How Much Does an Air Conditioner Cost?
If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of HVAC, it can be difficult to figure out what a good price is for a new air conditioner. This is a pretty frustrating part of the process that is unavoidable, but there are ways to give yourself a better idea of what to expect while shopping around.
We know from experience that not every home needs the same amount of work when it comes to air conditioners. There are plenty of aspects that make it difficult to provide an upfront price. But there are still several factors we can look at to determine pricing before and after installation.
In this article, we’ll cover the following:
- Ballpark costs of air conditioners
- Types of air conditioners
- Factors that impact air conditioner cost
Let’s get on with it and talk about the ballpark estimates you can expect to see, so you don’t experience sticker shock once you get your estimates from a seller or installer.
How Much Does an Air Conditioner Cost?
Look, if we’re being honest, there is no one-size-fits-all for pricing an air conditioner since there are many different types. Every home is different and will need an air conditioner based on its needs. But price ranges are a good way to get an idea of what you can expect when shopping around for a new air conditioner.
The typical cost of a central air conditioner without installation in the United States is somewhere between $3,600 to $14,000. This wide range is affected by several considerations directly tied to your home. But before you dive into those factors, take a look at the different types of air conditioners and their typical costs to see if you’re headed in the direction that’s best for you.
Types of Air Conditioners
There are a surprising amount of air conditioner types on the market, but focusing on some of the most common options will serve you better in your hunt. Some you may not have even considered before, while others will look familiar. But each type of air conditioner varies in cost.
This list won’t include central air conditioners since you’ve already got an understanding of what to expect in terms of pricing.
Window Air Conditioner
Looking at price-to-performance ratios, the window air conditioner provides the best value. These air conditioners can be purchased easily at your local hardware store and come in a variety of cooling capacities.
You also won’t typically need to worry about installation unless you have an oblong window that might require you to get a little creative.
You can expect a window air conditioner to cost you between $150 and $1,700 on the very high end, which isn’t necessary or recommended for most homes. Finding a happy medium here without going overboard and getting sucked into the marketing of an air conditioner will prevent you from overpaying.
Portable Air Conditioner
If you only need air conditioning once in a blue moon, a portable air conditioner can help without becoming a permanent fixture in your home. Like window air conditioners, you can pick up one of these portable units that roll around at your local hardware store.
These options are inherently eyesores, and installation can be slightly annoying if your windows aren’t a common size or shape.
You’re looking at anywhere between $250 and $800 for a portable air conditioner.
A ductless mini-split provides heating without ductwork and can come in many configurations that hike its price up. The more rooms you need to be cooled, the more equipment you’ll need to buy, including indoor air handlers to actually distribute cool air.
A downside to this type of air conditioner is that it also creates a bit of an eyesore, just not as badly as a portable unit, depending on your taste.
Picking up a ductless mini-split system without installation will typically run between $1,500 and $18,000.
Factors that Impact Air Conditioner Pricing
The above ranges are pretty broad and may not be very helpful on their own. That’s why you should consider other factors that will affect the cost of your air conditioner. Looking at the factors below will ensure you have a more realistic idea of what your upfront investment will be.
Air Conditioner Size
A major factor in determining the cost of your air conditioner is your home size. Figuring out what unit will work for your home is the first step in nailing down costs.
Not every air conditioner fits universally in homes. The bigger the home, the larger the air conditioner tonnage (size).
For a very rough estimate of which air conditioner size is right for your home, multiply your home’s square footage by 18. But this isn’t the only step; you’ll also need to consider high ceilings. If you have high ceilings, take the result of multiplying your square footage by 18 and multiply it by 1.25. Finally, divide that result by 12,000.
It’s always best to have a technician lock in the sizing since they do this day in and day out without issue, and the above equation will only give you a rough estimate rather than a true load calculation.
Air Conditioner Type
This may be an obvious one, but the type of air conditioner you choose will immediately alter the cost. Running a ductless mini-split may cost you up to $15,000, while a traditional air conditioner can reach up to $35,000 with installation.
Air conditioners with higher SEER ratings, meaning they are more efficient and cost less to run. Higher-efficiency models cost more than those with less efficiency.
Here’s another area where you don’t want to go overboard. The minimum SEER rating is 13, which can work fine in milder climates. Other models reach up to 24 SEER, but the answer is usually somewhere in the middle.
Not all brands are created equal, and your choice of brand will affect the price. For instance, buying a Goodman air conditioner will likely be cheaper than buying a Carrier model.
Sometimes, your options are limited based on the installer's inventory and who they are partnered with. In this case, your hands are a bit tied. You may need to look elsewhere if you can’t find a unit that works for you while using a specific installer.
Here’s the big kicker. If you’ve been following along and were pleasantly surprised by how low the costs have been so far, this is the part where things get steep.
Installation increases the total cost of an air conditioner beyond the price of the unit itself. Depending on which installer you choose, the available options will also play a role in pricing.
Other factors like complexity and issues that the installation team comes across may also crank up the cost.
So, That's How Much an Air Conditioner Costs
We’ve talked about the broad range of prices for several types of air conditioners and the factors that can increase and decrease prices. From here, you can go forth and conquer while shopping around for the right air conditioner for you. You’ll also be able to talk to an HVAC technician more confidently, having read up on the subject.
We get that not every home needs the top-end, highly efficient model on the market, but we also understand that finding balance is key to successfully cooling your home. Give us a call at (310) 853- 8690 or visit our HVAC services page to book a consultation if you’re in the Los Angeles area and need a hand-installing a new air conditioner.
While doing your research, it will pay to grasp how to keep your HVAC running efficiently and when to schedule tune-ups to understand the necessary aftercare better. Looking up the cost of HVAC installation will also help you understand what you’re getting into before you call for a consultation.