Central air installation can be a considerable investment. On average, you can expect to pay from $5,000 to up to $9,000 for installing the central AC unit.1 The total cost depends on the square footage of your home, system efficiency, and what your HVAC contractor charges. We’ll now look at how these impact your expenses and other costs that may be involved.
Air Conditioner Size and Capacity
What is referred to as size describes the unit’s capacity. On average, 1 ton of cooling capacity (or 12,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs)) can accommodate 400 square feet. Let’s say you have a 2,000-square-foot home. Dividing the square footage by 400 shows you’d need a 5-ton/60,000 BTU AC system, which costs about $3,700 just for the equipment.1
For a smaller, 2-ton system, you’d pay around $2,620, while a 3-ton unit is around $3,550.1
Air Conditioner Efficiency
A higher efficiency rating can save you money over time, with reduced energy usage, but the upfront cost of an AC unit goes up. Air conditioner efficiency is measured using its seasonal energy efficiency ratio, or SEER. A 14 SEER unit may range from $3,000 to $6,000, but a 16 SEER unit may cost $3,700 to $9,000.2 Higher SEER ACs also often have advanced components like variable-speed blowers and two-stage compressors.
Air Conditioner Brand
The cost of central air installation can vary a bit by brand. Rheem, York, and Goodman air conditioners tend to be lower priced than other well-known brands like Trane, Carrier, or American Standard. With air conditioners, you usually get what you pay for. Higher-priced units are typically better quality.
Home Evaluation Prior to Installation
A pre-installation evaluation is an important step, as every home has unique cooling and heating requirements. During the evaluation, an HVAC professional will perform a Manual J load calculation. This measures how your home retains heat, which ultimately determines the size of the unit you need. The evaluation averages about $420, but can range from $250 to up to $2,000 for a large home or more advanced project.
Extra Central Air Installation Costs
Numerous factors can increase the cost of central AC installation. If your city or county requires a permit or inspection, you’ll have to pay for that. Other expenses may include a new furnace if needed, or whether your existing ductwork must be replaced, repaired, or updated. For older homes, lead paint or asbestos can interfere with a project and require testing, removal, and material replacement before any AC work can proceed.
Also consider the costs of removing your existing system, installing an AC in a new location, or modifying surfaces or structural elements. With central air installation, plumbing and electrical work is always a possibility.
Individual HVAC Contractors’ Pricing
A contractor may give you a high bid depending on the type of unit. Knowing which systems best suit your home helps compare products and prices. The contractor may charge for equipment and overhead and include an additional guarantee (on top of the warranty) in the quoted installation price.
Also, beware of contractors that bid too low. The bid is often lower with a contractor that’s not properly insured (which can cost you if there’s property damage or a laborer is injured). They may not be familiar with local policies and regulations. It’s also possible they’re so eager for a job they bid low. There’s likely a reason they’re not getting work.
Contact IRBIS for a Central Air Installation Estimate
Our specialists are extremely thorough with consultations, inspections, and designing custom solutions. We’ll handle all planning and permitting. You can expect outstanding workmanship and project management, while we offer a 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee that’s good for 12 months. To help manage the cost of central AC installation, we offer financing with no payments required for up to 18 months. Call 669-266-5464 to learn more and request AC installation service.