How Much Does It Cost to Install Central Air Conditioning?

Average range: $5,000 - $12,000
Low
$3,000
Average Cost
$7,000
High
$15,000
(New installation of a 3-ton unit with a 16 SEER rating and new ducts)

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How Much Does It Cost to Install Central Air Conditioning?

Average range: $5,000 - $12,000
Low
$3,000
Average Cost
$7,000
High
$15,000
(New installation of a 3-ton unit with a 16 SEER rating and new ducts)

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If you live in an area with hot weather at any time during the year, you may want to invest in a central air conditioning unit. Central air uses a single unit to cool the entire house. It comes in different styles and has a wide cost range, depending on the home size, climate, whether you are replacing a system or installing a new system with ducts, and how efficient the model is.

Prices vary based on many factors, including the system type, SEER rating, and ductwork. The national average cost range for installing central AC is $5,000 to $12,000, with most homeowners paying $7,000 to install a new 3.5-ton split system unit with a SEER rating of 16 and new ductwork. The low cost for this project is $3,000 for a change-out of a 3-ton unit with a 13 SEER rating using existing ducts. This project’s high cost is $15,000 for a new installation of a 3-ton unit with a 21 SEER rating, new ducts, and customizations.

Central Air Cost

Central Air Conditioning Installation Costs
National average cost$7,000
Average range$5,000-$12,000
Minimum cost$3,000
Maximum cost$15,000


Updated: What's new?

Central Air Conditioning Installation Cost by Project Range

Low
$3,000
Change-out of a 3-ton unit with a 13 SEER rating with existing ducts
Average Cost
$7,000
New installation of a 3-ton unit with a 16 SEER rating and new ducts
High
$15,000
New installation of a 3-ton unit with a 21 SEER rating, new ducts, and customizations

Central Air Cost per Square Foot

The cost of installing central air conditioning has a wide cost range. Depending on the system size, efficiency, and whether you also need ducts installed, new central air systems cost between $2.50 and $6 a square foot. These costs are for most homes, but you can have higher costs if you live in a very hot climate. Because hot climates require higher-than-average efficiency, upfront unit costs tend to be higher.


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Central Air Conditioner Prices by Type

Central air conditioners cool your entire home from one unit. They run through a series of ducts that vent into the rooms of your home. There are two types to consider: split and packaged systems.

Split systems are the most common. They have a condensing unit, which usually sits outside, and an evaporative coil unit, which may be installed indoors. The two are connected via a copper tube that carries the refrigerant between them.

The other system is a packaged system with both the condensing unit and evaporative coil in one unit. Both types can effectively cool your home, but they have different costs and installations to consider.

In addition to these types, it is also possible to package your furnace and AC together. While not recommended for most homes, this can be a space saver for small residences.


Cost of a Split System, Packaged AC System, or Packaged HVAC AC Unit

Cost of a Split System, Packaged AC System, or Packaged HVAC AC Unit


AC Unit TypeAverage Cost (Unit Only)
Split System$2,500 - $7,500
Packaged AC System$3,000 - $8,000
Packaged HVAC$8,000 - $9,000


Split AC Cost

The cost of a split system AC is between $2,500 and $7,500. If you already have a furnace and ducts in your home and simply want to add air conditioning, a split system is the most economical way to do so. This has two components: an outside condensing unit and an evaporator and fan, which sit on top of your furnace and use its air handler 1 and ducts. If your furnace is fairly new and your ducts are less than 15 years old, this is a good way to install AC and save money. If you do not already have a furnace and ducts or need a new furnace and replacement ducts, you can opt for an all-in-one package to cut down on installation costs and additional parts.

Packaged AC Cost

The cost of a packaged AC unit averages $3,000 to $8,000. This is a much less common central air unit. It is a good option if you already have a furnace and are just adding air conditioning but do not have much space. Instead of having two pieces connected by a tube, this is one unit that sits outside. It also uses ducts like a split system, but it takes up less space. This system requires more maintenance than a split system because it is completely outside. If one component breaks, the entire unit is more difficult to repair and often needs replacement.

HVAC Package Unit Prices

The cost of an HVAC packaged unit ranges from $8,000 to $9,000. These units package a furnace and air conditioner in one unit. If you have no furnace or your furnace is older and needs replacing, consider using a packaged system that incorporates all the components of the HVAC system into one outdoor unit. These use ducts but have some of the easiest installation because it is one unit.

Central AC Prices by Efficiency

The efficiency of your unit or how much of the energy it converts to heating or cooling your home impacts costs, with more-efficient units having higher prices than less-efficient units. Each unit is labeled with a SEER 2 rating, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The higher the SEER rating, the lower the energy costs, but the higher the initial cost.


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

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


SEEREfficiencyAverage Cost
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 SEER AC Unit Cost

A 13 SEER AC unit averages $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the tonnage and unit type. 13 is the lowest SEER rating available. This unit is not recommended for hot climates. If you only plan on using the air conditioning on the hottest days of the year and you live in a cooler climate, this can be a good option. It is less expensive than more efficient units, and when not used frequently, the low upfront costs can offset the higher energy costs.

14 SEER AC Unit Cost

A 14 SEER AC unit ranges from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the brand, tonnage, and unit type. 14 is generally one of the most used and standard SEER ratings for AC units. This unit provides more efficient usage in cooler and moderate climates than a 13 SEER. It is not recommended for hotter climates, however. If you live in a moderate climate and use your AC frequently, this may have too low a SEER rating, resulting in higher energy costs. For those using the unit periodically, it can be a good compromise between upfront and ongoing energy costs.

15 SEER AC Unit Cost

A 15 SEER AC unit costs between $2,000 and $4,000, depending on the size and brand. 15 SEER is considered the lowest type of energy-efficient unit. For those who live in a moderate climate and use the system all summer, this can be a good choice. It provides slightly lower energy costs, while still not costing as much in upfront costs as more efficient units. This makes it a good compromise for those who do not want to spend a lot upfront or over time. This unit is still not recommended for hot climates, however.

16 SEER AC Unit Cost

Costs for a 16 SEER AC unit range from $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the size and type. This is one of the more recommended SEER ratings for homeowners who want a more efficient unit but do not want to pay too much upfront. If you live in a warmer climate, this can be a good option. It is also a good option for those in moderate climates who are concerned about energy usage. For hot climates, it will likely produce higher energy bills than most homeowners want, however. At this point, efficiency and upfront costs are fairly well-balanced in moderate to slightly warmer climates.

17 SEER AC Unit Cost

Costs for a 17 SEER AC unit average $2,500 to $5,000, depending on the type and size. A 17 SEER AC unit is considered high-efficiency and a good unit for those living in slightly warmer than average climates. This can also be a good choice for those in moderate climates with higher-than-average air conditioning needs. At this SEER, expect lower energy costs. When replacing an AC unit, upgrading to SEER 17 will likely result in a drop in energy bills. This is most seen in slightly warmer or moderate climates.

18 SEER AC Unit Costs

18 SEER AC units cost between $2,500 and $5,000, depending on the unit type and size. 18 SEER units are considered high-efficiency and good for climates that are slightly warmer than average. They also work well in moderate climates for households with higher-than-average air conditioning needs. Larger homes or homes with many occupants also benefit from this SEER rating. If you have an older unit, you will likely see a drop in your energy costs if you upgrade to a SEER level of 18. At this level, energy costs may still be too high for some in very hot climates, but the lower purchase costs make it a good choice for second homes.

19 SEER AC Unit Costs

Costs for a 19 SEER AC unit range from $3,000 to $6,000, depending on the size. A unit with a rating of 19 is considered very high-efficiency and is typically recommended for hot climates or moderately hot climates in households with many occupants. Households that use their AC for an extended time will benefit from having a SEER this high. At this SEER and higher, expect your unit to pay for itself over time. However, this is only true in hot climates because more moderate climates may not use it enough to make it worthwhile.

20 SEER AC Unit Costs

The cost of a 20 SEER AC unit averages $3,000 to $6,000. Units with ratings of 20 SEER are generally only recommended for extreme climates. If you live in a very hot climate and run your AC frequently, a 20 SEER AC unit helps keep energy bills down. Since most older units have a much lower SEER, those who live in very hot climates may see a big drop in energy costs by upgrading to this level. These efficient units can pay for themselves over their lifetime with the energy savings. This unit is not recommended for moderate or moderately hot climates because the high upfront cost will not be offset by the lowered energy costs.

21 SEER AC Unit Costs

The cost of a 21 SEER AC unit is between $3,000 and $6,000. 21 SEER is one of the highest recommended ratings for residential use, mostly in extremely hot climates and only if you plan on living in the home long-term to make up the cost difference. This unit is best for high-occupancy homes, larger homes, and homes with greater-than-average AC needs. When used in a very hot climate, they help keep your energy bills at a reasonable rate. Due to the high upfront cost, this unit is not usually recommended for moderate or moderately hot climates. The purchase in those cases would not be offset by lower energy bills.

22 to 24 SEER AC Unit Costs

The cost of an AC unit with a SEER of between 22 and 24 averages $5,000 to $7,000. This unit is not usually recommended for residential use. Even in the hottest climates, the high upfront costs mean that it will not pay for itself in a timely fashion. However, this SEER may be beneficial for a commercial space that has high cooling needs. Spaces that have many occupants tend to have higher-than-average cooling needs, particularly in a hot climate. In this case, a unit with a very high SEER like this may be worth the additional cost.


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Central AC Prices by Brand

The air conditioner brand plays a big role in how much you pay. Some brands use the same coils and internal parts but have much higher or lower prices than other brands. This can be due to things like longevity or name recognition. Other brands have higher-quality parts, resulting in a higher-quality product. Always research before purchasing because prices do not always mean a product is better or worse than the others.


Cost of a Central AC 3-Ton Unit by Brand: Heil, Rheem, Trane, American Standard, Goodman, Carrier, York...

Cost of a Central AC 3-Ton Unit by Brand: Heil, Rheem, Trane, American Standard, Goodman, Carrier, York...


BrandAverage Cost for 3-Ton Unit
Heil$2,000 - $3,000
Rheem$2,000 - $3,000
Lennox$2,000 - $4,000
Trane$2,000 - $4,000
American Standard$2,500 - $3,000
Goodman$3,000 - $4,000
Amana$3,000 - $5,000
Bryant$4,000 - $5,000
Carrier$4,000 - $5,000
York$4,000 - $6,000


Heil Central Air Conditioner Cost

The cost of a Heil central air conditioner is between $2,000 and $3,000 for a 3-ton unit. Heil air conditioners are economical and budget-friendly. They have a lower purchase price than many brands. However, they also have fairly efficient models that mean a lower ongoing cost.

Rheem Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of a 3-ton Rheem central air conditioner ranges from $2,000 to $3,000. Rheem takes budget and efficiency into consideration. They have many units available with a very high SEER but with a reasonable starting price. Their units have an exterior powder coating for durability outside.

Lennox Central Air Cost

The cost of a Lennox central air conditioner averages $2,000 to $4,000 for a 3-ton unit. Lennox specializes in all types of heating, cooling, and ventilation products. Their air conditioners are efficient and very quiet. Lennox may be a good choice if you need to mount your unit near a bedroom or home office.

Trane Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of a 3-ton Trane central air conditioner unit is between $2,000 and $4,000. Trane is another good option when looking for something both efficient and quiet. Trane specializes in all types of HVAC and ventilation, meaning they produce high-quality products that last.

American Standard Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of an American Standard central air conditioner ranges from $2,500 to $3,000 for a 3-ton unit. American Standard makes efficient and durable air conditioners. They have good warranties and last for years. They come in a range of different SEER ratings as well.

Goodman Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of a 3-ton Goodman central air conditioner is $3,000 to $4,000. Goodman is one of the preferred brands by many technicians. Many air conditioning installers carry Goodman, so you can easily find installers and service techs. They carry a range of different SEERs and units to choose from.

Amana Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of an Amana central air conditioner averages $3,000 to $5,000 for a 3-ton unit. Amana is an American company that has been making household appliances since the 1930s. They have a long history of producing quality products. This includes air conditioners in a range of different SEER ratings.

Bryant Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of a 3-ton Bryant central air conditioner unit is $4,000 to $5,000. Bryant is well-known in the HVAC industry. They make high-quality, premium appliances for residential use. Their air conditioners come in a wide range of SEER, all with a premium warranty.

Carrier Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of a 3-ton Carrier central air conditioner averages $4,000 to $5,000. Carrier is considered a premium appliance brand. They manufacture high-quality products that are well-known for consistently high performance. They have several high-efficiency units to choose from.

York Central Air Conditioner Prices

The cost of a York central air conditioner ranges from $4,000 to $6,000 for a 3-ton unit. York produces premium air conditioners and other HVAC appliances. They have some of the best warranties in the industry. They also produce a wide range of efficiency models, all of which are highly reliable.

Average Cost to Install Central Air

The cost to install central air conditioning is based on several factors, including whether it is a split or packaged system and whether the ducts need to be replaced or installed. For installations that only replace the AC unit, labor costs are lower than with an installation where the ducts need to be replaced.

The estimated labor cost is between $1,250 to $2,300 for installing the AC with the lines and pad 3. Add to that approximately $1,300 in labor for installing new ducts. This makes the total labor cost around $2,550 to $3,600 for a full AC and duct installation, out of the $7,000 total.

Costs vary for installation depending on the unit type and whether you need new ducts. Replacements tend to be cheaper than new installations, and different setups have varying costs as well.


Labor Cost and Total Cost to Install a Packaged AC, Split System, or Packaged HVAC

Labor Cost and Total Cost to Install a Packaged AC, Split System, or Packaged HVAC


AC TypeAverage Labor CostsTotal Costs
Packaged AC$1,000 - $2,000$4,000 - $10,000
Split System$1,250 - $2,300$3,750 - $9,800
Packaged HVAC$2,000 - $5,000$10,000 - $14,000


Cost to Install Central Air with No Existing Ductwork

If you do not have existing ductwork, it is still possible to have central air conditioning installed. In this case, you need to have ducts installed as well. Labor costs for this are $1,250 to $2,300, the unit cost, and the new ductwork cost - $1,800 to $3,300 for labor and material. This makes the average cost of a 3-ton unit around $7,000. If you need a larger or smaller unit or a larger run of ducts, your costs could be different.


High Efficiency Modern Central AC Outside an Apartment Complex


Cost to Add Air Conditioning to an Existing Furnace

If you already have an existing furnace, you also have ducts in place. This makes the total cost of installation much lower. The unit and installation costs end up averaging $3,750 to $9,800, with most people paying around $3,050 to $4,500 for a 3-ton unit fully installed.


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Cost to Install Central Air by Location

Depending on your home type, you may have different costs for the unit and installation. In an apartment building, central air may need to feed multiple units - not just a single unit. This means using much larger units. The same may apply for condos, but because condos are individually owned, costs vary, depending on whether the air is running to all units or just one. In addition, whether there are ducts already in place in these buildings also impacts costs. Older homes and apartment buildings are not likely to have ducts installed, driving costs much higher.


Cost to Install Central Air in a Mobile Home, Old House, Condo, or Apartment

Cost to Install Central Air in a Mobile Home, Old House, Condo, or Apartment


LocationAverage Costs (Installed)
Mobile Home$3,000 - $7,000
Old House$7,000 - $15,000
Condo$15,000 - $60,000
Apartment$50,000 - $150,000


Central Air for Mobile Home Prices

The cost of installing central air in a mobile home is between $3,000 and $7,000. If your mobile home does not have ducts already installed, this project may not be possible. Many mobile homes do not have the space to retrofit ducts. If you want air conditioning, consider ductless, mini-split, or window units. If you had ducts installed at the factory, it is possible to run central air along the same lines. Costs vary depending on the size and condition of the ducts.

Cost to Install Central Air in an Old House

The average cost to install central air in an old house ranges from $7,000 to $15,000. Older homes are the least likely to have ductwork already installed. For that reason, it needs to be installed before the central air conditioning. The cost of this project depends on how easy the ducts are to install, such as the amount of space and whether they need to be run through closets, between floors, or in attics and crawl spaces. Doing so exposes those areas to moisture due to the condensation inherent with central air.

Condo Central Air Conditioning

The cost to add air conditioning to a condo averages $15,000 to $60,000. Condos are shared spaces, with the occupants owning the individual units. The lowest costs involve banding together with the other owners to install the air conditioning through central spaces. However, this can be expensive due to the layout of the buildings. Most condos make better use of ductless AC or window units, rather than installing central air unless it is built into the original building.

Central Air Conditioning for Apartments Cost

The average cost of installing central air conditioning in apartments is between $50,000 and $150,000. Apartment buildings often need to have built-in 4 ducts from the start. Otherwise, adding them later can be very expensive. The ducts need to travel through the entire building, and it is more cost-effective to do multiple units at one time than to add it to a single unit. This often means sacrificing spaces like storage and closets. These spaces are subject to moisture due to condensation if they are added after the building was built.

Central Air Size and Manual J Calculation

The amount of BTUs you need for your home is partially calculated by the square footage. This is the rate at which your air conditioner can cool the air in one hour. The more square footage your home has, the higher the BTUs needed to cool it. The climate impacts the number of BTUs, with hotter climates requiring more BTUs than colder climates.


BTUs Per Hour Needed For a 100-1,000, 1,000-1,200, 1,200-1,400, 1,400-1,500, 1,500-2,000, 2,000-2,500, 2,500-3,000, 3,000-3,500 Sq.Ft.

BTUs Per Hour Needed For a 100-1,000, 1,000-1,200, 1,200-1,400, 1,400-1,500, 1,500-2,000, 2,000-2,500, 2,500-3,000, 3,000-3,500 Sq.Ft.


Area to Be CooledMinimum BTUs Needed per Hour
700 - 1,000 sq.ft.18,000
1,000 - 1,200 sq.ft.21,000
1,200 - 1,400 sq.ft.23,000
1,400 - 1,500 sq.ft.24,000
1,500 - 2,000 sq.ft.30,000
2,000 - 2,500 sq.ft.34,000
2,500 - 3,000 sq.ft.40,000
3,000 - 3,500 sq.ft.46,000


To determine the cost of your new air conditioner, you first need to know the size of the unit that will work best in your home. Most technicians use your home’s square footage to determine the correct unit size for your property using the Manual J calculation, which determines the heating and cooling load of a home. It takes into account the property size, insulation, climate, and how much direct sunlight your home receives. It can also be performed as part of an energy audit to find any air leaks in your home. This calculation is done by a tool published by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America to determine the correct size of HVAC equipment.

By taking these different components into consideration, your technician determines which size unit will work for your home. This helps you avoid purchasing a unit that is too large, which may use more energy than necessary and will not remove adequate humidity from the air. It also prevents you from buying a unit that is too small and uses more energy, while not cooling the air adequately for your home.


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Average AC Unit Costs by Size or Capacity

The unit size plays a big part in determining the final cost. The larger your home, the bigger the unit you need to cool it. The unit size can be influenced by various outside factors, including how much sun your home gets, how much insulation you have, and the age and type of your ducts. Most homes need between 3 and 3.5 tons, with some larger homes needing 4 or more. These are the most common sizes available.


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

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


TonsBTUsAverage Cost (Installed)
1.5 Tons18,000 BTUs$2,050 - $3,300
2 Tons24,000 BTUs$2,450 - $3,800
2.5 Tons30,000 BTUs$2,750 - $4,100
3 Tons36,000 BTUs$3,050 - $4,500
3.5 Tons42,000 BTUs$3,750 - $5,100
4 Tons48,000 BTUs$4,250 - $5,800
5 Tons60,000 BTUs$4,750 - $7,300


Cost of a 2-Ton AC Unit Installed

The cost of a 2-ton AC unit installed is between $2,450 and $3,800. Costs vary depending on the SEER and whether this is a replacement or new installation. Change-outs or replacements tend to be slightly less expensive because some things can be reused. A 2-ton AC unit can be a good option for smaller homes and homes that are very tightly insulated. If you need to add ducts, pour a new pad, or have other specific needs, your overall costs could be higher.

Cost of a 3-Ton AC Unit Installed

The cost of a 3-ton AC unit installed averages $3,050 to $4,500, depending on the SEER. They also depend on whether this is a replacement or new installation. In a new installation, you often need to purchase items that can be reused in a replacement. This means that costs vary between the two projects. If you also need ducts installed, this impacts the total project cost.

Cost of a 4-Ton AC Unit Installed

The average cost of a 4-ton AC unit ranges from $4,250 to $5,800 fully installed. The project costs vary depending on the SEER. The higher the SEER rating, the higher your initial costs. Your costs also change depending on whether this is a new or replacement installation. 4-ton AC units are most common in larger homes and in homes that have higher-than-average AC needs. This size unit may be too large for the average home, leading to higher energy bills.

Cost of a 5-Ton AC Unit Installed

The cost of a 5-ton AC unit is between $4,750 and $7,300, depending on the SEER you choose. It can also vary depending on whether this is a new installation or replacement. If you need ducts or additional work done, your costs will be higher. An AC unit this size is usually used for larger buildings. It is often oversized for most homes, even in hot climates. Installing a unit that is too large for the space can mean higher-than-average energy bills. It also means the unit wears out quicker and needs maintenance more often.

Cost to Run Central Air

The cost to run central air conditioning depends on multiple factors, including the unit size, SEER rating, climate, and cost of electricity in your area. Most air conditioning units cost between $3 and $5 a day to run, but this varies tremendously based on the above factors. To determine your bill, find out how many kWs your unit uses in an hour and determine the kW cost in your area. This is the cost to run your unit for 1 hour. From there, you can calculate how much your costs will be per month.


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Central Air Replacement Cost

If your ducts are less than 15 years old or are in good condition, you can do what is known as a change-out installation, which means replacing just the air conditioner and not the rest of the system. This has a much lower cost, with an average of around $5,000 for a 2,000 sq.ft. home.

However, this installation only happens in roughly 15% to 20% of all installations because most of the time, the ducts are not in good enough condition to support the new air conditioner, requiring a full installation.

Cost to Replace Freon in Central AC

If your AC is not cooling as it should, it may need new refrigerant. This is known as a recharge of your unit. Depending on the unit size and refrigerant type, this costs between $200 and $500. If your unit needs new refrigerant, it is likely leaking or losing it in some way. Therefore, most recharges include leak repair.

Cost of Replacing a Furnace and Central Air

If you need to replace your furnace and central air conditioner at the same time, you can often contract with one company to do both. This may give you a better cost on the materials, labor, or both, depending on the company and project type.

If your ducts are in good condition, the cost of replacing the air conditioner is around $5,000, while the cost of replacing the furnace is around $5,935 on average. Expect to pay between $9,000 and $11,000 for both. If you need new ducts, this can increase the project costs to $11,000 to $15,000.

Adding Central Air to Forced Air Heat

If you already have forced hot air in your home, it is fairly easy to add central air conditioning using a split system. In this system, the condensing unit is outside, and the evaporator and coil are installed on top of your furnace, using its air exchanger and existing ductwork. This has a lower cost, starting at around $2,000 installed, provided you do not need to replace the furnace or the ducts for the system to function.

Ductless vs Central Air

Central air conditioning is one way to cool your home. Another option that may work better in some homes is a ductless system, also known as a mini-split. Mini-splits have a condenser and air handler, with the condenser outside and the air handler in the wall. They can cool multiple rooms at once, but the more zones you add, the higher the cost tends to be. However, using a ductless system is faster to install and much less invasive than installing ducts in a home that does not have any.

The cost of a ductless system is between $3,150 and $9,000. Depending on the home size, costs may be lower than installing central air. As an added benefit, most ductless systems offer a heat pump option, which can also heat your home.


Cost to Install Ductless or Central Air

Cost to Install Ductless or Central Air


TypeAverage Costs (Installed)
Ductless$3,150 - $9,000
Central Air$5,000 - $12,000


Central Air vs Window Unit

Central air conditioning is designed to cool every room in your home equally simultaneously. However, if you only need to spot cool or cool specific rooms, consider a window unit. Window ACs cool a specific amount of space near the window. They can cool very large, open spaces, but they cannot cool multiple rooms from one unit. To cool an entire home, you need multiple units. In addition, most window units are not designed to stay in the window year-round. This means you have ongoing maintenance and costs in removing and replacing them. The average window unit costs between $200 and $1,000 per window with installation.


Cost to Install Window AC or Central Air

Cost to Install Window AC or Central Air


TypeAverage Costs (Installed)
Window AC$200 - $1,000
Central Air$5,000 - $12,000


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Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Energy Audit

An energy audit takes a comprehensive look at your home and energy usage, finding ways to improve it so that you can save money. Doing so before having central air installed helps reduce future energy costs. It has an average cost of around $250.

Ductwork

Most homes have ducts installed that you can use. However, if your ducts are older than 15 years or no ducts are installed, you may need to add new ones. This has an average cost of around $1,800 to $3,300.

Old AC Removal

Most companies remove your old unit at no charge, but some have a fee for removal or disposal. This ranges from $25 to $200, depending on the unit’s age.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Insulation. Heating and cooling systems work most efficiently in well-insulated homes, which saves you money. Poorly insulated homes result in higher energy bills.
  • Size. Your HVAC system must be properly sized to your home to provide the best performance. This is why professionals need to measure and make calculations before you purchase a system.
  • Airflow. The airflow needs to be airtight. Otherwise, your energy bills may be higher, or you may have hot or cold spots in your home. Contractors measure for volume and adjust ducts and vents as needed for optimal airflow.
  • Refrigerant. Your HVAC system uses refrigerant to cool the air in your home. If your system does not have enough, it could result in higher energy bills and increased humidity. Your HVAC contractor can check the charge on the refrigerant and adjust as needed.
  • Warranty. Newly installed air conditioners come with a manufacturer’s warranty, which varies in length, depending on the brand. This typically ranges from 5 - 15 years with an average of 10.
  • Winter months. You may get the lowest price on installation by installing during the winter months when HVAC professionals are less busy.
  • Permits. You may need a permit or to have the system inspected after installation. Check with your local town or city hall to find out more.

FAQs

  • How much does it cost to install central air in a 2,000-square-foot house?

This depends on the system type, SEER rating, and whether you have usable existing ducts. The average cost to install central AC is around $7,000 with ducts and $5,000 without.

  • Does central AC add value to a home?

Yes, central AC adds value to most homes, particularly in hot climates.

  • How often should you replace your air conditioner?

Most air conditioners last from 10 to 20 years, with 15 years being average.

  • How long does it take to install central air conditioning?

This depends on the system and unit size but takes 1 to 3 days on average.

  • What is the labor cost to install central air?

This depends on the system size and type and whether you have ducts installed. It could be $1,250 to $2,300 in labor.

  • Can I install central air myself?

This is not a good project for DIY and should be done by a licensed professional to ensure it is done correctly.

  • How much does it cost for an AC unit in a 2,000 sq.ft. home?

Many factors influence the final cost of an AC unit for a 2,000 sq.ft. home. Some brands can handle this space with 3 tons, while others require 3.5 or 4 tons. If you live in a very hot climate, you may need a 5-ton unit for a home this size. In addition, the brand and SEER rating also impact the final cost of the unit and installation. The average cost of a new split system AC unit with new ducts in a 2,000 sq.ft. home is around $7,000.

Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 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
2 Seer: An acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, measure of heat pump and air conditioning efficiency (as defined by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute in its AHRI 210/240 standard).
glossary term picture Padding 3 Pad: A cushion placed under a carpet to absorb impact, thus extending the life of the carpet
glossary term picture Built-in 4 Built-in: An item of furniture, such as a bookcase or set of cabinets, that is built directly into the structure of the room. Built-ins are therefore customized to the room and not detachable

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

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

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