How Much Does A New Air Conditioner Cost?
How much does a new air conditioner cost? This is probably the most frequently asked question we receive through our Facebook page and via E-mail. However, providing a “ballpark” price of a new air conditioning system without more information is nearly impossible. Well, unless you don’t mind a $10,000+ price swing in your park! So, in order to narrow it down I’ve broken it down by air conditioning system type for you.
Important Note – New air conditioner cost & prices discussed in this article include:
- A New Air Conditioning Unit
- New Furnace or Heat Pump Air Handler with Coil (Heating System)
- Ancillary Items (drain pans, fuses, condensate, plenums, etc.)
- Installation (Labor)
- Warranty, Guarantees, Maintenance Plan, Rebate Processing
- Taxes (aka; the government’s share of your hard-earned dollars)
This post discusses how much it costs to install a new central air conditioner in the Phoenix, AZ area in Summer 2021. Air conditioning systems installed prices vary by region. You may see higher or lower costs in your area.
New Air Conditioning System Cost – the BIG Ballpark
I’ve been working in the HVAC industry for over three decades and in two states. I founded Magic Touch Mechanical, Mesa, AZ. 24 years ago in 1997. In that time, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting with many of the best HVAC contractors all over the country. What I’ve found is; new air conditioner cost including installation can vary by several thousand dollars around the country.
If you found this article because you searched the term; “how much does a new air conditioner cost”, you want to get right to it. You also probably won’t like my immediate “ballpark” (but you need to read the whole article to understand why). A new air conditioner costs between $6,800 and $16,000+ installed (depending on type). See below to narrow down how much your new air conditioner will cost.
How Much Does a New Air Conditioner Cost – Broken Down By Type
There’s a lot more to it than just the different brands of new air conditioners. Not only are there different brands of central air conditioners and furnaces, there are different types (gas heat, geothermal, heat pumps, electric resistance heat, water -source, etc.). On top of that there are different applications, regional standards, efficiencies, and designs. All of these factors play a role in that “ballpark range”. Prices herein do not account for manufacturer rebates, utility rebates, or contractor promotions.
Important Note – The new air conditioner prices below are for “ducted” central air conditioning and heating systems.
Ductless mini split air conditioners & heat pump pricing can be found in this article.
How Much Does a Split Air Conditioning System Cost Installed?
The average cost of a new split-system cooling & heating system is around $8,000 – $11,000. See below for a breakdown.
The most common type of central air conditioning system is called a “split system”. This type of system contains two or three main components with one component, the condenser, located outside, and the other component(s), the air handler, or evap. coil & furnace, inside.
Before government regulations required higher efficiency air conditioners (SEER – Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating), it was common to only replace the air conditioning portion of a split system. I.E., just the condenser or outdoor unit. This would typically cost only a few thousand dollars (at the time). With the new minimum air conditioner SEER rating of 14 SEER however, both the indoor and outdoor components need to be replaced in order to meet the standard.
The indoor components require a lot of additional labor to replace compared to the outdoor condenser. This is one of the factors that has driven replacement costs up significantly in the last 10 years.
Where is Your Furnace /Air Handler Located?
Where your furnace or air handler is located plays a role in your new air conditioning system cost. Your indoor unit can be located in your attic, closet, garage or a crawlspace. Different locations require different materials and labor hours. For example, a closet air handler does not require a secondary drain pan whereas an attic unit does.
Expect to pay approximately $500 more for an air handler or furnace replacement in an attic than one located in a garage or closet.
Phoenix area homeowners: If you’re not sure where your indoor unit is located, it’s most likely in your attic. Home builders in Arizona typically install equipment in the attic to maximize on livable square footage. In areas where basements are common, the air handler or furnace can usually be found below the main living area.
How Much Does a Split System Air Conditioner Cost?
- GOOD – 14 SEER Split Heat Pump or AC with Gas Furnace cost: $6,800 – $8,500*
Typically: Single-stage compressors, multi-speed PSC motors, and basic consumer-grade features. Expect similar performance to your older existing system in terms of airflow and temperature swings. Expect moderately lower utility bills than your older existing system.
- BETTER – 15 SEER to 16 SEER Split Heat Pump or AC with Gas Furnace cost: $7,000 – $11,000*
Usually: Single-stage compressors, ECM or variable speed motors, and upgraded features. Expect similar performance to your older existing system in terms of airflow and temperature swings. Expect moderately to considerably lower utility bills than your older existing system.
What About the Best Air Conditioners On the Market?
- BEST – 17 SEER to 18 SEER Split Heat Pump or AC with Gas Furnace cost: $8,500 – $13,000*
Most often: Two-stage compressors (sometimes variable speed), variable speed motors, and premium features. Expect much better comfort and reduced temperature swings compared to your older single-stage system. Expect considerably lower utility bills than your older existing single-stage system.
NEW FOR 2021: New variable speed compressor models from manufacturers like Bosch are available in this price range. As technology advances some manufacturers are offering “Ultimate” level HVAC Systems at “Best” level prices.
- ULTIMATE – 18 SEER to 25+ SEER Split Heat Pump or AC with Gas Furnace cost: $9,000 – $15,000+*
Almost Always: Variable-speed inverter driven compressors, variable speed motors inside and outside, and the most premium features available on the market. Expect significantly better comfort and virtually no temperature swings. Most manufacturers publicly claim temperature control to within 1/2 a degree Fahrenheit! Expect significant energy savings compared to single-stage and even dual-stage existing systems. These systems almost always include high-end Wi-Fi controls and are practically silent inside and out.
*Depending on brand, tonnage (BTU Capacity), features, and minor component changes needed to accommodate the new system.
Remember, the level of difficulty also plays a role in the installation price of your new air conditioning system. Obviously, labor costs will be lower for homes with easy access than say a home with 14’ ceilings and a tight attic access.
A New AC Unit Is Not A Complete HVAC “System”
Keep in mind there’s a lot more to a complete air conditioning “system” than just the equipment itself. Refrigerant lines, plenums, condensate drain systems, controls, thermostats, zoning dampers, etc. will all play a role in the total cost of a new HVAC system as well. Note how I didn’t say, “play a role in the price of a new AC unit.” There’s a lot more than just the AC unit in a complete air conditioning and heating system!
I’ve seen complete new system quotes in some regions higher even than $16,000. That said, you start to see why asking “how much does a new air conditioner cost”, is the equivalent of asking “how much does a new car cost”. Are we talking about a Ford Focus or a Bugatti Chiron?
How Much Does a Rooftop Packaged Air Conditioner Cost?
The average cost of a new packaged unit is around $6,800 – $8,000. See below for a breakdown.
There are two main types of rooftop air conditioners; packaged or package units.
- Heat Pumps
- Package Gas/Electric or “Gas-Packs”
Installing rooftop units was very common practice for builders in the Phoenix, AZ area from the 1970’s through the late 1990’s. The trend in newer homes seems to be going back to installing split air conditioners. The price range tends to be lower than split systems for two reasons. First, the highest efficiency package heat pump (or gas pack) is 16 SEER, so there are fewer options. Second, there are many less labor hours and access issues associated with rooftop units.
Cost for a package rooftop unit replacement installation:
- GOOD – 14 SEER Package Heat Pump or Gas Pack cost: $6,800 – $8,200*
Typically: Single-stage compressors, multi-speed PSC motors, and basic consumer-grade features.
- BETTER – 15 SEER Package Heat Pump or Gas Pack cost: $7,000 – $8,000*
Usually: Single-stage compressors, ECM or variable speed motors , and upgraded features.
- BEST – 16 SEER Package Heat Pump or Gas Pack cost: $7,900 – $10,000*
Most often: Two-stage compressors**, variable speed motors, and premium features.
- ULTIMATE – 16 SEER Package Heat Pump or Gas Pack cost: $9,500 – $12,500*
NEW FOR 2021: Bosch introduced the world’s first variable speed compressor in a rooftop package unit in late 2019. We expect more brands to follow suit soon however as of 6/2021 the Bosch is the only one in its class.
Mini Split Ductless Air Conditioning & Heating Systems
Living in Phoenix, AZ, without air conditioning is not an option. Did you know there is another option to cooling and heating your home other than central air conditioning?
Ductless air conditioners and heat pumps (also known as ductless mini-split units) are the fastest growing segment of HVAC equipment sales in North America, and have been for several years now. You can read about the price to install a ductless air conditioner or heat pump mini split in this post.
Choosing the Best Air Conditioning Companies to Call
If you own a home or building in the Phoenix-Metro area and would like to schedule a free estimate for a replacement air conditioner, a whole home energy audit, air conditioning installation or any of the other services Magic Touch Mechanical provides, contact us today and see why our motto is; “We Do It Better Than It Has To Be!”
If you live outside of the Phoenix are, we recommend you read about how to choose the right air conditioning company and check out some of our air conditioner side-by-side product comparisons.
We use upfront pricing so you can compare new air conditioner cost including tax and installation from many brands. We follow the mantra of; “offering options, not ultimatums.” As a result, we proudly represent: Trane, Lennox, Bosch, Day & Night, Amana (Franklin) Mitsubishi, and other popular brands.