Most older style apartments and units in Australia were built without air-conditioning or heating. New apartments coming onto the market these days are generally fitted with reverse cycle air-conditioning which are either ducted (built into the apartment) or split unit system where each room has individually fitted wall-mounted units with an external compressor unit.
Some newer apartments have also been wired for reverse cycle air-conditioning by the developer should owners choose to install these systems subject to approval of the Owners’ Corporation. In these cases, the developer and Owners’ Corporation will specify the specific model of the split unit system that owners can install to ensure the system is compatible with internal wiring and noise level requirements.
Depending on the size of the room or living areas, split unit systems are very efficient as they can either heat or cool a space of up to 60 – 70 sqm. These systems also generally use less electricity because unlike ducted systems, occupants have the option of only using the split units for certain areas as opposed to ducted systems where the entire apartment or townhouse will be heated or cooled when the system is turned on.
I have found that although Mitsubishi and Daikin air-conditioners are slightly more expensive than other brands in the market, the 5 kilowatt cooling and 5.8 kilowatt heating specifications are by far very effective for cooling or heating an area of up to about 70 sqm or more depending on the layout plan and positioning of the split unit. Bedrooms with smaller areas may only require models with a smaller heating / cooling capacity. Another great feature of these units is they are extremely silent and remote controls have a good working range around the entire room. Many developers and Owners’ Corporation also require these models to be fitted as the outdoor compressor units comply to noise level requirements.
Caution should be exercise in choosing the positioning of the outdoor compressor units as warm air being expelled from the unit may interfere with usability of the areas of the balcony or courtyard immediately next to the unit. Specially designed vents to redirect the warm air may be a solution to this issue if required.
Split level and maisonette style apartments should take into consideration whether the internal unit be install on the higher or lower levels depending on preference of heating and cooling during the winter and summer periods. Portable floor fans are extremely effective in redirecting hot air to lower levels and cool air to higher levels of split level apartments and town house by using the back of the fan as a suction device.
Prices may vary depending on capacity but generally range between $900 – $2,000 for both internal and external units. Installation will cost between $500 – $600 and it is important to choose a reputable installer. Not damaging walls and carpets is part of an experienced installer’s skill in addition to providing advice on the most effective position to install both the internal and external units.
I have also found Bing Lee to provide among the most competitive quotes for reverse cycle air-conditioning. They also have a list of installers but one needs to ascertain the installers are reputable as they are merely third party independent contractors.