Air conditioners are more than just cooling systems for your home. These essential systems lower the humidity in your home, improve air quality, and even keep allergies at bay. AC installation costs include the air conditioner, labor, and removal of the old unit. AC costs can also include new ductwork, updated thermostats, evaporators and more.
To get you the most transparent cost information from top-rated HVAC companies, we use RS Means, a reputable database used by contractors nationwide, to get real estimates.
- Installing a new air conditioner is usually going to cost around $5,200 on average
- The specific type of AC unit you choose will significantly impact the overall cost
- We recommend hiring a pro to help with AC installation versus doing it yourself
How Much Does AC Installation Cost?
AC installation costs include the unit, labor, and removal of your old system. On average, it costs between $470 and $7,510 to replace your existing air conditioner, but many AC units are closer to $5,200.
|Low AC Installation Cost||Average AC Installation Cost||High AC Installation Cost|
How Do AC Installation Costs Differ by Unit Type?
On average, air conditioner replacement costs between $470 and $7,510. However, the cost depends on what type of system you install. Window air conditioners are usually the least expensive; you’ll have to pay more for central or self-contained packaged air conditioners.
|AC Unit Type||Low Cost||High Cost|
|Window air conditioner||$470||$3,225|
|Ductless mini-split air conditioner||$2,285||$5,825|
|Central air conditioner||$3,080||$5,965|
|Self-contained packaged air conditioner||$6,400||$7,510|
Central Air Conditioner
The most common type of air conditioner installed in residential homes, central air conditioning typically costs between $3,080 to $5,965 per unit. However, depending on the air conditioner brand, you can spend over $10,000 on an AC unit and installation.
Central AC units work by cooling the air in an outdoor unit and then distributing the cooled air throughout your home. AC condensers can last up to 20 years with regular HVAC maintenance, but the average lifespan of an air conditioner is typically between 15 and 20 years.
Ductless Mini Split
If you don’t have the ductwork for a central air conditioner, ductless mini-split systems are probably the best choice. These ductless air conditioning systems are installed in the wall and have an air handler that connects directly to an outdoor air compressor to cool the air in your home. These systems are most effective at cooling smaller spaces and cost, on average, between $2,285 and $5,825.
Self-Contained Packaged Air Conditioner
Most often installed in condominiums, mobile homes, and apartments, self-contained packaged air conditioners are similar to ductless systems in that they are mounted on the wall and cool your space by drawing in and cooling outside air. Also known as wall air conditioners, these cooling systems cost between $6,400 and $7,510.
Window AC Unit
Window air conditioners are a cost-effective option for homeowners on a budget. If you do not already have ducts and vents installed in your home but still want a quality air conditioning system, a window air conditioner system is a good choice. These systems can cost anywhere from $470 to $3,225, depending on how many you need and how much square footage you have to cool.
In addition, window air conditioners are also suitable for do-it-yourselfers, so you do not have to pay high installation costs if you opt to install these yourself. Want to learn more about how a small window air conditioner can save money? Listen to the podcast below.
How Much Does AC Installation Cost Differ by Unit Size?
The size of your air conditioner is directly related to its output in British Thermal Units (BTU), which is how much air it can push through your vents each hour. The larger your air conditioner, the more expensive it will be. For example, a 1.5-ton AC unit costs $1,900 for the unit alone, while a large 5-ton air conditioning unit costs up to $4,375.
|Air Conditioner Size||Home Square Footage||Average Unit Cost|
|1.5 tons||800 square feet||$1,900|
|2 tons||1,000 square feet||$2,030|
|2.5 tons||1,200 square feet||$2,245|
|3 tons||1,500 square feet||$2,640|
|3.5 tons||1,800 square feet||$3,010|
|4 tons||2,000 square feet||$3,425|
|5 tons||2,500 square feet||$4,375|
What Factors Can Impact the Cost of AC Installation?
Depending on the AC system you install, your project can cost less than $500 or well over $10,000. Several cost factors determine your up-front cost. The ones that have the most impact on the cost of your air conditioning system are:
- Energy efficiency rating
The Brand You Choose
Air conditioner brands play a major role in its cost. Nearly all brands offer high-efficiency units and lower-efficiency units, but the cost difference between top brands can be thousands of dollars.
Some air conditioner brands, such as Frigidaire and Rheem, offer units for $2,500 to $3,500. Others, such as Trane and Carrier, have air conditioning models that cost $15,000 to $21,900 or more. Check out the table below to see how the top air conditioner brands compare.
Top Air Conditioner Brand Comparison
|Brands||SEER Rating||Sound Rating||Price Range|
|American Standard||13–21.5||57–75 dB||$3,500–$6,100|
Ductwork and Thermostats Needed
If you own an older home and need to install a new air conditioner, you may need to replace the ductwork. On average, you can expect to pay between $500 and $5,000 to repair old ductwork or install new ductwork.
If your existing ductwork is suitable for your new system, then you will likely only need to pay for your new AC unit and labor and can avoid this extra cost.
You may also install a new thermostat when you update your existing air conditioning and heating systems. New thermostats make it easier to control your home’s heating and cooling, connect to WiFi, and even save you money on utility bills. New thermostats typically cost between $100 and $300.
Energy Efficiency Rating of the Unit
The energy efficiency rating you should look for is the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). This number indicates how much energy your air conditioner uses in a year. A higher value (SEER) indicates a more efficient system that saves you money on energy bills; it also means your system will be more expensive. Standard efficiency air conditioners can cost between $3,000 and $5,000, but the most efficient systems can easily cost $7,000 to over $10,000.
As of January 2023, SEER’s minimum allowable rating is 14 for northern regions and 15 for southern states. However, most systems are between 15 and 18 SEER, with the most efficient air conditioners having 20 SEER or above and qualifying for ENERGY STAR certification.
How Do Air Conditioners Work?
The most basic function of an air conditioner is to remove heat from inside your home. When the temperature inside your home exceeds the temperature, the thermostat sets, the compressor turns on, and refrigerant moves through your system.
The blower brings the warm air into the evaporator, which removes the heat and stores it in the refrigerant. The now-hot refrigerant is sent to the condenser, cooled, and then back through the system to your home.
A typical air conditioning system includes the following components:
- Air conditioning filters that remove dust and particles from the air
- Ductwork that allows for optimal air circulation
- An expansion valve to control how much refrigerant goes into the evaporator coil
- An indoor unit that includes the evaporator and blower to push air around the home
- An outdoor unit that includes the compressor, condenser coil, and blower
- A thermostat to control the system
- Tubing for the refrigerant to flow between the outdoor and indoor units
Professional vs. DIY AC Installation
We recommend hiring a professional HVAC contractor to install your new air conditioner. These professionals are trained to install your AC system correctly and will ensure it functions efficiently.
By hiring a professional HVAC installer to hook up and install your central air system, you will also receive the following benefits:
- Workmanship and labor warranties that cover any issues with the installation
- An air conditioning system designed for the size of your home
- A better chance of qualifying for manufacturer’s warranty if parts break
- Tax credits, local rebates, and other discounts
- A relationship with a local HVAC company for HVAC preventative maintenance and repairs
Doing AC Installation by Yourself
We do not recommend that you install most air conditioning systems yourself. Not only will you miss out on critical workmanship warranties, but you may not install the system correctly, which can directly impact your efficiency.
If you are installing window units, however, you can easily install these yourself. We recommend you have at least one other person help you install your window units, as it is much easier to install it when you have someone there to hold it as you secure it. Plus, the last thing you want is for your new air conditioner to fall out a window and break or injure someone.
To install a window air conditioner, you should follow these steps:
- Remove items from the window sill.
- Unbox and assemble the window AC unit.
- Locate all hardware and set them aside.
- Read all directions ahead of time.
- Open the window completely.
- Take out the window screen.
- Put the AC unit in the window opening.
- Extend the side panels.
- Secure the side panels to the window frame.
- Screw the AC unit in place.
- Plug the AC unit into the nearest outlet and turn it on.
Hiring a Professional for AC Installation
When you contact a local HVAC company about your air conditioning project, you can expect the following process:
- Find local experts near you. Use the button below to connect with your area’s best HVAC companies. They will contact you directly via phone or email soon after.
- Consult them about their recommendations. Ask the HVAC technicians which type of system they recommend for your home. This will give you an idea of the system size you need and provide several home cooling options.
- Get a quote from a few options. Always get at least two quotes before deciding. Brands, price ranges, and labor costs can vary across providers.
- Accept a quote. Once you have gathered a few free estimates, choose the air conditioning system that best fits your needs and budget.
- Get your air conditioning installed. Your HVAC company will set a time to remove your old air conditioning unit and install your new one. You can expect this process to take between four and eight hours for a typical AC replacement.
Final Thoughts About AC Installation Cost
On average, AC installation costs between $470 and $7,510. The average cost of an air conditioning installation project is around $5,200. Your total cost will depend on which type of air conditioner you install, the brand you choose, and the efficiency of your system. Although we recommend that you work with a professional installer for your air conditioning system, you can install window air conditioners yourself.
FAQs About AC Installation Cost
How much does an air conditioner cost for a 2000 sq. ft. home?
To cool a 2,000-square-foot home, you will need an AC unit that is 4 tons, which is about $3,425. This system size may vary depending on where you live, so ask your local HVAC provider which size they recommend for your home.
What are the advantages of an AC system?
AC systems have several advantages and benefits, mainly:
- Cool air in hot weather
- Improved air quality
- Improved asthma and allergies
- Lower humidity
- Protection for your furniture and home
Can I install AC by myself?
We do not recommend installing your air conditioner yourself. Instead, you should contact a professional HVAC company specializing in these installation types. When you work with a reputable HVAC provider, you know that your system is installed correctly, have access to warranty coverage, and develop a relationship with a company that can quickly come to your home should your AC need repairs.
How much does it cost to repair an AC unit?
On average, AC repairs can cost between $150 and $650. This cost can be higher if your system is larger, you haven’t maintained your AC unit, or you need to replace your air conditioner.