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Central Air Conditioner Unit Installation Cost Calculator – HVAC Systems

Keeping the HVAC system costs of a central air conditioner installation within reason is part of the overall budget plan for new home construction, remodeling or renovation projects. Determining central air conditioning costs for a repair or replacement on your HVAC system may seem like a simple process, but there’s a little more to it than first meets the eye.

  • The average HVAC system cost of a new replacement air conditioner unit can range from  $3,500 and $7,525 for price of installation. This is the typical cost range for a central air conditioning unit installation. However, it will also vary by your home’s square footage & the local costs of HVAC installation by contractors in your area.
  • The cost of an HVAC system for your home is determined by the HVAC contractor calculating the total square footage of the property to find the air conditioner unit size (tonnage ad BTUs) necessary for home efficiency + the air conditioner unit installation price.

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You never realize how much you rely on your HVAC unit until you need a new system. Heating and AC help you keep a cool head—literally—but when it comes to air conditioner replacements, it can be hard to know where to begin and how much a central air conditioner installation could cost you. With HVAC systems, it’s important to purchase the right size unit for your home, because a system that’s too large or too small can have a real impact on your heating and cooling bills. And even then, not all products are created equal. Your unit’s efficiency, expressed as its SEER rating, can also affect your overall utility expenses in a big way.

The ModHVAC Cost Calculator was designed to help you navigate these variables. To use the system, you’ll need to indicate whether you’re hoping to replace an existing unit or buying a new model entirely—if you’re purchasing a system for new construction, for instance. If you aren’t putting in a brand new system, tell us whether you need to replace your home’s heat pump or its AC unit. It’s okay if you’re not sure—one of our Pros can help you decide.

To personalize your estimate, let us know both your zip code and the square footage for your home. This helps the system derive the average costs for your location, as well as select an air conditioning unit size that will effectively heat or cool your home.

Your HVAC installation cost results will indicate the size and what you can expect to spend. You’ll get three different estimates: one for the most popular unit in your area, a high-efficiency system, and an economy price, if you’re hoping to save money upfront. We’ll also show you the SEER efficiency rating for each price. Remember, the higher the SEER rating of your system, the more money you’ll save on your electricity bills, so purchasing a slightly more expensive unit with a higher efficiency can really pay off over time.

In many cases, a new HVAC unit can last 10 years or more, so you want to make the most informed decision you can. After you find your air conditioner cost estimate, one of our local partner HVAC pros will be standing by to answer all your additional questions. Just click the Connect with a Local Pro button, and we’ll have you set up in no time.

If you buy a system that is too large, it will cost you more for the initial purchase plus your monthly bill will be higher. If the HVAC system is too small, your home won’t be cooled or heated properly.


What Size Air Conditioner Do You Need?

There are several methods available to estimate the size of the air conditioner unti size needed for your home. Each HVAC unit size calculation method has its own specific things to look for.

– HVAC Sizing – Square Feet Alone

while this method gives an estimate on cooling requirements, it isn’t accurate for determining heat requirements. In order to get an accurate estimate, additional information is needed along with the square footage of the home. Other considerations that factor into the equation include the climate where you live, if the house is shaded or if it receives continuous direct sunlight, how much insulation is in the home, does the home have double-paned windows, and how “secure” is the home in terms of not having cracks, crevices, holes, and leaks that would allow for air or heat to escape.

–  Square Feet + Climate – Air Conditioner Size Calculations

Uusing both square footage and regional climate as factors allows an estimate of both heating and cooling needs. With heating, along with the climate, the region itself must also be considered. For example, what’s needed to maintain comfortable temperatures in Michigan during the winter for heating will be less than what’s needed in Florida and vice versa in the warmer months.

– Sizing to Your Old HVAC Unit

The key to this method is if you’re purchasing for HVAC replacement purposes, the current system can serve as a gauge for the air conditioner unit & size of the equipment needed. In order for this method to work, you’ll need to know if the current HVAC system has also been sized correctly. A tip to keep in mind is if your air conditioning system runs continuously regardless of outside temperatures throughout the year, consider it a properly sized HVAC unit. If it runs in spurts, cutting off and on regardless of temperature, most likely the air conditioning system is too large for the home.

– Manual J HVAC Calculation

This method is considered as the top-of-the-line when it comes to sizing a system. It requires the ability to understand how to use tech-savvy software. This method should only be used by contractors with the knowledge and experience to use it correctly.

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Things to Consider with Air Conditioner Unit Costs

Before purchasing a new HVAC unit system, there are a few areas where you can help defray the costs of a new air conditioner replacement with some simple check-ups, as well as by making informed decisions.

  • Inspect HVAC ductwork.
  • Check for holes in ducts or detachment.
  • Check for dirt and debris buildup.
  • Have the ducts cleaned before an HVAC installation.

One area that should be inspected before any work is started is the efficiency of the ductwork networked throughout your home. Problems happen with ductwork over the years that make the ducts less efficient due to age and deterioration. Another problem is wildlife and pests finding a way into your attic. These critters can create holes in the ducts or cause the ducts to become unattached. Dirt and debris can also be an issue, not only with blocked vents but also in affecting air quality, so it’s a good idea to have the ducts cleaned and serviced to ensure your new system will distribute air efficiently.

If you’re considering relocating the indoor or outdoor system to a more convenient spot, know that it is a big undertaking that will have an impact on the initial calculation of cost for a new system due to rerouting ductwork and electrical rewiring.

Upgrading the base or pad that the outside HVAC unit system sits on is also an option, especially if the new air conditioner unit needs a larger area to reside. The cost of removing and replacing the original HVAC base pad must also be calculated into the initial air conditioner installation price.

Insulation plays a big role in how efficiently a new HVAC system operates. If this is a new home or a room addition, you’ll want to have the appropriate amount of insulation installed based on the size of the area. For an older home, it may be time to have the existing insulation replaced and/or upgraded with high-quality insulation.

If you’re reverting the home from window units that use a ductless air conditioner or central AC system, you can use the same HVAC sizing methods used to determine a new or replacement air conditioning unit system.

Other things to consider are upgrading the circuit breaker box, service panel, breakers, and wiring. If the HVAC contractor is not licensed to do this work, you may need to factor in the cost of an electrician to your air conditioning replacement cost.


Basic Cooling Formula for HVAC Units

A basic cooling formula used by some HVAC contractors and homeowners to arrive at an estimate goes like this: every 600 square feet in the home needs 1 ton of cooling. An easy calculation example would be a 1200 square foot home x 1 ton/600 square feet equals 2 tons. A 2400 square foot home would need 4 tons. If the home is new or relatively new, chances are it is well insulated and doesn’t have any points of entry for leaking. This type of home would be more in line with 1000 square feet per 1 ton.

Basic BTU Information HVAC Systems

Heating power is measured by BTUs—British Thermal Units—and knowing your BTU needs is another step in calculating the cost. In order to size a home heating system, calculations are necessary to determine how many BTUs of heat are lost to the outside. To measure heat, use the formula of one ton equals 12,000 BTU. If you’re considering a 2.5-ton system, the formula would be 2.5 tons x 12,000 BTU/ton = 30,000 BTU.

BTUs are also used for cooling to measure the amount of heat removed from a room by an HVAC unit. In other words, you’ll need to know how much heat enters the home and buy an air conditioner system that is capable of removing it to get an accurate HVAC installation cost.

Air Conditioner Unit – Maintenance Costs

As with any new appliance, if you don’t maintain it, the lifespan is drastically reduced. While the HVAC system is under warranty and as long as the warranty and service agreement cover issues, you’ll only need to add the price of a warranty/agreement program to the initial bill. As the unit ages and the warranty expires, repairs and replacements can add up. To cover yourself for future issues, consider purchasing an extended warranty from the get-go. It adds to the overall air conditioner calculation for the amount you’ll spend upfront but in the long run, extended coverage can keep costs down and more money in your pocket.

For your part, doing a few simple maintenance projects can also keep the system running smoothly, resulting in year-round comfort, better efficiency, and reasonable energy costs. A couple of things to keep an eye on is to ensure nothing is blocking the vents or impeding continuous air flow. This can be as easy as keeping any shrubbery, vines, plants, and flowers away from the outside unit. Inside, keep vents unblocked by periodically dusting the louver vents. You also don’t want to place any furniture flush with the wall blocking the vent system. These are all important factors in determining your HVAC installation cost.


Additional HVAC System Costs

There are also air conditioning costs that most likely are not included in the initial HVAC installation estimate but you will want to factor in, if applicable for central air conditioner prices. These are the things you should ask the HVAC contractor about and whether or not the cost is included in the initial estimate they’re providing. These include:

  • If a permit is required from your local city or county building department. The unit will also require an inspection by a representative of the building department to ensure the system is up to code.
  • If you live in an older home that has asbestos or lead paint, there may be an additional cost to test, remove, or replace the material.
  • If any of the following requires additional work involved with the installation process – plumbing, electrical work, removal of an existing system, installing the HVAC system at a new location, modifying the framing or surfacing of the home, or bringing any systems up to code – it will also factor into the estimate.

HVAC Contractors and Online Cost Calculators

 

One of the first things an HVAC contractor should do is size up your home to determine how large the system needs to be to fulfill the needs of your home and determine your HVAC installation cost. With the help of many online calculators available at HVAC retailers, local city government websites, local utility companies, and other free calculators, you can check your daily operating cost.  Simply plug in the following information about the potential unit:

  • tonnage size
  • number of BTUs
  • electric rate for kilowatt hours (kWh)
  • number of hours of the day unit will be in use
  • estimated hours of usage for the month
  • SEER- Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio
  • level of the unit
  • number of systems in the home

It’s important to do the math and understand the bottom line of all the factors that make up the HVAC installation cost of a new air conditioning system before you hand over a credit card. With calculations done by a professional contractor compared against your own figures, you can compare and ask questions—especially if your HVAC installation  calculations aren’t in agreement with the heating and cooling contractor.

With this type of substantial investment you’ll be making for the purchase of a new HVAC system, and the possibility of unintentional miscalculations, you want to make sure everything is correct. For the best and most accurate air conditioner installation costs, contact your local utility company and ask if they provide the service or you can hire an energy auditor to do the job to determine your correct HVAC installation cost.

A homeowner relaxes next to a radiator in her home.

 

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