Air Conditioning Cost

In this guide

Window
Central
Ductless
BTUs
Additional Considerations

How much does it cost to install air conditioning?

Installing an air conditioning (A/C) unit can increase the comfort level and value of a home by exhausting heat to the exterior and delivering cool air to the interior zone(s). Average air conditioning costs vary by type of unit, its cooling capacity, and the price for professional installation.

Window

A window A/C unit has the lowest price tag with a range of $345-$1190. Units require no ductwork and can be installed with a DIY installation kit which the manufacturer typically includes with the product.
ProsCons

Low Price

Easy Installation (Possible DIY)

Blocks Window(s)

Unattractive

Central

In a central A/C system cool air is delivered throughout interior zones from an exterior condenser/compressor through a series of ducts, usually concealed within walls and ceilings.

A central A/C system is typically the most expensive option, ranging from $2650-$15,000. Due to the complexity of the project a professional contractor, and possibly an electrical subcontractor, is required.

ProsCons

Most Efficient

Hidden Interior Components

Most Expensive Option

Contractor(s) Required

Wall Penetrations Required

Ductless

Ductless A/C systems are used to retrofit homes that were not originally built with a central air conditioning system. Overall cost may range from $1800-$7000 depending on the work required. Ductless systems also require a professional contractor, and possibly and an electrical subcontractor.

ProsCons

System Also Includes Heat

Unobtrusive Equipment

Requires Some Wall Penetrations

May Require Electrical Upgrades

Contractor(s) Required

BTUs

The cooling capacity of an A/C unit is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), which is a traditional unit of work equal to 1055.06 joules. It is the amount of work needed to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. Energy Star, a division of the Environmental Protection Agency, recommends installing a unit with the appropriate amount of BTU’s for the zone square footage to obtain the most effective cooling possible:

Square Feet to be Cooled     BTUs Recommended

100 up to 150                                     5,000

250 up to 300                                     7,000

400 up to 450                                   10,000

700 up to 1,000                                18,000

1,000 up to 1,200                             21,000

1,500 up to 2,000                             30,000

2,000 up to 2,500                             34,000


Additional considerations and costs

  • A/C units require yearly maintenance to operate most efficiently and to ensure the life of the unit.
  • The service provider may charge extra outside their immediate area.
  • Not included are taxes or other fees.
  • Energy efficiency subsidies may be available.
  • Compliance with all local codes and regulations is essential.
  • A multi-phase electrical circuit is generally required for A/C units of greater than 12,000 BTU/h (3.5 kilowatts).
  • Add 10% more A/C capacity for a sunny room.
  • Add 600 BTU/h per person more than 2 that occupy the space.
  • Add 4000 BTU/h than required for room size in the kitchen.
  • Labor cost will rise with a hidden circuit installation in a finished environment.
  • Any repair concerns like rot or revised code requirements, and any cost to adapt the existing structure, should be highlighted to the homeowner during provider inspection.​

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Cost to install air conditioning varies greatly by region (and even by zipcode). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zipcode

Compared to national average
Arlington, TX
+6%
Arvada, CO
-3%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Baton Rouge, LA
+19%
Boca Raton, FL
0%
Bridgeport, CT
+43%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Buffalo, NY
-1%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Chula Vista, CA
+8%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
Colorado Springs, CO
-3%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Dallas, TX
+10%
Dayton, OH
-7%
Denver, CO
+1%
Detroit, MI
+16%
Durham, NC
-1%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Greensboro, NC
-9%
Hamden, CT
+21%
Houston, TX
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Jackson, NJ
+3%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Joplin, MO
-26%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Lebanon, PA
-16%
Livonia, MI
+16%
Long Beach, CA
+16%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Miami, FL
+1%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
Murrieta, CA
-6%
Nashville, TN
+21%
New York, NY
+77%
Norfolk, VA
-6%
North Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Odessa, TX
-5%
Oklahoma City, OK
-12%
Orlando, FL
+2%
Pasadena, MD
+5%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Phoenix, AZ
0%
Portland, OR
+11%
Raleigh, NC
-3%
Richmond, VA
+4%
Sacramento, CA
+8%

Labor cost in your zipcode

Methodology and sources