Royal Chances Heating & Air LLC

AC Unit Costs: What’s the Real Price of Central Air Conditioning Installation?

How much is a new ac unit?

The cost of a new AC unit can vary depending on several factors such as the brand, model, size, and energy efficiency rating. Additionally, installation costs may vary based on the complexity of the installation and the region where you live.

However, as of 2023, the average cost of a new AC unit can range from $2,500 to $7,500, including installation. It’s always recommended to obtain quotes from multiple HVAC professionals to get a better idea of the costs specific to your situation.

ac unit costs

Now say, you’re dying in this heat and your old window unit just isn’t cutting it anymore. Summer’s in full swing and you need real relief—it’s time to install central AC! While the idea of cool comfort is appealing, the cost of a new AC unit installation can be downright frightening.

Don’t sweat it, we’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about AC unit costs so you can make an informed decision and finally chill out this summer without breaking the bank.

From types of central air conditioners to factors affecting the total price, we’ve compiled all the details on what it really costs to install central AC so you’ll be prepared when the HVAC tech comes knocking.

By the time you finish this article, you’ll be an expert on AC units and ready to find an affordable cooling solution perfect for your home. So sit back, grab an ice-cold drink and let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of AC installation costs!

Table of contents

How Much Does a New Central AC Unit Cost?

So you’re ready to invest in a new central AC unit – congratulations! This will make those hot summer days so much more comfortable. But how much should you budget for a new AC unit installation? The costs can vary quite a bit depending on the size and efficiency of the unit you choose.

The good news is that AC unit technology has improved drastically, so any new unit you buy today will be far more energy efficient than an older model. A basic 3-ton unit for a typical home will start around $3,000 to $5,000 for the condenser and coil. High-efficiency units with a higher SEER rating, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, will cost $6,000 to $10,000 or more. The higher the SEER, the more you’ll save on energy bills over time.

an image of central  ac unit

In addition to the cost of the actual AC unit, you’ll also need to factor in installation fees which typically run $3,000 to $5,000 for a simple install. Complex installations like those requiring ductwork can cost $8,000 to $12,000 or higher. Permit and licensing fees will add another several hundred dollars.

While the upfront costs may seem steep, a new high-efficiency central AC unit is worth the investment for the energy cost savings and reliable cooling it will provide for 10-15 years or more. Focus on the long-term benefits, find an HVAC contractor you trust, and you’ll be basking in the cool comfort of your new AC in no time!

AC unit Costs by Home Type

If you’re looking to install central AC in your home, the costs can vary quite a bit depending on the type of house you have. But don’t worry, with some smart planning you can keep costs under control and enjoy cool comfort all summer long!

For a small to mid-sized house (around 1,500 to 2,500 square feet), you can expect to pay between $3,500 to $5,500 for a basic AC unit and installation. The specific brand and model you choose, as well as any extra features like a programmable thermostat or high-efficiency air filter, will affect the final price. Installation fees alone usually run $300 to $1,000, depending on how difficult the job is.

an image of a house with ac unit

Larger houses (over 2,500 square feet) will require a more powerful AC unit to keep the whole space comfortable, so costs jump up to $5,000 to $8,000 or more for the unit and installation. For very big houses, commercial-grade units are often needed, pushing the total cost to $10,000 and beyond.

If you live in an older house, installation may be on the higher end of the cost range. Extra work like improving insulation, sealing air leaks, or upgrading your home’s electrical panel are sometimes needed to ensure proper airflow and handling of the AC unit. But the investment in efficiency upgrades will save you money on energy bills for years to come!

With some smart shopping and the help of a reputable HVAC contractor, you can find an AC system perfect for your home’s needs and budget. Central air conditioning may seem pricey up front, but just think of how wonderful those cool summer days will be. The comfort and improved home value make it worth every penny!

Central Air Conditioner Prices: What Is the Average AC Unit Cost?

The cost to install central AC can vary quite a bit depending on the size and type of unit you need for your home. The good news is, there are affordable options for any budget!

Central AC Unit Prices

For a small to mid-sized home (around 2,000 to 3,000 square feet), you can expect to pay between $3,500 to $5,500 for a new AC unit and installation. The unit itself will likely cost $2,500 to $4,500. High-efficiency units with advanced features like variable speed compressors and two-stage cooling may be on the higher end of that range. Installation fees are typically $1,000 to $2,000.

If you need to cool a larger house (3,500 square feet or more) or want more advanced technology, a central AC unit could cost $6,000 to $12,000 or more installed. Commercial grade units for apartment buildings, offices or retail spaces will be at the top end of the price spectrum, from $10,000 up to $50,000 or higher for very large multi-zone systems.

an image of another central ac unit setup outside of the house

Installation costs vary depending on factors like the complexity of your ductwork, if you need any repairs done, permits required in your area and the rates charged by HVAC contractors in your region. Shop around at a few local companies to compare quotes and find a pro you trust. They can evaluate your home’s needs and recommend an appropriately sized AC unit to keep you cool for years to come.

While the upfront cost of a new central air conditioning system may seem high, the good news is new units are far more energy efficient than older models. You’ll likely save hundreds per year on utility bills, and the system should last 15-20 years. When you consider the long-term savings and benefits, central AC is an investment that will keep paying you back for decades in the form of lower energy costs and maximum comfort in your home.

Factors That Impact Central Air Conditioning Installation Costs

The total cost of central air conditioning installation depends on several factors. The good news is, there are ways you can control costs and find an AC unit that fits your budget!

Size Matters

The size, or tonnage, of the AC unit you need depends on the square footage of your home. More space means a higher tonnage and higher cost. But don’t oversize your unit—that reduces efficiency and effectiveness. An HVAC pro can determine the right size for maximum comfort and minimum energy usage.

Brand and Model

As with most technologies, you get what you pay for. Higher-end brands and models with advanced features like variable speed compressors, multistage cooling, and smart home connectivity will cost more upfront but can significantly improve performance, efficiency, and comfort in the long run. Consider your needs and how long you plan to stay in your home to find the best value.

Installation Requirements

The complexity of installing your AC unit impacts total cost. If you need ductwork installed or have an unusual attic or crawlspace, installation will take longer and cost more. The location of your outdoor unit also matters—placing it on the ground is simplest while going on the roof or creating a platform requires additional work and materials. Discuss options with your HVAC pro to keep installation straightforward if possible.

Seasonal Demand

No surprise here—AC installation costs are often higher during peak summer cooling season. If you need central air in a hurry when temperatures start rising, you’ll likely pay a premium. For the best deal, start shopping and scheduling estimates in the spring, before the seasonal rush. You’ll have more time to compare multiple bids and you may benefit from special preseason discounts and promotions from HVAC companies.

By considering these factors that drive central AC installation costs, you can make choices that minimize expenses and maximize long term value. Do your homework, get multiple estimates, and work with an HVAC company you trust for the best overall solution for your budget and needs. With smart planning, you can keep your cool affordably!

Other Central Air Conditioner Expenses: Maintenance, Repairs, Electricity

The initial cost of an AC unit is only part of the total expense. To keep your central air conditioner running efficiently for years to come, you’ll need to factor in ongoing maintenance, possible repairs, and increased energy usage. But don’t worry, staying on top of these additional costs will ensure you get the most bang for your buck from your new cooling system!

Regular Maintenance

To prevent costly emergency service calls and keep your AC unit in tip-top shape, schedule annual maintenance with an HVAC technician. They’ll inspect the entire system, clean or replace air filters, check refrigerant levels and test for any leaks or wear and tear. Figure around $100 to $200 per visit. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind and a smoothly operating AC!

an image of a technician maintaining/repairing an ac unit

Repair Costs

Despite your best preventative efforts, air conditioners do occasionally break down or need repairs. The average cost for AC repair service in the U.S. is $220 to $350. More complex issues like a failed compressor or coil replacement can cost $1,000 to $4,000 or more. To avoid unexpected repair bills, consider purchasing an extended warranty or service plan for your unit.

Increased Energy Usage

Running an AC unit requires a significant amount of energy. Expect your summer electric bills to go up by at least 10 to 50% per month when using central air conditioning. The actual increase will depend on the size and efficiency of your AC unit and how often you run it. Programmable thermostats, keeping doors and windows closed and improved insulation can all help lower energy usage and costs.

Keeping on top of maintenance, being prepared for any necessary repairs and budgeting for higher energy bills will ensure your central AC provides cool comfort for many hot summers to come. By planning ahead, you can chill out knowing all costs are under control!

Ways to Reduce Your Air Conditioner Installation Cost

There are several ways you can reduce the cost of your central AC unit installation. Staying on budget is important, so try these tips to cut costs without sacrificing comfort.

Buy an Energy Efficient Model

An energy efficient AC unit may cost a bit more upfront, but it will save you money in the long run through lower energy bills. Look for an AC unit with a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating, like 15 SEER or higher. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit. While a unit with a SEER of 16 may cost 10-15% more than a 14 SEER unit, it can cut your cooling costs by up to 30% per year.

Get Multiple Estimates

Don’t just go with the first estimate you receive. Compare prices from at least 3-4 HVAC contractors to make sure you’re getting a fair price. Let the contractors know you’re comparing estimates—they may lower their initial bid to win your business.

Ask About Rebates and Incentives

Many utility companies and local governments offer rebates, tax incentives or financing for installing high-efficiency AC units. Ask your HVAC contractors about any available incentives and factor potential savings into the overall cost. Some can lower your total bill by up to 30% or more.

Buy in the Off-Season

AC units are often discounted in the fall when demand is lower. If you can wait until September or October to buy and install your unit, you may be able to score a lower price from contractors and retailers eager to clear out inventory. You’ll still have plenty of time to enjoy your new AC for the next cooling season.

Consider a Heat Pump

A heat pump provides both heating and cooling in one efficient unit. Although heat pumps are more expensive than a standard AC, they can cut your total HVAC costs, especially if you need to replace your furnace as well. Heat pumps are also very energy efficient, using up to 50% less energy than a standard HVAC system. Ask your contractor if a heat pump could work for your home.

Following these tips will help lower the cost of your central AC installation without compromising on comfort or efficiency. Stay cool and save money at the same time!

Get Multiple HVAC Installation Quotes to Find the Best Price

Getting multiple HVAC installation quotes is key to finding the best overall price for your new central air conditioning system. Shop around—you’ll be glad you did!

Compare Apples to Apples

Make sure each contractor is quoting the same AC equipment and scope of work so you can properly compare quotes. Ask lots of questions about the specifics of the systems and installation to ensure you’re making an informed decision.

Get References and Reviews

Check online reviews and ask contractors for references from recent customers. Call a few and ask about their experience, the quality of the work, and if the final cost matched the quote. Good reviews and references can give you peace of mind that you’re choosing a reputable company.

Consider More Than Just the Price Tag

While price is important, also consider things like the contractor’s experience, availability, professionalism, and customer service. The cheapest quote isn’t always the best in the long run. Look for a good balance of value and quality.

Negotiate the Best Deal

Once you’ve narrowed down to a couple of your favorite contractors, let them know you have other competitive quotes and see if they can sharpen their pencils. Ask if they offer any discounts for bundling additional work like ductwork cleaning or maintenance contracts. See if you can get concessions on specific parts of the quote to lower the overall cost.

Compare Financing and Payment Options

If you need to finance your new AC unit, compare financing terms, interest rates, and monthly payment options from different contractors and lenders. Look for promotions like zero interest if paid in full within 6-12 months. Making a good financing choice can save you money and give you more budget-friendly payment options.

Comparing multiple HVAC installation quotes will take some time and effort on your part, but doing your homework upfront will help ensure you get the best overall value on your new central air conditioning system. Stay enthusiastic and keep your cool—you’ve got this! The savings and comfort will be well worth it.

Questions to Ask Contractors About Central AC Unit Prices

When getting estimates for a new central AC unit, ask the contractors plenty of questions. An informed homeowner is a smart homeowner! Some things you’ll want to know:

How long have you been installing AC units?

An experienced contractor will give you peace of mind that the job will be done properly. Ask how many units they install each year to ensure they stay up-to-date with technology and best practices.

What brands do you recommend and install?

Reputable brands like Trane, Carrier, Lennox and Goodman are good signs. The contractor should be able to explain the pros and cons of different brands to help you choose a high-efficiency, reliable unit for your needs.

Do you offer any warranties or guarantees?

Look for at least a 5-year warranty on parts and a 1-year warranty on labor. Some brands and contractors offer longer warranties up to 10 years—the longer the better! Make sure you understand exactly what is and isn’t covered.

Will you handle the necessary permits?

Reputable contractors will obtain the proper permits for installing an AC unit. Double check that the price they quote you includes the permit fees. The last thing you want is to be fined for not having the right permits!

What is your typical turnaround time?

In the hot summer months, it may take a few weeks to schedule an installation. Ask upfront about the contractor’s availability and how long they estimate the entire job will take. Plan ahead so you’re not stuck in the heat without AC for too long!

Do you offer financing or payment plans?

AC units can be pricey, so financing options are helpful. Many contractors offer special financing for new AC installations with approved credit. Some may allow you to pay a portion upfront and the rest over 6-12 months with no interest. Ask about available payment plans so you can find one that fits your budget.

Does this help give you an idea of some key questions to ask AC contractors? An open, honest contractor will gladly answer all your questions to give you confidence in the services and overall price. Make sure you feel fully satisfied before signing on the dotted line!

DIY Central Air Conditioning Installation: Is It Worth It?

Doing a DIY central air conditioning installation may seem tempting to save money, but there are a few things to consider first. While a DIY project can be rewarding, installing a central AC unit is a complex job that requires expertise to ensure it’s done properly and safely.

Cost Savings Aren’t Always Guaranteed

At first glance, you may think you’ll cut costs substantially by doing it yourself. However, if you make mistakes or run into issues, you could end up paying more in the long run. Professional HVAC technicians have the skills and experience to do the job right the first time. They can also spot potential problems that you might miss, saving you from future headaches and higher bills.

It’s a Difficult, Time-Consuming Task

Installing central air conditioning is not a simple weekend DIY project. It requires handling heavy equipment, connecting ductwork, wiring the unit, charging the refrigerant lines, and ensuring the system is balanced and working properly. This can take days or even weeks for an amateur to complete. Do you have enough time and patience to commit to a job of this scale?

Safety Hazards Are a Real Risk

There are many safety risks involved with installing central AC units like handling electrical connections, working on ladders, and dealing with pressurized refrigerant lines. Without proper training, you could injure yourself or damage your home. It’s best left to the professionals who have the essential protective gear, tools, and training.

Warranties May Be Voided

If you install the central AC unit yourself, the manufacturer’s warranty may be voided. Most companies require units to be installed by a licensed HVAC technician to qualify for a warranty. If there are any issues with the unit or installation, you’ll be on the hook for potentially expensive repairs.

While a DIY spirit can be rewarding, installing central air conditioning is a complex, difficult job best left to the professionals. The potential cost savings of doing it yourself typically don’t outweigh the risks of injury, time required, reduced warranty, and the possibility of making costly mistakes. For comfort, safety, and long-term value, hire an expert HVAC company to handle the installation.

Central AC Unit Cost FAQs: Your Top Air Conditioner Price Questions Answered

You’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers! Here are the most common FAQs about central AC unit costs:

How much does a central AC unit cost?

The national average for a new central AC unit installation is between $3,000 to $5,000. The total price depends on the size of your home, brand, and specific features. A basic 3-ton unit for a typical home usually starts around $3,500. High-efficiency units with advanced features like variable speed compressors and air filtration systems can cost $6,000 or more.

What size central AC do I need?

To determine the proper size for your central AC unit, consider the square footage of your home and number of rooms. As a rule of thumb:

•Up to 1,500 sq ft: 2 to 3 ton unit

•1,500 to 2,500 sq ft: 3 to 4 ton unit

•Over 2,500 sq ft: 4 ton unit or larger

An oversized unit costs more to install and operate but won’t effectively cool your home. An undersized unit won’t cool properly and will run constantly, reducing its lifespan. For the best results, have an HVAC pro assess your home and needs.

How much does it cost to install central AC?

Installation costs for a central AC unit average $3,000 to $5,000, depending on the complexity of your setup. This typically includes:

•Removing and disposing of your old AC unit

•Installing the new AC unit

•Connecting ductwork

•Electrical work


•System testing and startup

More complex installations like those requiring extensive ductwork modifications/repairs or multiple AC units can cost $6,000 or more. Many contractors offer package deals on equipment and installation for the best overall value.

• • •

Keep your cool—and your cash—with the right central AC for your home and budget. Have more questions? Don’t hesitate to ask your HVAC contractor. They can give you a custom quote and recommendations for your unique situation. Stay chill!


So there you have it, a helpful guide to understand the true costs of installing a new central AC unit so you can make an informed decision. While the upfront price tag may seem steep, when you consider the energy efficiency, lowered utility bills, and increased comfort over the lifetime of the unit, central AC can be worth the investment.

The hot summer months will be here before you know it, so start planning now. Get multiple estimates from reputable HVAC contractors, check available rebates and tax incentives, and make sure you understand all the options so you choose a system perfectly suited to your needs and budget. Stay cool out there! The dog days of summer don’t stand a chance against you now that you’re armed with the knowledge of AC unit costs.

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