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Air Conditioner Installation Costs

If you're looking to install an A/C unit to improve your home, it can be a costly process. Since temperature control is a necessity, however, you may qualify for a government rebate. If you purchase an Energy Star air conditioner, you may qualify for a tax credit from the federal government that could be worth as much as $500. To determine the cost of the actual unit, you need to measure its strength. This will hinge on the size of the space you need to cool.

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National Install an A/C Unit Costs

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by ImproveNet members.

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Average reported cost

based on 9754 cost profiles


Minimum cost


Maximum cost

Most homeowners spent between:




National Install an A/C Unit Costs
Average reported cost $4,734
Number of Cost Profiles 9754 cost profiles
Minimum reported cost $60
Maximum reported cost $9,650
Most homeowners spent between: $3,886 to $5,427

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Air conditioner strength is measured in "tons," a measurement that refers to the amount of heat your A/C unit can remove in an hour. Each ton corresponds to 12,000 British thermal units (BTUs). Be careful when calculating this, because bigger isn't necessarily better. If your unit is too large for the space of your home, it will switch on and off repeatedly, wasting energy and costing you money.

If your home is 1,600 square feet, a 2.5 ton air conditioner will cool it well. This will cost between $3,000 and $5,000. There are platinum models that could potentially cost $10,000, but these are rarely necessary. If you're looking to install central air rather than a window unit, it may be cost effective to install central heating at the same time, as both usually utilize the blower from the furnace. If you already have central heat, you can use the existing fans and duct system when installing central air.

Another factor that will affect the cost of central air installation is whether your home needs duct work. Older homes don't possess the ducts and vents that go along with a newer heating system. They have convection heating systems or baseboard heat, and all the ducts and vents will need to be installed. This is costly, so think about window units or a ductless split system instead.

Most people who install an air conditioner agree that spending between $300 and $400 on labor to hire a contractor is worth the extra expense just to make sure that the unit is installed properly. You'll want to hire a licensed contractor that you can trust if you truly want to improve your home. The cost of materials, supplies and equipment allowance will run you another $50 to $100. Altogether, expect to spend between $3,350 and $5,500 to install an air conditioning unit, possibly as much as $8,000-$10,000 if you need duct work.

Last updated on Jul 22, 2016

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