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What Exactly is an AC Unit?
There are three main components that make up a complete AC and heating system for a home. There is an indoor furnace, an outdoor AC unit, and ductwork. In some cases, the outdoor AC unit can fail before the indoor furnace does. If the furnace has a few more years left in it, it might make the most sense to only replace the AC unit. In this scenario, budgeting for the cost of a new AC unit replacement is more practical than replacing your entire HVAC system.
- Full HVAC system
- Outdoor AC Unit
- Indoor Furnace
- Indoor Ductwork
How Much Does A New AC Unit Cost?
A new AC unit cost the average homeowner between $3,200 to $4,200 in the US. When setting your budget, keep in mind this is for a basic 14 Seer. If you need to set a budget for a high efficacy system we cover the new air conditioner cost for multi-stage outdoor units in a lower section in this article.
|Outdoor AC Unit Tonnage||Electric AC Unit Cost 14 SEER||Heat Pump AC Unit Cost 14 SEER|
|2 Ton AC Unit||$3,200||$3,500|
|2.5 Ton AC Unit||$3,200||$3,700|
|3 Ton AC Unit||$3,400||$3,700|
|3.5 Ton AC Unit||$3,800||$3,900|
|4 Ton AC Unit||$3,800||$3,900|
|5 Ton AC Unit||$3,900||$4,200|
What’s Included In The Outdoor Air Conditioner Replacement
- Removal & disposal of the current outdoor condenser.
- Install a new condenser to city code.
- Installs disconnect & whip, proper max circuit protection fuses, and locking caps.
- Acid flush line set to accommodate new refrigerant.
- Calibrate system to manufacture standards
- 10-year parts warranty & 1-year labor warranty
What is the difference between a heat pump and an electric outdoor air conditioner system?
If you’re looking for a quick top-level explanation of the differences in AC unit types we can start with an electric AC unit. An electric air conditioner unit matches up with both gas or straight elected HVAC systems, it also only runs when you are cooling your home and it does not run when heating your home. A heat pump runs all year round because it is used to both heat and cool your home. The AC unit type is also a factor when answering “how much is a new AC unit”. A heat pump AC unit is going to cost slightly more than an electric AC unit because it runs year-round.
Heat Pump AC Unit
If you are interested in a heat pump air conditioner unit for your home, we can go through some of the pros and cons of this AC system. The pros are it’s the most energy-efficient way to heat your home in the winter and is one of the most popular AC units on the mark. The cons are it runs year-round, making its life expectancy a few years less than an electric HVAC unit; however, the energy-saving does offsets the air conditioner replacement cost. A heat pump also does not perform that well in temperatures under 32 degrees because the condenser converts the outdoor ambient temperature into heat for the home. Emergency heat strips can be added to help with this problem.
Electric AC Unit
An outdoor electric AC unit usually is paired with an indoor electric or gas furnace. When comparing the pros and cons of an electric air conditioner unit, you really need to put the infuses on the furnace. A straight electric indoor air handler is the most energy inefficient way to heat your home, and if you are planning to live in your home for more than 5 years, this route usually doesn’t make sense. A gas furnace costs more to operate than a heat pump but has a longer life expectancy. The rule of thumb when budgeting for an AC replacement cost is to use like for like because changing the system type will most likely double the installation price.
What System Type Do You Have
If you are wondering what system type you have there are a few things you can do to find out. When your heater is running and if the outdoor HVAC unit is running that means you have a heat pump. If your heater is running and your outdoor AC unit stays off, that means you have an electric air conditioner unit.
New AC unit cost recap
Here is a quick recap for “how much is central air to install.” A 2-ton AC unit cost is going to run around $3,300 to $3,500. A 2.5-ton AC unit cost is going to be about $3,300 to $3,700 installed. A 3-ton AC unit cost runs homeowner around $3,400 to $3,700. When it comes to a 3.5-ton AC unit cost, you will pay around $3,500 to $3,700. A 4-ton AC unit cost is $3,700 to $3,800 on average. When it comes to a 5-ton AC unit cost, you will see pricing around $3,800 to $4,000.
Cost Of An Air conditioner Unit Per Region In USA
Depending on where you live in the US, an outside AC unit cost can vary as much as a few hundred dollars. An air conditioning unit cost will average around $3,100 for northern states will $3,400 is the average for southern states.
System size and SEER rating can vary.
Temperature differences between regions change the size of the air conditioner you need for your home. If you live up north, you don’t need to run your air conditioner that much. Regulations allow you to buy a lower SEER system in this region, and the AC unit doesn’t have to be as big as the ones down south. We use our air conditioners a lot in the southeastern and southwestern regions. We are regulated to use higher-efficiency AC systems, and the AC units have to be significantly larger to handle the demand.
Usually, you will pay a little less for an air conditioner replacement in the northern states simply because the AC unit doesn’t have to be as big as what is required in the southern US.
- The Northern region of the US will typically use a straight electric AC system. Heat pumps do not work well in areas that routinely reach below zero temperatures. The Northern region uses special furnaces that better handle the cold, and these types of oil furnaces pair best with a straight electric AC unit.
- The Southeast is the only region ideal for a heat pump AC system. Here we experience moderate to high levels of humidity, and we have mild winters. Such an environment is ideal for a heat pump, one of the most energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. We can also use a straight electric air conditioner without a problem.
- The Southwest usually uses an electric AC unit to cool a home, primarily due to low humidity. Many people who use specialized air handlers to add moisture back into the air find electric AC units commonly pair better with indoor air handlers. If you live in the coastal area of the Southwest with higher humidity, you can get away with using a heat pump AC system.
Regional Outdoor Electric air conditioner replacement price
|Size of Home||Northern New Electric AC Unit Cost||Southern New Electric AC Unit Cost|
|800-1000 Sq. Ft. Home Replacement Cost||$3,000||$3,300|
|1000-1200 Sq. Ft. Home Replacement Cost||$3,000||$3,300|
|1200-1400 Sq. Ft. Home Replacement Cost||$3,100||$3,400|
|1400-1700 Sq. Ft. Home Replacement Cost||$3,100||$3,500|
|1700-2000 Sq. Ft. Home Replacement Cost||$3,200||$3,700|
|2000-2500 Sq. Ft. Home Replacement Cost||$3,300||$3,800|
Calculations are made for home air conditioners by designing for the outdoor to indoor temperature splits. For example, Texas needs a 20 to 25-degree temperature split, meaning that if it is 95 degrees outside, the air conditioner will keep your home around 75 degrees inside. In a state like Minnesota, where the summer highs are only around 85 degrees, the home only needs a 10-degree split. A 20-degree split will require a larger, more costly air conditioner than a 10-degree split. So, AC unit replacement costs will vary slightly per region of the US.
Heat Pump vs. Electric Air Conditioning
As we touched on before, a new outdoor heat pump AC unit is one of the most efficient systems on the market. The biggest problem with a heat pump is that it does not play well with furnace types other than those compatible with the outdoor heat pump AC unit, which is bad news for those that live in a dryer climate where particular air handlers/furnaces are needed. It heats more efficiently than an electric and gas system because a heat pump uses the outdoor ambient temperature and converts it to heat. It pushes the heat to the indoor furnace to distribute to the home. It does not use combustion or very much electricity to warm a home. Once temperatures drop below -10 degrees, a heat pump starts running into problems trying to create heat with that low of an ambient temperature. It has emergency heat strips that help to pick up the slack, but at the end of the day, it is just not designed to work in that cold of a temperature. The cost of a new heat pump AC unit is a little more than an electric air conditioner, but you will make up the difference in savings.
New electric air conditioners play well with different furnaces. This type of AC unit works well with the specialty air handler/furnaces needed for dry climates and the gas and oil furnaces needed up north. Overall, an electric AC unit is a much more diverse AC unit. The ideal application for it is in the northern and southwestern states in the US. The cost of a new electric air conditioner is more cost-effective than a heat pump and performs better in the northern states.
Most Cost Effective AC Unit Brand?
A new air conditioner cost can vary as much as $800 depending on the brand you are looking for. If you are asking “how much is a new AC unit” and are looking to get the best deal, you’ll probably want to consider a Goodman or York unit for around $3200. A new AC unit cost for some of the more well-known brands, like Carrier or Trane, is going to cost about $3600.
|Air Conditioner Brand||3 Ton 14 SEER Average AC Unit Installation Cost|
Each HVAC company has a different price model.
- For a quick disclaimer, take the above pricing with a grain of salt. The cost of a new AC unit installation falls more in line with national averages based on equipment cost. However, the biggest contributor to how much a new air conditioner unit replacement cost is the HVAC contractor. Pricing will vary from contractor to contractor. Some HVAC companies spend lots of money are marketing and salesmen making their overhead a lot higher than an air conditioning contractor who doesn’t spend money that way. So, you could experience a cost difference of 30% from the contractor or contractor. The above pricing is based on a fair company that is not overcharging for a new AC unit replacement. If an HVAC company is presenting pricing that is much higher than when is in this article, I would go back to work for more bids.
The purchasing power of an air conditioning company matters.
- Another reason an air conditioning company might not be cost-competitive for every brand is because of its purchasing power. An example of this is, here at Atlas AC Repair we use Carrier as our primary brand for AC replacements. Since we run so much volume through them, we get special pricing we pass to our customers. The downside to this is we don’t run a lot of volume through other brands, which in turn we don’t get the same discounts. We can install a new Carrier AC unit cheaper than we can install a Goodman AC unit. If you have a specific brand in mind you want for your home, I recommend finding an air conditioning company that focuses on that brand. This will help to keep the new AC unit replacement cost as low as possible without sacrificing quality.
How much does a High Efficiency AC Unit cost?
There is a huge cost difference for high efficiency. How much an air conditioner costs to replace can vary from $6000 depending on the efficiency of the AC. A new 3 Ton 14 Seer AC unit installed costs $3,600 while a 22 Seer AC unit costs $11,000.
|AC Unit Tonnage||14 SEER Single Stage||15 SEER Single Stage||16 SEER 2 Stage||17.5 SEER 5 Speed||22 SEER Variable Speed|
|2 Ton AC Unit||$3,500||$3,600||$5,700||$8,600||$10,400|
|3 Ton AC Unit||$3,700||$3,900||$6,000||$10,000||$10,900|
|4 Ton AC Unit||$3,800||$4,200||$6,300||$10,700||$11,700|
|5 Ton AC Unit||$4,100||$4,200||$6,400||$10,700||$12,600|
What is the difference in air conditioner stages?
The number of stages you have on your AC unit has a big impact on temperature consistency, humidity, and energy use. The more stages you have, the more control you have for the air quality in your home.
Single Stage Delivers Little Control
- A single-stage AC unit operates at 100%, there is not an in-between. Because it runs 100% the runtime is very short. It runs all out, hits the set temperature quickly, then shuts off. This is a good thing, right? Not necessarily, this creates a couple of problems when you compared to the multi-stage AC units.
- A lot of times what happens with a single-stage air conditioning unit is there can be a temperature discrepancy throughout your home. Some rooms can be much warmer or cooler than other rooms. This is because your air conditioner is reaching its set temperature too fast and does not allow the air to be evenly distributed.
- There is also a similar problem with humidity. Single-stage air conditioning systems are not always able to regulate the humidity in your home due to the short-run cycle. If you have expensive furniture or art, the high humidity levels can damage your valuables. Even though a new single-stage AC is the most cost-effective air conditioner unit that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best fit for you.
2 Stage Delivers Some Control
- A two-stage AC unit has 2 operating speeds. A lot of times the first stage operates around 65% compacity. The second stage operates a 100% compacity. When a 2 stage AC cools your home, it starts off with the first stage at 65%. If the first stage is not able to cool your home, it kicks up to the second stage at 100%. The 2-stage run time is longer than the single stage. This is going to do a much better job removing humidity and evening out the temperature in each room. This is a good option if you have a 2-story home. A new two-stage air conditioner is a good mid-range cost and quality air conditioning unit that works well for many people with larger homes. How much does an AC unit cost for a 16 Seer 2 stage air conditioner? It is going to run around $5,300.
Variable Speed Delivers Total Control
- 5 Speed and variable speed AC operate at multiple different outputs. These are designed to run all the time at the lowest speed. Once the lowest speed can satisfy the indoor temperature, it moves to the next stages until it hits temperature then starts stepping back down through the stages. It can control your house’s temperature within 1 degree. Because it runs for a long time on the lowest stage you can set the humidity desired levels. These AC systems work great for large homes, homes with high ceilings, and homes with lots of rooms. These systems will also protect your artwork and expensive furniture along with keeping your electric bill low. A new variable speed air conditioner is going to cost the most out of all your options but it is by far going to deliver the highest air quality, control, and energy efficiency available on the market.
SEER Cost Recap
How much is a new air conditioner can range from $3,500 to 10,400 depending on the Seer rating you are looking for. A 14 seer AC unit costs the average homeowner around 3,500 to 4,100 depending on the air conditioner tonnage you are needing. A 16 Seer AC unit cost has become one of the most common air conditioners because most utilities offer a rebate for 16 Seer and up. A 16 Seer 2 stage AC unit costs around $5,000 to $5,300 for a new replacement. A variable speed AC unit is going to run from $8,600 to $10,400 to replace.
What does higher SEER save me?
New 14 Seer AC Unit vs New High Seer AC Unit.
- Seer rating has to do with the energy efficiency of the air conditioning, cooling, part of your AC unit. It does not apply to the heating part of your furnace. Generally speaking, the only Seer option that pays for itself is a 15 Seer AC unit over a 14 Seer AC unit. Once you factor in the rebate it should ROI around 5 years. All other Seer options will not ROI, over the 14 Seer option, in the life expectancy of the AC system.
Your Existing AC Unit vs New High Seer AC Unit.
- However, if you compare your existing AC unit to a new higher Seer option, most of the time it will ROI in the expected life of the AC unit. It all depends on if you are interested in the best short-term value or the best long-term value option.
- If you have solar on your home or are planning on getting solar in the future, it makes sense to go up in Seer rating. The saving you would get for the reduced number of solar panels and batteries would be big.
- If you are environmentally conscious, it’s definitely going to make sense to go with the higher Seer option. The higher Seer options will help to lower your environmental footprint. There are also high Seer options available that are not included on the chart.
Are there any AC unit add-ons to consider?
How much does it cost to replace a central air conditioning unit might change based on how many add-ons you need for your new AC. There are few things you may want to consider depending on the age of the home to the upgrading your thermostat.
|Install New Basic Thermostat||$75|
|Install New Programmable Thermostat||$400|
|Run New Low Volt Thermostat Line||$250|
|New Condenser Pad||$140|
|Install New Line Set - Single Story Home||$575|
|Install New Line Set - Two Story Home||$700|
|New Line Set Cover||$70|
|Install New Surge Protector||$110|
Install Basic Thermostat
- The basic thermostat that we offer our customers is a Vive thermostat. In our experience, Vive is one of the most reliable and accurate thermostats that are budget-friendly. There are a lot of other good brands out there, I would recommend talking to your contractor to see what they prefer. A basic thermostat is not going to work for the higher-end variable speed air conditioner units, in that case, you are going to need a programmable thermostat that can community to the air conditioner. One problem that happens to thermostats over time is they lose their accuracy. You can have a tech recalibrate it or you can replace it with a new one. If you are buying a single-stage AC unit and you have a thermostat over 10 years old, I would consider replacing it with a basic thermostat. This will help to keep the temperature in your home is a lot more in line with what the thermostat is telling you. A new basic thermostat is going to be the most cost-effective option available.
Install Programmable Thermostat
- A good programmable thermostat we use for our customers is a Honeywell Pro thermostat. The areas these thermostats excel at is once they are fully set up you can forget about it. You don’t have to remember to switch it from AC to heat or turn the air down before you everyone goes to bed. It does it all for you. This also helps with energy savings because if everyone leaves the house during the week to go to work and school you can have the thermostat automatically adjust the temperature when no one is home, saving you money. If you are looking to get a multi or variable-speed air conditioner unit, a thermostat like this should be included in the pricing. The cost of a new Honeywell Pro is a good mid-range programmable thermostat.
Run New Low Volt Thermostat Line
- It is not very often we need to run a new thermostat line but, in some cases, it is required. If you have a single-stage air conditioner unit right now but you want to upgrade to the high efficient variable speed air conditioner, a new low volt line will need to run. The reason is so the thermostat can properly communicate to the AC unit. So, if you have a single-stage air conditioning unit and you’re looking to upgrade to multi or variable, I would plan on upgrading the low volt line.
New Condenser Pad
- The condenser pad is what the air conditioner unit sits on outside. A new condenser pad is not always required for a new air conditioning unit installation. A lot of times the one you have now will work just fine. In some cases, it makes sense to replace the condenser pad. If the existing pad is cracked, it needs to be replaced to keep the air conditioner system from getting unlevel in the future. If your existing air conditioning unit is unlevel now, I would go ahead and replace it to make sure the contractor properly levels the pad. This will prevent a lot of repairs in the future. The cost of a new condenser pad is pretty reasonable, and many companies include it in their pricing.
Install a New Line Set
- How much does it cost to install central air may change a little if you need a new line set. A line set is what caries the freon back and forth between the furnace and the air conditioner unit. A new line set for your air conditioner system falls under the same line of thinking as your condenser pad. In most cases, it is not required, the line set you have now should work just fine. Many older air conditioner systems use a smaller diameter line set than the new AC units. In this situation, you have to replace the line set to accommodate the new air conditioner unit. The cost can vary based on how far the line set run is, that’s why we included two-story pricing.
New Line Set Cover
- A line set cover is what covers the line set from the elements. A new line set cover should not affect how much an air conditioning unit should run by a homeowner. Some cities require to replace the cover at the time of a new ac unit installation, even if what you have now is in good condition. In other scenarios, if you looking to keep your home as classy as possible, you might consider a new cover for your line set.
Install Surge Protector
- Surge protectors work great for preventing damage to your air conditioner system when there are power irregularities. It can protect your system from lightning surges and other power surges from the utility company. This can help to reduce the number of repairs you might have in the future and help the system to last longer. The cost of a new surge protector can be worth it at the end of the day because it will help prevent a power surge from taking out your AC unit. We tell our customers that many AC repair San Antonio can be prevented when you have a surge protector on your air conditioner.
How to Get the Best Deal!
You might be asking, how much does air conditioning cost? Does it really cost that much? Am I being overcharged?
There is a couple of basic things you can look at to see if a company is going to have high pricing. Most HVAC companies overspend on marketing which in turn drives up the overall cost of an AC unit replacement. Many companies will spend 20% of their revenue on marketing. That means instead of spending $3,500 on an AC unit installation, you are now spending $4,200. You can partially avoid this by not using ads, like Google ads, or 3rd party directories, like Home Advisor and Angie’s List. Companies that use these methods most certainly drive up the price. Another simple thing you can look at is, do they have a salesman? A salesman is going to drive up the cost by another 10%. So if you don’t find the right company you can end up spending $4,500 for an AC unit replacement that should have only cost $3,500 once you factor in the salesman and marketing cost.
12 Things Every Homeowner Should Know Before Buying a New AC
The HVAC industry still operates like the wild west, and many homeowners are left to fend for themselves. Atlas AC created the AC Buyers Guide to prevent homeowners from being exploited by untrustworthy AC companies.
Use this guide to help you select the best AC Company for your next AC Replacement.