Finding out How Much Air Conditioners Cost

Published on: February 25, 2013

Have you ever wondered why you never see advertisements for flat rates on central air systems? This is due to the fact that each AC installation is different and each living space has various factors at play that determine the final cost of the installation. In addition, when you are shopping for a new central air system, you will have several features from which to choose. New central AC units are available with a variety of innovations. Each of these features adds to the final price of the system. Finally, brand name equipment will likely be a bit more costly than off-brand or lesser known equipment. You can start the process of shopping around for a new system by requesting an estimate from your local HVAC company. Finding out how much air conditioners cost requires the input of a qualified professional.


One of the main factors that will determine the cost of an AC installation is the size of the equipment. Generally, residential AC equipment ranges from 2 ton units for smaller homes, to about 5 ton units for very large homes. An HVAC professional will need to perform a load calculation for your specific space. The load calculation takes several factors into consideration, including number of people who live in the home, location of windows, square footage of the home and much more. The HVAC professional must see the space and discuss some factors with you in order to provide a valid estimate. You never want to purchase an AC system that is too big or too small for your living space. In order to avoid costly AC repair, be sure to enlist the services of a qualified HVAC professional to assess the size of AC equipment you will need.

Energy Efficiency

When you select a new AC unit, you will need to understand energy efficiency evaluations. High efficiency units require a higher initial investment, but will cost less to operate over the years. You should keep in mind that the AC unit you purchase today will probably be the equipment that you will use for the next 10 to 20 years. Energy rates are expected to rise, maybe dramatically, in the future. Keep in mind the operating costs of the unit, as well as the initial investment that will be needed.

You discern the energy efficiency of AC units by paying attention to the SEER rating of the equipment. The SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is a number that is assigned to all AC units. This number provides a standard of energy efficiency that may be compared across brands and models. The lowest SEER sold in the U.S. is 13. By law, manufactures are required to produce equipment with a SEER of at least 13. Units with a SEER of between 14 and 16 are mid-level efficiency rated. All units with a SEER of 18 and over are considered high efficiency air conditioning systems. Units with a SEER of 13 will be the least expensive and those with a SEER of 18 and up will be more costly than mid-level or standard units.


You can get a wide variety of special features available with the AC systems of today. Features, such as advanced controls that may be operated by cell phone, reduced noise units and units that offer even more energy efficiency through variable speed operation are currently available on newer AC systems. Each feature will add cost to the total installation of your system. However, many of these features are designed to reduce energy costs. You will save money in operating costs over the years.

Installation Costs

Air conditioning contractors are free to charge any rate they choose to install an HVAC system. However, most local AC specialists will be very competitive with one another. When you request an estimate for the AC installation, the cost of labor will be included in the estimate.

Additional Installation Factors

If you are installing central air for the first time, you will need a system of ductwork installed along with the HVAC equipment. The installation of ductwork can add a few thousand dollars to the price of your new system. If you are replacing an older HVAC unit, you may need to have your ductwork repaired or at least cleaned. If you have made improvements to the home, such as adding a room or converting the garage, you may consider using a ductless air conditioning system.

If carpentry or construction work is needed to build an enclosure or to provide a level area for the HVAC equipment, this work will add to the final cost of your AC system, as well.

Air Conditioning System Price Ranges

Finding out how much air conditioners cost for your specific application will require an HVAC professional to evaluate your needs and provide you with an estimate for equipment and installation charges.

Your local HVAC professional will walk you through the process of calculating the size of your living space, selecting the equipment that would best fit your needs, and installing the equipment for you. Most HVAC contractors offer free estimates for system installations.

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