If you’re looking into purchasing a central air conditioner, you’ll need to know exactly what to expect so you can be prepared for any unforeseen costs or maintenance. In this guide, we’ll give you an overview of how much it costs to purchase and own a central air conditioner, including average prices for central air conditioning systems, factors that may affect pricing, the cost of running a central air conditioner over the course of a year and any additional costs you should consider before making a purchase.
How much does a central air conditioner cost?
The cost of a central air conditioner can vary based on several factors, including installation, the type of unit and the size of the home, among other factors.
- Central Air Conditioner Prices: For a basic two-ton central air conditioner, you can expect to pay on average about $3,000 for the unit itself, but prices can reach $5,000 depending on several factors listed below.
- Installation Costs: Installing central air conditioners can cost between $3,350 and $5,912.
- New vs. Replacement Costs: If you plan on purchasing a new unit, it could cost you about $3,000, while replacing your central air conditioner can cost about $4,631. If you need new ductwork installed, it could cost between $5,900 and $8,900.
Take a look at some of the average prices for the top brands.
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Factors that affect central air conditioner prices
Several factors could affect the price of a central air conditioner. Some of these factors include the size of the unit, the type of home you have, the size of your home, the cost of professional installation, advanced features it might come with and whether you have an existing HVAC system already in place.
Size of unit and type of home
Installation costs can vary depending on how large or small the unit is as well as the type of home you have. Modern homes typically make installation easier and cheaper. Air conditioning units come in different sizes, shapes, energy efficiency ratings and cooling capacities. The type of unit you choose has a direct impact on installation costs.
Size of home
The larger your home, the larger the unit you’ll need to cool your home efficiently. As you may have guessed, larger units generally cost more to install than smaller units because of the amount of labor involved.
Professional installation costs can tack on thousands of dollars to the overall price of your new central air conditioning system. Be sure to factor in installation when calculating your budget for your new central air conditioner.
Better brands of central air conditioners generally come with smarter technology. With these features come additional costs. The better your unit, the more you can expect to pay. On the plus side, better brands mean better warranties and a longer lifespan.
Whether you have an existing HVAC system
If you have an existing HVAC system in place, you may pay lower installation costs than someone without an existing HVAC system. Most modern homes are set up for central air conditioner installation, but older homes might need some ductwork. If your home has old, worn or small ductwork, you may need to replace it to avoid higher energy bills or noisy operation.
Single-stage vs. multi-stage
Single-stage systems usually only operate at one speed. Single-stage units typically run at full power even when it isn’t necessary. Multi-stage units generally adjust to room temperature to ensure ideal comfort levels, saving you more on energy costs.
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Costs to run a central air conditioner
To determine how much it costs to run your central air conditioner, take a look at some of the factors that go into that cost, including energy efficiency, maintenance costs and annual expenses.
Air conditioners with higher energy efficiency can save you more money on energy bills. Natural gas units generally cost more than electric units. However, both gas and oil prices can fluctuate from month to month.
Costs to run per year
The cost to run your central air conditioning unit per year varies, but you can easily calculate how that figure.
First, you’ll need to know the total amperage and the size, as well as the standard voltage. Multiply the number of amps by the number of volts to get your total watts used. Then divide the number by 1,000 to get your kilowatt usage per hour. Then you’ll multiply the number of kilowatts used by how much you’re charged per kilowatt-hour (usually only a few cents) and you’ll know how much money you pay per hour. Multiply that number by how many hours you think you typically run the air conditioner per day and you can determine your central air conditioning energy costs for the year.
Additional costs to consider
In this section, we’ll take a look at additional costs to consider when it comes to purchasing a central air conditioner. Those additional costs can include new ductwork, a home insulation efficiency upgrade or new gas lines.
If your home isn’t already set up for a central air conditioning system, you may need to pay an additional $2,000 for new ductwork.
Home insulation efficiency
If your home isn’t properly insulated, you could end up spending between $1,400 to $2,300 on home insulation to ensure your air conditioning unit is working effectively. Insulation comes in a variety of different forms, so it’s difficult to pinpoint cost. You might consider these types of insulation:
- Structured insulated panels
- Foam boards
- Concrete blocks
- Rigid fibrous insulation
- Sprayed foam insulation
- Blanket, batt and roll
- Insulating concrete forms
- Reflective system
New gas lines
Installing new gas lines may be required in order to install your new central air conditioner. The average cost is about $521, but it can range from about $120 to $1,350.