An air conditioner is a huge quality of life improvement to your home, but the most important question every homeowner has before getting one is always the same: how much does it cost?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to give a ballpark that works for everyone – every home differs in size and that alone affects the cost dramatically. We can, however, walk through some of these variables and give you some estimates once we’ve established what they mean!

“Believe you can and you're halfway there. – Theodore Roosevelt

1. Ideal air conditioner size

There are different kinds of units, but the most notable variable at first will be the size. This will depend on how big is your home (or the room you want the air conditioner to be installed in) – but at the same time, this is not a simple case of “the bigger the better.

For example, if you have a fairly small place, acquiring a larger unit would be overkill. It would only result in more energy consumption and more investment upfront that is simply not necessary.

But most importantly, the physical size of your home isn’t the only thing that matters. While it is generally true that larger homes need larger units, there are also other variables to consider here:

  • Basements are colder than second floor rooms
  • The side of your home that receives more sunlight will naturally be warmer 
  • Rooms with lots of electronics and traffic require more powerful units rather than a bedroom at night

These and other variables need to be taken into consideration as well.

In short, bigger units are more expensive and generally work better for larger homes, but your ideal unit size will also depend on other factors such as room placement and energy efficiency. There’s no need to shoot straight for the top shelf if your home doesn’t need it.

2. Pre-installation, ducts, and vents

Having a general idea about the unit, now you need to think about the other parts of installation that will be necessary. You might need some pre-installation work done, such as installing or repairing ducts and vents, or making room for an outside unit in your garden (since it can’t be covered in shrubs).

Besides, a local A/C contractor will be able to help you with other more subtle pre-installation adjustments. For example, a poorly sealed or badly insulated home will struggle to maintain certain temperatures, which would result in more energy spent and an overall less efficient system. Fixing these things before installing will guarantee a vastly better experience and save you money on electric bills!

3. Hiring an A/C contractor

An A/C contractor will be able to help you with everything from planning to installation, but most importantly, they will be your most reliable cost guide. No one knows more about how much this costs than they do, so you’re bound to get your best information going straight to the source.

When you talk to an A/C contractor, bring up the unit size and energy efficiency topics so that they can help you find the best options for your specific needs. 

4. Different types of air conditioning units

Now it’s time to get more specific: we’ve been pretty vague about AC installation cost up until now because labor costs will always vary – especially since every home may need different treatments. But when it comes to each specific unit, there’s really no mystery.

Just keep in mind these estimated costs do not account for labor, so if you’re taking notes, be sure to ask your contractor on labor costs!

Split air conditioning

Probably the most common type of unit. It consists of three elements, with the condensing unit being placed outdoors, while the evaporator coil and air handler stay indoors. Fairly economical, silent, and efficient, it costs from $1300 to $1800.

Packed central air system

Basically the same architecture as split air conditioning systems, but all three elements are placed together, usually on the roof or next to the foundation. Rarely seen in residential settings and usually reserved for commercial buildings. Costs range from $2000 to $3000.

Heat pumps

A more comprehensive solution for mild climates that works both as air conditioning and as a furnace. In practice, they capture hot air from inside your home and release it outside during the summer, and the opposite for the winter. Can be very effective when combined with an existing gas furnace, but since it works for heating and cooling, it’s more expensive upfront, costing around $3200 to $4000.

5. Look for equipment rebates and tax credits

And speaking of cost, many utility companies and local governments promote the use of high-efficiency air conditioners through financial incentives. If you’re looking for a way to scrape some of the upfront cost, try the Energy Star rebate finder to track some good deals in your ZIP code!

Need help in budgeting your A/C installation? Call an A/C contractor from your area and get free quotes today!


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