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

National Average Range:
$5,000 - $9,150
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Reviewed by Cristina Miguelez. Written by

Central air conditioning is one of the most effective ways to cool your home during the hottest months. A central air conditioner cools air from the outdoors through compression and refrigeration before sending it through your home 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.

On January 1, 2023, new laws dictate efficiency requirements on all air conditioners and heat pumps in the U.S. This is coupled with a new testing method for air conditioner efficiency called SEER2. This means efficiency minimums are raised, with differences for northern and southern climates, and all air conditioning systems are given new rating systems. Because many air conditioners can no longer be sold and installed after January 1, 2023, most HVAC systems - and air conditioners and heat pumps - are rising approximately 15% to 20% in cost.

The national average cost to install a 3-ton air conditioner is $5,000 to $9,150, with most homeowners paying $7,075 for a 3-ton split-system unit with a 16 SEER/15.3 SEER2, fully installed with modifications to existing ducts. This project’s low cost is $3,750 for a 3-ton split system with a 14 SEER/13.4 SEER2, fully installed in an easy-to-access area. The high cost is $11,400 for a 3-ton packaged AC unit with 21 SEER/20 SEER2 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 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 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 Cost (Material Only) $2,750 - $3,300 $3,800 - $7,150 $4,000 - $8,400
3-Ton AC Installation Cost (Labor Only) $1,000 - $1,500 $1,200 - $2,000 $1,500 - $3,000
Total Costs $3,750 - $4,800 $5,000 - $9,150 $5,500 - $11,400
3-Ton AC Unit Cost per Ton $1,250 - $1,600 $1,667 - $3,050 $1,833 - $3,800

Most homes installing central air 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 with higher costs. The biggest cost factor is generally efficiency, starting at 14 to 15 SEER/13.4 to 14.3 SEER2 for standard, depending on the region, and reaching 21 for homes in hot climates. The higher the SEER, the higher the upfront cost, 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.

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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 of 3-ton AC units. These include Trane, Carrier, Lennox, Bryant, Goodman, and Rheem.
  • Mounting. Most AC units have the condenser mounted outdoors, while the air handler is located indoors. You need a concrete pad 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 lower costs. In some areas, you may also get rebates for installing a higher-efficiency unit. Speak to your installer about which rebates may be available in your area.


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

3-ton AC units have a range of costs depending on the model, type, and efficiency. Expect to pay between $5,000 and $9,150 installed.

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

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

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

The cost of a 3-ton Carrier AC unit averages $4,000 to $7,700 for the unit, depending on the efficiency and model. Installed, this has an average cost of $5,200 to $9,700.

  • 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. Many factors contribute to its longevity, including regular maintenance and proper installation.

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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The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources