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How Much Does It Cost To Install Central Air In San Francisco?

Most homeowners spend between $4,807 to $7,888 in San Francisco.
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In our homes, we should be as comfortable as possible. Without central air or an AC unit, many of us would be unhappy six months of every year. As such, given that a central air system is one the most important appliances in San Francisco, more and more homeowners are ensuring they have a comfortable and cool summer.

Of course, that relaxing summer does not come without a cost. See the average prices on San Francisco AC units and how you can lower your central air installation cost. If the cost sounds right to you, ImproveNet can help you find San Francisco cooling contractors.

National Install An A/C Unit Costs

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Median Cost


Minimum Cost


Maximum Cost
Average Range:


National Average Cost $6,000
Minimum Cost $3,200
Maximum Cost $10,000
Average Range $4,807 to $7,888
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How do we get this data? This info is based on 580 cost profiles, as reported by ImproveNet members.

Table of Contents

  1. New AC Unit Cost In San Francisco
  2. San Francisco Prices On AC Units
  3. Central Air Labor Costs In San Francisco
  4. San Francisco AC Unit Sizes & Ratings
  5. San Francisco Air Conditioning Unit Discounts
  6. Find A San Francisco Cooling Contractor
  7. Other San Francisco Project Costs

New AC Unit Cost In San Francisco

The average cost to install a central air unit in San Francisco is $6,000. However, given that prices range by neighborhood and various other factors, we have seen central AC unit costs in San Francisco between $3,200 and $10,000. As you might expect, that AC installation price in Outer Richmond is generally a bit more than the average.

No matter where you live in San Francisco, the best way to get the most appropriate central air installation quote is to get at least three bids from San Francisco HVAC contractors.

San Francisco Prices On AC Units

There are plenty of factors that can increase or decrease your central AC unit cost. Nonetheless, two of the most influential considerations are AC unit size and brand. Given the wide range of house sizes, different homes in San Francisco demand different sized AC units. Evidently, a one-bedroom condo does not need the same sized AC unit as a five-bedroom home.

To ensure you don’t overpay for your AC replacement, consider the following air conditioning installation prices:

Central AC Unit Size

Total Cost (Materials & Installation)

1.5 Tons

$1,600 - $2,100

2 Tons

$2,300 - $2,900

2.5 Tons

$2,400 - $3,100

3 Tons

$2,700 - $3,400

3.5 Tons

$3,000 - $3,700

4 Tons

$3,100 - $3,800

5 Tons

$3,300 - $4,000

Beyond unit size, you also have plenty of options when it comes to brand and/or manufacturer. Luckily, there’s no monopoly in this industry and you can choose from over 10 different air conditioner brands. Just like AC unit prices above, costs do range, however, according to their own websites, their average costs are:

AC Brand

Average Cost



























American Standard




Central Air Labor Costs In San Francisco

Just like electrical projects, most air conditioner installations or replacements are conducted by a trained cooling professional. While some advanced DIYers can install a new AC unit, most like the peace that comes with hiring someone who knows exactly what they’re doing.

Therefore, beyond the cost of the actual AC unit (which you can see under brand prices above), you should have a rough idea of labor costs associated with all cooling installations. In general, most San Francisco homeowners spend between $350 and $625 on labor to install or replace an AC unit. Bear in mind, this labor cost is included in the $6,000 San Francisco average.

Finally, some HVAC pros may add between $75 and $175 for extra materials and equipment, as needed on a per project basis.

San Francisco AC Unit Sizes & Ratings

As we said earlier, your AC unit size will largely depend on the amount of space it’s cooling. The efficiency of all air conditioners is measured by BTUs. Put simply, BTUs tell you what size AC unit is needed to effectively cool your entire home. To come up with an accurate BTU, you need to look at your home’s size.

Area Cooled

Capacity or BTUs/Hour

700sf – 1,000sf

18,000 (1.5 Tons)

1,000sf – 1,200sf


1,200sf – 1,400sf


1,400sf – 1,500sf

24,000 (2 Tons)

1,500sf – 2,000sf

30,000 (2.5 Tons)

2,000sf – 2,500sf

34,000 (3 Tons)

Even if you can’t stand the heat, do not buy a bigger air conditioner than you need. Beyond paying more for installation, larger AC units cost more to maintain and run on a daily basis. In addition, a larger system will cycle on and off all the time, wasting unnecessary energy.

Finally, the two last numbers you need to be aware of before you install a new AC unit in San Francisco are the EER and SEER ratings. The energy-efficiency ratio (EER) tells you how efficient your AC unit is. The best EER rating is 80db/67wb inside.

The seasonal energy-efficiency ratio (SEER) looks at how efficient your system is through all four seasons. It looks at the cooling output during one season versus its electric input during the same season. Make sure your new AC system has a SEER rating of at least 14.

San Francisco Air Conditioning Unit Discounts

We are living in a greener world and fortunately, the government is incentivizing San Francisco homeowners to install more efficient cooling systems. To get a rebate, your new AC unit must meet standards set by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE). If you purchase a split-system air conditioner with a SEER of at least 16 or a packaged AC unit with a SEER of 14 or more, save your receipt. You could get a $300 to $500 rebate when you file your taxes!

Find A San Francisco Cooling Contractor

It’s getting hot out there and the only way to stay cool throughout those hot San Francisco summers is to install an efficient AC unit. To ensure your home is ready for the seasons to come, let ImproveNet help you find reliable cooling contractors in San Francisco today.

Other San Francisco Project Costs

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Last updated on Sep 20, 2017

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