couple outside with hvac technician after replacing ac unit

How Much Does it Cost to Replace Your AC Unit?

A common expense for a homeowner or business owner is replacing the ac unit. Trying to live comfortably without a properly operating air conditioner is nearly impossible – at least for us in the Western world (and especially for those of us in the South). So, understandably, a common question people want to know is “how much is a new air conditioner?”.

Let’s go over the numbers and what affects those numbers. This will give you an idea of not only how much replacing your ac unit will cost, but also what determines that cost.

The Numbers

When it comes to the national average, there are a few different numbers. According to 3 different sources, the national average to replace an ac unit is between $4,600 and $5,700. Please understand that this does not mean this is what you will pay. Why? Well, this average price is not differentiating the brand of the unit, the model or product line, the size of the unit, or the extent of the labor involved with installing the unit. All of these factors can affect the price dramatically. We will cover these factors in more detail as we go forward.

What Affects the Cost?

There are numerous factors that can affect the cost for replacing your air conditioner, but we won’t cover all of them here. But, I do want to cover the factors that typically have the biggest impact on the cost. As I mentioned earlier, the most impactful factors are the size of the unit, the brand of the unit, the model or product line, and the cost of the labor involved. Let’s go over these in more detail.

1) The Size of the Unit

The size of the ac unit will vary from house to house and from business to business. The square footage of the home or building and the quality of insulation are two major factors that determine the proper size that is needed. For example, a home with a square footage of around 1,300 sq ft might only need a 2.5 ton unit. But, a home with a square footage of around 2,500 sq ft would probably need a 4-5 ton unit. That can be a huge difference when it comes to the price of the ac unit.

Related: What Size AC Unit Do I Need?

2) The Brand

As it is with automobiles, the brand of the air conditioner can affect the price your are going to pay significantly. Higher end brands such as Carrier and Trane are going to be quite a bit more expensive than brands such as Bryant or Goodman. For example, let’s take a 2 ton ac unit. A higher end brand unit can cost twice as much (or more) when compared to a more value focused brand unit.

3) The Model or Product Line

Think of the product line as you would with a new vehicle. Most vehicles come in different models or “trims”. You typically have a base model, an intermediate model, and then a premium model. Well, air conditioners are very similar. The efficiency of the unit (measured in SEER) along with the included features all vary from model to model. The higher the efficiency and the more quality features included will affect the price of the unit.

4) Cost of Labor

Lastly, the cost of labor will vary from company to company and from job to job. Understandably, not every HVAC company charges the same amount for labor costs. Labor costs vary depending on the cost of living in the area, the amount of overhead the company has, and the discretion of the boss or owner of the company. Some companies charge a simple flat rate and some charge by the hour. All of these factors directly affect how much you will pay for labor.

When it comes to specific ac replacement jobs, the required work involved can vary from job to job. Does the installation require new or modified ductwork? Is the unit located on top of a building (which would require a crane) or is it easily accessible on the side of a house? The extent of the labor involved is going to affect the price you are going to pay.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are numerous factors that affect the cost for replacing an ac unit. So, although the national average cost is between $4,600 and $5,700, this doesn’t mean you are going to pay somewhere in between these numbers. Depending on your specific needs or wants and the other factors listed above, you could pay far less or much more.

Let me give you an example.

We are a HVAC company located in Jackson, TN. Let’s say that you need a new 3 ton ac unit for your home. We will use a 3 ton unit because it’s probably the average size unit that homes in the US use. For installing an average value-based ac unit, it’d be right around $3200. That includes the ac unit, a new evaporator coil to go with it, and installation. As you can see, that’s well below the national average of $4600-$5,700. Why? Because of the factors involved (that I covered above) that dramatically impact the cost.

Final Takeaways

I want to wrap this post up with some helpful tips.

1) Know what you need – Before you get into pricing, determine what you need. What size unit is needed for your home or business? What level of efficiency are you wanting? Are there certain features that you want or need?

2) Find brands that you trust – Find a few brands that you trust and look into their products. Filter their products with what you need (remember step 1?). This will help narrow down your choices and pin point price figures.

3) Get some free estimates! – Once you know what you need and have a few brands in mind, contact your personal HVAC company and set up a free estimate. If you don’t have a company you are already doing business with, get a few different estimates from various HVAC companies in your area.

And here’s an extra tip; if you can’t determine what you need on your own (step 1), then start with a free estimate. You can usually find out from the person providing the estimate what size ac unit that they believe that you need. But, if you are going this route, we recommend getting more than one estimate just to be sure the information being provided is accurate.

I Hope This Helped!

Well, that’s it! Now you know the national average cost for replacing an air conditioner and you know what affects the cost. You even have some practical tips in your pocket to help you when determining what you are going to pay. Feel free to leave a comment below if this helped you or if you’d like to share anything on this topic.

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