8 Factors for Determining Your AC Installation Cost Estimate


Estimating the cost of AC installation isn’t easy. Every home has different requirements; therefore, an air conditioning contractor must consider many variables when quoting a price. The average cost of installing an AC unit is $5,900 (in 2024 dollars); split ACs average $4,000. However, depending on the size and configuration of the system, you can spend $16,000+. 

How are such prices determined? We know that air conditioning doesn’t come cheap in terms of equipment costs and labor. Here are eight factors to help you predict how much AC installation in your home might cost.

  1. Unit/System Size

Home size is among the most important factors when selecting an AC. Generally, the larger your home, the bigger and more expensive an air conditioner you’ll need. Undersizing a unit can increase your energy bills and strain the system. You don’t want to oversize it either; this will also increase operating costs.

An AC’s size is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs) and tons; 12,000 BTUs equals 1 ton. The size, or capacity, of the system you need must be determined by a licensed HVAC professional who has experience with load calculations. Here’s a look at AC capacity and home size vs. average costs:

  • 1.5 Tons (18,000 BTUs/Hour): Accommodates a 750- to 900-square-foot home and costs $2,500 to $4,500 on average.
  • 2 Tons (24,000 BTUs/Hour): Accommodates a 1,000- to 1,200-square-foot home and costs $3,100 to $5,100 on average.
  • 3 Tons (48,000 BTUs/Hour): Accommodates a 1,500- to 1,800-square-foot home and costs $3,400 to $5,400 on average.
  • 4 Tons (48,000 BTUs/Hour): Accommodates a 2,000- to 2,400-square-foot home and costs $4,200 to $6,200 on average.1
  1. Type of Air Conditioner

A portable air conditioner generally costs under $500, while window units cost between $200 to $550 on average. Central ACs average $2,900 to $9,000. The average cost range for a ductless split system is even wider. Depending on the size and configuration, it can range from $1,900 to $16,100, while the average cost of a geothermal heat pump tops out at $15,800.1

  1. In-Home Assessment

Many HVAC installers claim to provide a free in-home evaluation. The reality is the cost of this service is rolled into the overall cost of the project. It takes time for a professional to evaluate your home and inspect ductwork, insulation, your structure’s airtightness, etc. The average cost of an assessment is $420, although a more extensive energy audit for a large home can cost as much as $2,000.1

  1. Brand

The wide range of air conditioner brands allows you to shop for equipment that fits your budget. A cost estimate can be significantly impacted by the brand you choose. Fortunately, most HVAC professionals can service many different brands of ACs. 

In terms of cost, you can expect to spend $2,100 on a York air conditioner, $2,500 on a Rheem unit, and $3,000+ on a Trane, Lennox, or Carrier system.1 However, the size, type, and quality of the unit can increase or decrease the average AC installation price.

  1. Energy Efficiency

Efficiency is measured using an air conditioner’s seasonal energy-efficiency rating (SEER). The lowest allowable rating is 14 SEER (it’s 15 SEER in southern regions of the U.S.). Some ACs are rated as high as 27 SEER. 

Generally, the higher a unit’s SEER rating, the higher its upfront cost (which can be offset over time with lower utility bills). The cost difference between a 14 and 15 SEER system isn’t that huge (on average, it’s $3,200 vs. $4,600). However, a 24 SEER system averages $7,700.1

  1. New AC Installation vs. Replacement

Replacing your existing AC system ranges from $4,600 to $9,100. The cost is largely determined by the square footage of your home and the type of system. Installing an air conditioning system from scratch can cost much more. If you need new ductwork (about $20 to $45 per linear foot) and an electrical installation or upgrade, you could spend anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000.1

  1. Labor

An HVAC contractor may charge a flat rate for labor or an hourly fee. The cost can add up, as air conditioning installation can take many hours. Depending on the type of unit, the size of your home, its layout, and the estimated timeframe of the project, labor can add $500 to $2,500 to your AC installation cost estimate.1

  1. Additional Services

Ductwork is a large and expensive part of your HVAC system (and is a challenge to install in older homes). Even if you don’t need to install or replace them, existing ducts may need to be repaired. It can cost up to $2,000 to repair air ducts (small repairs are much more affordable). Ducts are also checked for sealing issues and mold. A full duct cleaning can add up to $700 to your project. 

Then there are the plumbing and electrical connections to support the proper function of your AC system. If drain lines need to be installed or repaired, you’ll need to hire a licensed plumber. And, to install a dedicated circuit or upgrade your electrical panel, you’ll need to hire a skilled electrician. You may also have to pay your HVAC company or another contractor to remove your old AC system.

Call Kliemann Brothers for an AC Installation Cost Estimate

Is your AC performing less efficiently, not controlling humidity or indoor air quality, or showing signs of age? Let the licensed HVAC technicians at Kliemann Brothers evaluate it and help find a newer, high-efficiency air conditioning system for your home. We install ducted and ductless systems. To learn more about your options, our specials, rebates, and financing and to request an estimate, call (253) 364-1667 today.

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