If you’re considering a new air conditioning unit, you’re no doubt wondering about the cost. As with many home-improvement projects, there’s no set answer to the question, “How much will an AC installation cost me?” That’s because there are so many factors that go into the final cost of a new AC unit. Here are the most common factors, and the ones you’ll want to consider when making your final investment.
The Cost of the Air Conditioning Unit Itself
The actual AC unit you select will, of course, be a major factor in the overall cost of a new system. A large capacity unit will cost significantly more than a small capacity one. With a “ton” of air conditioning capacity being 12,000 BTU, common sizes in small- to medium-size homes in the upper Midwest range from 1½-3 ton units. Larger homes may require a 3½-5 ton unit. Even larger homes, or homes with unique configurations, may even need multiple units.
The efficiency level of the unit you select will also affect the price. The efficiency rating for air conditioners is the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER. A 13 SEER unit is considered a basic, standard efficiency unit. High efficiency units range from 16, 19 or even 21 SEER values. The higher SEER units are significantly more expensive than standard units, but they also consume less power, costing less to operate.
Other features that you’ll want to take into consideration are sound levels (no one likes a noisy AC), multistage or modulating units to maximize humidity removal and improve overall comfort, and finally, ease of maintenance and service.
Installation costs will vary as well. Well-established companies with well-trained installers and techs will generally charge more than, say, a handyman working out of his van. But this is one case where hiring the most experienced, best-qualified installers will be well worth the investment. Installation involves both high and low voltage wiring, tubing with high pressure refrigerant that must be installed by an EPA certified technician, sheet metal connections, and furnace settings for proper airflow. All these factors make it essential that your new air conditioner be installed by an HVAC professional. (Use this helpful dealer locator to find someone near you!)
Your Existing HVAC System Configuration
The cost of installation will also be determined by your specific situation. Among these factors are:
- The distance between your outdoor and indoor units and if there are finished rooms in between
- The electrical power that is available and if it is adequate for the install
- Whether or not you’ll be able to reuse existing tubing
- Whether or not you’ll need a new thermostat
- Whether or not your furnace supports the required airflow
- Any necessary ductwork or electrical upgrades or replacements
- Any municipal requirements or permits
The Bottom Line
As you can see, a lot goes into the final cost of a new AC and there’s no such thing as “one size fits all.” That said, in most instances, you can expect an installed range of about $3,000 for a small capacity unit up to about $9,000 for a high end, variable speed unit.