How Much Does Central AC Installation Cost?

Installing a new central air conditioning system will cost somewhere between $3,800 and $7,500. Thinking about Central AC? We break down what you need to know about central AC installation cost, effectiveness, and who to call for the job.

AC Installation Prices

You can keep your cool in the summer by installing central air conditioning.

In the height of summer, pushing your fan to the max just doesn’t cut it. Alternatively, central air can serve as your solution for a cool summer.

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However, central AC is a big-ticket purchase. Accordingly, it’s helpful to know more about the cost of AC installation to prepare for your investment in cooling comfort.

Central AC Installation: Things to Consider

The price of a central air conditioning unit is only one point that you need to consider. For example, you also need a contractor to evaluate your home for installation. Usually, they’ll charge a fee for the service.

Central A/C Unit Size *BTU’s (British Thermal Units) **AC Unit Cost
1.5 Tons 18,000 BTU $1,820 – $2,224
2 Tons 24,000 BTU $2,510 – $2,997
2.5 Tons 30000 BTU $2,740 – $3,088
3 Tons 36000 BTU $2,800 – $3,649
3.5 Tons 42000 BTU $3,260 – $3,800
4 Tons 48000 BTU $3,640 – $3,960
5 Tons 60000 BTU $3,734 – $4,115

You may believe that you’ll save on the installation because you already have ductwork. However, this isn’t always the case. Order ductwork cannot handle the airflow of today’s updated central AC systems.

Best AC Units

The contractor may find that they’ll need to modify your existing system or install new ductwork. Only a licensed HVAC professional can perform this work.

The contractor will use an industry-standard practice called a load audit to determine your home cooling needs. The calculations will help them to figure out how hot your home gets and what size AC unit you need to stay cool. However, your utility company may offer a rebate that may pay for part or all of the audit.

If you schedule a load audit, it’s a good idea to also ask the contractor to perform a home energy audit. Ideally, a load audit is a part of the service.

An energy audit helps to identify air leaks and other problems that can result in a decrease in energy efficiency. Typically, an energy audit costs $200 to $300.
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What Is The Cost to Install Central Air Conditioning?

The cost of a new central AC installation can vary greatly. It depends on several factors.

The cost of your installation also depends on the type of system that you choose. For example, a central air system that heats and cools may cost between $3,800 and $7,500. Meanwhile, a ductless split system can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $14,500.

On average, you may expect to pay around $5,700 for the installation of central air conditioning. However, it can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $7,500.

AC Unit

In extreme instances, the price of a new central AC installation can go as high as $11,000. On the other end of the installation price spectrum, however, it may only cost $1,700. You may pay toward the lowest end of the cost spectrum if you already have sufficient ductwork and the contractor only needs to install a new central AC unit.

The central AC unit is only a part of the total cost of installation. Along with the other expenses of installation, the price for the project can add up quickly.

The cost of a central AC unit can range anywhere from $1,700 to $3,400 or more. Also, you may want to ask your HVAC contractor if there any other features that they can install to benefit your home during the installation.

Extra features may cost a little more, but it may prove worth the investment for added comfort and efficiency. For instance, a ceiling fan can make it easier to cool rooms and help cut down on utility costs.


Curbing Central AC Installation Cost: Getting a Deal on Installation

When considering a new central AC installation, it’s important to consider your needs. For example, if you don’t spend a lot of time at home or you live alone, you might consider a ductless mini-split AC system.

AC Controller

This kind of air conditioning works with an outdoor air compressor and condenser. The contractor will also install a blower vent that funnels cool air into your home. They can install this kind of system through almost any exterior wall.

It’s important to understand that this isn’t a full central air conditioning system. However, this kind of ductless system is an efficient way to cool specific rooms, such as your bedroom or living room. In some cases, this kind of system may meet your needs.

Air Conditioner

Also, don’t wait until the height of summer to schedule the installation. During the coldest and hottest months of the year, HVAC contractors are extremely busy.

Instead, schedule the installation for the spring or fall if possible. By scheduling the installation during the off-season, you may pay less for installation and the contractor may finish the job faster.

Also, try to find equipment rebates and tax credits that will help offset the cost of installation. For example, local municipalities, utility companies, and manufacturers offer incentives to promote the installation of high-efficiency air conditioners. You can use the Energy Star Rebate Finder to learn more about incentives in your area.

Keep Your Central Air Humming Along

Central AC is a big investment. Accordingly, it makes sense to keep it maintained.

For example, it’s important to change the air filters once a month. Dirty air filters cause restricted airflow and result in air conditioner inefficiency.

Compare Home Improvement PricesWhen you buy new filters, choose one with a high minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV). Filter manufacturers rate their products on a scale of one to twelve. The higher the number, the more efficient the filter.

Make sure your home is properly insulated. You can check your home for leaks. If air leaks out of your windows are ductwork, your air conditioning system will only have to work harder.
You can find leaks by lighting an incense stick and following the trail of smoke to find drafts.

Finally, it’s a good idea to schedule annual maintenance appointments with a trusted HVAC contractor.

Find a Great Deal on Central AC Installation

Now you know more about central AC installation costs, and you’re all set to find an expert installer! provides tips and resources for homeowners across the United States. Best of all, we’re your source for connecting with top local contractors that can restore, repair, or beautify your home.

By filling out a brief form, you can have the top area contractors come to you. Visit the next time that you need a central AC pro or other experts. While you’re there, check out our blog to learn more great tips about keeping your home in tip-top shape.

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Popular Areas to Find Central AC Installers:

Chicago, IL
San Diego, CA
San Jose, CA
Jacksonville, FL
Baltimore, MD
Milwaukee, WI
Fort Worth, TX
San Francisco, CA
Charlotte, NC
Indianapolis, IN
Seattle, WA
Denver, CO
Boston, MA
El Paso, TX
Detroit, MI
Nashville, TN
Portland, OR
Memphis, TN
Louisville, KY
  1. It is good that you have shared tips on HVAC maintenance costs. At least now no contractor can ask for a high-price deal. I know they all are good people but you know exceptions are always there.

  2. You made a good point that I should also think about the maintenance of the filters when it comes to getting a commercial air conditioning installation. I’d like to look for a good contractor for that soon because I’m interested in opening a parlor soon. I’m sure that keeping the place cool will be essential in keeping customers satisfied.

  3. Although the costs to install a new HVAC system seems high at first, it’s actually much more affordable than you may think. We even saving money on our power bill every month by having a modern a/c.

  4. Some of the best AC units will have high energy efficiency capabilities (also known as high SEER ratings) can save you a considerable amount of money on your average heating and cooling energy bill costs. However, a higher energy efficiency level may mean a higher HVAC installation cost.

  5. Thank you so much for all the valuable information. I am so glad I found all the needed information on one single page. I had a company coming out to give an estimate, and they started – “let’s see how much you qualify for” and “do you want an efficient system”? That without even looking around, explaining. Now I know what to ask and what to look for. I will post your site on our Next door page too, so people get educated. Nowadays, unscrupulous companies are mushrooming.

  6. In your “About Us” discussion, you should state who you are. Are you independent from product manufacturers? What process do you follow to objectively determine which products, etc. are the best. How do you prevent being influenced by the manufacturers?

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