HVAC replacement costs can potentially range from $3,250 to $12,586 for the average sized 2,000 sq. ft home in a moderate climate zone. The cost of installation will depend on home size, if you are installing either a central AC unit, furnace, or heat pump, and if ductwork will need to be replaced.
What Factors Affect HVAC Replacement Cost?
Installation costs will change depending on a few factors that are specific to your home and location. Here are the main things that your air conditioning contractor will assess in order to give you a total price quote for your replacement HVAC system:
- Local climate conditions
- Current ductwork conditions
- Home age and construction
- HVAC unit features such as size, brand, and energy efficiency (SEER)
- Top air conditioner brands & associated installation costs
1. Local Climate Conditions
Depending on where in the US your home is located, the local region’s climate can change dramatically. A home located in the South would need an AC unit with a size capable of cooling your home due to high temperature Summers. A home in the Northern part of the US would need a much larger heating capacity as well which will affect costs. See the chart below for the average costs of a central AC unit only by TONS.
2. Do You Need New Ductwork?
If you are replacing your current air conditioning system, it’s safe to assume that you already have ductwork installed. Ductwork delivers the conditioned air from your HVAC system throughout your home through vents often found in your home’s attic and However, with time ductwork can lose its’ efficiency or may need to be altered to work with your new AC system. New ductwork installation can tack on an additional cost anywhere from $1,200 to $4,200 depending on the level of complexity to install or alter. Plan to add a few days of labor to your HVAC replacement project if you do need ductwork replacement.
3. Home Age and Construction
The ability to cool and heat your home at maximum efficiency will depend a lot on how well insulated your home is currently and the size of your home. A 2500 square foot home will need a much larger AC unit than a smaller home, which will impact installation costs. Also a house with energy efficient windows that are well insulated and sealed well with no cracks for air flow will require far less AC capacity to keep temperatures comfortable. Other factors that can affect this could be the insulation elsewhere such as the foundation, roof, attics, basements, flooring, and more.
4. HVAC Unit Features
A local and trusted HVAC service installer will be able to tell you best what features you may need or want for your home’s system. Higher priced AC unit costs will come with higher energy efficiency levels known as the SEER rating. The size of the unit will also make a different in AC unit prices. The HVAC brand you choose will also impact total installation costs. Higher end central AC units will cost more upfront. However, better brands usually come with a longer lifespan, better warranties, and smarter technology built in to fully control your home’s temperature.
Ask About Hidden Costs
There may also be some AC installation costs that are not included in the initial HVAC estimate but you will want to factor in just in case. These are the things you should ask the air conditioning contractor if the following costs are included in the initial quote they’re providing. Be sure to always ask these questions.
- 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 cost estimate for your home’s new HVAC installation.
Evaluating Price Quotes for HVAC Installation
There are a quite a few factors to consider when determining what could affect the cost of a new HVAC system installation price quote. Some factors may cause your initial cost estimate to be higher or lower. It is advised to get at least four local price quotes from different qualified HVAC contractors. Let Modernize help connect you to reliable local contractors.
High Priced AC Installations:
- HVAC installation and replacements can vary drastically in price. These disparities could be due to the type of HVAC unit—how quiet an air conditioning system is, for example. We encourage homeowners to research their desired HVAC system and make sure it is the best suited for their homes and needs.
- HVAC units can also vary in total cost depending on hardware other than the main units themselves. The increasingly popular smart thermostat is often paired with a new residential HVAC unit, which could cost as little as $30 or as much as $300.
- High-end heating and cooling contractors will likely have more equipment and overhead, which may be seen in your price quote.
- HVAC unit warranties will also impact your total installation costs. Most HVAC installers offer manufacturer’s warranties that protect you from faulty system equipment. Some might offer additional guarantees for the total HVAC installation as well, covering potential damage to your roof (if applicable.)
- Research and be aware of potential hidden HVAC costs— like needing permits and potential fines for your installation. Your heating and cooling quote should include a proper breakdown of how local or federal regulation applies to you and what your HVAC contractor will or will not do in that regard.
- For example, if your installed HVAC unit’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating is lower than 13, the Department of Energy might flag your HVAC contractor for selling it.
- An HVAC system having an average SEER rating of 16 could mean saving upward of $400 annually in comparison to other lower efficiency options.Expect an analysis of what your bills should look like after your new HVAC installation, and how you should expect these heating and cooling energy costs to change in upcoming years.
Low Priced AC Installations:
- If an HVAC contractor does not have proper insurance, they will often provide a lower bid. This may leave the homeowner responsible for HVAC laborer injuries or damages that occur. We recommend that homeowners always select a licensed HVAC contractor for their heating and cooling replacement projects.
- If a contractor doesn’t have a solid grasp of local policies or applicable local, regional, and federal incentives—like the ones found at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, they may leave that to you and subsequently lower their fees since they have less paperwork to worry about. While a contractor may charge you for help navigating the bureaucracy of air conditioning regulation, a good contractor will assure your energy compliance in your area and maximize your return on investment utilizing expertise you may lack.
- Extremely low bidders may also be desperate for a new HVAC job leads, which is never a reassuring sign. Be sure to always vet your HVAC contractor before hiring for the job.
For any bid you receive you should always double check your final HVAC installation quotes for possible pricing errors. Errors can happen when trying to determine your full HVAC system installation costs. Communicate any and all questions and concerns with your air conditioning installer before you sign off on any contracts.
For a full list of price evaluation tips see our homeowner’s guide to evaluating your HVAC cost estimates.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use our HVAC Installation Cost Calculator to get an average price for installation in your area and then talk to reliable local contractors about your specific project afterwards if you'd like.
- Type of HVAC System Installed
- Size of Unit Needed
- Cooling - Heating Capacity Needed
- Energy Efficient Levels - SEER or AFUE Ratings
- Needing Ductwork Installation - Replacement
- Local Labor Costs - Varies by Region
- Seasonality - Local Climate Extremities
Read in depth about the details here on each of these cost factors and get an estimate on how much each HVAC system will cost to install in your area.
HVAC installation costs typically range from $3,500 to $7,525, but homeowners can reduce those costs by negotiating the contract price and terms with their contractor by getting multiple quotes from local contractors or using our cost calculator to get average local prices as a negotiating basepoint.
Some brands offer extensive warranties, boast incredible customer support teams, and offer smart home technology for your new air conditioner. It really depends on your budget and what you value the most in a new home heating or cooling unit and the brand of it. Like most things, you get what you pay for and should plan your budget accordingly when looking to install a new HVAC system in your home. See our review list of the the best air conditioner brands and top furnace brands.
It is then smart to vet the recommended contractors by doing research and using a service like Modernize to instantly compare multiple quotes from the top HVAC contractors. We provide information on local service professionals along with their current Google business ratings, Better Business Bureau ratings, and even recent reviews from homeowners in your neighborhood who also completed HVAC projects with those same heating and cooling contractors.