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How Much Will It Cost To Install a New Central Air Conditioning Unit?

A new central air conditioner unit will cost* approximately $3500 – $12,000 and up

If your air conditioning unit is approaching 15-20 years old and it’s not working as well as it used to and you’ve replaced the filter and had it serviced, or it’s requiring service very often, it may be time for a new unit.

How Much is a Central Air Conditioning Replacement?

The cost to get central air conditioning installed can range in price between $3,500 and $12,000 and up, depending on several different factors. Most homeowners that have reported buying a new unit state it costs about $4,600 on average. This cost can include only a new unit that attaches to a current furnace or it may also include a new furnace, for split units. You can also opt for a portable single window unit for between $200 and $1200. Another option is a ductless mini splits – this is a window unit that uses an outdoor compressor and a single indoor unit. Those run about $600 to $5,900. The total cost will vary on multiple factors, includint the type of air conditioning unit you need, the size of your home, your insulation factors, and where you live.

Cost to Install Central Air

There are two primary costs to install a central air conditioner in your home – the equipment itself and the cost of the labor to install it. Those two factors need to be considered separately.

Central Air Conditioning Equipment Types

First, the cost of the equipment, which can vary depending on which equipment you need. One type is the split system which includes a furnace that’s installed in the home, and the compressor unit which is installed outside the home. The condenser unit is placed above the furnace and that’s what does the cooling along with the compressor and other components.

The other type of unit is a one-piece that is installed on the roof, also known as a package unit. This one-unit equipment incorporates all of the machinery and electrical components it needs to heat and cool the home. Because this unit is all-in-one, it tends to cost less to purchase. However, installation costs can vary because in some cases a crane needs to be rented just to remove any old unit and to help install the new unit.

For the split system, the cost will partially depend on whether the furnace is also being replaced. If the furnace is very old, it should also be replaced. If you’re just getting the AC unit replaced, the new system will come with a new condenser head for the furnace along with new Freon lines and the new compressor unit. This is because freon lines need to be completely dirt free. When the lines become dirty or corroded, it can and will cause premature compressor failure.

AC Unit Efficiency and Power Ratings

Air conditioning units are rated based on SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). The SEER rating of a unit is how well the unit cools in different temperatures and climates. The higher the unit’s SEER rating, the more energy efficient it is. You can find the SEER rating on the yellow sticker that by law is placed on all equipment when new. Here’s an example of that yellow EPA sticker:

BTU’s is another term you may have heard of when it comes to cooling your home. This stands for British Thermal Units and has to do with how much heat is required to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree F. For cooling it has to do with how much heat can be taken out the of the air when the unit is running at 100%.

These units also have a tonnage rating which essentially is how big of a space they can cool effectively. It’s very important that you get the proper tonnage unit based on how many square feet you have and the local climate. If you get too small of a unit your home won’t be comfortable, and if you get too big of a unit you will be wasting electricity.

How Big of a Unit Do I Need and What’s the Cost Differences?

The unit size both in terms of SEER and BTU’s will depend on how big your home is, and which zone you’re home is located in. Because of the diverse geography in Arizona, we are home to 3 of the 5 zones. Here’s a map that shows you the zones:

for example. In regards to home size, the biggest 5 ton units can cool approximately 3000 square feet. If your home is larger than that you probably have multiple zones with multiple AC units and furnaces.

Central Air Equipment Costs

The cost for just the air conditioning unit in a split system or a package unit can run between $1,000 and $2,000 or more, primarily depending on its SEER rating and whether it’s a one-stage or a two-stage system. The former type has only one setting that it runs on when it’s on. The latter can actually run at a lower setting for days when it’s not as warm outside but you still want the house cooler.

A furnace unit can add another $1,000 – $2,000 to the equipment price.

On top of all those costs, one more factor to take into consideration for a central system is whether the ducting needs to be replaced. For very old homes that have never had the ducting replaced, this probably should be added in. This is because ducting can become corroded and full of dirt and other particles which greatly reduces its efficiency.

If the ducting needs to be replaced, it could add on several thousand dollars to the system replacement. This is because not only does the ducting need to be replaced, but the walls need to be torn out and then replaced when the job is completed. All costs for the replacement must be taken into account when you’re deciding to replace your unit.

Labor Costs For Unit Installation

Labor costs are variable and can be anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on the complexity of the work and how long it will take to complete. Your HVAC company should provide you with a complete breakdown of the costs to install your new unit with their air conditioning unit replacement quote or estimate of work.

Cost for Ductless Mini-Split

The ductless mini-split is a popular option for smaller one-floor homes and for cooling smaller areas in a larger house. Mini-splits are kind of like a two-piece central air conditioning system but in this case the interior unit is essentially a window unit. These are more efficient and cool a larger area than a window unit but also cost more than a window unit. The mini-split will typically cost anywhere from $600 to several thousand dollars.

How Long Can an Air Conditioning and Furnace Last?

These units have a lifespan of around 15-20 years. Some fail sooner and some last longer. The one thing you should ask yourself and your HVAC technician is how much more efficient will the new unit be over your old unit. For example, if you’re paying over $300 a month for your electric bill in the summer, is it possible to bring that cost down to $150 a month or even less? The other question you want to ask is what the approximate difference the electrical cost could be with a more efficient and higher SEER unit. It’s very amazing how much more efficient new units can be, even versus units made only 5 years ago!

Can I Do It Yourself Air Conditioner Replacement?

As much as we humans would like to do things ourselves to save money and to learn how to do them, in this case you really need to leave the replacement to the professionals. An air conditioner replacement very labor intensive. It also requires skill, training, and experience. Lastly, it’s also against the law for an unlicensed person to handle the refrigerant because it classified as an EPA hazard to our environment. Please let your HVAC professional handle your AC unit replacement and any repairs.

Central Air Conditioner Replacement Tax Rebates

You may be entitled to a tax rebate if you’re replacing an older unit with a new and more efficient unit, depending on which unit you replace it with. Ask your HVAC technician regarding any tax rebates that you may be entitled to in regards to the unit you’re considering purchasing.

Get Your AC Unit Replaced

If your AC unit is in need of repair in the Phoenix Metro area, give Cooling Kings Mechanical a call at 602-753-7333 – we’ll give you a free estimate and help you with your air conditioning repair, replacement, or installation needs.

*DISCLAIMER: Air Conditioning Repair and Replacement Prices mentioned in this post are only approximations. An online article cannot be expected to quote an accurate price for service. A technician must be on-site to view all job requirements first-hand prior to quoting an exact price for any work to be completed.