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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Electrical, HVAC & Energy Efficiency > Central Air Conditioner

Central Air Conditioner Cost

How Much Does a Central Air Conditioner Cost?

average costMedium: $3,500-$4,000high costHigh: $7,000-$8,000
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Central air conditioning not only lowers temperatures throughout a house, it dehumidifies and filters the air, leaving it cleaner and more comfortable to breathe.

Typical costs:

  • Adding central air conditioning to an existing forced-air heating system in a 2,000-square-foot house averages $3,500-$4,000, and can be done by two technicians in 2-3 days, with little or no change to the existing ducting; if ducts must be added, the work time doubles, as does the cost to $7,000-$8,000 or more, according to[1] .
  • Estimates for a older, smaller house of 800-1,000 square feet with no existing duct work run $2,100-$6,000, or as high as $10,000 or more, depending on the type and quality of equipment installed, the amount of space available for installing ducts and vents, and the local economy.
Related articles: Ductwork, Room Air Conditioner, Ductless Air Conditioner, Ceiling Fan, Upgrading an Electrical Panel, Replacement Windows

What should be included:
  • The Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute provides a brief explanation of how central air conditioning works[2] . The California Consumer Energy Center offers detailed information on central air systems[3] and specifics on ducts and vents[4] .
  • Most central air conditioning systems are a split system, with the heaviest, noisiest, heat-generating components installed outdoors, and an evaporator coil indoors. The evaporator is connected to a blower (often part of a furnace) which distributes the chilled air through the home's vents.[5] gives an overview. The other option is called a packaged central air conditioner; the condenser, compressor and evaporator are all in a cabinet which is installed on the roof or next to the house.
  • HVAC is a common industry term; it stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. A HVAC contractor does what's called a load calculation, taking into account the size and shape of the house, the amount of insulation, the local climate, the house's exposure to the sun, the occupants' habits and temperature choices, and other factors to determine what size unit is needed.
  • If an air conditioner is too large for the space, the unit will cycle off and on frequently, creating uncomfortable temperature swings and reducing its efficiency; too small and it won't be able cool the home adequately on hot days and could break down more often.
  • Residential central air conditioning is rated by a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or SEER system. Since 2006, units sold in the US must have a SEER of at least 13.
  • Air conditioning systems marked with an Energy Star[6] meet strict US government energy-efficiency guidelines.
Additional costs:
  • The most common mistake is buying a bigger system than needed; it costs more and doesn't do the job as well as one that's the right size.
  • Some older homes can't accommodate ducts, or the work is extremely difficult and expensive; in those cases, consider ductless air conditioning, also called mini-split systems.
Shopping for a central air conditioner:
  • Major manufacturers include Carrier[7] and Trane[8]
  • The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy lists tips for selecting a new system[9] and choosing a contractor[10] .
  • Sears[11] sells central air conditioning equipment with installation service.
  • HVAC contractor referrals are available through Air Conditioning Contractors of America[12] and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association[13] . Or search for contractors with North American Technician Excellence certification[14] .
  • Get several estimates. Ask about training and experience. Check references, search for complaints with the Better Business Bureau[15] and make sure the contractor is properly bonded and insured, as well as licensed in your state[16] .
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What People Are Paying - Recent Comments

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Amount: $8,978.00 for the cake
Posted by: Annette V1 in Orange, CA.Posted: January 30th, 2017 07:01PM
Contractor: Eco-Tech Heating & AirBTUs: 4 ton 17 SEER Variable FURNACE
It was an amazing experience to do business with this company. Starting with Brittany, courteous, called ahead to let us know when they were on their way. Then Jeff, he came out to give the estimate, he was polite, knowledge, really listened, answered all of our questions, and matched the system to, not only our house, but to our useage, family, and requirements. Oh yeah he woulld wear booties, and take them on and off, as he came in and went outside, I told him it wasn't necessary but he insisted, Even the installlation crew wore booties, used drop clothes, were very efficient, professional, and left my house looking as though they were never here. They walked me through the operation of my awesome new home intelligence control/thermostat. I can control my system from my phone, as well as lights, door locks, even the garage door & security cameras if I choose in the future. And it is incredibly quiet,10yr parts & labor warranty! Thank you Brittany, Jeff, Brian, Rick, and Vince!
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Replaced 3.5 T system
Amount: $6,700.00 for the cake
Posted by: Getting Warmer in San Antonio, TX.Posted: December 8th, 2016 07:12AM
Contractor: Will Fix ItBTUs:
New Lennox 15 SEER/ 13 EER AC and furnace. $6700 all in with 10/1 warranty. Installed in one day, fast clean and efficient contractor.
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Trane XR16 3.5 ton 16 seer & 3 ton furnace
Amount: $6,800.00 for the cake
Posted by: Slider in Plano TX in Plano, TX.Posted: September 27th, 2016 07:09PM
Contractor: LocalBTUs: 42,000
The old unit was 15 years old and the compressor went out. The price includes installation labor and tax. I am not sure if it is a good price or not, but my local HVAC guy has been very responsive and does quality work.
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A/C unit install
Amount: $2,500.00 for the cake
Posted by: Direct 4X in Chicago, IL.Posted: August 3rd, 2016 09:08PM
Contractor: DBTUs:
3.5 ton unt with coil
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3 ton 16 seer
Amount: $16,935.00 for the cake
Posted by: Alecia Clark in Van Nuys, CA.Posted: August 11th, 2015 08:08PM
Contractor: A G HVACBTUs:
I have a virgin 1300 sq ft home, I have been getting estimates on an entire system, I have been quoted $17,000 to $12000, am I being quoted too much
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Central air for house with electric basboard heat
Amount: $6,000.00 for the cake
Posted by: Katie O in Rapid City, SD.Posted: July 16th, 2015 05:07AM
Need an estimate on installing central air with ductwork vs mini split ductless air
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Carrier Comfort Serues
Amount: $3,275.00 for the cake
Posted by: Mr. GP in Parlin, NJ.Posted: June 13th, 2015 12:06PM
Contractor: Stanco ManalapanNJBTUs: 36,000
New Carrier Comfort Series seer 13', 3 ton.
Carrier coil.
New Whip and box.
New pad.
Arrived at 8.30 am done by 1pm same day.
This in our 3rd central a/c unit in 33 years.
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Did I pay too much?
Amount: $2,100.00 for the cake
Posted by: 20/20 in San Antonio, TX.Posted: May 22nd, 2015 09:05AM
Contractor: privateBTUs:
I just had a 4 ton 16 seer compressor installed with thermostat for $2100. It is a Goodman and has a 5 yr parts warranty and 1 year labor. I should've looked things up first. I think I may have paid too much. My furnace and coils were still in good shape, so we opted to not replace those at this time. I wish I would have done a little more research.
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Cost for a 3 Ton Unit in L.A.
Amount: $5,400.00 for the cake
Posted by: rachael in los angeles, CA.Posted: May 1st, 2015 08:05PM
Contractor: costcoBTUs:
I need a new a/c condenser unit on the slab in the rear of the house. Went to Costco and their contractor came out and quoted me $5,600 to install a 14 SEER 3-ton unit from Lennox, including a new expansion valve. I asked for a breakout of the costs. Their reply: Nope! Can't give it to you! This is a "package" price -- take it or leave it! Checking the internet I see that 14 SEER 3-ton units (such as Rheem) retail for about $1,500 to $1,800. A contractor probably gets it for $300 less. The expansion valve is about $100. Two guys, 4 hours of labor = $500. Truck, gas, overhead -- another $200. Total is $2,100. Add a generous $500 for pure profit, and we are somewhere around $2600 to $3.000. Costco has a real scam going -- it looks like there is well over $ TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS in additional profit!! Just money coming out of your pocket to be split between them and their "contractors"! I'm shopping around!
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Did I get ripped?
Amount: $2,985.00 for the cake
Posted by: katewa in Athens, TN.Posted: January 4th, 2015 04:01AM
Contractor: GilesBTUs: 4 ton
Trane compressor went out...called service people listed on Trane my dismay the had replaced the Trane with an Ameristar R-22 4 ton compressor. It is loud and I do not care for it. I asked to keep old compressor and they said it was the epa law that they take it...really? Apparently I AM as dumb as I look.
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5 Ton AMANA 16 SEER Split System, Heat Pump, Variable Speed, electric
Amount: $230,000.00 for the cake
Posted by: Architect in Murrieta, CA.Posted: December 10th, 2014 05:12AM
Contractor: RIGHT TIMEBTUs:
HVAC estimators are often Salesmen who take you through an extensive sales pitch; to wear you down. They began excessive inflated sales price of $42,000.00 & after calls on speaker phone, "reduce" price, if you sign same day (3 day cancellation by law) They promise 'low price guarantee" which they later will TRY to NOT HONOR by insulting other company as a 'mom and pop" or claim not same company guarantees. A low price guarantee is for 'apples to apples' of SAME PRODUCT & MATERIALS & LABOR. Once you sign a contract don't think these installers will let you off easily! They sat in my driveway, for 2 hrs, while the negotiation began!! I wouldn't allow them to install until they met bid I received from another REPUTABLE company. I preferred to cancel, but company made it clear; I would lose my 1,000.00 deposit!! They clever craft immediate install thus requiring me to sign I refused the 3 day right of cancel. DONT BE FOOLED BY THIS COMPANY!! Had TWO UNITS installed & PAID $23,000.00
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price paid
Amount: $8,500.00 for the cake
Posted by: Masters N. Johnson in south texas, TX.Posted: November 22nd, 2014 05:11AM
Contractor: cashBTUs: 36k/80k
Trane: xr17 (3ton) two-stage compressor outside, xv80 (80k) furnace VS blower inside (matching coil), xl824 thermostat ... $8500. 1666 sq ft under air. 50-yo Ranch. South Texas. Noticeable features: quiet. Smooth, cool conditioned flow. Recommend: variable speed blower a must; 2-stage compressor makes sense.
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i sell and install ac and heating units
Amount: $2,800.00 for the cake
Posted by: robert thiboeaux in houston, TX.Posted: October 17th, 2014 11:10AM
Contractor: a superior service companyBTUs:
my price 4 ton 2800.00 luxaire equipment made by goodman, york, and colman, complete system ac and heating units. equipment only.
10 year warranty
281 338 2005
houston tx
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am I paying too much
Amount: $8,000.00 for the cake
Posted by: snagurit in oceanside, CA.Posted: October 7th, 2014 01:10PM
Contractor: searsBTUs: 3btu
15 seer 10year warranty on a carrier condenser and new funace
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Replace system with TRane XR13 coil and condensor
Amount: $6,330.00 for the cake
Posted by: a user in Lafayette, LA.Posted: September 19th, 2014 07:09AM
Contractor: ButcherBTUs: 48000
Replaced 15 year old 4ton system and gas/airflow condensor, whole system less duct work, new pans. new sheet metal plenum ( old was duct board) 2014 DATE
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Trane 3Ton 13SEER XR13
Amount: $4,217.00 for the cake
Posted by: Chris87 in Suffolk, VA.Posted: September 12th, 2014 06:09AM
Contractor: Atlantic Shores Heating & CoolingBTUs:
Upgraded my 10yr old Goodman A/C unit for a Trane. AS Heating & Cooling were great to work with and had the better pricing and financing between the 3 certified Trane installers for the area. Great team and quick to work. Had the team at my house and unit installed within 2 days.
Included Removal of existing unit, and install of new unit to existing cables/lines. 10 yr Trane warranty and 2 years maintenance by Atlantic Shores.
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Nordyne 3ton 13 Seer
Amount: $3,750.00 for the cake
Posted by: SPark in around DC, MD.Posted: September 4th, 2014 09:09AM
Contractor: LeeBTUs:
I got B6BMM030K air handler and JT4BD heat pump both from Nordyne, and new thermostat for $3750 including labor and all other charges.
The unit is 3 Tons and 13 SEER. Did I pay too much?
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Getting Crazy Quotes for Replacing 3 Ton Gas Pack
Amount: $6,200.00 for the cake
Posted by: Zan King in Howe, TX.Posted: August 14th, 2014 04:08PM
Contractor: variousBTUs:
Help. need to consider replacing builder installed HVAC unit (Carrier) Have 1130 sq. ft. Need 3 ton unit (or so I have been told) nothing fancy..just good, basic energy efficient system. One bid for an Amer. Standard came in at $6200, yet online research states these can be installed totally including labor for $3600 +/-. Other bids for Rheem, Carrier came in at $3200 (no heat pump, existing duct work is only 10 years old...)
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3 ton
Amount: $1,950.00 for the cake
Posted by: in CINCINNATI, OH.Posted: July 9th, 2014 06:07AM
Contractor: Air Kirks Services IncBTUs:
New 13seer condensing unit and evaporator coil 10year warranty 2 year labor warranty
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?Bryant vs Rheem vs Rhudd vs Carrier vs Comfortmaker ?
Amount: $6,918.00 for the cake
Posted by: Mary1 in Tampa, FL.Posted: June 13th, 2014 11:06AM
Contractor: 3 various contractorsBTUs:
I am in the process, and as a single woman, it is difficult to compare these units. All are 3.5 ton, heat pumps, 15 seer, UV light, nothing changed with duct work. Feel like the Bryant is best choice?
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Air Conditioner in Naples, Fort Myers, Cape Coral.
Amount: $3,999.00 for the cake
Posted by: JCorbett in Naples Florida, FL.Posted: June 12th, 2014 06:06PM
Contractor: Corbett CoolingBTUs: 36000
Posted by: Joe Corbett in Fort Myers, FL. Posted: December 20th, 2011 09:12AM
Contractor: Corbett Cooling BTUs: 24,000 BTU-60,000 BTU
2ton Price $3999 16 SEER
2.5ton Price $4499 16 SEER
3ton Price $4999 16 SEER
3.5ton Price $5499 16 SEER
4ton Price $5999 16 SEER
5ton Price $6499 16 SEER
This offer includes all equipment, materials and labor for a complete air conditioning system. We install central air conditioner systems that include both inside and outside units, heater, digital thermostat, permit, hurricane tie down kit, emergency float switch, drain pan, connected to your copper, ducts, drain and electric. Includes taxes and permit fees.
Electric whip, plastic slab, circuit breakers included. (as needed).
Proper removal and recycling of your old equipment.
Some restrictions may apply.
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