An air conditioner (AC) compressor circulates and compresses refrigerant throughout your air conditioner — but when it breaks down, the airflow in your home will be anything but cool. The compressor is an expensive part of your air conditioner, so it’s up to you to determine if it’s worthwhile to replace it.
To ensure you have the most accurate cost information, we use actual construction material databases, talk to HVAC installation experts, and gather quotes from the best HVAC installers. We’ve done the work, so you don’t have to — so let’s learn just how much an AC compressor costs.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace an AC Compressor?
It costs between $150 and $3,000 to replace an AC compressor, with an average total cost of $1,600. This cost includes the compressor and the labor required to install it. Several factors impact the total cost, including the type of air conditioner, the size of your home, warranty coverage, and more.
|Low AC Compressor Cost||Average AC Compressor Cost||High AC Compressor Cost|
How Do Costs Differ By AC Compressor Type?
The type of compressor you have is just one factor that can affect the cost of replacing it. There are three types of compressors: single-stage, two-stage, and variable-speed.
|Type of Compressor||Low Cost||High Cost|
Single-stage compressors are the least expensive type, and therefore the cheapest to replace. These compressors have only one speed — so even though they’re more affordable to replace, they are less efficient overall. You can expect to pay between $250 and $1,200 to replace a single-stage compressor.
Two-stage compressors are more efficient than single-stage compressors because they can run at 60% to 70% capacity after the air in your home reaches the set temperature. The average cost to replace a two-stage compressor is $1,000 to $2,000.
Variable-speed compressors are the most efficient type of compressor because they can operate between 0% and 100% capacity — but they’re also the most expensive to replace. You should expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,000 to replace such a compressor.
How Does Compressor Size Affect AC Compressor Pricing?
Air conditioner size is an important factor to consider. Generally, the larger your home, the larger your AC compressor needs to be. Typically, it takes about 20 British thermal units (BTUs) to cool 1 square foot. So if you have 2,000 square feet of living space, you’d need about 40,000 BTUs to effectively cool that area.
For instance, a 2-ton AC compressor that will cool a 1,000-square-foot home might cost you between $700 and $1,500 to replace, but you could spend between $1,700 and $3,000 for a 5-ton compressor that can cool your 3,000-square-foot home.
|AC Compressor Size||BTU||Average Cost|
|1.5-ton||18,000||$600 – $1,400|
|2-ton||24,000||$700 – $1,500|
|2.5-ton||30,000||$1,000 – $1,700|
|3-ton||36,000||$1,200 – $2,000|
|3.5-ton||42,000||$1,300 – $2,200|
|4-ton||48,000||$1,500 – $2,500|
|5-ton||60,000||$1,700 – $3,000|
Which Factors Impact AC Compressor Cost Estimates?
A new AC compressor costs between $150 and $3,000. Most of this wide span depends on AC compressor size, but several other factors can increase your total cost if you aren’t careful. As you gather quotes, pay attention to these factors, and you can save the most money on your new compressor:
- Air conditioner type
- Compressor brand
- Additional costs
Air Conditioner Type
If you can’t decide whether to replace your air conditioner or just your compressor, consider what type of air conditioner you have. On average, home AC compressors for central air conditioners and heat pumps are the most expensive, while mini-split and window air conditioners are the least expensive.
|Type of Air Conditioner||Low Cost||High Cost|
- Window AC: Compressors for window AC units cost between $150 and $700. This cost is almost equal to the price of a completely new window air conditioner. We recommend you buy a new AC unit if your window AC compressor fails.
- Mini-split: To replace a mini-split air conditioner compressor, the labor and parts cost between $600 and $2,200. If you have several zones or larger units, replacing your mini-split instead of only the compressor may be more worth it.
- Central air: Central AC is the most common type of air conditioner, but that doesn’t make the compressor price any less expensive. Central air system installation costs between $3,080 and $5,965. You can expect to pay between $800 and $2,700 to replace your central AC compressor or about 25% to 45% of the total system cost. Replacing your compressor may be a reasonable stopgap.
- Heat pump: For a heat pump, AC compressor replacement costs between $800 and $3,000 on average. Because these air conditioning systems are the most expensive to install, it is worth it to replace the compressor.
Want to know how much money you could save with the right window air conditioner? Check out this podcast segment:
You may not be able to control compressor size, but you have a say in your chosen brand. Air conditioner brands such as Amana and Coleman offer AC compressors that cost up to $1,200 and $1,500, respectively, but other brands — like American Standard and Carrier — charge up to $2,200.
The difference in cost between different brands is why we always recommend getting at least two quotes from two different HVAC companies. Each HVAC contractor works with its different brands; one contractor may carry a cheaper brand than others.
|AC Brand||Average Cost|
|Amana||$400 – $1,200|
|American Standard||$500 – $2,200|
|Carrier||$500 – $2,200|
|Coleman||$600 – $1,500|
|Copeland||$600 – $2,300|
|Goodman||$350 – $1,500|
|Lennox||$600 – $2,600|
|Rheem/Ruud||$600 – $1,600|
|Trane||$500 – $2,500|
|York||$600 – $1,800|
When you purchase a new air conditioner, it comes with a limited parts or manufacturer warranty that often covers the cost of a replacement AC compressor. Most warranties are five or 10 years, so if your compressor breaks during this period, you should contact the manufacturer because it can save you hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars.
The one downside is that these warranties don’t usually cover labor costs unless the compressor broke due to manufacturer defects, so you will still need to pay $300 to $600 to have the new compressor installed.
If you don’t have a manufacturer warranty, buying one of the top home warranties for your air conditioner is another way to save money. Although you’ll pay a monthly premium between $45 and $65, most home warranty companies will cover the labor and parts to fix the compressor or even the cost of replacing your condensing unit. A home warranty is the way to go if you want to save money.
The cost of your new air conditioner compressor is often more than just the compressor itself. Frequently, you’ll pay more for labor and other small tasks during this replacement. Some of the most common additional costs include:
- Labor costs: Most AC compressor replacements take about four hours to complete, but you may pay more labor costs if you have a complex repair job. Labor costs vary from state to state and even from one ZIP code to the next, so estimating your exact labor cost is difficult. Typically, you can expect to pay a minimum of $75 to $150 per hour or $150 to $600 total.
- Refrigerant: HVAC technicians often refill your refrigerant or Freon when they repair your AC system. You can expect to pay between $100 and $350 for a refrigerant refill.
- Repairs: If you can repair your compressor instead of a full replacement, you can save hundreds of dollars. AC compressor repair costs between $75 to $300 in labor.
- Thermostat: A new programmable thermostat can help you save money on energy costs and make your home more energy efficient. For a new thermostat, you’ll pay between $100 and $300 on average.
Professional vs. DIY AC Compressor Installation
Air conditioners are complex systems, so you can’t just remove the old compressor and bolt in a new one. Not only do you have to flush out the old system, but you also have to know how to handle refrigerant, use the right type of oil, prevent debris from blocking the compressor, and much more. Installing an AC compressor is very complex — and, therefore, best left to the professionals.
Doing AC Compressor Installation Yourself
AC compressor installation isn’t a good DIY project, so you shouldn’t try to install this part yourself. If you do, you may not install it properly, which can further harm your entire air conditioning system.
There are several benefits of working with an HVAC pro, especially if you want to rely on warranty coverage should something go awry:
- You’ll get a workmanship warranty to cover any problems with the installation.
- You’ll have manufacturer warranty coverage because your compressor is installed correctly.
- You’ll know that your compressor needs to be replaced and not repaired.
- You’ll have an HVAC company that can come to your home and knows your system.
- You can get regular HVAC tune-ups and maintenance done.
Hiring a Professional for AC Compressor Installation
Because AC compressor replacement isn’t the easiest DIY project, you should hire a professional HVAC installer to do the job. Follow these simple steps to connect with the best HVAC contractors in your area and have your AC compressor installed quickly:
- Find local experts near you: Use the button below to be connected to the best HVAC technicians in your area.
- Get a quote from a few options: Because labor costs and brand costs vary so wildly, you should always gather at least two different quotes to compare the cost and types of compressors.
- Consult them about their recommendations: Ask the HVAC technician if they believe you should replace your air conditioner, replace the compressor, or if HVAC repairs would do the job.
- Choose a quote: With your budget and needs in mind, choose the estimate that makes the most sense for your home.
- Install your AC compressor: Work with your HVAC technician to schedule the best time to replace your compressor so that your air conditioning unit is up and running as soon as possible.
Our Recommendation on AC Compressor Replacement Costs
The AC compressor is the heart of your air conditioner and one of the most important parts responsible for cooling your home. When this important part breaks down, you want it fixed immediately.
An AC compressor costs between $150 and $3,000 to replace. This total cost depends on the type of compressor, brand, size of your home, and labor costs. You should thoughtfully consider whether it’s worth replacing the AC compressor — in most cases, it’s only worth getting a new AC compressor if it’s still under warranty. If you have to pay for a new compressor out of your pocket, you might as well buy a new air conditioner — because it won’t be much more expensive.
FAQs About AC Compressor Cost
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about AC compressor costs.
Why is it so expensive to replace an AC compressor?
An AC compressor is expensive to replace because it takes at least four hours to complete, and replacement parts are among the most expensive parts of the air conditioner. In many cases, replacing the entire air conditioning system is more cost-effective than just the compressor.
How long does an AC compressor last?
Most AC compressors have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years. With proper annual maintenance for your air conditioning system, your AC compressor should run well for its entire life.
How do I know if my AC compressor is bad?
If your AC unit runs but doesn’t cool your home, emits warm air, makes strange noises, or leaks, your air conditioning compressor may need to be replaced. These are the most common signs of a bad AC compressor, and you should call your local HVAC contractor to check it out.
Is it all right to just replace the AC compressor?
Replacing the compressor and not the entire air conditioning system is perfectly OK. Replacing the AC compressor is similar to replacing the engine in a car — so you can do it, but it can be expensive if the compressor is no longer under warranty.
What are the benefits of replacing an AC compressor?
If a manufacturer’s warranty still covers your air conditioner and components — or if you have a home warranty plan covering your AC compressor — then it’s worth replacing only the AC compressor because you won’t have to buy an entirely new outdoor unit. This new AC compressor will save money and cool your home more efficiently.