How Much Does an AC Unit Cost to Install?

  • Typical Range: $3,810 to $7,480
  • National Average: $5,644

As a homeowner, you will need to consider your home’s square footage, the brand you want, and the SEER2 rating you wish to achieve when choosing an AC unit. Typically, new AC units cost between $3,810 and $7,480, with a national average of $5,644. An average installation cost for a 2,000 square foot home would be around $5,100, while the AC unit itself would cost around $1,980.

Central air conditioning is a necessity in most regions during the summer when temperatures soar. Your home’s air may seem less cold than it did in the past, especially if your AC unit is more than 10 to 15 years old. Central air conditioning costs are determined by a few primary factors, including the amount of ductwork required, the size of the unit, and the SEER2 rating. Keep reading to learn all you need to know about central air conditioning unit costs, as the benefits of a new unit quickly outweigh installation costs.

Factors in Calculating Central AC Unit Cost

Central air conditioning units are a popular choice for home cooling, but the cost of installation varies based on several factors such as the size of the house and unit, age of the home, and energy-efficiency rating. These factors play a crucial role in determining the overall cost of installing a central AC unit and should be carefully considered before making a decision.


Installation costs vary greatly and greatly impact total central AC unit costs. Labor costs for installing a new unit without updating ductwork average $1,250 to $2,300. For complete ductwork and unit installation, average costs are $2,550 to $3,600. Unit costs vary based on type.

System Type

Central AC units are the popular choice to pump cool air throughout the house, often combined with the heating unit. Ductless split systems can be installed for $2,000 to $14,500. Window AC units can be installed for $150 to $500 and portable units are similarly priced.

AC Installation Costs by Tons

When choosing AC units, size isn’t the only factor to consider. They are rated in BTUs (British thermal units) and come in capacities from 1.5 to 5 tons. To determine the right size for your home, multiply the square footage by 18 (18 BTUs per sq ft) and add 25% if you have high ceilings. Divide the result by 12,000 to get the required tonnage. For example, a 2,000 sq ft home requires 36,000 BTUs, so dividing by 12,000 yields a 3-ton AC unit. 3- and 4-ton units are common. It’s best to have a technician evaluate your home to avoid choosing a unit that’s too small or too large.

Central Air Conditioner Size (TONS) AC Unit BTUs AC Unit Cost
1.5 Tons 18,000 BTU $2,000
2 Tons 24,000 BTU $2,620
2.5 Tons 30000 BTU $2,895
3 Tons 36000 BTU $2,920
3.5 Tons 42000 BTU $3,550
4 Tons 48000 BTU $3,650
5 Tons 60000 BTU $3,690

AC Costs by SEER2 Rating

The cost of installing an air conditioning unit can be affected by its energy efficiency, indicated by its SEER2 rating. High SEER2 ratings can lead to lower energy bills but may result in higher installation costs. All units must have at least a 14 SEER2 rating. Updating older units will save energy.

A standard AC unit with a 13 to 14 SEER2 rating costs around $2,820 on average, while a unit with a 24 SEER2 rating costs approximately $6,800.

SEER2 Efficiency Ratings AC Unit + Installation Energy Efficiency Level
13-14 SEER2 $2,820 Standard Efficiency
15-16 SEER2 $3,420 High Efficiency
17-18 SEER2 $4,650 High Efficiency
19-21 SEER2 $5,390 Very High Efficiency
22-24 SEER2 $6,800 Max Efficiency

AC Installation Costs by Square Footage (Sq ft.)

Central AC unit costs average $2.50 to $6 per square foot. Installing in a hot climate costs more and requires a powerful, efficient unit with a SEER2 rating of 16 to 18. A 1,200-square-foot home costs $3,000 to $4,000 for AC installation, depending on SEER2 rating.

How much does it cost for an A/C Unit for a 2,000 Sq. ft Home?

The average AC unit has a cooling capacity of 400 square feet per ton, producing 12,000 BTUs. For a 2,000 sq. ft home, a 5-ton AC unit (60,000 BTUs/hour) is needed and would cost around $1,980 for the unit alone or $5,100 for total installation. Top brands may cost more.

Here is how to calculate AC unit installation cost for your home:

5.0 TONS of AC Cooling = 2000 Sq. ft Home / 400 Sq. ft (per 1 TON)

Air Conditioner Unit Costs by Brand

The best AC brands offer varying levels of central AC units. Brands like Goodman, Rheem, and York offer decently priced units at $2,500+. Brands like American Standard, Trane, and Carrier, known for better quality, cost $4,800+. The cost chart below shows full AC brands cost. Note: The AC units only are priced; ductwork and other expenses will be added during installation. You may also want to consider top furnace brands.

AC Unit Brands: Average Air Conditioner Cost: SEER2 Rating:
American Standard $3,656 16.8
Carrier $3,895 16.8
Goodman $2,488 15.5
Trane $3,220 17.2
Rheem $2,968 17.1
Lennox $3,794 17.8
York $2,354 16.4
Ruud $3,200 17.1
Amana $2,935 17.5
HEIL $3,400 18.2

Hidden Estimate Costs

Before installing an AC, consider additional hidden costs not included in the estimate. Ask the HVAC contractor if a permit, inspection, removal of asbestos or lead paint, or new ductwork is necessary and if it’s included in the estimate.

Getting an AC Price Quote

AC installation quote costs can vary due to several factors.

  • Consider the type of AC unit, hardware such as a smart thermostat, the contractor’s equipment and overhead, and the warranty offered.
  • Research potential hidden costs, like permits and fines. Your contractor should analyze energy costs after the installation and explain changes in the future.
  • Select a licensed contractor with proper insurance and knowledge of local policies and incentives.
  • Avoid low bidders who may not have insurance or expertise.
  • Consider additional costs like plumbing, electrical work, removal of old HVAC system, new location installation, modification of home for installation, and ductwork.
  • Vet your contractor fully before hiring.

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