How Much Does it Cost to Install Air Conditioning?

Installing an air conditioning unit is an investment that not only ensures comfort during hot climates but also increases the value of your home.

In this guide, we’ll explore the average cost of air conditioner installations, ranging from central air conditioning systems to mini-splits and window units.

We will also cover factors that influence these costs, such as unit sizes, SEER rating, and energy efficiency. So, whether you live in a moderate climate or a warmer one, our comprehensive guide will help you estimate your project cost and monthly costs.

How Much Does it Cost to Install a Central Air Conditioner?

The cost of installing a central air conditioner varies depending on the size of the home and the efficiency rating of the unit. Here’s a breakdown by square footage:

800 Square Foot Home

For smaller homes or apartment buildings, like an 800 square foot space, a smaller unit is typically sufficient. The average price, including labor costs and electrical modifications, falls in the range of $2,500 to $3,500.

1000 Square Foot Home

For a 1000 square foot home, expect to pay between $3,000 to $4,000 for the entire building. The cost includes the outdoor unit, indoor unit, and installation costs.

1200 Square Foot Home

The installation costs for a 1200 square foot home average around $3,500 to $4,500. A larger unit with a higher SEER level may be required for peak efficiency.

1500 Square Foot Home

For a 1500 square foot home, the cost of installing a central air conditioner unit can range from $4,000 to $6,000. These homes often require larger air conditioning units for better comfort.

1800 Square Foot Home

An 1800 square foot home may require a unit with a larger capacity. The average cost can range from $5,000 to $7,000, depending on the efficiency rating and unit brand.

2000 Square Foot Home

A 2000 square foot home, especially in hotter climates, can see costs between $5,500 and $7,500. It includes upfront costs for a larger unit and increased labor costs.

2400 Square Foot Home

For larger homes, like a 2400 square foot home, the cost could range from $6,000 to $8,000. The additional cost is often due to the need for a larger, more efficient air conditioner.

How Much Does it Cost to Install Ductless Air Conditioning

Ductless systems, also known as mini-split systems, offer a versatile and energy-efficient alternative to traditional central air conditioning systems.

The cost to install a mini-split AC ranges from $2,000 to $14,500, with an average price of around $2,500 to $3,000 per unit.

They are particularly useful in apartment buildings or individual units where a single unit can cool the entire building efficiently.

How Much Does it Cost to Install a New Air Conditioner and Ductwork?

The cost to install a new air conditioner and ductwork can range from $6,000 to $12,000. This cost includes both the air conditioning units and the duct installation labor.

It’s a common type of installation in new construction or older homes that lack existing ductwork.

How Much Does it Cost to Install a New Air Conditioner and No Ductwork?

If you already have ductwork in place, you can expect to pay between $3,500 and $7,500 to install a new central air conditioner unit.

The cost difference comes from eliminating the labor costs associated with duct installation.

How Much to Replace a Furnace and Air Conditioner

Replacing a furnace and air conditioner at the same time can be more cost-effective in the long run, especially for aging systems.

You can expect to pay between $8,000 to $15,000 for this project, depending on the specific brands and models you choose.

How Much to Replace a Compressor?

The compressor is the heart of your air conditioning system. If it fails, you can expect to pay between $1,300 and $1,800 for a replacement, including labor costs.

What Factors Determine Installation Costs?

Unit Size and Capacity

The size and capacity of the central air conditioning system you need will significantly affect the cost. Larger homes require more powerful (and typically more expensive) units to efficiently cool the entire space.

SEER Rating

The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating of a unit plays a key role in determining its cost. A higher SEER rating means greater energy efficiency, but it also means a higher upfront cost. However, a high SEER unit can lead to lower energy bills over time.

Labor Costs

Labor costs vary depending on the complexity of the installation, the rates of the HVAC contractor, and the geographical location. For example, installations that involve extensive ductwork or electrical modifications will typically be more expensive.

Equipment Quality and Brand

Higher-quality units from well-known and respected brands like American Standard generally cost more than lesser-known or budget brands. However, these units often come with better warranties and last longer, offering better value over time.


If your home doesn’t have existing ductwork, installing new ducts can significantly increase the cost of installing central air conditioning. Even if ductwork is present, it may need repairs or modifications to work with the new system.

Home Construction and Layout

The construction and layout of your home can also impact the cost. For instance, a home with multiple stories or a complex layout may require additional equipment or labor, increasing the cost.

Existing HVAC System

If you’re replacing an existing HVAC system, the contractor may need to make modifications to accommodate the new unit. This could involve removing the old system, repairing damage, or making necessary upgrades.

Permits and Inspection Fees

Depending on your local regulations, you may need to pay for permits and inspection fees related to the installation of your new central air conditioning system.

Additional Features

Adding extra features like programmable thermostats, zoning systems, or air purifiers can also increase the cost of the installation.

By understanding these factors, homeowners can make informed decisions and plan their budget accordingly for installing a central air conditioning system.

How to Save Money When Replacing Central Air Conditioner?

There are several ways to save money when replacing a central air conditioner.

Choosing an energy-efficient model can significantly reduce your monthly utility bills. You can also look for units that qualify for rebates from the manufacturer or your utility company.

Additionally, having an energy audit done can identify potential energy costs savings such as addressing air leaks or improving insulation.

Why is it So Expensive to Install an AC?

The high cost of AC installation often comes from the complexity of the job. It involves electrical work, possible ductwork, and handling refrigerants, which require professional certification.

Also, high-quality, energy-efficient models tend to be more expensive due to their potential to save money on energy bills in the long run.

Can You Install an AC Unit Yourself?

While it’s possible to install smaller units like window or portable air conditioners yourself, it’s recommended to hire a professional HVAC contractor for installing larger systems like central air conditioning or split systems.

Improper installation can lead to efficiency loss and even potential system damage.


The cost of installing air conditioning varies greatly based on the type and size of the unit, the size of your home, and the complexity of the installation.

While upfront costs can be significant, investing in a more efficient system can lead to substantial savings on your monthly costs, particularly in hot climates.

Regardless of your specific needs, it’s important to consult with a professional HVAC contractor to ensure a proper and efficient installation.

Remember, comfort in your home is an investment, and the right air conditioner can ensure you enjoy a cooler, more comfortable environment during those hotter months.

About Roy Cohen

Roy Cohen has a burning passion for heating, cooling, and ventilation. He aims to help you save money on expensive repairs and bring you the best HVAC products. He has years of experience behind him in HVAC repair and garage maintenance.

You can find Roy at his LinkedIn or his email: [email protected]

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