A central AC is one of the most expensive components in your home. But there are a lot of variables that affect the cost of installation. We’ll look at the average cost range, additional cost considerations, and how you can save on central air conditioning installation in Houston, TX.
Average Cost of Central AC Installation in the U.S.
The average cost of a new unit is $5,863 as of 2023. Most of the time, purchasing a new AC unit costs between $3,882 and $7,907, according to Angi. However, some homeowners may spend as much as $12,000. A smaller system and simpler installation may cost as little as $1,500.1
What Affects the Cost of Central Air Conditioner Installation?
An air conditioner’s size is measured as its capacity in tons. A 1-ton unit equals 12,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs) and a 3-ton unit equals 36,000 BTUs. One ton of cooling can serve a space of up to 600 square feet. Size impacts cost as follows: An 18,000 BTU AC costs between $2,500 and $4,500 while a 36,000 BTU AC costs between $3,400 and $5,400.2
A reputable brand known for long-lasting, high-performing equipment will cost more. But the price of each system also varies by region, as how it performs in a specific climate zone matters. Some of the top AC brands include Lennox, Amana, American Standard, Frigidaire, and Coleman.
Type of AC
Most central AC units include a heating component, which can be very useful during a Houston, TX, winter. Therefore, it’s a key consideration even though you’ll rely on cooling most of the year. Central air conditioning installation can involve separate AC and heating units or a packaged system. A single-stage compressor is the least costly, but two-stage and variable-speed compressors can reduce operating costs.
Type of Home
Installing a central AC system in an apartment building or condo costs more than setting one up in a house. It costs less to install one in a mobile home than in an older structure. In an older home, you could spend up to $22,000 for upgrades and installation.2
Air conditioners are rated by their seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). Units with a high SEER rating tend to cost more upfront but can help lower utility bills. Current regulations require AC units to have at least a 13 SEER rating. While a 14 SEER air conditioner ranges from $1,725 to $3,600, a 16 SEER AC can cost up to $6,000 and a 20 SEER AC can cost up to $9,600.2
The cost of a central AC unit is highly dependent on installation costs. These vary from project to project, as each installation has specific requirements. For example, updating existing ductwork can add thousands of dollars to the project. Every HVAC installer charges a specific rate for labor, often by the hour, so how long the installation takes also impacts the cost.
Ductwork installation, updates, and replacements aren’t the only additional costs you may incur with central air conditioning installation. Some other additional costs can include:
- Electrical: The system must be installed on a dedicated circuit. Electrical work for providing an additional circuit and a 240-volt connection will cost extra.
- Plumbing: A drain line is needed to remove condensation from the system. If it’s not included in the total cost, you’ll need to pay extra for drainage equipment and installation.
- Zoning: If your home has multiple floors or you want to control the temperature separately in different parts of your home, the cost will be affected by the number of zones set up.
- Equipment Removal: Many installers will remove and dispose of your old system. If it’s not included, you may pay up to $200 to have it removed.1
- Permits: A permit is usually required to install an AC system in Houston, TX. Obtaining a permit ensures a licensed professional does the installation and adheres to local and federal regulations.
- Warranty: A parts and labor warranty is often included. An extended warranty can often be purchased for extra; the cost varies depending on its length and coverage.
How to Save
You can save on the cost of central AC installation in Houston, TX, by:
- Planning for AC replacement instead of rushing to buy one when it fails.
- Obtaining quotes from multiple contractors.
- Investing in a high-SEER unit (for long-term savings).
- Installing the unit in the spring or fall.
- Inquiring about sales and discounts.
- Researching local and federal tax rebates.
These tips can help reduce the cost of installation of a central AC unit suited for your home.
Contact Village Plumbing & Air
We are a leading AC installation company in Houston, TX. A properly installed unit will run without trouble for many years. When installing or replacing an AC, our licensed technicians determine the best sized unit for your home and follow all appropriate guidelines and standards. We include a 100% satisfaction guarantee and offer flexible payment options. To learn more or schedule central air conditioning installation, call 713-526-1491.