Central Air Conditioner Installation Cost

Total Installation Cost Range: $2900 - $6500
Average Materials Cost:
Average Labor Cost:
Avg. Time to Complete: 5-8 Hours for 2-3 Installers

Usually Includes: Central AC Unit, Supplies, Installation, Disposal, Permits and Inspections.

Central air conditioners keep your home comfortable and cool in the summer months, and are a main part of your homes HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system. The system includes a group of properly designed, sized, and matched equipment which may contain a furnace, heat pump, air handler, duct system and much more. Central air should be installed by a qualified HVAC company, and in most cases, a central air conditioner installation should be completed in less than 8 hours, with 2 or 3 qualified installers.

In this installation cost guide, we’ll talk central air conditioners, and help you understand more about the cost to install central air at your home. We’ll explore the items most often included on most central air estimates, as well as skills, tools and special requirements associated to the project. Finally, we’ll help you with a few places to learn more and ways to save money on central air installation cost.

Items Usually Included in a Central Air Estimate

When you get an estimate to have a central air system installed at your home, you can expect the following items to be included in most cases. Make sure you pay close attention to the itemized list of what is included in yours.

  • Central AC Condensing Unit – The big box (pictured above) that is installed on the outside of your home.
  • Evaporator Coil – Matching component that is installed to the furnace, or air handler.
  • Insulated refrigerant tubing that may be needed to connect the new unit.
  • New Mounting Pad – Concrete or fiberglass pad the outside unit sits on top of.
  • Electric disconnect box, with an electric power whip and new breaker switch.
  • Removal and disposal of old central ac unit and coil.
  • Any refrigerant that may be needed during the start-up.
  • Sheet metal and ducting supplies as needed.
  • All supplies to connect condensate drain lines and electrical connections.
  • All Permits and Inspections required by local laws in your area.

With HVAC projects like this, there are several other items that could be included as well in the cost of central air installation, they include:

  • Electric, Oil or Gas Furnace.
  • Thermostat.
  • Humidifier.
  • Air Cleaner or Purifier.
  • New Duct Vent Lines, or Cleaning.

Specialized Tools Commonly Used During the Installation of a Central AC Unit

When an HVAC Contractor gives you a quote to install your central air conditioner, they don’t usually list the tools and equipment you would need, if you were to try and do this type of project yourself. Along with basic hand tools, specialized tools may include:

  • Truck for transporting the equipment to and from your home.
  • Handtruck or Carrying Straps for moving the condensing unit into place (they can weight up to 400 pounds)
  • Torch and Brazing Rods for assembling the copper tubing line-set.
  • Vacuum Pump for cleaning the refrigerant lines of contaminants.
  • Nitrogen Tank to charge the refrigerant lines and test for leaks.
  • Sheet Metal and Plumbing Tools for working with each.
  • Electric Multimeter for testing circuits and line voltage.

Factors that Can Effect the Installation Cost

Like any home improvement type project, several things could make the cost of central air installation go up. They range from the age of your old unit, with older technology, to the weather in your area on the week you need it replaced! Review some of the factors below:

  • Efficiency Rating of the Central Air Unit. (SEER Rating, Higher cost more)
  • Location of the Outside Unit. (If the outdoor unit is on an elevated platform or even the roof, it costs more)
  • Age of System Being Replaced.
  • Supply and Demand – If the Contractor is very busy due to outside temps, it may cost more.

Various Ways You Can Save Money on a New Home Cooling System

  • Install the lowest seer rating you can afford. It will cost you more money in the long-run for power usage, but can save considerably at the time of installation.
  • Take advantage of manufacturer rebates.
  • Use federal tax credits.
  • Ask the contractor if you can provide labor yourself, to reduce the cost of installing central air
  • Barter or trade your own specialty services with those the installation company can use (if applicable)

If you ask the contractor for the best possible deal, and the lowest price they are willing to do the work for if you sign the contract, you may be surprised at the amount of savings you can get, just for asking!

Learn more about Central Air, and Installation

Rheem – A great page of information on choosing the right central air conditioner for your home. Its not meant to replace your contractor, but can help you get a great understand to prepare for speaking to him.

Mahalo – This how-to type site has a very detailed write-up on the installation process for a central air system.

Alpine Home Air – A consumer equipment sales website, also has a series of tutorials for consumers who may be interested in learning more about the installation process themselves. You will not learn how to do the whole project on your own, just an overview.

Have you recently had your central ac unit replaced? If so, please consider joining the discussion and sharing your experience with us. We love hearing from readers, and it may help others who need more information to help with their own choices about central air conditioning cost.


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