How much does it cost to install central air?

The refreshing and cold air comes from air conditioner in the summer, through which you feel relaxed. But when your air conditioner is failed to provide you the cooling or I say chilling experience and now you are ready to make investment on the modern and new system. So, now it is the exact time or situation to do some HVAC homework.

An average cost of central air installation is $5.961. Well, the typical range is in between $3,900 to $8,105 from smaller to larger system. There are many other factor which affect your cost like size of your unit, type of unit you used, efficiency of energy and structure of your house.

Invest your time to learn the process of chilling out, that what is the cost of central air in installation. Why air conditioners are so much expensive and how we can lower the installation cost.

Key points:

  • Basically the investment of central air conditioners depends on the size, the price of central air ranges from $3,900 to $8,100.
  • The factor which affects the central air cost of installation like size of your house, energy efficiency of the system and labour and ductworks.
  • Shopping in off-seasons, looking into rebates, and obtaining an initial installation inspection are all options to save your AC costs.
  • Three financing key points or I say the choice through which you are able to pay for the new system easily like personal loans, equity loan and credit line for house equity.

So let’s discuss in detail the central air cost.

What’s the average central air conditioner cost?

If you decided to get the system of central air, there are various factors which increases the system cost. Well, size of the unit is one of the important consideration. Many air conditioner professionals don’t go with the physical dimensions of ac.

But it will go with the power means it’s capacity of cooling. Normally the capacity of cooling is called as BTU (British Thermal Unit). Well, BTU is that it measures the energy amount which is used to decrease one water pound temperature by single degree. According to BTU, one ton is equal to BTUs of 12,000 and for 2.5-ton ac is equal to BTUs of 30,000.

Here are the average costs of air conditioner which include size, installation according to the house advisor.

Size of Air ConditionerAverage Cost
1.5 ton$25,00 to $45,00
2 ton$3,200 to $5200
3 ton$3,500 to $5,500
4 ton$4,300 to $6200
SEER 14$3000 to $6000
SEER 16$3800 to $9000

Generally, you only need one-ton air conditioner for cooling in 500 to 600 of square feet in the house. old houses with old framework or structure are not able to support new advance systems, Therefore, you might require significant repairs or perhaps new ducting that costs $10,000 and more.

Also Read: Should You Repair or Replace Your Heat Pump?

What are the factors which determine the Air Conditioning cost of installation?

There are various factors that affect your final price which you pay for central air conditioner installation costs like efficiency unit, square footage of house, labor fees and the ductwork amount. Here are mentioned few installations cost which you must have to consider.

Square Footage:

If you are having space like 500 – 600 feet only required 1 tons of air conditioner cooling. Let’s take an example that you are having house of 1800 square foot then it’s mean you need air conditioner whose sized is like 3 tons or capacity of 36,000 BTUs per hour. As house advisor, it cost you between $3,500 – $5,500.


Well, air conditioner is also chosen or categorized by SEER rating. SEER rating stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. You can easily calculate the SEER rating by measuring the output of cooling then divide with the input of electricity used in the winters. The higher rating of SEER is then the more Efficiency of the unit will be. Minimum rating of SEER in the year of 2023 is 14 in northern part of US and 15 in southern part of US.


Vents and Ducts basically worked in way to provide cooled air to other parts. In old house there is not system of ductwork, so what type of air conditioner you want to install in your house then you must have to put the cost of ductwork in your budget said “Bailey Carson” a professional house expert work with Angi.

According to Carson, there are many ductless systems available in the market which work more efficiently and a little bit more expensive than system with ductwork. So, if your house walls are thin then ductless system is the good option for your house.

Ductless systems are usually placed with the walls and few ductless systems are also used to cool your house.  It usually comes in the two forms, First Traditional Larger Format and (SDHV) which stands for Small Duct High Velocity systems which normally used flexible rubber tubing instead of normal ductwork.

David Steckel who is expert in thumbtack your house age and assembly of wall depends on that which type of system you are using in the house. in 1970 the central air conditioner becomes more popular and used by many house owners. If your house is not renovated since 1970 then you have to use (SDHV) systems. But if your house is based on new structure then you can see your system in the basement already.

Average Cost range of Duct and Vents$5,100- $2,200


You need professional contactor to install central air conditioner; costs of labor play a major role in the overall cost of installation. According to Carson, the cost of installation depends upon the size and shape, orientation of the house as well as the professional contractor are also included.

Another important factor which affect the total installation cost is SEER rating and efficiency of energy. The system which is having higher SEER rating is more expensive for installation. But it will lower the energy bills and continue to run for long term and save your money.

Type of Air Unit:

Basically, all the residential air conditioner boils down in just two categories:

  • Individual Units.
  • Central systems.

Some common types of units and their cost of installation include:

  • Window Units: It is a single device which work from the window. The average cost of window unit is $140 – $530 and widow unit provide cooling in just one and two rooms only.
  • Portable units: if you are living in that area where climate is mild and your AC probably work for just few hours in the year. In this matter, you need portable unit which basically moves easily from one room to another. portable unit is a better option for you. Average cost of portable unit is $290-$670.
  • Ductless split system of air conditioner: it is system consist of three parts such as: air handler, indoor evaporator coil and compressor outdoor unit. So the average cost of ductless system is $2,000 to $14,500.
  • Central Air Systems: Basically there are two types of central air systems such as: Split AC Central and packaged Central Air Conditioner. Split air conditioner includes three main primary elements: Air handler, Evaporator Coil and condensing or compressor unit. Such type of air conditioner which costs between $2,000- $4,500.All the same elements which includes in the split systems, however, they are combined into a single device and mounted to the roof or the exterior of your house. it costs between $2,500 and $5,500.

How to decrease the central air conditioner installation Cost?

Here are mentioned some options through which you are able to lower the project cost of central air conditioner.

Shop around:

If you really want to minimize the value of the central air conditioner installation. Shop around to check which type of system and provider is good for the house match to your budget. Various companies manufacture air conditioner system to exactly fit according to the house, but it will charge large amount of money. Payne is one of the manufacturer who made air conditioner in less price and the average cost is $1,400, but various other like Coleman, Air flo, tempstar, comfortmaker and whirlpool all such air conditioners price is $2000.

Also Read: What’s a Humidifiers? And How Does It Helps Indoor Air Quality

Install air conditioner in the off season:

If possible then install your air conditioner during fall and spring seasons. Before the summer season.


Additionally, you can look into the availability of regional and local credit for the energy-efficient appliances. Some manufacturers and utilities also provide refunds, especially if you install before the summer heat arrives.

Consider the Small Units:

Residential Air conditioning units comes with the capacity of 5 tons, but if you’re living alone in the house and you need only few cool areas. So, for this purpose you can easily get benefits through small units, it’s also possible that you need some normal repairs just to fix the leakage or replace older parts instead of getting new Ac unit.  

If you are living in the state or municipality with the high cost of electricity, then you have to use heat pump instead of small units because it decreases the amount of bills and these system is higher energy efficient but very costly to install.

Evaluation of Pre-Installation:

Before the installation process, an HVAC professional examine your house. In pre-installation process there are many things such as: size of the house, insulation of the house, check the existing ducts and vents. Specifically, the HVAC professional perform manual J-load calculations just to check how the house will retain the heat. All this determines that what size of unit you need which will ultimately affect the price.

Said by “Thomson Jepsen” who is the founder of passion plans. Passion plans is basically being an online platform through which people buy house plans. Because “pre-Installation process is one of the most important step you take”.

If you are looking for the simple and advance audit, evaluation of pre-installation starts with $250. According to Carson, Average cost is $420 but it can too high $2000, just because the size of your house. “But it’s still be able to save your thousands of dollar in a year”. Here Jepsen argues, that “The evaluation of pre-installation makes sure that you will get the unit which suits your needs. Additionally, assist you in preventing unforeseen problems that might raise the total expense of the project.

Steckel said “Like other various projects, planning plays an important role to complete the project by limiting the unexpected expenses, surprises or obstacles on the way. It’s necessary to visit the site where customer need a unit to be placed because size and the length of the ductwork and what is the size of the house and of obviously, what issues are you trying to resolve.

Also Read: Furnace Installation Process Step by Step (Complete Guide)

How many ways to pay the cost of central air conditioner?

Since a central air system might cost four or possibly five figures basically not everybody has several thousand dollars available. Here are several choices for financing.

Loan for home equity:

Basically the loan for house equity is a good way to Using this equity that you have in the house, a loan for house equity is an increasingly common method to pay for a new central air conditioner. AKA the second mortgage, basically these loans are normally used for large investments or expenditures, and if utilized for significant home projects (such setting up a new central air system), may be tax deductible. And with the personal loan, Once the loan is paid off, you get the money in a single payment along with interest-bearing payments each month.

Loans for house equity usually having minimum interest rates instead of personal loans because they are secured by the house. Terms might be extended 10 to 15 years.

Credit Line for house equity:

Although it functions look alike credit cards option, a credit line of house equity, and the HELOC, uses the property as collateral. Your bank grants you an amount of credit that, so far you continue to fulfil the payments on time and can be continuously used during the withdrawal period. Around ten years pass during this draw time. For the next 10 to 20 years, you will be making payments on the sum of money you borrowed. HELOC interest rates are variable, so depending on what much of money you borrowed and the overall rate that applies at the moment of the payment and your payments may change.

Personal loans:

Personal loans are the excellent option for you, if you want to make quick funds for the house investments. There are essentially no restrictions on how to spend it, and if your credit is good and loans can be for more than $35,000. You receive a fixed sum from personal loans that is dispersed all at once. You can get an unsecured loan without pledging any assets, but the interest rate will probably be higher. Basically personal loans are normally having terms of 12-60 months, and the payments are fixed each month.

Final cost of central air conditioner:

Without a question, installation of central air can be expensive. Costs for an Air Conditioner unit can reach $8,000 or even higher, particularly if your house is large or older. There are alternatives to finance such cost if such price seems prohibitive and you lack the money to cover it. If you’re seeking to take out a loan just to install a central air, check rates from some lenders whose offering personal loans and house equity loans also HELOCs to get an idea of your potential monthly costs.

Also Read: How much does a new furnace replacement cost in 2023

According to House Advisor, the average costs to replace a cooling system is between $3,882-$7,905. The size of your home, the brand of the AC unit, and the complexity of the ducting all affect the cost in addition to the labor necessary to remove and discard the old system.

Although ductwork eventually wears out, replacing ductwork isn’t always necessary. Ducts can be individually repaired, reattached, or resealed if your home’s ventilation is a concern. Old ductwork can also be cleaned of dust and other contaminants to increase airflow effectiveness.

Taking a do-it-yourself strategy may appear economical, but hiring experts might be a better choice.

To build a new advance system, you could require a permission depending on the place you live. A specialist in the area is already familiar with every step of this procedure. An EPA certification may also be needed in order to add refrigerant to the air conditioner or remove an older unit that contains refrigerant. A worker is already authorized whereas you need to clear a test and pay a price to receive this kind of accreditation.

By installing your system, by yourself, you can wind up spending more money overall. The effectiveness of your system will be considerably reduced and your energy costs may skyrocket if the ductwork is improperly sealed or insulated.

Since most warranties stipulate that systems must be set up by qualified experts, installing the system yourself could also void the guarantee.

According to HomeAdvisor, air conditioners may last go up to the fifteen years. A unit can need to be replaced considerably sooner if it’s utilized frequently or fails to be maintained. Additionally, units need to be changed as they become outdated or malfunction.

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