How much does it cost to get a central air conditioner?

If you have ever lived in a home that doesn’t have central air, you probably know how stuffy and hot the home’s air can get. Although opening windows and turning on fans can provide some cooling relief, neither option is a great substitute for central air. Many people decide to have a central air conditioning unit installed in their homes.

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If you need central air conditioning, you will likely want to know how much the unit and installation fees can run. Central air conditioning units, with installation fees included, typically cost between $3,000 and $8,000. The fees vary from situation to situation.

Size of Your Home

If you have a small home, you will likely be able to squeak by with purchasing a smaller central air conditioner for your home. Small homes do not take a big air conditioning system to cool them. However, if your home has a lot of square footage, you will likely end up paying more for a central air system. Some people even find themselves having to install more than one central air unit to cool their entire home.

Existing Vents

When you purchased your home, did you notice whether the house had existing vents and ductwork to make installing a central air conditioner easy? If the heating and cooling place you are hiring must install ductwork throughout your entire home to pipe cold air through, you can expect to pay a higher amount to install central air conditioning. If you live in an older-style home, you may have ductwork that is worn and must be replaced before a new air conditioner can be installed.

Labor Costs

According to, different heating and cooling companies charge differing amounts of money for their labor when installing an air conditioning system. The price you pay per hour for labor can play a part in how much the overall cost will be for installing the air conditioner.

Electrical and Plumbing Work

One thing you may not consider when looking to install a central air conditioning unit is the possible need for electrical work. Not all homes have the proper circuit breakers and electrical lines set up to operate an air conditioning system. If electrical work needs to be done to prepare for installing the air conditioning unit, there will be an extra cost. There may also be some unexpected plumbing costs that come with the installation of a central air conditioner.

Permit Fees

Depending on location in which you live, you, or the heating and cooling business, you may have to purchase a building modification permit to install a central air system within your home. Although permits typically are not too expensive, they do add to the cost of the project. Failure to purchase a permit to install an air conditioner when your city, village, or township requires one to be purchased can result in costly fines. It is best to purchase a permit if one is needed for the installation process.

Energy Efficiency

Purchasing a highly energy-efficient central air conditioning unit will typically cost you more in the beginning than if you purchase a less energy-efficient unit. You will likely save more money over an extended period when you purchase an air conditioner that has greater energy efficiency, however.

Brand Names

Some air conditioning manufacturers charge more for their central air conditioning units than others. The difference in price can typically be around $250 to $1,000. If you are not determined to pick a certain air conditioner brand, you can probably save yourself some money. However, you will want to check out the ratings of various air conditioner manufacturing companies to ensure you are getting a quality product. You want to choose a brand of air conditioner that will be mechanically sound for many years.

Thermostat Choice

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The type of thermostat you choose to operate your air conditioner with can also play a role in the air conditioner installation cost’s total price. Some smart thermostats that are on the market cost a bit more than traditional thermostats. However, because they are smart thermostats, they can end up saving you some money in the long term by reducing energy costs.

Interesting related article: “Ways to lower your energy bill.”