How Much Will a New Air Conditioner Cost?
The short answer is that the only way to know what it will cost to replace YOUR air conditioner is to have a qualified comfort advisor inspect your home and existing equipment and give you the options for replacing your system. But since we know that might be a frustrating answer, we’ll give you some ranges and then some guidelines to help you understand why there is a wide range of prices.
A no frills, minimum efficiency air conditioner will cost you as little as $3200 installed, while a full featured, high-end, high efficiency air conditioner could cost you as much as $8,500 installed. Additions such as ductwork changes, a whole-home humidifier, an advanced air filter or other accessories would add to these prices.
There are six factors that affect the price of the air conditioner you choose, and all are important to consider in determining the best air conditioner for your purposes:
The most obvious cost factor is house size. In fact, you can get more specific and look at room size if you’re thinking about installing a single room air conditioner. Overall, the larger the area that needs to be the cooled, the more expensive your air conditioner will be.
Air conditioner strength is measured in "tons," a measurement that refers to the amount of heat your AC unit can remove in an hour. Each ton corresponds to 12,000 British thermal units (BTUs). Be very cautious when calculating this. Bigger isn't necessarily better. If your unit is too large for the space or your home, it will switch on and off repeatedly, wasting energy and costing you money while shortening the life of the equipment due to the accelerated wear and tear of repeatedly turning on and off.
Air Conditioner Ratings
In addition to BTU ratings (size), there are other numbers you need to evaluate before you purchase or replace your air conditioning system. Those two numbers are the EER and SEER ratings.
The Energy-Efficiency Ratio (EER) essentially tells you how energy efficient your AC unit is on the hottest day of the year. Since that only happens one day a year, the SEER rating is the most meaningful rating in determining which air conditioner to choose. The Seasonal Energy-Efficiency Ratio (SEER) looks at how energy efficient your system is through the whole season. The least energy efficient AC, that cost the most to operate in our climate, is a 13 SEER rated AC. High efficiency air conditioners go up to 40 SEER and higher. They use less than 1/3 of the energy than a comparable minimum 13 SEER unit. Just like buying a car that gets good gas mileage (MPG) makes sense, selecting a high efficiency air conditioner makes good sense.
There are many brands of air conditioners, with some well-known and others more obscure. In the case of home central air conditioning, the brand does matter. But just because a brand is well-known doesn’t mean it represents quality. For example, York is a well-known brand, but is no longer recommended by Consumer Reports as a trusted brand. As a general rule there is a correlation between price and quality in air conditioners, just as there is in cars and appliances. And bear in mind, the cheaper it is, the higher your air conditioner maintenance and repair costs will be.
Inexpensive AC Brands (Listed alphabetically)
Higher Quality AC Brands (Listed alphabetically)
- American Standard
If you must add or renovate substantial ductwork in order to achieve maximum comfort or system efficiency, your system installation cost could rapidly rise. The $3200-$8500 air conditioner price above assumes that your ductwork is in place and performs efficiently. If not, expect an additional $1,000, or more.
More often than not, homeowners hire HVAC pros to install or replace a new furnace. However, not all pros cost the same. An air conditioning pro who has been in the business for 20-30 years will charge more than a contractor just starting out. More experience generally means more expertise, which, costs more.
When it comes to labor, we always recommend you gather at least three HVAC quotes from local, reputable, certified, furnace companies. Just make sure one of them is Just Right Heating & Cooling.
Just like a new car, there are certain features you need and certain features you would like. Your new air conditioner cost will increase or decrease after you decide which features you decide to add.
Whether it’s a programmable thermostat, variable-speed blowers or zoned air conditioning, if you want to keep installation costs down, keep the features to a minimum.
We have installed simple low efficiency air conditioners for as little as $3000, and we have installed highly-complex high-efficiency heat-pump systems with high-tech features for over $14,000. The price for each air conditioner is truly as unique as you, your home and your cooling needs and desires.