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What Does Installing a Central Air Conditioning Unit Cost?

cost to replace central air unit

As the weather starts to warm, you may be considering a new central air conditioning installation for your home. If your current air conditioning unit is leaking or making a racket, it’s probably time for a replacement. But what does it cost to replace a central air conditioning unit?

The price of this installation can vary depending on many factors, including what model you’re looking at, how much ductwork in your home needs to be replaced, and other variables as well. If you’re unsure about the price of an AC replacement or installation, here are some things to consider.

Average Cost of Installing Central AC in Kansas City

On average, central air conditioner prices for homeowners can be anywhere from $4,000 to $12,000, though this number can change and fluctuate depending on certain circumstantial factors, which we will discuss later.

For now, one of the main reasons these prices can change is because central air units of different sizes and energy efficiencies will be priced differently. The size of the unit is important for ensuring that all the rooms in your home can be cooled completely and efficiently, even on the hottest days of summer. However, you don’t want the unit to be oversized, because it won’t clear out the humidity in your home as effectively.

Your unit’s seasonal energy-efficient rating (SEER) will also change the price of central air conditioning installation. Federal law requires that all AC units have a SEER of at least 13 to maintain quality, safety features, voltage requirements, and lower operating costs. Generally, the higher the SEER, the higher the installation price will be, but the lower it will cost to operate in the long run due to energy savings.

Keeping these factors in mind, here’s a look at some of the average costs to install central air in your home when taking into consideration the type of unit you need:

AC SizeAverage Cost
1.5-ton$2,500 to $4,500
2-ton$3,100 to $5,100
3-ton$3,400 to $5,400
4-ton$4,200 to $6,200
13 to 14 SEER$1,500 to $3,000
15 to 16 SEER$2,000 to $4,000
17 to 18 SEER$2,000 to $5,000
19 to 21 SEER$3,000 to $9,000

Now, remember that these costs can change, especially when considering both unit size and energy efficiency. For example, if you were having a new 3-ton central air system installed that comes with a SEER of 16, and if your 2,000 square foot home needed ductwork, you can probably expect to pay around $7,000. On the low end, this project with a SEER of 13 could be priced closer to $3,000, while a higher-end unit, with a SEER of 21, may end up being closer to $15,000.

The cost of adding central air to your home can be affected by other factors as well, which we will discuss below.

central air conditioner prices

5 Things to Consider When Purchasing Central AC

When installing a new central air conditioner, the cost can be affected by different variables. This is something to consider as you budget for the installation, since you may end up with extra expenses added on top of the cost of the unit.

The cost of installing cooling services in your home can be affected by any number of the following factors.

1. Square Footage of Home

The size of your home can determine how much you will pay for a central AC unit installation. Basically, the more square footage that needs to be cooled, the larger the AC unit your home will need. As units get bigger in size, they cost more to install. For example, an 800-square-foot home may stay in the $2,000 to $4,000 range, while a larger home of 2,500 square feet may cost anywhere from $6,000 to $15,000.

2. Location and Climate

The location of your home, as well as the climate you live in, will also impact how much your central air installation will cost. If you live in a climate that gets relatively hot in the summertime, you may need a larger AC unit that’s capable of working hard enough to cool your house evenly.

On the other end, if you live in a cooler climate where you don’t use your AC unit as much, a smaller unit might be more ideal for you, which would cost less to install than the larger one would.

3. Pre-Installation Evaluation

Before your new central AC unit can be installed, an HVAC professional will need to assess your home to determine what size system would work best, if there are existing ducts or vents to work with, and the most ideal SEER considering the insulation and layout of your home.

The HVAC technician will use a Manual J load calculation to determine how well your home retains heat. This calculation considers the position of walls, square footage, and building materials of your home to determine its cooling capacity. With this calculation in mind, an HVAC professional can help find the central AC unit that’s right for you.

Although a pre-installation evaluation does add to your overall installation cost, it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run by ensuring the right central AC unit is being installed in your home.

4. Ductwork

The cost to install an HVAC system with ductwork will be higher than what it would be without. If your previous air conditioning unit was a forced air system, you may not need new ductwork installed in your home. However, some older houses may not have the proper ductwork capable of handling a brand new AC unit, meaning they will need a ductwork system put into place before the AC installation.

Having ductwork installed is an extra expense, but it’s also necessary to ensure your central air conditioning unit can cool all areas of your home effectively.

5. Labor and Installation

Unless you’re an HVAC expert, you’ll most likely have to hire someone to install your new AC unit for you. A central air installation can be complicated, and if done incorrectly, it may affect the unit’s ability to properly cool your home. Also, an improperly installed air conditioning system can be dangerous, and you could even cause permanent damage to the AC unit, requiring you to purchase another new one sometime down the road.

Additionally, units with higher SEERs are more complicated to install, so you may pay more in labor costs upfront, but you’ll save money in the years to come on your energy bills.

Because of this, the cost of labor should also be factored into how much the AC installation is overall. You’ll want to find a trusted HVAC pro to help you get the job done, one that will offer you a fair price while also maintaining quality workmanship. Having the installation done correctly the first time will save you money down the road on repairs.

There are many benefits of central air to Kansas City residents. Whether you’re looking for a price quote or you need to schedule a new central air installation, Cates Heating and Cooling is here for you. Give us a call today at 913-888-4470 for Kansas residents and 816-944-1844 for Missouri residents.

Still not sure when to repair or replace your HVAC system? Take the Repair vs Replace survey today!

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