We are often asked how much a new air conditioner installation costs, and the real answer is that pricing varies widely. Prices for a complete installation can typically range from $3500 for a smaller, basic unit, with a standard installation to $9000 or more for a larger, high end system with a more difficult installation. This post will share several important considerations with you to help you narrow down that range.
Not All AC Systems Are Created Equal
The first thing to consider is that purchasing a new air conditioning system is not like buying a car. Cars are made on an assembly line with each car being identical so you can choose based on price and service from the dealership. Because each home is different, an AC system needs to be properly sized, designed, installed, and fine-tuned to your specific home’s ductwork, layout, size requirement etc. That means buying and A/C unit is more like if you bought a car and they shipped the major car parts to your home and you had to hire a mechanic to provide the rest of the components and build that car in your driveway.
In that scenario, prices will vary based on mechanic and quality of additional parts they use. Does he have the knowledge, ability, experience, proper tools, and sufficient training to do a good job? Those are all critical as the quality of the mechanic’s work will affect the reliability, safety, longevity, and gas mileage of that car.
Choosing the Right Contractor for the Job
With that in mind, your most important decision is selecting the contractor to install your AC system. Here are several factors to consider:
- What is the experience and regular training of the installers?
- Do they have the right tools? (i.e. digital manifolds, micron gauges, proper torches etc.)
- Do they do a Manual J Heat Load to properly size your system?
- Do they do a duct analysis of your system?
- Do they have a good handover process from sales to install? You don’t want to have a long discussion about specifics of the project with the sales person but then the installers have no idea what was discussed and you’re stuck having to try and explain it all.
- Do they have a good start-up process to optimize and fine tune the system?
- Do they do drug testing and background checks?
- Do they have proper licensing and sufficient insurance?
- Do they have a lot of online reviews? What are people saying about them?
Once you’ve determined which contractor you are most comfortable with, let’s look at some factors that will affect the total price of the installation:
- Size of the unit. Don’t go by the size you had before or some outdated rule of thumb, size by what the Manual J dictates so the system is properly sized to your home.
- Model of unit. Higher efficiency units will cost more initially but generally pay for themselves over time. Units that are quieter, have 2-stage capability, or have additional features will cost more. Ask your contractor to review the price and benefit differences between these and standard units.
- Make of unit. Most manufacturers have base, mid-range, and deluxe lines so pricing between manufacturers (i.e. Carrier vs. Trane) tends to be insignificant compared to other factors. It’s better to go with the system your trusted contractor has the most experience with and the support of their particular distributor.
- Copper lineset piping. These are the pipes that connect the outdoor to the indoor unit. Manufacturer’s recommend that these pipes be replaced when possible to prevent contamination, possibility for refrigerant leakage, and to ensure proper sizing. Replacing them can add several hundred to over a thousand dollars to the total price but is usually better in the long run. If the lineset cannot be replaced, definitely make sure they are flushed out properly to ensure cleanliness or the life expectancy of your system will be compromised.
- Ductwork modifications – Is the existing ductwork properly sized? If not, modifications may be necessary so the system cools your home better, doesn’t have as many breakdowns, doesn’t waste as much electricity, and lasts longer.
- Additional materials – Find out what is included in the installation. Does it include upgrades to various electrical components? What about the equipment pad, pvc condensate drain at the inside unit, thermostat etc.
- Start-up – Its critical to take time to fine-tune refrigerant levels and blower speeds when first turning the unit on. There should be a comprehensive start-up process that typically takes 30-60 minutes. This will significantly improve system performance and efficiency. If the system is installed in cold weather, make sure the contractor returns on a warm day to do that fine-tuning process.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors that go into the pricing of a new air conditioning system. Find a contractor that you trust and ask them for a free estimate, heat load, and analysis of your system with a few different options and recommendations for you to go over and see what fits your needs and budget.
Contact Shavitz Heating and Air Conditioning today to discuss your AC options!