Professional air conditioning installation is available for central air systems, window AC units, wall AC units and portable AC units. Pros can install a new AC unit, remove the existing 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 for private homes, multiunit buildings, commercial spaces, and offices or business environments. Several factors affect the cost of AC installation.
Wall or window unit
Installation of a wall or window unit does not require accessing 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 installation requires some expertise, it’s often best to have a professional do the work. Window units cost about $200–$400, and wall units cost about $400–$900. Installation labor costs may include a minimum service fee, or they may be based solely on a professional’s hourly rate.
Central air systems
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 unit, the lower the SEER. Cool Tech Mechanical in Arlington, Texas, charges the following for installing new AC cooling systems in a home (with existing ducts) based on the SEER rating:
Installation and cost of a new 14 SEER single-range unit: $4,000–$6,000
Installation and cost of a new 16 SEER two-range unit: $6,000–$8,000
- Installation and cost of a new 20 SEER variable capacity unit: $8,000–$12,000
Condition of 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Outdated ducts or those with holes, disintegration or other faults will add to the cost of installing a new AC system.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 that 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—which increases costs.
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 Unit: $11,776
- This unit 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.
AC 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 for installations.
Larger cities and regions with a higher cost of living typically see higher rates for labor and AC installation services.