How Much Does It Cost to Install Air Conditioning?

National Average Range:
$2,000 - $9,000
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Reviewed by Ryan Osterkamp, HVAC expert. Written by

Whether you live in an area that stays warm year-round or in a hot place in the summer, air conditioning helps you stay cool. Air conditioning can mean many things. Traditionally, this is a method of removing heat from the air by passing it over refrigerated coils and condensing it to remove excess moisture. But there are many ways of cooling a home, including swamp coolers and geothermal systems, which are sometimes referred to as air conditioning.

With all these methods for cooling the air, there is a wide range of costs. The national average range for installing a cooling appliance in your home is between $2,000 and $9,000, with most homeowners spending around $7,000 for a 3.5-ton 16 SEER central air conditioning unit in a home with existing ducts. This project’s low cost is $500 for a window unit professionally installed. The high cost is $17,000 for a 5-ton 18 SEER central AC unit with new ducts and two zones.

Average Cost of Air Conditioning

Air Conditioning Installation Costs
National average cost$7,000
Average range$2,000-$9,000​

Air Conditioning Cost by Project Range

Window unit, installed
Average Cost
3.5-ton 16 SEER central AC unit, installed
5-ton 18 SEER central AC unit with new ducts and two zones, installed

Cost of Air Conditioning per Square Foot

There are many ways to cool your home’s air, and most of them are sized to the square feet you plan on cooling. The bigger your home, the bigger the system must be.

Size is only one component of your project’s cost, however. The system type, insulation, zone or climate, and efficiency preferences affect your costs. You can get a rough estimate of how much it costs to cool your home per square foot. Depending on the system, you will likely pay between $2 and $6 a square foot for your installed air conditioning system. New ducts, different zones, and higher energy ratings increase the project cost. Existing ducts, lower energy ratings, and single-zone systems cost less.

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New AC Unit Cost by Type

There are many ways to cool the air in your home. These include traditional air conditioning and other methods, such as geothermal heat pumps, mini-splits, and evaporative coolers. Each has different costs and varying results.

Average Cost to Install a Window AC, Portable, Swamp Cooler, Ductless, Central Air, Variable Capacity, Package, or Geothermal Air Conditioner Unit

Average Cost to Install a Window AC, Portable, Swamp Cooler, Ductless, Central Air, Variable Capacity, Package, or Geothermal Air Conditioner Unit

TypeAverage Costs per Unit (Installed)
Window AC$200 - $1,000
Portable$300 - $1,500
Swamp Cooler$1,500 - $3,500
Ductless$3,150 - $9,000
Central Air$3,500 - $12,000
Variable Capacity$4,200 - $15,600
Package$10,000 - $14,000
Geothermal AC$12,000 - $30,000

Window AC Unit Cost

Window AC units average $200 to $1,000. Window units can be put in DIY, or you can have them professionally mounted. The average cost for professional mounting is around $500. Window units come in all sizes and cool rooms from 100 to 1,000 sq.ft. Most are designed to fit a sash-hung window, but some models fit casement and other styles. Window units for non-standard-sized windows cost more than those for a single or double-hung window.

Portable Air Conditioner Price

The cost of a portable air conditioner is between $300 and $1,500. These units do not have any associated installation costs. They are large units typically on wheels. They move around your home as needed. Some require window access or another opening to work correctly, while others do not. Like all air conditioners, they come in many sizes that cool various room sizes.

Swamp Cooler Cost

The average cost of an evaporative cooler or swamp cooler is $1,500 to $3,500. This system works the opposite of an air conditioner. An air conditioner removes water from the air as it condenses and cools it. A swamp cooler adds water to the air to cool it, so it is a better choice in dry climates like Arizona. Swamp coolers need open windows. They also do not cool the air as effectively as air conditioners but can make the air more comfortable in hot and dry climates.

Ductless AC Cost

Ductless air conditioners, or mini-split air conditioners, range from $3,150 to $9,000. Ductless AC units are a good choice for retrofitting homes with boilers or other forms of non-ducted heating. They are also a good choice for additions. They are a type of split system with the condenser outside and the air handler inside, which is why it is a mini-split. You can have several air handlers for one condenser, allowing you to cool several rooms. You can also install different zones to make the system more efficient.

Something that is less commonly known about ductless mini-splits (especially when they’re being referred to as ductless ACs) is that they both heat and cool. They are extremely efficient and currently offered in efficiency ratings up to 33 SEER in certain brands. You can also turn them off spaces where you aren’t currently using them, saving even more on energy bills.

Ryan Osterkamp, HVAC expert
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Central Air Conditioner Cost

Central air conditioners cost between $3,500 and $12,000. If you also use a forced hot air furnace, these are sometimes referred to as split HVAC systems. Central air conditioning uses ducts to deliver cooled air to every room. There is just one unit with the condenser and air handler. It is usually installed outside, although it can be installed in an attic in rare instances. It is installed indoors if you have a furnace so that both systems use the same ducts.

Variable Capacity Air Conditioner Cost

A variable capacity air conditioner ranges from $4,200 to $15,600. This is a central air conditioner. It uses ducts and is usually installed as part of a split system. This is a very efficient air conditioner. Most air conditioners have two stages. By upgrading to a variable capacity, the unit lasts longer and uses less energy. They cost 20-30% more than typical central air conditioning systems of the same size.

HVAC Package Unit Cost

A package unit costs between $10,000 and $14,000. A package unit contains the AC and furnace in one piece. It is smaller than a split system and is typically installed outdoors. This is not the most efficient system and is best used in small homes and moderate climates. While it can be less expensive than installing a separate furnace and air conditioners, it can cost more long-term because the entire unit must be replaced if one section breaks. These units most frequently use gas, and it can be difficult to find models that use other fuels.

Geothermal Air Conditioning Cost

Geothermal heat pumps cost $12,000 to $30,000. Geothermal heat pumps are not air conditioners, but they can cool the air. In cold weather, they take heat from the ground and move it into your home. In hot weather, they take the hot air out of your home and move it into the earth. This is a very efficient method of heating and cooling and works best in cold climates. Once installed, it has much lower lifetime costs than other HVAC systems.

Air Conditioner Price by Energy-Efficiency

You can save money on your energy costs with an energy-efficient air conditioning unit. Check out EER and SEER ratings to see which units provide the most efficiency. According to Energy Star, EER stands for “energy efficiency ratio” and measures the unit’s efficiency when the outdoor temperature is 95º Fahrenheit. SEER stands for “seasonal energy efficiency rating” and measures the unit’s efficiency over a season. Both measurements are good indicators of energy efficiency. Products with the Energy Star label have good scores in both areas. If you see a product with a light blue “Energy Star” marking, you know that unit is a good choice from an efficiency perspective.

Only true air conditioners have a SEER rating - evaporative coolers and heat pumps do not use SEER. These products can be more efficient than traditional air conditioning and use less energy. Heat pumps, geothermal or ductless mini-splits, are considered more efficient than air conditioning. Geothermal heat pumps use the least electricity to heat and cool your home. Swamp coolers use only 25% of the electricity needed for a same-sized air conditioner, making this a very efficient way to cool your home.

Below are the costs for central air conditioning units according to their SEER ratings. The more efficient the model, the higher the cost. A high SEER model can pay for itself more quickly than a lower SEER model if you live in a very hot climate. Conversely, using a high SEER model in a climate that does not get very high temperatures regularly means you pay more upfront and do not necessarily recoup the savings.

Air Conditioner Price by Energy Efficience Ratio: 13-14, 15-16,17-18,19-21,22-24 SEER

Air Conditioner Price by Energy Efficience Ratio: 13-14, 15-16,17-18,19-21,22-24 SEER

SEEREfficiencyAverage Cost (Materials Only)
13 - 14Standard$1,500 - $3,000
15 - 16High$2,000 - $4,000
17 - 18High$2,500 - $5,000
19 - 21Super-High$3,000 - $6,000
22 - 24Highest$5,000 - $7,000

13 - 14 SEER AC Unit Cost

A 13 to 14 SEER AC unit costs between $1,500 and $3,000. This is considered standard efficiency or the minimum efficiency needed today. Most of today’s air conditioners are much more efficient than older types. Upgrading to a 13 to 14 SEER unit still makes a big difference in your monthly bills if you have an older unit and live in a moderate climate. If you live in a northern climate and run your AC for short periods, this SEER is likely fine. Anything higher may not justify the higher price tag.

15 - 16 SEER AC Unit Cost

The cost of a 15 to 16 SEER AC unit ranges from $2,000 to $4,000. This is a slightly more efficient model. It uses less energy each month, and the difference is reflected in your utility bills. If you live in a northern climate and use your AC more than average, this can be a beneficial unit to purchase. If you upgrade from an older model, this unit can make a bigger monthly difference. While more efficient than standard, this SEER rating is not recommended for hotter climates.

17 - 18 SEER AC Unit Cost

The cost of a 17 to 18 SEER AC unit ranges from $2,500 to $5,000. This unit is in the very efficient range. This is a good choice if you live in a moderate to warm climate. If you use your AC for half the year or less, you benefit from this rating. This is a good model for energy-bill-conscious homeowners who do not want to spend too much on installation. It is more efficient than older models, so you should see an immediate drop in energy costs when you upgrade to this unit.

19 - 21 SEER AC Unit Cost

The cost of a 19 to 21 SEER AC unit is between $3,000 and $6,000. This is the minimum SEER recommended for homeowners in hot climates. Anything lower in a hot climate results in very high energy bills. A SEER in this range produces lower bills to recoup the unit’s cost during its lifetime. In this range, expect to see variable capacity units. These units are more efficient and last longer. This makes AC units in this range a good deal for most households in hot climates.

22 - 24 SEER AC Unit Cost

The cost of a 22 to 24 SEER AC unit averages $5,000 to $7,000. This unit is designed for use in very hot climates with above-average needs. This is a good choice in a hot climate if you like to run your AC year-round or day and night. These units usually use variable capacity, keeping your monthly costs low and extending the unit’s life. This SEER rating can be overkill for homeowners in most areas. To see a return on the investment of this unit, you need to live in a very hot climate and have a lifestyle or needs that require your home to be kept cool at all times. Otherwise, you may find that the unit does not pay for itself in a timely way.

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Cost of a New Air Conditioner by Brand

The air conditioner type, unit size, and the SEER are only some of the factors impacting the final price. The unit brand or manufacturer also plays a role. Some brands, such as Goodman, make more affordable basic units. Other brands make units with better efficiency and more features but cost more. Below are some of the popular brands and their average costs.

Cost of a Goodman, Payne, Armstrong, SpacePak, American Standard, York, Lennox, Bryant, or Carrier Air Conditioner

Cost of a Goodman, Payne, Armstrong, SpacePak, American Standard, York, Lennox, Bryant, or Carrier Air Conditioner

BrandAverage Costs (Materials Only)
Goodman$1,590 - $4,080
Payne$1,950 - $3,920
Armstrong$2,300 - $5,660
SpacePak$2,369 - $9,164
American Standard$2,470 - $7,000
York$2,590 - $5,980
Lennox$3,160 - $7,230
Bryant$3,200 - $7,120
Carrier$3,420 - $7,680

Goodman AC Prices

The cost of a Goodman AC is between $1,590 and $4,080. Goodman is considered a good basic brand of AC. They make a range of budget models in sizes to fit every home. Their units are also easily found in a wide range of places. Some people may choose to buy it themselves then hire someone to install it because of how easy they are to find. This can save you even more because there is no built-in overhead to the purchase.

Payne Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of a Payne air conditioner is $1,950 to $3,920. Payne is also considered a good budget brand. They make a full range of sizes to fit any home. They also have several energy ratings to choose from. This company is slightly less easily found. You may need to purchase this model through the installer if you choose a Payne air conditioner.

Armstrong Air Conditioner Prices

Armstrong air conditioners range from $2,300 to $5,660. Armstrong is considered a good midline option. They have more choices and available options than most budget lines. They also have higher energy ratings on every model. You can often find two-stage and single-stage models to keep your energy bills lower. Armstrong models are frequently readily available.

SpacePak Air Conditioning Systems Cost

SpacePak air conditioning systems cost $2,369 to $9,164. SpacePak is a completely different system. Rather than using existing ducts or mini-split systems, this unit uses a mini-duct. Mini-ducts can be installed easily throughout the home without much invasive construction. This is a good choice for older homes, smaller homes, and homeowners who want to DIY the installation. Because of the need to install the ducts with the system, installation costs for this product can reach as high as $17,000, depending on the home size.

American Standard Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of an American Standard air conditioner is $2,470 to $7,000. American Standard is considered a mid to high-end air conditioner. They have a full range of sizes and options to choose from. They also have a full range of SEER ratings. This means you can easily find the unit that best fits your needs. These units also have a long history of quality and durability and are known to last.

York Air Conditioner Price

The cost of a York air conditioner ranges from $2,590 to $5,980. York is also a mid to high-end air conditioner. They are known for their quality and durability. They make a full range of differently sized units. They also have a complete array of SEER ratings. This makes it easy to find the unit that best fits your home. Many installers carry York, making it easy to find the unit and an installer.

Lennox Air Conditioner Prices

Lennox air conditioners cost between $3,160 to $7,230. Lennox is considered a high-quality brand. They make several lines of units. This includes some lower-cost options and more expensive models. All their units come in a full range of sizes. Their higher-end models typically have variable capacity and higher SEER ratings.

Bryant Air Conditioner Prices

Bryant air conditioners cost between $3,200 and $7,120. Bryant is also considered a high-end or high-quality air conditioner. They are well-known for having high-efficiency models that can save on power bills. Their units have features like variable capacity and many sizes. Many installers also carry Bryant. This makes finding the unit and installer easier.

Carrier Air Conditioner Prices

Carrier air conditioners cost between $3,420 and $7,680. Carrier makes a wide range of air conditioners. This includes lower SEER models that are more affordable and very high SEER models that, while more expensive, pay for themselves over time. Carrier is a popular brand with homeowners and installers. Many installers carry Carrier air conditioners, which makes it easy to find the model you want and a qualified installer. Carrier is considered a high-quality air conditioner brand.

Air Conditioning Installation Cost

The cost of installing your air conditioning system varies by the system type. Some systems, such as window ACs and swamp coolers, can be installed DIY. Their installation costs are fairly low, even when you hire a professional. Other systems have much higher costs.

Average Labor and Total Average Costs to Install a Window AC, Swamp Cooler, Mini-Split AC, Central AC…

Average Labor and Total Average Costs to Install a Window AC, Swamp Cooler, Mini-Split AC, Central AC…

TypeAverage Labor CostsTotal Average Costs
Window AC$50 - $150$200 - $1,000
Swamp Cooler$150 - $2,000$1,500 - $3,500
Mini-Split AC$300 - $3,000$3,150 - $9,000
Central AC$1,400 - $3,500$3,500 - $12,000
Variable Capacity$1,400 - $3,500$4,200 - $15,600
HVAC Package$2,000 - $5,000$10,000 - $14,000
Geothermal$7,000 - $22,000$12,000 - $30,000

Labor Cost to Install a Window Air Conditioner

The labor cost to install a window air conditioner is $50 to $150. Window air conditioners are fairly easy to install. Many homeowners choose to put them in and take them out each year. However, you can have it professionally installed if you want it permanently mounted or it is too heavy to lift. Most handymen do this installation. You can also sometimes have the store or company do the installation. Costs vary depending on the unit size and installation type.

Swamp Cooler Installation Cost

The cost of a swamp cooler installation averages $150 to $2,000. Swamp coolers are generally easy to install. Some smaller models can be installed by the homeowner. Larger models and whole-house models may need professional installation. The exact cost depends on the unit size and type. Several swamp coolers are available. Some can be mounted indoors, others on the roof. The placement has an impact on the final costs.

Mini-Split AC Installation Cost

The cost of a ductless or mini-split AC installation is between $300 and $3,000. The cost of installation varies depending on how many air handlers you have and the system’s placement. Mini-splits can be installed in walls, ceilings, and in many configurations. They can also cool one or several zones, depending on the air handler placement. The more zones you have, the higher the installation and final project costs. Single-zone installations cost the least.

Central AC Installation Cost

Central AC or a split system installation ranges from $1,400 to $3,500 for labor. In a split system, the air conditioner and furnace are installed separately. They use the same ducts but do not interact. The air conditioning unit is usually installed outside on a pad. Its size, placement, and whether you need a new pad, coils, or ducts impact the installation’s final cost. The more components and the larger the system, the higher the installation costs.

Variable Capacity Air Conditioner Installation Cost

Installing a variable-capacity air conditioner costs $1,400 to $3,500 for labor. A variable capacity air conditioner is a central air conditioner. It can adjust as needed rather than having a single or two-stage motor. This makes it more efficient than other models. While the unit costs more, it is installed like other central air conditioning units. That means it has the same labor costs as a less-efficient model.

HVAC Package Unit Installation Cost

The cost to install an HVAC package unit is between $2,000 and $5,000. This HVAC system packages a furnace and air conditioner in one cabinet. It can take up less space than two separate units, which makes it a good choice for smaller homes. The entire unit must be installed outdoors. It requires ducts to run like other central air systems. This system requires frequent maintenance and has higher installation fees.

Geothermal Air Conditioning Installation Cost

The labor cost of installing geothermal systems is between $7,000 and $22,000. Geothermal systems use the earth or water. Rather than cooling or heating the air, they move the heat between your home and the earth. In the summer, this means they take the heated air from your home and move it to the earth. This cools your home while using very little electricity. Because it is not as effective at cooling as true air conditioning, it is recommended for homes in northern or moderate climates.

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Air Conditioner Price by Location

While central air is one of the most popular types of air conditioning for homes, your costs can be different if you have a smaller area to cool. Condos, apartments, townhouses, and mobile homes may have different needs. In some of these cases, a window or portable unit might be your best or only option. In other cases, a ductless installation might be appropriate. For that reason, installing air conditioning in an area that is not a house has different costs.

Cost to Install Air Conditioning in an Apartment, Condo, Townhouse, Mobile Home, or Garage

Cost to Install Air Conditioning in an Apartment, Condo, Townhouse, Mobile Home, or Garage

Location / House TypeAverage Costs (Installed)
Apartment$300 - $1,500
Condo$300 - $3,500
Townhouse$300 - $3,500
Mobile Home$1,500 - $3,500
Garage$1,500 - $3,500

Apartment AC Unit Cost

The average cost of an AC unit for an apartment ranges from $300 to $1,500. Most apartments do not allow changes to the walls or other building structures. That means you must add a window unit or purchase a portable unit if the unit does not currently have AC. Depending on your apartment’s layout and size, either may work well to meet your needs. If your apartment is larger, a portable unit may be your best option. You can wheel it from area to area or purchase one large enough to effectively cool a large, open space.

Condo Air Conditioning Unit Cost

The cost of air conditioning for a condo is between $300 and $3,500. Since condos are individual units owned by the resident, you have more leeway in what you can use. You may need to check with the association before doing anything visible. This may mean using a window unit, installing a “window” unit in a wall permanently, or using a split system. These plus portable units make great choices for condos. Because running ducts likely means dealing with shared spaces or running through other people’s properties, going ductless or using an in-wall, window, or portable unit are your best options.

Cost of an AC Unit for a Townhouse

The cost of an AC unit for a townhouse averages $300 to $3,500. Townhouses are like condos because you own the space you reside in, but you also have shared walls and spaces. You may also be governed by an association dictating what can be visible from the outside. This may mean that while window, in-wall, and ductless units may all be good choices for a townhouse, you may need to check with the association before installation. You can also choose a portable unit. Since townhouses tend to be on two floors, a ductless system with two air handlers may offer the best cooling.

Mobile Home Air Conditioning Unit Prices

The cost of mobile home air conditioning is between $300 and $3,500. Mobile homes come in many sizes and configurations. Some have ducts installed for a furnace, so you could add central air. If you do not have ducts, you can use a ductless system with good results. Many mobile homeowners find that in-wall, window, and portable units also work well. Due to the window size and that space is often at a premium, in-wall and ductless systems are the two most common methods of adding cooling to a mobile home.

Cost to Install a Mini-Split in a Garage

The cost to install a mini-split air conditioner in a garage ranges from $1,500 to $3,500. Garages are unique in their layout and construction, which limits the air conditioning you can use there. Most garages do not have windows, meaning window units cannot be used. Most portable units also need some window access, meaning they are not a good fit for garages. Most garages also do not have ducts, meaning a ductless system is the best in most cases. If your garage has a room above it, the same system could also cool this by adding a second air handler to the installation.

Cost to Install an HVAC System with Ductwork

Ducts are an important part of central air conditioning systems. The ducts allow the cooled or heated air to travel to different parts of your home. There are many duct types and installation styles. Ducts cost between $0.80 and $150 a linear foot. Most duct installation costs between $2,000 and $4,000. The cost to install a new central air conditioning system with ducts is between $5,000 and $12,000.

Air Conditioning Size

Choosing the right air conditioning unit makes a big difference in your home’s overall comfort. Cooling capacity is measured by British Thermal Units (BTUs). BTUs measure energy. One BTU is enough to heat or cool a pound of water by 1º Fahrenheit. The more square footage the space has, the more BTUs required to keep that space heated or cooled. Energy Star recommends choosing a unit with the appropriate BTU capacity. Some people assume a higher BTU capacity is better, no matter the room size. But if a unit’s BTU capacity is too high, it can waste energy and leave too much humidity. Determine your ideal BTU capacity based on the square footage of the room(s) you want to cool. As a general rule of thumb, you will need 20 BTUs per square foot. 

Window air conditioners, portable air conditioners, and mini-splits are all sold by the BTU. Use your home’s size to determine the number of BTUs and find a system in that range. Central air conditioning, however, does not use BTUs, it uses tons.

Square Feet to Be CooledBTUs Recommended
100 - 150 sq.ft.2,000 - 3,000
250 - 300 sq.ft.5,000 - 6,000
400 - 450 sq.ft.8,000 - 9,000
700 - 1,000 sq.ft.14,000 - 20,000
1,000 - 1,200 sq.ft.20,000 - 24,000
1,500 - 2,000 sq.ft.30,000 - 40,000
2,000 - 2,500 sq.ft.40,000 - 50,000

Square footage is not the only factor to consider. Keep several other things in mind when calculating your BTU needs. First, consider your climate. If you live in a state with high heat and humidity, you may require a more powerful unit for your square footage. A room with many windows may require more BTU capacity because of potential heat loss. Also, consider the height of your ceilings and whether you are cooling a multi-story space. Hot air rises, so these factors can make spaces difficult to cool. Energy Star recommends the following:

  • Add 10% more AC capacity for a sunny room.
  • Add 600 BTU/h per person for more than 2 occupying the space.
  • Add 4,000 BTU/h more than required for the room size when installed in the kitchen.

To get the most precise measurements, your air conditioning contractor starts by making a manual J or load calculation to determine the capacity your space needs.

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New AC System Installation Cost by Capacity

Central air conditioners are not sold by the BTU but by the ton. A ton is the amount of cooling power produced by a ton of ice. Central air conditioning units are sold by the ton, starting at 1.5 tons, which is required to cool homes between 600 and 1,000 sq.ft. The cost per ton increases because the units size must also increase.

Cost to Install a 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 5, or 10 Ton Air Conditioner Unit

Cost to Install a 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 5, or 10 Ton Air Conditioner Unit

TonAverage Costs per Unit (Installed)
1.5$2,800 - $4,600
2$3,400 - $5,700
2.5$3,600 - $6,700
3$4,600 - $7,900
3.5$4,800 - $8,900
4$5,000 - $9,300
5$5,750 - $11,200
10$12,000 - $18,000

1.5-Ton AC Unit Installed Price

A 1.5-ton AC unit installed costs $2,800 to $4,600. This unit size cools homes up to 1,000 sq.ft. It is the smallest central AC unit on the market. Look into ductless systems, window units, or portable units if you need to cool less space. Total costs range depending on the unit’s efficiency and brand. The higher the SEER, the higher your initial costs.

Average Cost of a 2-Ton AC Unit Installed

The average cost of a 2-ton AC unit installed is between $3,400 and $5,700. This size unit cools homes up to 1,300 sq.ft. Like other air conditioners, several things impact the cost. This includes quality, brand, and efficiency. Choosing a unit that has a higher SEER rating or a higher-quality unit results in a higher initial cost.

Average Cost of a 2.5-Ton AC Unit Installed

The average cost of a 2.5-ton AC unit installed ranges from $3,600 to $6,700. This unit cools homes up to 1,600 sq.ft. This is one of the more common sizes of AC units. Because most homes do not cool spaces like attics and garages, a 2,000 sq.ft. home may use this size comfortably, depending on other factors. Like other units, many things impact the unit cost. A higher-efficiency or better-quality unit costs more upfront.

Cost of a 3-Ton AC Unit Installed

The cost of a 3-ton AC unit averages $4,600 to $7,900 installed. This unit cools homes up to 1,900 sq.ft. This is another very common size of AC unit. Homes up to 2,000 sq.ft. in total size but with 1,900 sq.ft. or less in livable space can comfortably use this unit. As with other air conditioner types, many factors impact your final cost, including higher efficiency, higher quality, and the final location.

Average Cost of a 3.5-Ton AC Unit Installed

The cost of a 3.5-ton AC unit installed is between $4,800 and $8,900. This size cools homes up to 2,200 sq.ft. This is another very common size of AC unit. Homes up to 2,500 sq.ft. in total size but with 2,200 sq.ft. or less in livable space can comfortably use this unit, depending on several factors. This size can have a range of costs, depending on factors like efficiency, durability, and placement. You may have higher costs if you need ducts, a new pad, other components.

4-Ton AC Unit Cost Installed

The cost of a 4-ton AC unit averages $5,000 to $9,300 installed. This unit cools an interior living space of up to 2,600 sq.ft. Due to its size, this is a slightly less common unit. Many people mistakenly purchase this size for smaller homes, assuming they cool better. Unfortunately, this can lead to the unit burning out quickly. It can also lead to higher-than-average bills.

5-Ton AC Unit Cost Installed

The cost of a 5-ton AC unit ranges from $5,750 to $11,200. This size cools an interior space of up to 3,200 sq.ft. This unit is used more frequently in commercial spaces than residential homes. While it can be installed in homes with at least 3,200 sq.ft. of living space and up to 3,500 sq.ft. of total space, this unit is often considered too large for most homes. Using it in homes any smaller than 3,500 sq.ft. could result in higher than average energy bills. It could also lead to the unit failing more quickly than a properly sized unit.

10-Ton AC Unit Installed Price

The cost of a 10-ton AC unit is between $12,000 and $18,000 installed. This unit cools a space of up to 6,400 sq.ft. This size is not sold for residential use. They are designed for cooling large commercial spaces only. They have different installation considerations, costs, and setups.

Cost to Replace an AC Unit

The cost to replace an AC unit varies, but it is often very close to the initial installation estimate, depending on the unit type. In an initial installation for central air, the coils, refrigerant lines, and cooling pad must be installed with the new unit. Many of these can be reused with the replacement AC, which can lower costs slightly and offset the removal and disposal fees. Many installers roll these fees into their final estimate or haul away for no cost or around $200.

Costs can be higher if you also need to replace your ductwork, cooling pad, lines, or other equipment. Costs for the average central air replacement are between $4,000 and $12,000.

For a window unit, replacement costs are similar to a new unit cost, with disposal fees of up to $50. Portable units also have the same potential disposal fees. This makes replacement costs between $200 and $1,550.

The replacement cost for mini-splits varies greatly, depending on where the unit is located and the type of unit and air handler. If you cannot use a new air handler that is the same size and shape as your older unit, you could have higher costs related to fitting the new unit. This could include repairing the drywall, cutting a larger hole in the drywall, or running new tubes through the walls. All this can mean higher labor costs, so the total cost range for replacing this system ranges from $4,000 to $11,000.

Cost to Replace AC Ductwork

The cost to replace your ductwork varies widely, depending on several factors. These include where your ducts are located, how accessible they are, the current duct type, and the type of ducts you are replacing them with. Ductwork replacement costs between $3,000 and $6,000 for average installations. If your ducts are hard to reach or need carpentry work, your costs can double or more.

Small and Modern Living Room with TV, Cabinet, Lamps, Sofas and Air Conditioner Installed

Cost to Add Air Conditioning to an Existing Furnace

If you have an existing furnace and ducts, it is relatively easy to add air conditioning. The air conditioning is not added to your furnace but installed on a separate pad outside. It uses the same ducts as your furnace, but they never interact. The average cost of installing a new air conditioning unit with ducts currently in place is between $4,000 and $6,000.

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Air Conditioning Service Price

The cost to have your air conditioning serviced varies greatly, depending on several factors. The first is the air conditioner type. Having a window unit serviced has different costs than having central air conditioning serviced. The second is how often you have the service performed. Yearly maintenance contracts cost less per visit than if you have someone out infrequently. Finally, the service type needed also impacts your cost. For example, charging the refrigerant costs more than cleaning dirty coils. The average service price is between $50 and $500, depending on the air conditioner type and the amount of service needed. Costs can be higher if you need repair work.

Air Conditioner at a Concrete Wall

Portable AC vs Window AC

Portable and window air conditioners make great choices for those who do not want something invasive or permanent. They also make great choices for those in apartments. Of the two, portable units are easier to use because they do not require installation. Some models need to vent out a window, but others do not require this. Window units are typically less expensive and not as large or likely to get in the way as portable units. They can sometimes be left in the window year-round. In others, they may need to be removed and reinstalled seasonally, which makes them slightly more difficult to use. Both options can effectively cool a room in your home. Portable units can move with you from space to space, so they are more versatile when cooling a home without an open floor plan.

Fan vs Air Conditioner

Fans and air conditioners are good options for staying cool on a hot day. They work in different ways, however. Fans move and circulate air, which helps evaporate the sweat on your body. Fans also lower the air temperature by several degrees, making the room feel more comfortable.

Air conditioners cool the air by condensing it to remove moisture and running it over refrigerated coils. This can lower the temperature of the air by several degrees. It also removes humidity from the air, making it more comfortable.

Of the two, air conditioners cost more to run. This is true regardless of the type. They are much more effective at lowering the room temperature, which often means this benefit outweighs the costs.

Air Conditioning Residential Units Installed

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Enhancement and Improvement Costs


You can improve your air conditioner’s efficiency by making sure it has good insulation. Ask your HVAC specialist about their insulation options. The insulation can cost up to $15 for panel installation or $1 to $3 per pipe cover for foam pipe installation, which is added to the overall cost of your AC.

Energy Audit

Before you have new HVAC equipment installed, it is a good idea to have an energy audit done. Energy audits help determine where you might be losing energy and plan a way to improve efficiency. This could allow you to use a smaller air conditioner, lowering overall costs. Energy audits cost between $145 and $420 on average.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Licenses and permits. Make sure that your HVAC technician has a license to install air conditioning units. Licenses are required because AC installation involves handling refrigerants. You will also likely need permits to install any new AC system, even if your new system does not ductwork. This is how the law makes sure that your home is up to code, but this law varies by state, so check your state’s permit laws.
  • DIY. Do not try to install a central AC unit on your own. Only professionals should handle this project. You may install a window unit yourself because window unit installation does not require a professional license or the handling of refrigerants. Nevertheless, even for a window unit, it is always a good idea to seek professional installation. This way, you ensure that the project goes well.
  • Travel fee. The contractor may charge extra if you live outside their service area, including travel time in their hourly labor costs.
  • Hidden circuit installation. Labor costs may rise in case of a hidden circuit installation in a finished environment. If your installer has to remove structural pieces to reach a circuit to power the AC, that process can add time to the labor process, increasing costs. If the installer is unequipped for this part of the job, they may hire a laborer or subcontractor.
  • Ductwork. Ductwork repair or installation is the most complicated part of the process. If your home requires ductwork installation or repair to your AC system, you will pay more than for a simpler installation. Ductwork installation costs an average of $2,000 to $6,000.
  • Alternatives. A portable AC unit may be a viable alternative when ductwork is not an option. These units range from $500 to $1,500.
  • Rebates and subsidies. Look for rebates and subsidies for energy-efficient models. These help you save money. The government offers these options as incentives for people to choose energy-efficient options.
  • Warranty. Your AC unit’s warranty can protect you from high repair costs if something goes wrong with your unit. Many AC units come with a 10-year warranty, but this number varies, so look at the fine print before you commit.


  • How much does it cost to install air conditioning?

It ranges from $200 for a window unit to $30,000 for a geothermal heat pump. The average is $5,000, which homeowners can expect to pay for a central air conditioning system.

  • How much does an air conditioner cost for a 2,000 sq.ft. home?

Central AC for a 2,000 sq.ft. home ranges from $3,000 to $8,000 for central air conditioning. Ductless systems for a home this size cost up to $5,800, and window units cost roughly $1,500.

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

On average, it costs between $4,600 and $7,900. That includes the cost of the unit and labor costs for installation.

  • How much does it cost to replace an HVAC system?

It costs between $10,000 and $14,000 to replace an HVAC system. Replacing an entire HVAC system is more labor-intensive than a simple AC unit installation. It takes more time, which means extra labor costs.

  • How much does it cost to install different heating and cooling systems?

Separate heating and cooling systems cost up to $8,000 for the heating system and up to $9,000 for the cooling system.

  • What are the top factors that affect the cost of HVAC installation?

The amount of ductwork, the materials used, and your location all play a big part in the cost of HVAC installation. In addition, the energy efficiency of the unit, its size, and how much insulation your home has also play a role.

  • Can you negotiate your HVAC installation costs with contractors?

Yes, you can negotiate to try to get the best deal possible. You can also get estimates from multiple contractors to see which offers the best pricing.

  • What are the top brands of HVAC systems?

Carrier, Lennox, and Bryant are some of the top HVAC brands.

  • How do you find a local, reliable cooling and heating installer?

Start by using a search engine, and then look for reviews to narrow down your choices. You can also ask friends and neighbors who have used an HVAC service whether they recommend the contractor they used.

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

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