Professional air conditioning installation is available for central air systems, window air conditioning units, wall AC units and portable AC units. HVAC contractors can install a new air conditioning unit, remove the existing AC unit, and install ducts or vents as needed for split systems, packaged systems or otherwise, as recommended by the professional. Central air handlers may be located in the basement, closet, attic or other parts of the building with the condenser and fan either on the ground floor or roof. AC installation is available by HVAC contractors for private homes, multiunit buildings, commercial spaces, and offices or business environments.
While it might be tempting to consider buying and installing a new AC unit yourself, installing an air conditioner, even a wall or window air conditioning unit, requires special tools and electrical precautions. Trained air conditioning contractors can ensure that the AC unit is installed correctly and that it is running as efficiently as possible, which will save you money on your energy bills. In addition, most installation professionals also include a warranty.
Several factors affect the average cost of air conditioning installation, including the type of air conditioner, the air conditioning unit’s energy efficiency rating, the location of the installation and any ductwork needed, as well as the amount of prep work required for installation. Energy efficiency allowances may also add slightly to the installation cost but save you money in the long run.
Wall or window air conditioning unit
Installation of a wall or window air conditioning unit does not require access to a building’s ducts or central air system. These units are often heavy, and installation involves proper assembly of all the parts and safe placement into the window or attachment onto the wall. Because air conditioning installation requires some expertise, it’s typically best to have an HVAC contractor do the work. Air conditioning contractors will also ensure that the unit gets good airflow and is as energy efficient as possible, which will save money on energy bills. New window units cost about $200–$400, and wall air conditioner cost about $400–$900. Installation costs may include a minimum service fee, or they may be based solely on a professional’s hourly rate.
Central air conditioning systems
New central air systems are either packaged or split-system units. Air ducts push cool air into the home through registers (vents) maintaining a set temperature or range of temperatures. Pricing varies widely depending on the technology and the seasonal energy-efficiency ratio (SEER). According to Energy.gov, the SEER indicates the relative amount of energy needed to provide a specific cooling output. The older and less efficient the central AC unit, the lower the SEER. Cool Tech Mechanical in Arlington, Texas, offers the following price ranges for installing new central AC cooling systems in a home (with existing ducts) based on the SEER rating:
Installation and cost of a new 14 SEER single-range cooling system: $4,000–$6,000
Installation and cost of a new 16 SEER two-range cooling system: $6,000–$8,000
- Installation and cost of a new 20 SEER variable capacity cooling system: $8,000–$12,000
Condition of air duct system
Outdated ducts or those with holes, disintegration or other faults will add to the cost of installing a new AC system. According to Cool Tech Mechanical, some older ducts are covered entirely in gray vinyl, which tends to disintegrate when exposed to UV sunlight. In cases like this, the installation team must remove old ducts and replace them before installing the new system. In general, the more ductwork needed, the higher the cost of the air conditioner installation.
Type of installation
Each job varies, depending on the amount of prep work, old duct removal, type of unit purchased and amount of work required to install the units. Cool Tech Mechanical shares two examples of AC installation jobs:
Lennox 16 SEER single-stage AC unit: $5,743
- This job required removing and disposing of the old furnace, moving and reconnecting the water heater, and installing a 3.5-ton gas furnace. The job required three people working from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Lennox Elite Variable Capacity AC unit: $11,776
- This cooling system modulates between 100 percent and 35 percent capacity with smart technology and has a 4-ton, 19.5-SEER heat pump. The price included removal and disposal of the old unit, additional filters and supplies, a two-year labor warranty, and a new smart app-controlled thermostat.
Air conditioning installation companies may offer diagnostic service calls to determine an estimate for repairs or replacement. Cool Tech Mechanical charges $79 for a standard diagnostic call—or $49 for Thumbtack customers. Many companies, including Cool Tech Mechanical, provide free home estimates if customers know they want to replace an old unit or have one installed for the first time. In this case, Cool Tech Mechanical does a heat-load calculation to determine what capacity unit is needed to cool the house and calculate all the variables such as how much and what type of insulation and how many and what type of windows the home has. Code upgrades can also affect the total cost of installation.
Larger cities and regions with a higher cost of living typically see higher rates for labor and air conditioner installation services. Areas affected by a heatwave could also see a spike in costs as demand increases. For best results, plan ahead and have your air conditioner or cooling system installed and checked before peak summer or hot weather demand. Depending on your city or state, you may be eligible for tax credits for installing a more energy efficient air conditioning system.
- Installing a new air conditioning system is not a DIY project. Paying an HVAC contractor to install the system costs more than solely buying the unit, but you’re paying for the professional’s training, the safety precautions and the right tools. Installation involves more than just purchasing the actual furnace or air conditioner. Most companies also include a warranty.