Learn how much it costs to Install an AC Unit - Compose: SEO. (2022)

Central Air Installation Cost Calculator

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National Average $5,853
Typical Range $3,881 - $7,897
Low End - High End $1,500 - $12,000

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 22,406 HomeAdvisor members.

Central Air Conditioner by Unit Type

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There are two types of central air conditioning systems, which we discuss below.

Split Central Air Conditioning System

A split system is the most economical central air option at around $1,900 to $4,200. It consists of three main elements: the condensing unit, evaporator coil, and air handler. The condensing unit sits outside, while the evaporator coil and air handler are inside the home.

Packaged Central Air Conditioning System

A packaged central AC system is similar to the split air system, but the condensing unit, evaporator coil, and air handler are all packaged in a single “box” located on the roof or next to the foundation. Packaged systems are less common in residential settings and less efficient. On average, they cost around $2,300 to $5,500.

Other Air Conditioners

If you live in an older home without ducts, you may want to forego the cost and construction involved in installing central AC and consider a few other cooling system types instead:

  • Ductless mini-split air conditioner cost: This mini-split system uses multiple indoor units without the need for ducts. It costs around $2,000–$14,500.

  • Window air conditioner cost: This unit mounts to your windows and is easy to install on your own. It costs around $150–$500.

  • Portable air conditioner: A portable unit can be placed anywhere and uses a hose to send heat out of a window. It also costs around $150–$500.

Make an informed decision about what kind of AC system you need before installing or replacing a unitsince the AC type you choose determines a large percentage of your overall cost. For example, if you decide to have one of the two central air systems installed, you’ll need to hire an air conditioning pro.

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Central Air Conditioner by Size

Pay attention to the square footage recommendations listed for each air conditioning unit you’re considering. The general rule is that every 500 or 600 square feet require 1 ton of cooling power. However, this calculation can vary.

You can also estimate your overall price based on the British Thermal Unit (BTU) capacity, which measures how many BTUs per hour the AC unit can add or remove from the air. You'll need about 18 BTU capacity per square foot, but anywhere from 14 to 26 BTU capacity per square foot is acceptable.

The rule of thumb is that the bigger the house, the more cooling power is needed. But too big of a system isn't good either because the central air system will cycle on and off all the time, wasting energy and givingoff a loud, disruptive noise. On the opposite side of the spectrum, a too-small system will work overtime and cool your house inefficiently. Be sure to consult an AC pro to get the most accurate estimate for this project.

Central Air Conditioner by SEER Rating

SEER stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio, and the SEER rating of an AC system is particularly relevant if you live in a climate where the temperature changes drastically. SEER is calculated by determining the cooling output during the winter season divided by its electric input. The higher the rating, the more efficient it'll be. Since 2006, the U.S. Department of Energy has required new central ACs to have a minimum SEER rating of 13. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, this will increase to 14 in the northern U.S. and 15 in the southern U.S. by 2023.

The price to install a 14 SEER AC unit is between $3,000 and $6,000. The higher the SEER rating is on your AC unit, the more energy-efficient it'll be. A 16 SEER AC runs from $3,700 to $9,000 to install. At the time of publication, federal tax credits for residential energy-efficient equipment expired on December 31, 2021, but check the Energy Star website for updates on whether any extension or renewal of these credits gets approved by Congress.

Central Air Conditioner by Brand

Currently, the least expensive central air conditioning unit brand on the market is Payne, with an average price of $1,400. The most expensive AC unit brand is Lennox, coming in at around $3,400. The table below provides general price estimates for the most popular AC brands.

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Central Air Conditioner by Labor

Labor adds between $500 and $2,500 to the material costs. Installing a brand-new system with all new ducts will require more work than replacing an existing system with ducts already installed.

Additional Central Air Conditioner Cost Considerations

Depending on your home and current AC system, you may also encounter these additional cost factors.

Installing Ducts and Vents

You'll need a system of ducts and vents for the central AC to work because the unit carries cool air to the various rooms in your home via supply ducts and vents, or openings in the walls, floors, or ceilings covered by grills. Installing ducts and vents costs $500 to $2,100.

A lack of existing ductwork is often why homeowners don't install central air conditioning. If you're installing new ducts, it’s also an excellent time to explore upgrading your heating system, as it'll be cheaper to do both together.

Repairing the AC

If your air conditioner unit is relatively new, you may want to pay for AC repair costs. Most homeowners will spend about $390 on repairs.


Any newly installed air conditioning unit will come with a manufacturer's warranty, which generally lasts for five to 15 years and may save you money if you're still covered.


Explore the costs of home insulation since your heating and cooling systems will work more efficiently and save you money.

Adding Central Air to Forced Air Heat

Many central air systems use furnace blowers to distribute cool air throughout the space. If you don’t have a central heating system, installing a cost-effective heating and air conditioning system at the same time can be worth it. You can use the existing fans and duct system for the central air if you already have central heating.

Replacing a Central Air Conditioner Unit

Replacing a central AC costs around $5,000, depending on the size of your home, AC unit brand, and project complexity. Prices can go up as high as $12,500 to replace an air conditioning unit. The labor of removing and disposing of the old system also adds to the cost.

DIY vs. Hiring an HVAC Pro

For a skilled DIY-er, installing a central air conditioning system can be a large but doable project. You may need to crawl under your home, lift heavy parts, prepare an installation site, pour concrete, and climb onto the roof. It'll also involve some paperwork since in most places, your local government may require a permit to replace or install large-scale appliances like HVAC systems.

If you hire alocal air conditioner installation pro, your technician will complete the entire process for you. They may start with a load calculation—known as the Manual J methodology—to determine the proper unit size for your home. A pro will also look at your home’s insulation, walls, floors, and windows to determine the best model for your needs, as well as examine any leaks, seals, and existing ducts or vents to make sure your AC works at its best. Lastly, pros may even help you get a discount on the unit itself and offer maintenance plans for any future repair work.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my AC unit is of good quality?

It’s important to ensure quality and performance for years to come when you’re installing a new AC unit. During the installation of your central air unit, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the unit sized correctly? Pros should be measuring your home and doing load calculations to ensure the equipment is the right size for your home for optimal performance.

  • Is the duct system right for the AC unit? Ducts that are damaged, leaking, or missing in spots will affect performance. Your local AC repair pro will repair ducts and install more if needed for everything to work seamlessly.

  • How is the airflow? If the airflow isn't just right, you could see an increase in your utility bill or experience hot spots in certain rooms. A contractor can measure the volume of air reaching the various spaces in your home and adjust ducts and vents for the most optimal airflow.

Is a central air conditioner worth the cost?

Deciding if central air is worth the cost depends on your needs and the local housing market. If you live in a mild climate without severe temperatures, window units, fans, or a breeze from an open window may be adequate. But if you live in a hotter climate, it can be worth the price to keep your home at a comfortable temperature and may even save lives during extreme heat waves. This upgrade may also help you sell your home faster, as buyers will pay more for a working AC, especially in a hot environment.

How long do AC units last?

Most AC units last up to 15 years, but if you use them frequently and don't maintain your AC unit, the system could require replacing much sooner.

How long does it take to install central air conditioning?

It can take one to five or more days for a local HVAC installation pro to install central air conditioning. AC replacements take more time, as do projects with extensive ductwork repairs or installations. This extra time can range anywhere from an additional day to another week.

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How much does it cost to install AC? ›

Central air conditioning costs an average of $5,651 to install; the typical range runs from $3,800 for smaller systems to $7,500 for larger or upgraded systems, according to HomeAdvisor.

Is air conditioning cheaper than gas central heating 2022? ›

Cost to run - However, you could quickly make back the money spent on installing HVAC systems into your property, as they are cheaper to run than central heating systems.

Can you install air conditioning yourself? ›

While 87 percent of U.S. households use some type of air conditioning, central AC systems are the most sought-after for both convenience and accessibility. If flipping a switch for whole-house cooling is what you're after, you may wonder whether it's possible to install your own. And the answer is, you definitely can.

How much does it cost to install a wall mounted air conditioner? ›

This is the typical range for window AC units, though some can run as low as $75 and as high as $1,100, likely due to size and efficiency of the units Be sure to factor in an additional $60 to $200 for labor costs.
How Much Does AC Installation Cost?
Ductless Wall-Mounted Installation Cost
Average Cost$3,000
Highest Cost$14,500
Lowest Cost$2,000
29 Jul 2022

What is included in AC installation? ›

What is covered in a standard AC installation scope (High wall Split airconditioner – Capacity up to 2.0 TR)
  • Mounting and installation of indoor unit on wall.
  • Placing the outdoor unit at serviceable location.
  • Drilling one hole on a brick wall (no core cutting) to connect the Outdoor unit (ODU) with the Indoor unit (IDU)

How much is a new AC unit for a 1500 sq ft house? ›

Cost of central air for 1500 sq ft house? $4,650 – $9,900, according to the Cost of AC per House Size Table above. This is an installed cost. Most homeowners pay around $7,900 for an average-quality, 16 to 18 SEER AC.

How much does a new HVAC system cost 2022? ›

The cost to replace an HVAC system averages $7,000, with a typical range of $5,000 to $10,000. This translates into $25 to $60 per square foot of coverage, depending on the brand and size. For a new installation, you can expect to pay $1,500 to $12,500.

Is it cheaper to have the AC or heat on? ›

Even in many energy efficient homes, or homes that keep up on their ac repairs, wintertime heating costs can sometimes run nearly twice what AC costs to run. In fact, if you live in an older homes, the costs are much higher; heating your house can be almost four times as high!

Should I replace my 20 year old HVAC? ›

The average lifespan of an HVAC system is 15 to 20 years, but as these systems age, they tend to get less efficient. If your HVAC is over 10 years old, consider replacing it with a more energy-efficient unit, such as one that has earned the ENERGY STAR label.

How much does an air conditioner cost for a 2000 sq ft home? ›

For a 2,000 square ft home you would want a 4 to 5 ton AC unit and the average installation cost would be around $5,100 with the unit alone costing around $1,980. Read more about these cost factors below. Find the best HVAC contractors in your area. Cost by Home Sq.

Which is better ductless AC or central AC? ›

Ductless systems are potentially much more efficient, so your utility cost is generally much less than with central air. The downside is that the initial cost is more. This can be counterintuitive, because we think of mini-splits as the “smaller” option.

Do you need a professional to install air conditioner? ›

However, when it does come time to invest in a new air conditioning unit, whether it be a split system or ducted it is highly essential that you ensure you hire a professional to complete the installation process.

Is it cheaper to run a wall AC or central air? ›

Central air conditioners use less energy overall, especially compared to a gaggle of wall/window units running (noisily) in tandem. Though wall units may seem cheaper, if you need more than one to stay comfortable in the summer heat, the more cost-effective solution is central air conditioning.

How long does it take to install AC wall unit? ›

Installation Timeline

Generally speaking, the average installation will take anywhere from four to eight hours, which means the process of removing the old unit and being able to turn on the new one should be finished within a day.

How much does it cost to install central air without ductwork? ›

Do you want to add air conditioning to your home, but it doesn't have any air ducts? You can either choose to: Install new ductwork and a central AC system (which can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $17,000+ combined) Install a ductless AC system (which can cost from $4,000 to $20,000+)

Which AC has free installation? ›

Croma 1 Ton 3 Star CRAC7886 With Free Installation Split Inverter AC (Copper, White) is available at a best price of ₹28,490 from Tatacliq. The latest price of Croma 1 Ton 3 Star CRAC7886 With Free Installation Split Inverter AC (Copper, White) was fetched by us on 7:07:59pm 12-11-2022.

What is replaced when a new AC unit is installed? ›

Installing Your New HVAC Unit Replacement

The components installed may include the inside air handler or evaporator, outside compressor or condensing unit, new refrigerant supply lines, thermostat, condensate drain lines, and the condensate pump when applicable.

What questions should I ask the AC installer? ›

Ask the Right Questions
  • What size or capacity system do I need to properly cool my home? ...
  • Can the current installed ductwork be used (if any) and what is the condition of the existing ductwork? ...
  • Can you provide proof that your company is bonded and insured?

Will HVAC prices go down in 2022? ›

Recent trends and HVAC manufacturers' announcements indicate that the prices for new systems will go up in 2022. There are several reasons for this, aside from the current price increases in construction industries.

How much should a 3-ton AC unit cost installed? ›

The national average cost to install a 3-ton air conditioner is $4,000 to $7,000. Most homeowners pay around $5,500 for a 3-ton, split system unit with a SEER rating of 16, fully installed with modifications to existing ducts.

What size AC unit do I need for a 1600 sq ft house? ›

Assuming the minimum cooling capacity of 400 square feet per ton for your HVAC unit, a 1600 square foot home will require 4.0 tons of air conditioning to cool. Your HVAC unit will need to remove about 4.0 x 12,000 BTUs, or 48,000 BTUs, per hour to keep your home cool.

What is the average lifespan of a HVAC system? ›

A: On Average, 10-20 Years

Here are the average life expectancies of different HVAC systems: Air conditioners and heat pumps: 10 to 15 years. Furnaces and boilers: 15 to 20 years. Geothermal: 30 years.

Can you negotiate HVAC install? ›

HVAC installation costs typically range from $3,500 to $7,525, but homeowners can reduce air conditioning replacement costs by negotiating the contract price and terms with their contractor.

How much does a 2.5 ton Trane AC unit cost? ›

Price As Per the Size of the Unit
Unit SizeCooling AreaInstalled Cost
2 tons1000 – 1300 sq. ft.$3,399
2.5 tons1300 – 1600 sq. ft.$3,575
3 tons1600 – 1900 sq. ft.$3,798
3.5 tons1900 – 2200 sq. ft.$4,275
3 more rows

Is it cheaper to leave AC on auto or on? ›

There are benefits to having your air conditioner set to “auto” and “on.” The benefits of the “auto” setting include higher efficiency, lower energy bills, better humidity control, less wear and tear on some components, and quieter running.

Do you save money by turning off the AC? ›

Your AC will actually run longer overall if it is left on all day instead of being shut off. If you turn it off for part of the day, it runs less and results in more energy savings for you. In almost all cases, it will save you money to shut off your AC while you are away from home.

Is it cheaper to keep AC on all the time? ›

The answer to the question “is it cheaper to leave your air conditioner on all day?” is a resounding yes. You'll save money on your energy and repair bills, especially during the summer months.

Can an AC unit last 30 years? ›

Air conditioners can last 10-15 years depending on various factors, while HVAC systems can even go up to 30 years before needing to be replaced.

How long does it take to replace entire HVAC system? ›

On average, it will take between 4 to 8 hours to replace an air conditioner. If you are replacing both your furnace and air conditioning unit at the same time, then the job will take between 8 to 14 hours.

Will HVAC prices go up in 2023? ›

Ultimately it will translate into higher install and repair costs for consumers. Increased costs on equipment will likely be in the range of 15% – 25% for 2023 with the SEER increase.

How many square feet will a 2.5-ton AC cool? ›

Benchmarks for Air Conditioner Size:

1,201 to 1,500 square feet homes should use 2.5 tons. If your home size is higher than the number above but is less not more than 1,800 square feet, you can go for a three-ton A/C.

What size AC do I need for 1500 square feet? ›

What size air conditioner do I need for a 1500 square foot home? You would need about 3 tons (36,000 BTU's) to cool a house of this size.

How many square feet will a 3-ton AC cool? ›

3-ton is equal to 36,000 BTU. If you apply the 20 BTU per sq ft rule of thumb, you can see that a 3-ton air conditioner cools about 1,800 square feet spaces.

Can ductless AC cool a whole house? ›

Even though it takes a powerful system – especially in a large home – a ductless mini split is up to the task. With the right size system in place, it's capable of cooling an entire house, from the basement all the way up to the attic.

Why is ductless better? ›

Advantages of a Ductless Mini-Split System.

Their compact size allows for greater flexibility in temperature zoning—air conditioning is limited to the rooms in which the air handlers are located. These systems tend to run quieter than central air conditioning systems, and are easier to install.

What is cheaper ductless AC or central air? ›

A central air conditioning unit has the lowest initial cost of the two types of A/C units. According to the US Department of Energy, installing a central air system costs up to 30% less than installing a ductless system.

Is AC installation hard? ›

Installing a window AC unit is a simple DIY project. It requires minimal heavy lifting, and tightening a few screws. For a little effort you get a cool room to enjoy during the warm season. Many window air conditioners can also provide heating for a chilly room.

Is it cheaper to install air conditioner in winter? ›

Winter isn't the time to buy

People who want to have their air conditioning units replaced often choose the winter months to do it. They can save on delivery and installation costs by replacing air conditioning units at the same time as replacing or repairing a furnace.

Can anyone install air conditioning? ›

Installing air conditioning in a house can be a tricky job if you're not a registered professional or an air conditioning engineer. You need to seek the help of an expert to install your home air conditioning units for you.

What is the cheapest way to run AC? ›

Here are some ways you can save money on your air conditioning and thus your electric bill.
  1. Throw some shade around the house. ...
  2. Cover your windows. ...
  3. Get smart about your thermostat. ...
  4. Install ceiling fans. ...
  5. Service your AC. ...
  6. Go with an alternative cooling system. ...
  7. Seal the leaks. ...
  8. Avoid using the stove and oven.
24 Jun 2022

Is it cheaper to use fans than AC? ›

Fans are cheaper to run than air conditioners, and can be used in place of air conditioners or along with them to save money. If you have a ceiling fan, run it at the same time as the AC. It pushes cooler air down and over the bodies of the people in the room.

Does central air add value to your home? ›

One appraisal estimate in Money magazine says that installing a new central air-conditioning system will increase your property value by 10%. Our network agents modify this a bit, noting that while they would price a home with central AC higher than one without, the pricing depends on other market conditions.

How much is the labor to install an AC unit? ›

Average Cost to Install Central Air
AC TypeAverage Labor CostsTotal Costs
Packaged AC$1,000 - $2,000$4,000 - $10,000
Split System$1,250 - $2,300$3,750 - $9,800
Packaged HVAC$2,000 - $5,000$10,000 - $14,000
5 May 2022

How much does it cost to install a wall AC unit? ›

Cost to Install a Through the Wall Air Conditioner

A large chunk of this cost is taken up by the air conditioner and can vary depending on the air conditioner size or BTUs. The installation costs about $500 on average, with the whole process taking around 8-10 hours to complete.

How much does it cost to install wall mounted AC? ›

Wall Air Conditioning Costs
ItemUnit Cost
Material Cost$883each
+ Labor Cost (install AC unit)$34per hour
+ Labor Cost (upgrade circuit)$42per hour
Total Cost$1,349each
2 more rows

How much does it cost to install AC in an old house? ›

The “ballpark figure” for central air installation is generally $2000 – $5000 for a 2,000-square-foot home. Costs can run higher depending on your home and circumstances.

How much does it cost to install central air in a 1200 sq ft? ›

A unit with a SEER rating of 16 to 18 will work for most climates. Depending on the SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating, you can expect a 1,200-square-foot home to cost between $3,000 and $4,000 for AC installation.

Is installing air conditioning worth it? ›

Central air conditioning gives you the comfort of temperature control more efficiently than a window unit. A window unit can cool a single room fairly well, but if you need a few throughout the house, the energy costs can stack up fast. Central air also provides you with improved air quality in every room.

Is installing AC worth it? ›

There are a lot of advantages and cooling, in general, is becoming more and more of a necessity in this day in age. Once you actually know all the ins and outs of how to install and maintain a central AC, it's definitely worth the investment.

How much is AC in the UK? ›

These start from around £500, not including installation fees, according to Which? More effective models will range into the thousands. Installation costs can be around £1,000 per indoor unit, meaning it could be thousands if you are choosing to have multiple units in different rooms around the house.

How much does a new AC line cost to run? ›

The cost to replace an AC line set is $200 to $650, depending on the length and location. The line set carries refrigerant from the outdoor condenser to the indoor evaporator coil through the wall or foundation. A line set typically requires replacement if a weld doesn't stop the leak.

Is it cheaper to install AC in the winter? ›

Winter isn't the time to buy

People who want to have their air conditioning units replaced often choose the winter months to do it. They can save on delivery and installation costs by replacing air conditioning units at the same time as replacing or repairing a furnace.

Is it cheaper to run an air conditioner or central air? ›

It depends. If you're looking to cool your entire house, having multiple window air conditioners will use more energy than a single properly-sized central air conditioner would. Conversely, if you need to cool a single room, a window air conditioner will, of course, be the more efficient option.

How much should a 3 ton AC unit cost installed? ›

The national average cost to install a 3-ton air conditioner is $4,000 to $7,000. Most homeowners pay around $5,500 for a 3-ton, split system unit with a SEER rating of 16, fully installed with modifications to existing ducts.

Is it better to have AC from the floor or ceiling? ›

Ceiling vents do a better job cooling and floor vents do a better job heating. If your priority is cooling, put your HVAC in the attic and ducting and vents in the ceiling. If you prioritize heating, put the HVAC and vents in (or below) the floor. This principle works for return vents as well.

Does a new AC unit increase home value? ›

Does New HVAC Increase Home Value? We often receive the query, 'does new HVAC add value to home', and though there are a few factors to consider, the answer is that yes, generally it does. It can increase your home's value by up to 10%.

Can I install air conditioner myself UK? ›

You need specialist tools and an F-Gas certificate, as well as being a qualified electrician, at the very least to be sure you can do it.

Is air conditioning cheaper than gas central heating UK? ›

AC is one of the most efficient ways of heating an area and can save you considerable money on running costs over a central heating system during its life span.

How much does an air conditioner cost for a 1200 sq ft home? ›

A unit with a SEER rating of 16 to 18 will work for most climates. Depending on the SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating, you can expect a 1,200-square-foot home to cost between $3,000 and $4,000 for AC installation.

What is the quietest HVAC system? ›

Ductless 'mini split' systems like Mitsubishi home air conditioning systems are the quietest air conditioners on the market today. With an average noise level of 32 decibels, ductless systems are not only whisper quiet, they offer some of the highest SEER ratings and most efficient performance on the market.


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