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Central Air Conditioning Cost Guide

Central air conditioning  systems use a series of ducts and vents located throughout a home to circulate cool air equally throughout each room. These units are known for being more energy efficient than alternatives like window air conditioning units. They are generally able to better maintain a uniform temperature throughout a home. 

The Costs

  • The maximum cost reported for central AC installation is $5,000.
  • The minimum reported cost of central AC installation is $2,500.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Various Central Air Conditioning Systems

Homeowners considering the option of a central air conditioning system should start by determining which type of system is best for their needs. Each system has its pros and cons, which are also important to take into consideration. There are two common types of central AC units:

  • Split systems
  • Packaged units

The split system is the most common option among homeowners. Most people are used to seeing this type in the backyards of homes. With split system units, most of the components are housed in a metal box on the outside of the home. However, there are some internal components as well. These can include the evaporator and heat pump. Split systems are ideal for cooling multiple rooms at once, but are not very energy efficient. Therefore, one pro homeowners can enjoy the benefit of not having loud equipment in their homes. At the same time, the con would be that those who use this may spend more money on cooling costs in the long run because of the lower energy efficiency.

A packaged unit, usually installed on the roof, is most commonly used on commercial buildings, but it is also an option for homeowners to consider. Often times, these units contain not only the air conditioning unit itself but also a furnace. A pro for this type of unit is great for those looking to save money on the installation of a new heating and cooling system separately, since the unit is combined. However, a con for these units are typically only available for larger homes due to their high power and capacity. Additionally, while they can be a good way to save money on a complete HVAC system, they are still significantly more expensive than buying just a cooling system. Therefore, this may not be the best option for homeowners looking for short-term savings or those with smaller budgets.

Considerations for Purchasing A Central AC Unit

It is important for homeowners to keep some specific considerations in mind before making a purchase. For starters, it is a good idea to think about energy efficiency. By choosing a central AC unit that has as high of an efficiency rating as possible, homeowners can reduce their carbon footprint and save money in the long run. Often times, efficiency ratings are posted at appliance stores so that homeowners can compare their options. Going with an Energy Star rated appliance is a great way for homeowners to enjoy additional peace of mind.

Aside from the unit's efficiency, there are some other factors that should also be considered before making a decision. These include:

  • Size
  • Features
  • Noise level
  • Location

Most homeowners do not realize the importance of an AC unit's size. A unit that is too large will have an easy time keeping the home cool, but will have a more difficult time removing humidity from the air. On the other hand, a unit that is too small will not be able to properly cool the home on hot days. Seeking help from a professional HVAC technician can help homeowners to find the size that is right for them.

Many AC units come with a number of special features that can further improve performance and efficiency. For example, homeowners may want to look for one that comes with a built-in filter light that will alert the user when the air filter needs to be changed. Another popular feature to look for is a fan-only switch, which homeowners can kick on at night to reduce energy costs even more.

One of the greatest benefits of having a central AC unit installed is the lower noise levels compared to that of a window unit. As not all central units are made equally, homeowners should read reviews of various units to determine which ones have the best sound ratings, especially if the unit will be located close to a bedroom.

Cost Variations for Central AC Installation

There are many factors that can influence the overall cost of central air conditioning installation. One of the main factors is which components of the unit need to be installed. For example, a home with an existing central air system may already have the necessary duct work done and only a new outdoor central unit will need to be installed. On the other hand, if this will be the home's first time having a central air unit installed, then more ductwork may be required and the cost will therefore be higher.

Installation and material costs can have a great impact on the overall cost of the installation. For example, the units themselves typically cost around $2,000, but because of the level of work involved in installing and insulating a new unit, homeowners can expect to spend between $500 and $3,000 on labor and materials costs. However, it is always recommended that homeowners rely on a professional to install a new central AC unit, as this is not recommended as a do-it-yourself project.

Homeowners feeling uncomfortable about the costs associated with central AC installation can benefit from shopping around to find the best deals. Comparing quotes among local HVAC companies can help to cut costs. Furthermore, requesting a quote during a non-peak time of year, the fall or winter, can also help homeowners to save money. In most regions of the country, HVAC companies are able to charge more during the months of spring and summer due to high demand.

Before hiring anybody to install a central AC unit, it is always a good idea to read some online reviews of the company or contractor. This can help homeowners to ensure that the company is reputable and will get the job done correctly.

Last updated on May 17, 2016

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