How Much Does an AC Unit Cost in 2024?

Most homeowners can expect to pay between $3,500 and $8,000 for a new air conditioning system.

The national average cost for an air conditioner installation is $6,200, including both the unit and labor costs. However, the cost of a new AC unit can vary significantly based on factors like size and efficiency. Most homeowners can expect to pay between $3,500 and $8,000 for a new air conditioning system.

For homeowners looking for a more budget-friendly option, an air conditioning unit can cost as little as $1,200, although, these units tend to be less efficient and may require more frequent maintenance. On the other hand, more efficient units can cost upward of $14,000.

When deciding what type of AC unit to purchase, it’s important to factor in the installation cost, which can range anywhere from $1,100 to $2,200. Professional installation is highly recommended for any AC unit and will ensure that your unit operates safely and efficiently. 

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Average Costs to Install an AC Unit

National Average Cost$6,200
Typical Price Range$3,500 – $8,000
Extreme Low-End Cost$1,200
Extreme High-End Cost$14,000
HVAC AC residential unit
Photo Credit: Diana Klohr / Canva Pro / License

An air conditioning unit can vary greatly in price depending on various factors, such as the type and size of the unit, installation costs, and energy efficiency ratings. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3,500 to $8,000 for a new air conditioning system.

A basic air conditioner costs around $6,200, including the unit and installation labor. Smaller units will start at around $1,200 for a 1.5-ton unit, while larger units can reach up to $14,000 in total. Generally, most homeowners opt for an AC unit with a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating of 16 to 18 for maximum efficiency and cost savings.

There are also additional costs associated with air conditioning installation, such as ductwork and wiring, which can add up to $2,000. Plus, the installation of a new AC unit will likely require a permit, so you should factor the cost of a permit into your total budget.

AC Cost Estimator by Home Size

Size is an essential factor when deciding what type of air conditioning unit to purchase. A unit that’s too small won’t cool your house effectively, and a unit that’s too large will use more energy than necessary.

To determine the size of the air conditioner you need, measure the square footage of your home and calculate the BTUs (British Thermal Units) required for your space. Most residential areas need around 28 to 34 BTUs per square foot. On average, you can expect to pay between $3 and $7 per square foot of your home for an AC unit.

The following table outlines the average price of an air conditioning unit by home size:

Home Size Average Cost (Unit and Installation)
1,000 sq. ft.$3,000 – $7,000
​​1,200 sq. ft.$3,600 – $8,400
1,500 sq. ft.$4,500 – $10,500
2,000 sq. ft.$6,000 – $14,000

Other Factors That Affect Cost

Choosing the right size and type of AC unit, along with the level of energy efficiency, is essential when considering the cost. The larger the AC unit, the more expensive it will be. The unit type is also important to consider when looking at price, as certain features like variable-speed compressors, variable-speed fans, and advanced condensing units will add to the cost of the unit.

Cost by Type of AC Unit

The type of AC unit is a key factor when looking at cost. Central air conditioners, split systems, and ductless mini-split AC units all vary in price. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, a window AC unit can cost as little as $180. On the other hand, more advanced ductless AC units can cost upward of $2,500.

In the table below, you will find the average cost of different types of AC units:

Window AC Unit

Window AC units are one of the most commonly used air conditioning systems due to their convenient installation and affordability. Typically, these units are installed in windows and require minimal effort to set up and operate. On average, you can expect to pay $180 to $700 for an installed window AC unit.

Window units are also a great option for cooling rooms that don’t have access to ducting and for those looking for a cost-effective solution. Additionally, these systems offer zone control capabilities that allow you to adjust the temperature of a room separate from the rest of the house.

Portable AC Unit

Portable air conditioners offer an easy, cost-effective solution for cooling any room in your home. Unlike traditional window AC units, portable ACs can be moved from room to room as needed and don’t require any complex installation or ductwork. Portable ACs are also much quieter than stationary air conditioning units.

The price of portable air conditioning units can range from $200 to $1,000, depending on the size and features. When shopping for a portable AC, consider the room size you need to cool and the unit’s energy efficiency rating. Some portable ACs come with features like a timer, a sleep mode, and even Wi-Fi connectivity.

Swamp Cooler

Most swamp cooler AC units range in price from $1,500 to $3,600, depending on features and size.

Swamp coolers are an economical and environmentally friendly cooling alternative that uses evaporative or “swamp” technology to cool the air and humidify it simultaneously. These systems are typically more affordable to install and operate than traditional air conditioning units and make an ideal cooling system for dry climates. 

Ductless AC Unit

The average cost of a ductless AC unit can range from $2,500 to upward of $12,500, including installation. Ductless units come with a variety of features and in a variety of sizes to fit your needs. Ductless AC units are composed of two parts, an outdoor unit and indoor air handlers, which provide quiet operation.

Additionally, ductless units are more energy-efficient than window units, potentially saving you money on your energy bills. They can be used to cool specific areas of your home, and they do not require costly ductwork.

Central AC

New central air conditioning systems come in two parts: an outdoor compressor unit and an indoor air handler. This is the most common type of AC unit and is the best option for larger homes. On average, a central air conditioner system installation costs anywhere from $3,600 to $8,000 in total.

The best part about a central air conditioner is that it is powerful enough to cool an entire house, so you don’t have to worry about keeping up with the temperature in each room. It also has many features that allow you to adjust the airflow, humidity level, and more.

Keep in mind that installing central air conditioning without existing ductwork is considerably more expensive, as it requires additional duct system installation.

Variable Capacity AC Unit

Variable Capacity AC units are an energy-efficient solution for cooling residential and commercial buildings. On average, the variable capacity unit’s price ranges from $4,500 to $10,000, including the unit and the labor to install it.

Variable capacity AC units include an inverter-driven compressor, which modulates its speed to match the cooling demand of the building. This ensures that the system operates at the most efficient level for the current conditions, resulting in lower energy consumption and improved comfort. The inverter-driven compressor also reduces the unit’s noise, making it quieter than traditional models.

Package AC Unit

The package AC Unit is the most cost-effective way to cool your home or office. It is a single unit that is installed outside, usually on the roof. The package unit cost ranges from $6,000 to $10,500 depending on the size and features. The package unit houses an AC and furnace and can provide up to 10 tons of cooling capacity.

Geothermal AC System

Geothermal AC systems work similarly to traditional central air-conditioning systems but use the natural energy produced by geothermal heat pumps instead of electricity for heating and cooling. These systems use pipes buried in the ground to draw heat from the earth and transfer it into a home.

Geothermal AC systems are highly efficient, as they are able to use the consistent temperature of the ground to their advantage. Geothermal AC systems can reduce energy usage by up to 70% compared to traditional air conditioners, saving homeowners money on their energy costs. On average, a geothermal AC system ranges from $13,000 to $25,000 to install.

Cost by Efficiency Rating

The SEER rating of an AC unit refers to its efficiency. A higher rating generally means a more efficient model, which will cost more than one with a lower rating. However, the cost of using a higher-efficiency unit will be lower over time due to its energy savings.

Generally, mid-range AC units with a SEER rating of 15 to 16 will cost between $1,700 and $4,900. Higher-end units with a SEER rating over 20 can cost up to $7,500 or more.

Efficiency Rating (SEER)Average Cost
13 – 14$1,200 – $3,500
15 -16$1,700 – $4,900
17 – 18$2,000 – $5,500
19 – 21$2,500 – $6,700
22 – 24$4,300 – $7,500

Cost by Ton

The cost of an AC unit is typically calculated by the number of tons of cooling capacity it provides. 1 ton of cooling capacity equals 12,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) per hour, and it typically costs between $2,800 to $4,600 for 1.5 tons of cooling capacity.

The BTU rating of a unit is usually listed in the manufacturer’s product description, so you can figure out what size AC unit you need based on your home or building’s cooling requirements. The higher the BTU rating, the more it will cost to install and maintain the unit.

Additionally, larger AC units also require more energy to operate, so it’s important to consider the cost of electricity when purchasing a new system.

Tons of Cooling CapacityBTUsSquare Feet to Be CooledAverage Cost
1.518,000900 sq. ft.$2,400 – $4,800
224,000900 – 1,500 sq. ft.$2,500 – $5,000
336,0001,600 – 2,000 sq. ft.$3,200 – $6,000
448,0002,000 – 2,400 sq. ft.$3,500 – $7,500
560,0002,500 sq. ft.$4,200 – $9,000

Cost of a New Air Conditioner by Brand

The manufacturer of the air conditioner you choose will greatly impact how much you can expect to pay. The cost of a new air conditioner ranges from approximately $2,500 to $6,000 or more without installation.

For example, AC units from Bryant tend to be more expensive than those from Goodman or Armstrong. Brands like Lennox offer a range of products, some of which can cost as much as $7,200. Here is a look at some of the most popular brands and their average prices for a new AC unit.

BrandAverage Cost
Goodman$2,500 – $4,000
Armstrong$2,500 – $4,500
Lennox$3,200 – $7,200
Bryant$2,500 – $6,000

Labor Cost for Installation 

Labor cost is a significant part of the overall expense when installing a new air conditioning system. On average, labor costs for installing an AC unit range between $1,100 to $2,200 per installed AC unit. This cost may be higher or lower depending on the complexity of the project and the expertise needed.

Related Services

The overall cost of an AC unit also includes associated services such as ductwork, energy audit, or maintenance. Additionally, costs for permits and other related expenses should also be taken into consideration.

AC Maintenance

Regular maintenance of an AC unit is essential to ensure it runs efficiently and effectively. This can include replacing air filters, cleaning or repairing ductwork, and checking for any damage or deterioration. Depending on the unit’s use, a professional maintenance service can cost $70 to $200 annually.

Additionally, the HVAC maintenance cost includes minor repairs to keep the AC system running smoothly.

AC Repairs

An AC repair can be necessary if the unit is not working properly or if parts need to be replaced. Common repairs include replacing the fan motor, the compressor, or the condenser coils. The cost of AC repair will vary depending on the type and severity of the issue. Generally, AC repair costs range from $150 to $620 or more.

AC ComponentAverage Cost for Repair 
Thermostat$100 – $330
Blower$250 – $450
Capacitor$120 – $350
Circuit Board$140 – $350
AC Coil Cleaning$150 – $450
Refrigerant Recharge$210 – $1,200
Expansion Valve Replacement$300 – $450
Fan Motor$150 – $400
Condenser$250 – $800
Air Duct$300 – $1,400
Compressor Replacement$600 – $1,200

AC Replacement

Sometimes, an AC unit must be replaced entirely to maintain cooling efficiency. The replacement cost is similar to the cost of installing a new AC unit, as it requires similar labor and materials. The average cost to replace an AC unit ranges from $3,500 to $8,000 or more.


If the existing ductwork in your home or building is inadequate, you may need to install new ductwork. The cost of installing new ductwork will vary depending on the project’s size, type, and complexity. On average, installing new ductwork can cost between $2,000 and $5,000 in total.


The thermostat is an important component of an AC unit, as it controls the temperature. A new thermostat costs anywhere from $120 and $330, depending on the type and features of the thermostat. There are also “smart” thermostats available which cost more than the conventional models.

Energy Audit

An energy audit is a service that helps you identify where your AC system is wasting energy and how to make your cooling system more efficient. This typically includes an on-site inspection of the unit and other energy-related components. The energy audit’s cost will vary depending on the size of your AC system and the complexity of the inspection. Generally, energy audits cost between $200 and $600.

Insulation Installation 

Proper home insulation is essential to maintaining and improving the efficiency of your AC units. Insulation helps keep the air inside your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter and can save you money on your utility bills in the long run.

An expert insulation service provider can assess your home to determine what kind of insulation is best for your area. Generally, an insulation project costs between $2,130 and $6,700, depending on the size of your home.

AC Unit Cost by Location

Typically, the cost of air conditioning installation varies significantly by location. This can be due to labor costs, the availability of AC professionals, and the cost of materials in different areas. For example, AC installation in a large metropolitan area may be more expensive than in a rural area.

It’s important to research air conditioning installation costs in your area to estimate what you can expect to pay. You should also ask local contractors about any discounts or promotions they may offer to make the installation process more affordable.

FAQ About AC Units

Can I install an AC unit myself?

DIY installation of an AC unit may seem like an attractive option due to its potential cost savings, but it is not recommended. Installing an AC unit requires specialized knowledge and expertise and should be done only by a professional contractor.

How long should an AC unit last?

The average lifespan of an AC unit is between 15 and 20 years, depending on how well it is maintained. Routine maintenance and proper use of the unit can help it last longer.

Is it OK to run an AC unit all the time?

It is not recommended to run an AC unit all the time. Running an AC unit for long periods can cause strain on the compressor and other components, leading to a shorter life span. Instead, it is best only to use your AC unit when necessary and adjust the temperature accordingly.

How much does it cost to run an air conditioner? 

On average, running an air conditioner costs between $0.08 and $0.60 per hour, depending on the unit’s size and the model’s energy efficiency.

Do I need a permit for air conditioning installation?

In many cases, a permit is required to install an AC unit. Before beginning installation, check local building laws to ensure you are in compliance.

How often should I schedule maintenance for my AC unit?

In general, scheduling maintenance for your AC unit at least once a year is recommended. This will help ensure its proper functioning and extend the unit’s life.

How long is an AC unit warranty?

Most AC units come with a manufacturer’s warranty, which is typically between 5 and 10 years. The warranty will cover the cost of repairs or replacement parts if the unit malfunctions during the warranty period. It’s important to read your warranty terms carefully and follow all proper use and maintenance instructions.

What is the difference between an air conditioner and an HVAC unit?

An air conditioner is a single unit used to cool or heat a room. An HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system is a complete system that regulates temperature, humidity, and air quality in a space. It typically includes several components, such as air handlers, vents, and ducts. On average, the HVAC system cost ranges between $5,000 to $9,000.

How much does it cost to remove an AC unit?

Generally, the cost to removal an AC unit ranges from $50 to $150 for a standard-sized unit. The price can vary depending on how difficult it is to access the unit and if any special tools or equipment are needed.

How an AC Contractor Can Help You

Installing an AC unit can be a significant expense, but it is usually worth the investment in comfort and overall home value. The cost of air conditioning installation will depend on several factors, such as the size of your home, the type of system you are installing, and your location. Research costs in your area and talk to local AC contractors to ensure you are getting the best deal.

Note: HVAC Gnome may get a referral fee for matching you with contractors in your area.

Main Photo by: JoeBensonAC / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Luminita Toma

Luminita Toma is a nature-loving writer who simply adores anything pretty, from colorful flower gardens to chic interior design. After plenty of research on landscaping and home improvement, she’s got a keen eye for what makes a home beautiful. When she’s not sharing what she’s learned, there’s nothing she enjoys more than chilling with her friends, hitting the theatre, or traveling.