Air conditioning regulations QLD

by | Jul 5, 2023 | Advice & inspiration, Building basics & regulations, Building tips

It’s hardly a secret that Queensland has more than its fair share of hot muggy days. For most, this can become uncomfortable and this is reflected in the increasing amount of homes installing air conditioners. However, when installing an air conditioner, you must be aware of the guidelines and codes you must follow for safety and legal reasons. We thought it’d be cool to take a look at air conditioning regulations in QLD.

What is the legal requirement for air conditioners in QLD?

If you’ve already had a look at air conditioners online, you may have noticed some units are specifically labelled as suitable for Queensland homes. This is because Queensland has strict regulations and guidelines when it comes to the energy usage and efficiency of air conditioners.

One of the restrictions is the option to install Dred technology (Demand response enabled device). You may come across this being referred to as Energex’s Peak Smart Device. The purpose of this is it allows Energex to remotely control your air conditioner when the grid is experiencing peak usage. The Queensland power grid is usually pretty reliable and Energex will only need to do this once or twice a year.

There are also strict rules regarding air conditioning noise limits. Any Queenslander will tell you that during the summer, the nights can be brutally humid and hot and sleeping can be near impossible without at least a fan. Where this all becomes an issue is that noisy air conditioner units are more likely to be heard by neighbours than those in the house.

So what exactly are the noise regulations in QLD? We’re glad you asked because they are as follows:

During the day (7 am-10 pm) air conditioners can’t be louder than 5 decibels above background noise.

After hours (10 pm-7 am) air conditioners can’t be louder than 3 decibels above background noise.

What happens if I break or disregard these regulations?

Depending on what the offence is and the severity of the infringement, you’re likely to receive an infringement notice and an on-the-spot fine. On top of this, you’ll need to make any necessary changes to ensure your air-conditioner meets guidelines. If the installation of your air conditioner poses any safety risk, you may need to remove it completely.

Are there any exemptions to these legal requirements?

Most local councils will allow you to make an application to get exemptions from specified guidelines. However, just because you can apply for an exemption, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get it. Consider why you want an exemption and whether there’s a way to follow the guidelines and still get what you want. This will save you time, stress and money.

There’s no way to guarantee approval, however, a smaller change is more likely to pass than a major one. Also keep in mind how your possible exemption will affect safety and your neighbours’ comfort will be major considerations of your council, so you may need to prove that your request won’t have these negative affects.

How is sound power level measured for air conditioners?

It’s important to remember that the noise level of your air conditioner mustn’t negatively affect the living situation of your neighbours. Sound power level is measured in decibels, and this information should be readily available either on the website you’re purchasing from, the machine’s specifications or on the box. A good salesman should also know this information.

While it may not seem like a big deal, buying an air conditioner that exceeds the legal requirements for noise limits could come back to bite you. If a neighbour of yours files a noise complaint and it’s discovered your unit doesn’t comply with the building code, your case will be pretty much done for.

How can I reduce noise levels?

  • Purchase an air conditioner that has a lower sound power level and operates quietly
  • Install your unit in the area least likely to annoy your neighbours (for example, don’t install it right outside their bedroom window).
  • Install an acoustic enclosure to help with the noise
  • Regularly service your air conditioner
  • Limit the period when you use the air conditioner
  • Allow for the fact your air conditioner may get louder over time as it begins to deteriorate.
  • If you notice your air conditioner getting louder or making an odd noise, have it checked sooner rather than later, as it will likely get worse.
  • You may be able to modify your air conditioner, but discuss this with a professional and never attempt this yourself.

Our tips for installation of an air conditioning unit that is compliant with the air conditioning regulations in QLD

  • Buying your air conditioner in Queensland. If you choose to buy from interstate double check the unit is suitable for Queensland.
  • Be sure to pick the right size air conditioner for your home. You don’t want to needlessly spend too much on an air con that’s too big, yet you want a unit that can reliably cool your home when needed.
  • Hire a reliable and reputable contractor to install your air conditioner.
  • Make the most of passive design. Using natural light, installing quality insulation and having a home with the correct orientation will improve the comfort of your home. The more your home is naturally at a comfortable temperature, the less you’ll need to use your air conditioner. This lowers both your energy costs and environmental impact.

Why is it important to hire a home inspector before installing an AC?

A home inspector has the expertise and experience to spot any potential issues that could hinder your air-conditioner installation. This may include structural issues with where you’re considering installing the unit or problems with your electrical source. A home inspector will check:

  • The type of air conditioner installed and whether it’s been installed properly.
  • The ducting, electrical wiring and insulation to ensure it’s all functional and safe.
  • Any signs of water damage or pests that could affect your air conditioner.

Avoiding potential problems is always cheaper than fixing them retroactively. If you’re building a new home, it’s also easier to get issues fixed during the fixing and inspection stages rather than post-handover, so make the most of these opportunities.

Why can’t I do a home inspection myself?

In short, unless you’re qualified to do so, you may not even be sure what you’re looking for. Installing your air conditioner without a professional inspection will come with a range of risks. Poorly installed air conditioners can malfunction and require expensive repairs. Worse, there can be dangers involved that will compromise the safety of you and your family.

A professional home inspector knows exactly what to look for and can spot things that are invisible to the untrained eye. While it will cost more, hiring a home inspector will provide you peace of mind and ensure your installation is safe and will run smoothly.

Get free advice from an experienced building broker on choosing an air conditioning unit for your new home


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