There’s no denying that buying a new A/C unit can be a stressful process for homeowners, but it doesn’t have to be. The best thing you can do to make things easy for yourself is to understand what goes into the cost of air conditioners. The total price will depend on a variety of different factors, with most people paying around $5,000 on average.
If you only need to cool a small space and don’t care about efficiency, you may pay less. On the other hand, expect to pay a little bit more upfront if you need to cool a large home or if you want to save on your monthly energy bills. Beyond efficiency and the size of your home, price factors include things like how difficult it is to install a new A/C unit in your home. A good HVAC contractor will help you explore all of your options related to performance, SEER rating, and equipment size. In the meantime, use this guide to prepare yourself for that conversation.
What Would An Itemized Cost Of A New AC Unit Look Like?
New A/C units include many different parts, all of which are included in the total cost. Knowing what goes into the system will help you understand why you’re paying what you are for a new air conditioning unit. When it comes to itemizing the cost, there are four primary things to consider:
- The cost of an outdoor condensing unit will normally be somewhere in the range from $1,000 to $4,000 all by itself.
- The indoor coil is less expensive but still costs more than $1,000 in many cases. Even the least expensive options will be hundreds of dollars.
- Even the simplest setups may require about $500 worth of new refrigerant lines.
Even beyond the costs listed above, there can be additional factors that raise the price of installing a new A/C, including the cost of the labor for installation. For example, you may experience higher costs if the home hasn’t had central air before or if the system you’re replacing is in especially bad shape. Large upgrades may require new wiring, a special permit, or even a new condensing unit pad for the outdoor unit. Installing or repairing ductwork can also add thousands of dollars in additional work.
Once they’re spending that much money for a new air conditioner, most homeowners in the Denver area also decide to make one more noticeable upgrade. New thermostats typically range from $100 to $300 in cost and can make a big difference in terms of both appearance and function. Even if you don’t necessarily need a new one to work with your new air conditioner, you may find that you get a lot of great features (like smart home integration) that make it worth your while.
Cost Factors That Can Affect Air Conditioner Unit Pricing
While reading the section above, you may have noticed that even the individual components of a new A/C unit cover a wide range in terms of cost. Why are some air conditioners so much more expensive than others? The differences in price between different equipment comes down to five primary factors, which we’ll explore one by one. The primary things that make some A/C units more valuable than others are efficiency, size, performance, installation labor costs, and brand.
1 – Efficiency Rating for Air Conditioner
You might hear air conditioners discussed in terms of their SEER ratings. Higher numbers indicate that an air conditioner is more efficient, which means it doesn’t need as much energy to do the same job. You can expect a new air conditioner to have a SEER rating from 13 to 20 because that’s the normal range for new equipment.
The weather here in Colorado can change quickly, and air conditioners with high SEER ratings don’t need as much energy to make homes comfortable in a hurry. If your air conditioner has a relatively low SEER rating of around 13, your summer utility bills will be a little bit higher. We generally recommend new A/C units with SEER ratings closer to a range of 16-18 because the energy savings will start to pay for the upfront cost over time.
Some people do opt for new A/C units with lower ratings when they only need to cool small spaces. For example, you may choose to go this route if you’re getting a separate air conditioner for a new room you just added to your house. If you’re looking to cool an entire house while saving money on monthly bills and reducing your environmental impact, it’s normally worth it to pay for a more efficient A/C system with a higher rating.
2 – Size of Air Conditioner
The next thing to consider is the actual capacity of your new air conditioner, which is measured either in tons or BTUs. If you ever need to compare across units, just know that one ton is the same as 12,000 BTUs. Larger homes need A/C units with greater capacity.
High-capacity units rely on larger evaporator coils to treat all of the air, so make sure each component of your system is the right fit. When it comes to the size of your refrigerant lines, it depends on how far your condensing unit is from the evaporator coil. Covering a longer distance will increase the cost.
3 – A/C Unit Performance
There are a few different options for air conditioning performance:
- Single-stage models are the least expensive.
- Two-stage models are 15-20% more expensive.
- Multi-stage (also called modulating) models are 20-30% more expensive.
Having more stages increases efficiency, but it also increases cost. Like when choosing a SEER rating, the money you spend upfront is likely to come back in the form of lower monthly bills.
4 – Air Conditioner Models
The model of air conditioning unit you choose can impact the cost of your new system by as much as 20%. Brands typically produce several model types that vary in SEER rating, quality, and performance and the type of model you choose will impact your bottom line. Ask an HVAC professional to walk you through the different models available so you can decide if the premium options within that brand make sense for you.
Need a New A/C Unit? The Weather Changers Are Here to Help!
Here at The Weather Changers, we serve Denver, Centennial, and the surrounding areas from our headquarters in Aurora, Colorado. If your home isn’t cooling off or your monthly utility bills are coming up, we can help. Here at The Weather Changers, our HVAC experts can walk you through model options during your estimate process so you fully understand the difference from repairs to new A/C installation. Contact us today to get started, don’t forget to ask us about our financing options!
Image Credit: Shutterstock/ Pu-Kibun