How Much Does Central Air Conditioning Installation Cost?

24November 2023

How Much Does Central Air Conditioning Installation Cost?

Understanding the factors that determine the cost of a new central air conditioning system is critical if you’re thinking about investing in one.

Central air installation is a substantial job, and the cost can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors.

In this guide, we’ll look at the factors that influence the cost of installing central air conditioning, look at different types of AC systems, and offer tips on how to save money on central air conditioning installation.

By the end, you’ll have a better idea of what to budget for when it comes to central air installation costs.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Central Air Conditioning

Before getting into the exact expenses, it’s critical to understand the factors that influence the overall cost of central air conditioning installation.


  • Size in Square Feet

The square footage of your home is a major factor influencing central AC installation costs. A ton of cooling power is typically required for every 500 to 600 square feet of space.

For example, if you have a 1,800-square-foot ranch home, you’ll probably require an AC system with a capacity of three tons, or 36,000 BTUs per hour. According to HomeAdvisor, the cost of such a system might range from $3,400 to $5,400.


  • Efficiency

Another critical issue to consider is the air conditioning system’s efficiency, which is commonly quantified using the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). A higher SEER rating suggests that the system is more efficient. The minimum SEER rating in the northern United States will be 14 in 2023, and 15 in the southern United States. An efficient system can contribute to long-term energy savings, but it may be more expensive up front.


  • Ductwork

Airflow is provided by ducts and vents in central air systems. In older homes, there may be no existing ducting, forcing additional installation costs. Central air systems are classified into two types: ductless and ducted. The decision between these is determined by factors such as your home’s age and structure. The cost of installing ductwork can range from $500 to $2,100.


  • Labor

Professional installation is required for central air systems, and labor costs are a considerable component of the overall cost. Labor prices can vary depending on factors such as your home’s size and layout, as well as the efficiency rating of the unit. greater SEER systems may have greater installation costs, but they may yield in cheaper long-term energy expenses.


AC Unit Varieties

Understanding the various types of air conditioners can also help you understand the price differences:


The Window Unit

The average price ranges from $139 to $528.

Capacity for cooling is limited to one or two rooms.

A single device that functions through your window.

Portable Device

The average price is between $280 and $650.

Capacity for cooling: Suitable for mild climates

Portable and easily moved from room to room as needed.

Split Ductless Air Conditioning System

The average price is between $2,000 and $14,500.

An air handler, an indoor evaporator coil, and an outdoor condenser and compressor unit comprise this system.

Perfect for houses with thin walls.

Central Air Conditioning System

The average price is between $1,900 and $5,500.

There are two forms of central air conditioning: split central air conditioning and packaged central air conditioning. An air handler, condensing unit, and evaporator coil are all part of the former. The latter combines all of these parts into a single device that is installed on your home’s roof or side.

How to Reduce the Costs of Central Air Conditioning Installation

Here are some tips to help you save money on central air conditioning installation:


Look around.

  • Comparing providers and systems can assist you in determining the best match for your house and budget. Costs might vary greatly between manufacturers, so do your homework to discover a reasonable choice.


  • In the off-season, install

If possible, schedule your installation for the spring or fall to minimize peak season pricing.


  • Examine Rebates

Investigate available rebates and tax breaks for energy-efficient systems. These can help you save money.


  • Consider a Smaller Model

A smaller AC system may be sufficient if you live alone or need to chill certain areas. It’s also feasible that modest fixes, rather than a full AC replacement, will cure your cooling problems.


Pre-Installation Assessment

Have an HVAC professional inspect your property prior to installation. This examination assists in determining the appropriate system size and identifying any repairs or adjustments that are required. While it comes at an extra expense (usually approximately $420), it can save you hundreds of dollars in the long term.


How to Cover the Costs of Central Air Installation

A central air installation is a substantial expenditure, and there are numerous financing alternatives available:


  • Home Equity Line of Credit

You can finance a new central air conditioner with equity in your property. Home equity loans often feature lower interest rates than personal loans and can be repaid over a period of 10 to 15 years.


  • HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit)

A HELOC, like a credit card, uses your property as collateral. You have a credit limit that you can keep reusing, and the draw period is usually around 10 years.


  • Loan for Individuals

A personal loan is an alternative if you require funds immediately for home improvements. These unsecured loans are quite versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes. Typical terms range from 12 to 60 months.


  • EEM stands for Energy Efficient Mortgage.

If you want to refinance your mortgage or acquire an older property with obsolete systems, an EEM is a good option. EEMs explicitly subsidize energy-saving renovations, such as more efficient air conditioning.


In conclusion

Central air conditioning installation can be costly, with expenses ranging from roughly $3,800 to $8,000 or more.

The cost varies depending on aspects such as home size, efficiency, ducting, and labor.

You may reduce your central air installation expenses by shopping around, installing during the off-season, studying rebates, considering system size, and doing a pre-installation evaluation.

To assist you in managing your spending, financing solutions such as home equity loans, HELOCs, personal loans, and EEMs are available.


Questions and Answers

How much does it cost to replace a central air conditioning system?

The cost of replacing a central air conditioning unit might vary depending on factors such as the size and efficiency of the new system. It can range from several thousand dollars to more than $8,000.


Is it possible to use existing ducting with a new unit?

Existing ducting can often be used with a new central air unit, although inspections and adjustments may be required to assure compatibility.


Can I build my own central air conditioner to save money?

While some homeowners may attempt do-it-yourself installation, central air system installation is a complex process that is usually best left to professionals to ensure safety and efficiency.


How long do air conditioners last?

An AC unit’s lifespan varies, but with good care, it can last 15-20 years or more.


How much does it cost to keep a central air conditioning (AC) unit running?

Routine maintenance costs between $100 and $250 per year and can help improve the life and efficiency of your air conditioner.



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