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How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Central Air Conditioning Unit [Explained]

This article is for informational purposes. Always seek the advice of qualified professionals.

Replacing the central air conditioning equipment in your house is a mammoth task. And it requires effort and hassle for the time of its replacement.

How much does it cost to replace a central air conditioning unit?

The cost of installing central air conditioning ranges from $2,375 to $7,500. The eventual cost of the project is affected by a number of factors. Such as the brand you select, the SEER rating, the installation cost, and the size of your home. 

This article will guide you to all the possible expenditures to help you handle the project swiftly. We’ll also get you through a number of tips to save money and get your AC to last longer. Let’s get started!

Here’s an estimated cost of the whole project before you dive into the whole thing:

FactorsLow-EndAverageHigh-End
AC & Coil Size1.5 to 5.0 tons3.0 to 5.0 tons2.0 to 5.0 tons
SEER Rating13-1616-2019-26
InstallationEasyEasy to AverageAverage to Difficult
PerformanceSingle-stageSingle or Two-stageTwo-stage or Variable
BrandStandardAveragePremium
ExtrasNoneFewSeveral
Cost$2,375 to $3,900$3,900 to $5,600$5,600 to $7,500

Time Required To Replace Your Central AC

A professional can install central air conditioning in 1 to 5 days or more. All of this is determined by the job’s difficulty.

AC replacements, as well as jobs involving major ducting repairs or installs, take longer. This extra time could last something from one day till one week!

If you know how towing works, you can imagine what is involved in AC replacements. If you’re not familiar with towing, it is the action of taking a breakdown vehicle from one place to another. 

For AC replacement, the action is quite similar. The work becomes more difficult if the existing duct system and air handler (the unit outside) need repairs. It also becomes more time-consuming.

Replacing an AC system involves ripping out drywall. Also, disconnecting ducts that lead to the air handler or outdoor unit.

It also includes disconnecting electrical wires that lead to thermostats, moving furniture and fixtures, and many other tasks. If the unit was installed correctly, it should be easy to remove!

Here is a step-by-step guide:

First, get estimates from a few independent contractors for replacing or installing a central air conditioner.

Next, determine the time frame needed for your job. The contractor is supposed to provide you with a timeframe. Make a list of all the actions you’ll need to finish your job on your own.

Then, once each task is finished, cross it off your list. For example- if you have to replace your air handler, think about how long it will take at each step. 

If the outdoor unit must be removed from the walls, calculate how long it will take. Coincides the time to remove and reinstall it in a new position.

Sometimes a contractor can help with a major duct repair or repair work. It’s just a small task besides the installation or replacement of an air handler.

Finally, settle your list of tasks and compare the prices you were given by different contractors. The contractor with the affordable price and good recommendation will be the one to replace your central AC.

Remember, it’s important to use a reputable company that has already installed ACs in your area. Except if you know what you’re doing.

It could take somewhere between one day to two weeks or longer to complete the process. It depends on what issues you may face during installation and replacement. 

Installation Bid Factors: Overlooked But Important

The cost of replacing an air conditioner varies greatly. These variations could be due to the nature of the unit. For example, how much less noise the air conditioning system makes. 

Expensive Bid Factors

The air conditioning unit is the first thing that most people think of about their new cooling system. Merely replacing the current system will not complete the updating. You’ll need to include more to it.

Hardware

The entire cost of an air conditioner might also vary based on the hardware. A modern A/C unit is frequently combined with the increasingly common smart thermostat. It might be as cheap as $30 or as expensive as $300.

Additional Features

High-end air conditioning companies will almost certainly have more equipment and expenses. Their price quotation will represent this. If you don’t want to spend extra money, you should not look for astounding features. But if you want the exquisite features, you should be ready to spend more.

Warranty

Your total installation cost will be influenced by the warranty on your air conditioning machine. Now, the majority of air conditioning contractors provide manufacturer’s warranties, which protect you from defective equipment. 

Some companies may also provide extra assurances for air conditioner installation. If relevant, they also cover possible roof damage. Check to see if the warranty you’re contemplating specifies whatever it contains and doesn’t.

Hidden Charges

Be mindful of any potential hidden charges, such as permits and fines. A clear analysis of how provincial or federal regulation relates to you should be included in your quote. Also, include what your air conditioning contractor will or will not do about it.

Here is an example. Suppose, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of your installed air conditioner system is less than 13. In that case, your contractor can be flagged by the Department of Energy 

On the other hand, an air conditioner with a SEER rating of 16 can save up to $400 each year.

Always examine your finalized AC installation bids for any pricing issues after receiving the bid. While mistakes are uncommon, they might occur when calculating your total installation charges. Before signing any contracts, discuss any questions or concerns you have with your AC installer.

Economic Bid Factors

A contractor’s estimate will typically be lower if he or she does not have adequate insurance. This might make the homeowner liable for any accidents or damages caused by the laborers. For this reason, we recommend homeowners use licensed contractors.

Some contractors lack a thorough understanding of local legislation. As well as available municipal, regional, and federal incentives.

They may delegate this to you and, as a result, reduce their fees. That’s why you should always be careful.

The contractors don’t have as much paperwork to deal with. Whilst they may charge you for assistance through the air conditioning regulatory bureaucracy.

A professional contractor will ensure that you are in compliance with energy regulations in your location.

If you feel like the bidder is asking an absurdly low price, they might be in severe need of work. It’s never a good omen when that happens and going after them is never a good idea. If you do, make sure to thoroughly evaluate your air conditioner contractor beforehand.

Factors That Affect The Cost Of Central AC Replacement

Replacing your air conditioner is more about the installation part than the removal part. Let’s see how different factors affect the replacement cost of your central AC.

Efficiency

The majority of companies provide units that range in efficiency from 14 SEER to 19 or 20 SEER. Only a few companies provide models with a SEER rating of 26.

The more effective your air conditioner is in a hot environment, the better. In hot Phoenix or humid Atlanta, a 14 SEER air conditioner will result in sky-high cooling bills.

A highly efficient air conditioner, on the other hand, will not pay for itself. Choose a high-efficiency air conditioner that matches your budget. This will give you the most ecologically friendly cooling possible.

Here are some of the best picks that we feel you can enjoy using-

Product 1
Product 2

A 14 SEER air conditioner costs between $3,000 and $6,000 to install. While installing a 16 SEER air conditioner costs between $3,700 and $9,000. This type is more energy-efficient than a 14 SEER unit, despite being more costly.

The greater the SEER number, the more energy-efficient the appliance. Therefore, this strategy has the potential to save you money over the long term.

Size and Location of Your House

The climate in your neighborhood might vary considerably depending on where you live. Due to the hot summers in the South, you’ll need an air conditioner with the capacity to chill your home. 

A residence in the northern portion of the United States would also require a considerably higher heating capacity. This would increase prices to a great extent. The average cost of replacing a central air conditioner in TONS is shown in the table below:

TonsTypical CostCapacity (BTUs per hour)AC Unit Only Price
1.5$2,000 – $4,50018000$2,000
2$3,000 – $5,00024000$2,600
3$3,500 – $5,50036000$2,900
4$4,300 – $6,40048000$3,600
5$4,500 – $7,40060000$3,700

Performance

The coil size correlates to the size of the condenser unit. Uncased coils are mounted in the cabinet of the furnace or air handling unit. Uncased coils cost somewhat more than coils with their own steel cabinet.

Again, larger line sets are more expensive due to the requirement of additional material. The longer the line, the more refrigerant you need

The following table explains how Size and SEER influence the cost of AC replacement to:

TonsTonsTonsTons
SEERCapacity1.5 – 2.0 tons2.5 – 3.0 tons3.5 – 4.0 tons5.0 tons
13 – 16 SEERSingle stage$2,300 to  $3,900$2,500 to  $4,000$2,600 to  $4,400$3,000 to  $4,700
17 – 20 SEER2 stage$3,600 to  $4,700$3,700 to  $4,900$4,000 to  $5,000$4,400 to  $5,600
21 – 26 SEERVariable capacity$5,200 to  $6,400$5,400 to  $6,600$5,600 to  $6,800$5,900 to  $7,500

This should provide you with a clear idea about SEER and size and the price influenced by them.

Brand

The cost of air conditioning might vary by up to 20% of the total cost depending on the manufacturer. Brands like Frigidaire, Lennox, or American Standard might charge you around $3000 to $3400. Whereas Whirlpool, Tempstar, or Payne will keep your expense below $2000.

The following is an average cost list of different air conditioner brands:

Air Conditioner BrandEstimated Average Cost
Payne$1,400
Aire-Flo$1,700
Coleman$1,700
Comfortmaker$1,700
Tempstar$1,800
Whirlpool$1,900
Armstrong$2,000
Goodman$2,100
Bryant$2,200
Gibson$2,300
Ruud$2,400
Rheem$2,500
Heil$2,600
Amana$2,600
York$2,800
Frigidaire$2,900
American Standard$3,200
Carrier$3,200
Trane$3,300
Lennox$3,400

This is an estimated price list of the average prices of the ACs by the brands. You can look up the prices on the websites of the respective brands.

Ductwork and Vents Modification Expense

The cost of installing ducts and vents range from $500 to $2,100. If you’re installing new ductwork, now is an excellent time to consider updating the heating system. Because doing two of them at once can save you money.

It’s fair to assume that you already have ductwork installed if you’re upgrading your present air conditioning system. Ductwork distributes conditioned air from your HVAC system throughout your home via vents. These are commonly situated in the attic. 

Ductwork, on the other hand, might lose efficiency over time. Thus, they need to be adjusted to work with your new AC system. Installation of new ducting might cost anywhere from $1,200 to $4,200 more.

 This is dependent on how difficult it is to install or change anything. If you need ductwork replaced, plan on adding a few days to your HVAC replacement job.

HVAC Modification Expense

The cost of an HVAC installation will vary based on a few things unique to your property and area. This cost is affected by factors such as local climatic conditions and present ducting conditions. In this scenario, the age of your home, as well as the HVAC features, play a role.

Most homeowners who are considering replacing their HVAC system should know what sort of heating and cooling equipment they had previously.

The typical cost of replacing an HVAC system ranges from $3,250 to $12,600. This includes both the installation of a new central air conditioner and a gas furnace. For a single-story 2,200 sq. ft. home, you may plan to pay an extra $1,875 for duct repairs.

Here’s an idea about the cost of installing an HVAC system:

HVAC Unit Installation CostsLow CostMedium CostHigh Cost
Central Air Conditioner$3,500$5,550$7,600
Electric Furnace$1,500$2,000$2,500
Ductless Split AC$3,000$4,000$5,000
Oil Furnaces$5,500$6,000$6,500
Gas Furnace$4,000$4,500$5,000
Heat Pump$5,000$5,750$6,500
Geothermal Heat Pumps$20,000$23,500$27,000
Total$42,500$51,300$60,100

We hope this could help you with your cost estimation.

Additional Expenses

Apart from the listed expenses, you might also be required to do some additional work. Such as-

Plumbing

If your home is old, it might require some modification in plumbing.  Because fixing your central AC is not an easy task. You might not want to risk that comfort for some teeny tiny problem in the plumbing. Therefore, always check your plumbing fittings. Check if all the PVC connections are okay or not. It should cost you roughly around $175 to $450.

Electric Work

Replacing your central air conditioner surely needs a lot of electric work. You might think that it was previously installed, so why do you need to spend on it again? But here’s the catch. Replacing your HVAC or your central AC will result in taking out a lot of previously installed circuitry. You might have to spend on establishing these circuitries again. 

Changing The Location of AC

You might use a number of creative landscaping techniques to integrate your HVAC unit into its surroundings. If it sticks out like a sore thumb, moving it may be your only choice. 

In many circumstances, shifting the unit from the side of your house to the back will improve its visual appeal. This task should not cost you that much money. $150 to $300 should be more than enough.

Modifying Frame and Surface of Your House

We’re not talking about furnishing your entire house. Let’s think about making small changes! Bringing up a little glaze, get it? If the expense goes beyond $600 – $800, don’t include it in this project. Instead, take time and plan on refurbishing your whole house

Costs Not Included in Your Estimate (Additional Costs)

There are other air conditioning installation costs that are unlikely to be included in the first AC quote. But which you should consider if appropriate for your local installation costs. It’s also possible that you’ll need to replace your furnace along with your air conditioner. 

These are the questions you should ask your HVAC contractor. As well as if the cost is included in the original estimate. Here are a few price-related questions you should be clear about-

There may be additional costs to test, remove, or replace asbestos or lead paint. You have to consider these if you stay in an old building. Inquire about it too.

Important Things To Keep In Mind Before Buying A Central AC

Here are a few quick tips that can help you in the long run. These quick tips are handier than one could imagine. If you’re careless about your AC, you will suffer sooner or later. Just sphere a minute and take a quick peek at the following-

  • If your air conditioner is relatively new, you may want to pay the expense of repair. The average homeowner spends $375 on repairs.
  • A manufacturer’s warranty will be included with each freshly fitted air conditioning equipment. Warranties often last 5 to 15 years, and if you’re still under warranty protection, they might save you money.
  • Your heating and cooling systems will run more effectively if your home is well-built and insulated, saving your hard-earned money. Investigate the expenses of new insulation or upgrade your existing insulation and see if you may save money in the long term.
  • The season plays a role. Estimates are greatest when HVAC contractors are busier. Whereas, they frequently provide promotions and incentives when they are not busy.
  • The cost in your region might have a 20% or more impact on installation prices. Look for someone in your area.

If you follow these suggestions, you will undoubtedly benefit. You’ll save money and also extend the life of your air conditioning system.

FAQs

Question: How can I tell whether my air conditioner is of good quality?

Answer: To figure out the answer, look to see if your AC is the right size. Check to see if the duct system is suitable for the air conditioner. Have your contractor examine the airflow as well. Otherwise, you may notice an increase in your utility bill or hot areas in your house.

Question: What effect does the SEER rating have on my air conditioner?

Answer: The cooling output during the winter is divided by the electric input to determine the SEER. The greater the value, the more effective it is. In the US, cooling systems must have a minimum SEER of 13.

Question: What is the average life expectancy of an air conditioner?

Answer: Most air conditioners may survive up to 15 years. If you use it regularly and neglect to maintain it, the system may need to be replaced much sooner.

Winding Up

We hope now you found your answer to how much does it cost to replace a central air conditioning unit. Don’t forget the tips we suggested. They are a real lifesaver, we promise.

Also, keep in mind that air conditioners have quite complex electrical components that you need to handle with care. So, it’s better if you let the professionals handle this all. 

Anyway, we wish you all the best in your work. Do let us know if this article was relevant and useful enough for you today using our contact page.

Till then, all the best!