to Install Air Conditioning

When embarking on your quest to find a good air conditioning unit installer it’s always a good idea to ask for recommendations first. Did any friends, family, work colleagues, neighbours etc recently have an air conditioning system installed by a tradesman whose services they would recommend, for instance?

If so, always ask if you can see photographs of their work and if you can speak to a couple of their previous clients whom the tradesperson did a similar job for. That way you’ll learn a little more about their experience in installing the type of air conditioning system you want.

It’s important too that they have public liability insurance should anything go wrong during the job.

Don’t just book up the first air conditioning installation expert you are recommended. Instead, ask him to quote for your job and find another two experts who can send in quotes for the same. Then you’ll get a better idea of what the job should cost.

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