Atlas AC Repair, LLC

What is the Install Cost of a New AC Unit in 2021

A new outdoor AC unit installed costs the average homeowner $3,300 to $4,000 to replace a basic outdoor air conditioner unit.

What Exactly is an AC Unit?

There are 3 main parts that make up a complete AC and heating system in your home. You have your indoor furnace, your outdoor AC unit, and ventilation throughout your home. In some cases, your AC unit can fail before your furnace does. If your furnace is in good working condition, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to do a full AC and furnace replacement. In this scenario, 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 Ventilation 

How Much Does A New AC Unit Cost?

A fair AC replacement cost for a homeowner to replace a basic AC unit will cost around $3,300 to $4,000.

Outdoor AC Unit TonnageHeat Pump AC Unit Cost 14 SEERElectric AC Unit Cost 14 SEER
2 Ton AC Unit Replacement Cost$3,500$3,300
2.5 Ton AC Unit Replacement Cost$3,700$3,300
3 Ton AC Unit Replacement Cost$3,700$3,400
3.5 Ton AC Unit Replacement Cost$3,700$3,500
4 Ton AC Unit Replacement Cost$3,800$3,700
5 Ton AC Unit Replacement Cost$4,000$3,800

What Included In The Outdoor Air Conditioner Replacement?

Remove and install a new outdoor AC unit/condenser.
  • Removal & disposal of the current outdoor condenser. 
  • Installation of the condenser to city code. 
  • Installs disconnect & whip, proper max circuit protection fuses, and locking caps.
  • Flush line set to accommodate new refrigerant. 
  • 10-year parts warranty & 1-year labor warranty
Outdoor carrier ac unit

What is the deference between a Heat pump and Electric outdoor air conditioner system?

You may be asking, “how much is a new AC unit,” the price can vary based on the type of AC system you have. A heat pump AC unit is going to cost around 8% more than a straight electric AC unit. 

Heat Pump AC Unit

  • A heat pump air conditioner works very differently from an electric AC unit. The short answer is a heat pump is used for cooling and heating. An electric AC unit is only used for cooling and has nothing to do with the heating function of your HVAC system. That being said since a heat pump is used for both heating and cooling it has more parts to have that function. That makes the cost of a heat pump condenser more than an electric AC unit. The furnace on a heat pump is only there to destitute the air throughout your home and act as an emergency heater if your heat pump is struggling to keep up.

Electric AC Unit

  •  An electric AC unit has only one function, unlike a heat pump. Electric systems are only used for cooling and have nothing to do with warming your home. Since it is only used to cool your home, it has fewer parts than a heat pump making it a little cheaper. It is also used less throughout the year because it is not needed in winter. This lowers the number of repairs you might have over a heat pump AC unit.
What System Do I Have?
  • It really depends on the type of furnace/air handler you have. If your furnace is the primary source of heating in your home, you have an electric AC unit. This system type would include gas, straight electric, and oil furnaces. To be more accurate, you can Google the model number on the outdoor unit and it should pull up more exact information. 

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 are going to 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 are going to see pricing around $3,800 to $4,000.

3 outdoor ac units

Cost Of An Air conditioner Unit Per Region In USA?

When looking for how much does a new AC unit cost, depending on where you live in America your cost can vary a few hundred dollars. Air conditioning unit costs can range from $3,000 to $3,800 based on where you are located.

System size and Seer rating can vary.

The temperature differences between regions changes the size of air conditioner you need for your home. If you live up north, you simply don’t need to run your air conditioner that much. So, regulations allow you to buy a lower Seer system and the AC unit doesn’t have to be as big as the ones down south. We use our air conditioner a lot in the southeastern and southwestern regions. We are regulated to use higher efficiency AC system and the AC units have to be bigger to handle the demand.

Normally you are going to 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 is typically going to 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 to better handle the cold. These types of oil furnaces pair best with a straight electric AC unit.
  • The Southeastern is the only region the is ideal for a heat pump AC system. We have moderate to high levels of humidity, and we have mild winters. This type of environment is ideal for a heat pump AC. A heat pump is one of the most energy-efficient heating and cooling system. We can also use a straight electric air conditioner without a problem.
  • The Southwest is normally going to use an electric AC unit to cool a home. It is largely due to the low humidity level. Many people use specialized air handlers to add moister back into the air. It is most common to find an electric AC unit to better pair with the indoor air handler. If you are in the coastal area in the southwest region with higher humidity you can get by using a heat pump AC system.

Regional Outdoor Electric air conditioner replacement price

Size of HomeNorthern New Electric AC Unit CostSouthern 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

The way calculations are done for home air conditioners is by designing for the outdoor to indoor temperature splits. For example, Texas needs a 20 to 25-degree temperature split. What this means is, if it is 95 degrees outside the air conditioner will keep your home around 75 degrees inside. In a state like Minnesota when the summer highs are only around 85 degrees, the home only needs a 10-degree split. A 20-degree split is going to require a bigger air conditioner than a 10-degree split, which will cost more. It will vary slightly on how much does an AC unit costs pre-region of the US for an AC unit replacement.

Heat Pump Vs. electric air conditioning

As we touched on before, a new heat pump AC unit is one of the most efficient systems on the market. The biggest problem with a heat pump is it does not play well with other furnace types. It requires a furnace that is only compatible with the outdoor heat pump AC unit. This is bad news for the special air handlers/furnaces needed in a dryer climate. The reason it heats more efficiently than an electric and gas system is 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 is not using combustion or very much electricity to warm a home. The problem is 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 definitely make up the difference in savings.

When it comes to a new electric air conditioner, it plays well with different furnaces. These AC systems work great for the specialty air handler/furnaces needed for dry climates. It also works well for gas and oil furnaces, which is a great solution for 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.

Related Articles.

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 brand agnostic and are looking for the best deal, you’ll probably want to consider a Goodman or York unit.

Air Conditioner Brand3 Ton 14 SEER Average AC Unit Installation Cost
American Standard$3,800

If you are brand agnostic and are looking for the best deal for a new air conditioner cost. You are probably going to land on a brand like a Goodman or York for the lowest 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 $3,700 while a 22 Seer AC unit costs $9,100.

AC Unit Tonnage14 SEER Single Stage15 SEER Single Stage16 SEER 2 Stage17.5 SEER 5 Speed22 SEER Variable Speed
2 Ton AC Unit$3,500$3,600$5,000$7,600$8,600
3 Ton AC Unit$3,700$3,800$5,300$7,900$9,100
4 Ton AC Unit$3,800$4,000$5,300$8,600$9,800
5 Ton AC Unit$4,100$4,100$5,300$9,300$10,400

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. 
AC unit

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.
dog beside an outdoor ac unit

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.

Other considerations

  • 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.
Stand alone AC unit

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

Download the Atlas AC Buyers Guide before you buy 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.


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