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Installing Split Systems in High-Rise Apartments

installing air conditioners in apartments banner


Browse through our installation examples to get a better idea of the various types of installations available.

Installing in high-rise apartment buildings is something that calls for more than just the installation itself. All installations require body corporate approval. As to the scope for each building, it can vary. Some can be pretty reasonable and others can be quite strict.

The main points that you need to be aware of are:

  • Most will not let any pipes exit onto the balcony ABOVE the height of the balcony railing. This means pipes need to be ran inside the walls (cutting plaster) or internally.

  • No drains are to allow water to drip of the balcony. Remember, water drains from the indoor unit when cooling and it also drips from the outdoor unit when it is in heating mode. If you have a down pipe on the balcony you should be ok. If not, you will need to install an evaporation tray, which usually sits under the outdoor unit.

    This is essentially a heating element that evaporates the water. These are an extra cost. You can download a copy of a standard body corporate requirement list for air conditioner installation here. You should be able to gain a copy of your own buildings requirements from your building manager's office.

  • The installation involves a bit more planning also.
  • You will need to make sure we have a parking space made available INSIDE the building as close to the elevator as possible.
  • We will also need access to a security pass for access up and down the elevator.

If this sounds like a lot of this to arrange, don't worry. We are experts in dealing with all the requirements and do our best to make it a seamless experience. If you use our online quoting system, you'll find body corporate approval will be much easier to gain.



Generally, the only place for the outdoor unit in these situations is to mount it on the balcony of the apartment. Depending on the width of the balcony space you may need to look at the outdoor unit dimensions. If you are purchasing a 2.5KW or 3.5KW unit it is not such a big deal as all the units are approx the same size. It is the 5KW range that can have different sized out door units

It is also very important to buy a quiet unit so your neighbours don't complain. All the wall mounted split systems units listed on are in the very quiet range. 

When loosing space on the balcony it is impotrant to be aware that you should not place anything on top such as plants or BBQ's (yes, we have seen it before) as this can damage the unit and void your warranty. Also, nothing should be place in front of the unit that can restrict the flow of air out of the unit.



Fortunately, in this installation there was a drain next to the outdoor unit for the  drainage from both units. Water drips from the indoor unit in cooling mode and aslo from underneath the outdoor unit in heating mode. It is important on balconies that both are drained properly.

The unit was able to be positioned nicely on the other side of the wall and out of the way as much as possible.





  • If there is no down pipe for the drain then the use of a evaporator tray would be required. This is generally located beneath the outdoor unit and evaporates the drainage water. Most body corporate rules require that no water can fall from a balcony. Extra costs apply for the evaporator tray.
  • Some body corporates require that the pipe work on the external wall of the building does not go higher than the balcony railing. It is worth while checking other apartments that have existing units to see how strict your requirements are.
  • As most apartment buildings are located close to or in the CDB area it is necessary to arrange on-site parking to assist in the logistics of carrying the tools and air conditioning system in to the building. Including the use of service lifts if required.


Running internal duct work in apartments

Suburb - Melbourne CBD

In some apartments the external wall can be completely taken up by windows and sliding doors, giving you no corner space to make an appropriate hole for the pipes, drain and electrical cables to exit outside. In these situations, sometimes the only solution is to run internal ducting.

If there is space at the bottom for us to make a hole we can run the pipes internally and cover them with a plastic moulded duct cover. They are fairly neat and if positioned right in the corner of the wall fairly inconspicuous. Obviously it is a personal choice as to wether the look of the duct is acceptable. It is a last resort and sometimes the only way.


Although, there is one other way!

Cutting plaster.






Internal duct work

internal duct work for air conditioner installation



This quote was for a high rise apartment building

Suburb - Melbourne,CBD

Due to the lack of wall space between the sliding glass doors and the roof it is impossible in these situations to mount the unit on the external wall.  It will have to be mounted on the internal wall above the TV.

All major brands have internal louvre systems that allow the air to be blown left or right to assist in gaining air flow to the centre of the apartment. Depending on the brand, the louvres can be controlled by the remote control or by manually moving them into position.  The size of a split system unit in an aprtment like this one is usually either a 3.5KW or a 5KW unit. If you go up to the 5KW size you can find it wll also help to heat and cool bedrooms as well depending on the layout of the rooms. 

Popular units for apartments

3.5KW split systems 5.0KW split systems




Photo from client



The solution is to mount the unit as close to the outside wall as possible so that the pipes and electrical controls can exit the room from the side of the air conditioner and not out the back, which is the usual way to mount them. It is important in these situations to employ experts due to the difficulty in these delicate installs because a mistake can be costly to fix.

Alot of high rise apartmnets have a solid concrete outer walls so drilling through them to get the pipes and drain out (as was the case in this installation) can take time. Some thing to be aware of is the noise of drilling through concrete. It can pay to let the body corporate know so neighbours are aware of this. 

Once the appropriate holes are made and the unit is mounted on the wall you will not be able to see where the pipes have exited to the balcony area.





 Internal wall example - cutting plaster

Suburb - Melbourne CBD

This installation took place in a high rise apartment in Melbourne's CBD. It involved replacing an old unit that had broken down. The existing unit had been installed when the apartment was built so the pipes, drain and electrical cables where inside the wall cavitiy.

The first consideration (at quoting stage) was to make sure we installed a new unit that would be the right dimensions to cover the holes in the wall that would be left by the old air conditioner. It was decided by the client and us that the best solution would be to cut out plaster for the new pipes so the unit could still be positioned in the centre of the room, as opposed to being located to the side of the room. 

The new unit was the Mitsubishi MSZ71GE which fit nicely over the old holes. Brand new pipes where installed and the drain was able to be attached to the old one. The client later patched the wall themselves to save on re-plaster costs. Depending on your location, re-plastering will cost approx $300-$400. If you are a handy person you could probably do it yourself to save on costs.




replacing an old air conditioner






This installation is similar to the one above.

Suburb - Melbourne CBD

With this install we were able to come out the side of the unit rather than down because we did not have to re-use the existing drain. This air conditioner was not a replacement but a brand new installation.

The unit is located in this position because it put the air conditioner in line with the bedroom door to allow some air flow in to there.

The client was happy to arrange his own plasterer as he had a frind who was able to do that for him.

The unit installed is the Fujitsu 3.5kw ASTG09LUCB which is the Fujitsu designer range.











installing pipes in walls