Average Time to Install a Split System Air Conditioner

I was chatting with my air conditioner installers about the average time to install a split system air conditioner and here’s how long it takes.

It usually takes about 2 to 3 hours to install a split system air conditioner for a typical house. The installation time depends on the installation location and several other factors such as piping distances, installers skill, air conditioner size, and the type of air conditioner.

Many people do not know the factors affecting air conditioner installation time. Thus, they misjudge it and causing their time schedule to go haywire. Some air conditioner installers will ask for the details prior to visiting your house in order to provide you a better time estimation. However, some installers may not.

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Breakdown of Air Conditioner Installation Time

From the conversation with my air conditioner installers, I can break the installation time into 5 parts:

Work DescriptionEstimated Time
Part 1: Preparation, overview, and wall hacking10 to 15 minutes
Part 2: Refrigerant pipe, drain pipe, and wiring installation30 to 45 minutes
Part 3: Indoor unit installation15 to 25 minutes
Part 4: Bracket and outdoor unit installation35 to 45 minutes
Part 5: Testing~ 30 minutes
Extra: Chit Chatting~ 20 minutes

Factors Affecting Air Conditioner Installation Time

It is important for us to tell the air conditioner installers some of the details in advance for them to have a better time estimation. The following are the 5 factors that are affecting air conditioner installation time.

1. The Location of the Air Conditioner

The location of the air conditioner is critical when estimating the installation time, especially for the outdoor unit. Some outdoor units located at places where accessibility is difficult. Installers have a hard time trying to reach those places and it takes a lot of time for them to maneuver during the installation.

It is best to describe the intended installation location to your installers in details such as providing them the height and letting them know how to access to it. Also, it greatly helps the installers to have better clarity by furnishing them with some photos. So, your installers can prepare the necessary manpower and equipment to perform a smooth installation and waste no time.

2. The Distance Between the Indoor and Outdoor Unit of the Air Conditioner

Almost all of the installers prefer a back-to-back installation which means the outdoor unit is located just behind the wall of the indoor unit. This type of installation required the least amount of piping work and hence, it is the quickest to install.

The longer the distance between the indoor and outdoor unit of the air conditioner, the longer the installation time because it involved more copper piping, more jointing, more brazing, and more pipe support works to do.

My living room air conditioner is a back-to-back installation and the installation was completed in just around 2 hours.

3. The Skill of the Installers

Skilled air conditioner installers know the proper sequence to do a quick installation job. They also have a swifter hand in doing detailed works such as pipe insulating, brazing, flaring, and connecting. On the other hand, not so skilled installers can mess up the sequence and often double handling the same work. Thus, they often take a longer time to complete the installation work.

I noticed a trick my installers used is putting a little bit of soap when inserting the copper pipe into the closed-cell insulation. The soap acts as lubrication and the insulating process was seamless. I’m not sure if this is a special trick or it is known by many installers but, it is so cool.

4. The Size of the Air Conditioner

Bigger size air conditioners are heavier and required more effort to move them, carry them to height, and secure them onto the wall. Some installers come with 2 people where one will install the indoor unit and the other will install the outdoor unit. Sometimes, the outdoor unit is too heavy for one person to carry up to a height. Thus, the indoor unit installation had to stop for a while in order to help the outdoor unit installation. Hence, slowing down the installation process.

5. The Type of Air Conditioner

Wall-mounted type air conditioner is simple and therefore, can be installed in a short time. Ceiling cassette and ceiling ducted / concealed type are slightly more complicated and hence, may require more time to install compared to wall-mounted type.

Earlier, I mentioned my living room air conditioner was installed in just around 2 hours and it is a wall-mounted type.

Concealing Pipes and Wires inside the Wall

Concealing pipes and wires of the air conditioner inside the wall requires far more time than the normal installation where the pipes and wires are run on the surface of the wall. Plenty of hacking work is required from the indoor unit all the way to the outdoor unit. Afterward, the hacked wall need to be pasted back, make good and do a surface finishing work.

Some people want the pipes and wires to be concealed as it looks more appealing. If you’re planning to do so, remember to highlight it to the air conditioner installers as they don’t often prepared to do concealing work. If they’re not informed, they might not bring the necessary tools and materials for the concealing work. This might takes them more than 3 hours or even unable to finish on the same day and need to come back on the next day to finish the job.

Related Question

Why air conditioner testing need to take up to 30 minutes? Air conditioner installers often leave the newly installed air conditioner running for several minutes to verify the cooling and discharging of the drain water. If found problems, they also need some time to rectify it.

This article was originally published on aircondlounge.com. Actions will be taken for unauthorised republication of this article.

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Recommended Air Conditioners

I reviewed and compared hundreds of air conditioners. These are my latest recommended products. Check them out if you’re looking to buy one.

Mini Split – Daikin 19 Series
Ever since I switched to Daikin air conditioners, I love the quietness they provide. Everything is built with care. There is no loose part or rattling noise.
Efficiency: 19 SEER
Operating temp.: 5°F
Warranty: 12 years

Window AC – Midea U Shaped
A beautifully designed window air conditioner with the latest environmental-friendly R32 refrigerant gas that runs more quietly than most other window ACs.
Noise level: 42 dB
Efficiency: 15 CEER
Weight: 56 lbs

Portable AC – LG
A simple, reliable and affordable portable air conditioner is the best way to overcome hot weather during the hardest time.
Capacity: 6,000-10,000 BTU (DOE/SACC)
Coverage Area: 250-500 Sqft
Price Range: $260 to $560

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Yu Chang Zhen

Yu worked as a professional in the HVAC industry for more than 7 years. He is an engineer who has a passion for blogging. Ever since he created this website, Yu has helped hundreds of homeowners and engineers on HVAC related matters.

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