How Much Does Central AC Installation Cost?

How Much Does Central AC Installation Cost?

If you are seeking ways to cool your home and do not have an air conditioning system, you may be curious about the cost of installing central air. Central air can be highly desirable for individuals residing in regions that encounter hot weather throughout the year, as it can enhance the overall comfort level of the entire house.

The expense of central air installation relies on several factors, such as the type of air conditioning system you choose, its energy efficiency, and the size of your dwelling. Therefore, we have assembled a comprehensive guide that outlines these components.

Whether you wish to replace an old and ineffective air conditioning unit or install a new eco-friendly cooling system, this guide provides a breakdown of the expenses related to central air installation.

What factors determine air conditioning (AC) installation costs?

The cost of installing central air conditioning can be affected by several factors. These factors include the size of the area that needs to be cooled, the efficiency of the unit, the amount of ductwork involved, and the cost of labour. Below are some of the expenses associated with AC installation:

Area size 

The area that needs to be cooled is a significant factor in determining the size of the AC system required. Every 500 to 600 square feet of space typically requires one ton of cooling power. For instance, if you need to cool a 1,800-square-foot ranch home, you would likely require an AC system sized for three tons or 36,000 BTUs per hour capacity. According to HomeAdvisor, the cost of such an installation would be approximately $3,400 to $5,400. 

Pre-Installation Home Assessment

Before beginning the HVAC installation process, it’s essential to have an HVAC professional conduct a pre-installation assessment of your home. This assessment will include an inspection of your home’s insulation, ductwork, and other factors to determine the appropriate size of the AC system you need. This step is critical in avoiding unexpected costs later on and ensuring the long-term efficiency of the system.

On average, a pre-installation assessment can cost around $420, although it may be as low as $250 for basic checks or as high as $2,000 for more advanced audits. Despite the cost, investing in a proper assessment before installation can ultimately save you thousands of dollars in energy costs and system repairs over time.


When shopping for air conditioning units, it’s essential to consider the brand and its availability for service in your local area. There are many different air conditioning brands, each with various sizes and price points. It’s essential to consult an HVAC professional to determine which brands are readily available and easily serviced locally.

Working with an HVAC professional can also help you to determine which brand is best for your specific needs and budget. They can provide the following:

  1. Recommendations based on their experience and expertise.
  2. Considering factors such as your home’s size.
  3. Climate.
  4. Energy efficiency goals.

By working with a professional, you can ensure that you make an informed decision and choose the best air conditioning brand for your home.

Efficiency Rating

Air conditioning units are rated based on their energy efficiency, as measured by the SEER rating. All teams must have a minimum SEER rating of 13 or higher, but you’ll find units rated as high as 27 SEER.

If you live in a warmer climate where you’ll be using your AC longer, it’s essential to prioritize a high SEER rating to maximize energy savings. While units with a higher SEER rating may cost more upfront, they can save you money in the long run by reducing utility bills. It is because they are more energy-efficient and cost less to run.


The cost of installing new ductwork for a central air conditioning system can range from $800 to $1,800, depending on your home’s size and the installation’s complexity. If your home already has existing ductwork, replacing a system will be less expensive than a new installation that requires adding ducts and vents.

If you need to install new ducts, it’s an excellent opportunity to consider upgrading your heating system and AC. It can help ensure that your HVAC system operates at peak efficiency and save you money in the long run by reducing energy bills. Working with an experienced HVAC professional is vital to determine the best action for your needs and budget.

Tips to control central air conditioning installation costs

To control the costs of installing central air conditioning, you need to know some points that we will examine together in detail below:

Assessing Your Cooling Requirements

 A ductless mini-split air conditioning system may be worth considering if you live alone or only spend your evenings at home. These methods include an outdoor compressor, condenser unit, and indoor blower vents that can be mounted on almost any exterior wall.

Timing is Key

Suppose you schedule an installation during the off-seasons, such as in the spring or fall. In that case, you may secure a faster turnaround time or even a lower price, as workers are typically less busy during these periods.

While installing central air can undoubtedly be expensive, with AC unit costs reaching up to $8,000 or more, especially for older or larger homes, it is still a worthwhile investment. However, financing options are available if the cost is daunting and you need more funds to pay out of pocket. Suppose you’re considering borrowing money to install central air. In that case, comparing rates from several personal loans, home equity loans, and lenders is essential to determine your monthly payments.

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