How Much Does It Cost to Install a 3-Ton AC?

National Average Range:
$4,000 - $7,000
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Reviewed by Nieves Caballero. Written by

Central air conditioning is one of the most effective ways to cool down your home during the hottest months of the year. A central air conditioner cools air from the outdoors through compression and refrigeration before sending it through your home to the various rooms using ducts. Air conditioners come in several types, efficiencies and sizes. A 3-ton air conditioner is one of the most common sizes for residential homes, particularly in moderate climates.

The national average cost to install a 3-ton air conditioner is $4,000 to $7,000. Most homeowners pay around $5,500 for a 3-ton, split system unit with a SEER rating of 16, fully installed with modifications to existing ducts. The low cost for this project is $2,500 for a 3-ton split system with a SEER rating of 13, fully installed with no modifications to existing ducts. The high cost for this project is $9,500 for a 3-ton packaged AC unit with a SEER rating of 21, installed with significant upgrades to the ducts and surrounding area.

3-Ton HVAC Unit Cost Calculator

3-ton AC units are frequently installed in homes of around 2,000 sq.ft. They can be split systems, packaged systems, or packaged with a heat source. Split systems are the least costly, and packaged AC and furnace units are the most costly. Like all AC units, they can have a range of efficiencies or SEER ratings. The higher the rating, the more efficient the unit and the lower your monthly bills, but the higher your total upfront costs. These factors contribute to a range of different costs for your unit and its installation. Below are the average costs for installing a 3-ton AC unit of varying qualities.

3-Ton AC Unit Costs
Zip Code Tons
Basic Standard Best Quality
3-Ton AC Unit Cost (Material Only) $1,500 - $3,000 $2,000 - $5,000 $3,000 - $7,000
3-Ton AC Unit Installation Cost (Labor Only) $1,000 - $1,500 $1,250 - $2,000 $1,500 - $2,500
Total Costs $2,500 - $4,500 $3,250 - $7,000 $4,500 - $9,500
3-Ton AC Unit Cost per Ton $833 - $1,500 $1,083 - $2,333 $1,500 - $3,167

Most homes installing central air will already have ducts and may already use a furnace or have an air conditioning unit they are replacing. In this case, a split system is generally the most common setup, with one part of the unit mounted outside and one part inside. However, packaged units are available for space-saving, as are furnace and AC units, both of which will have higher costs. The biggest cost factor, though, is generally the efficiency, which starts at 13 to 14 SEER for standard and goes as high as 21 for homes located in hot climates. The higher the SEER, the higher the upfront cost of the unit, but the lower your monthly costs. High SEER is generally only needed in very hot climates. Most homeowners find a mid-range efficiency the best fit.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Lifespan. Most central air conditioners last between 15 and 20 years, but this varies by size, climate, and use.
  • Maintenance. Typical maintenance for central air conditioning involves changing the filter seasonally and having it inspected and serviced yearly.
  • Top manufacturers. There are many quality brands and manufacturers for 3-ton AC units. These include Trane, Carrier, Lennox, Bryant, Goodman, and Rheem.
  • Mounting 1. Most AC units have the condenser mounted outdoors, while the air handler 2 is located indoors. You need a concrete pad 3 outdoors for mounting the condenser.
  • Permit. In some areas, permits may be required to install a new AC unit. Check with your local municipality for more information.
  • Rebates. Some manufacturers offer rebates to help lower your costs. In some areas, you may also get rebates for installing a higher-efficiency unit. Speak to your installer about what rebates may be available in your area.


  • How much should a 3-ton AC unit cost?

3-ton AC units have a wide range of costs depending on the model, type, and efficiency. Expect to pay between $4,000 and $7,000 installed.

  • How many square feet does a 3-ton AC unit cover?

A 3-ton AC unit covers roughly 2,000 sq.ft. However, things like sun exposure, insulation, and climate influence the total size of the unit you need.

  • How much is a 3-ton Carrier AC unit installed?

The cost of a 3-ton Carrier AC unit averages $5,500 to $7,000, depending on the efficiency and model.

  • How long should a 3-ton AC unit last?

As long as it is sized properly for your home and maintained well, you can expect a 3-ton unit to last 15 to 20 years.

Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Mounting: A support on which something is attached or hung
2 Air handler: A unit that distributes heated or cooled air to the different areas of the home. Air handlers do not heat or cool the air, but instead pull the heat out of the air and direct it outside in the summer and inside in the winter. Air handlers are often part of a heat pump system
glossary term picture Concrete Pad 3 Concrete pad: A flat area of concrete that can be used for a variety of purposes, such as a patio or a driveway

Cost to install a 3-ton air conditioner unit varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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