How Much Should I Expect to Pay for a New Air Conditioner?

How Much Does a New Air conditioner Cost?

When it comes time to replace the central air conditioning and heating system in your home, the first thing everyone asks is the price of a new AC unit. Having been in the air conditioner sales and installation business in the Mesa, AZ area for over twenty years we start by answering that question…but there’s much more to know.


Open Book Upfront Pricing

The installed price of a new AC unit and heating unit can range anywhere from about $4,000 all the way up to almost $14,000! Before you fall off your chair, it’s important to understand why there is such a wide range in air conditioner installation costs and why.

At Magic Touch Mechanical we do things differently than most air conditioning companies in Phoenix, AZ. The very first thing we do is sit down with our client and plop down our price book that lists all the brands, details, efficiency ratings, and installed prices (including tax).

The reason we start with open-book pricing right upfront is to remove the anxiety we all feel when we’re making a large purchase. After all, who cares about all the benefits and features of that $14,000 HVAC system if our budget is half that! We don’t start at the Ferrari dealership if we need a mini-van. Visa-versa we don’t start by test driving the mini-van when we already know we’re buying a Corvette.

Taking our que from the auto sales industry, we adopted the same sales process as the lots where what you see on the windshield is what you pay. I’m not talking about the lots that show a monthly payment – where you don’t know if that’s for 36-months or 72-months! I’m talking about the lots where the sticker says $10,000 tax included out-the-door.


What Should I Know Before Buying a New AC Unit?

It’s important to understand when I say new AC unit, I’m not just talking about the AC unit. Gone are the days when we simply replace just the outdoor ac unit (condenser) or just the heating unit (furnace).

Minimum efficiency standards require a complete “system” when installing a new central air conditioner. So, today when you purchase a new HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning) “system”, it should consist of the following:


  • Central Split Air Conditioner and Gas Furnace

    When buying a new split-gas system, the price should include: A new outdoor condensing unit (AC), a new indoor evaporator (cooling coil), a new indoor gas furnace (heating system), and many (all) ancillary items, including duct plenums, drain pans, overflow safety switches, a thermostat, and much more.


  • Central Split Heat Pump System

    When buying a new split heat pump system, the price should include: A new outdoor condensing unit (AC/Heat), a new indoor air handler (fan and coil in one cabinet), and many (all) ancillary items, including duct plenums, drain pans, overflow safety switches, a thermostat, and much more.


  • Packaged Unit (Gas Pack or Heat Pump)

    When buying a rooftop or ground-mount packaged unit the price should include: The new unit, crane service, sheet metal elbow, angle iron stand, electrical disconnect, thermostat, and much more.


  • Ductless AC or Heat Pump

    When buying a ductless air conditioner or heat pump, it should include an outdoor condensing unit, indoor air handler, condensate drain system, electrical circuit from the main panel, condenser pad, refrigerant lines, line covers, and much more.

This is hardly a complete list but the point to understand is, what you are buying should be all of the components that make up a complete air conditioning and heating “system” – not just a “new AC unit.”


Why Does a New AC Unit Cost $4,000 – $14,000?

Now that you know you should be shopping for a new HVAC System and not just a new AC unit, let’s discuss why the drastic price spread.

Let’s start with the $4,000 HVAC System – If you are installing to install a new single-zone ductless heat pump from scratch, i.e. where one never existed before. You can probably expect to pay anywhere between $4,000 to $5,500 including tax. I’m talking about a high-end brand like Mitsubishi or Samsung with everything needed and a 12-year warranty. At this price you should also expect at least one year of maintenance and cleaning included, an ultra-high efficiency unit, and all the trimmings. In other words, this should be a very premium installation.

At the $14,000 level you should be getting the very best of everything plus the kitchen sink. NOTE: This is before any applicable rebates or discounts. I’m talking about the most premium brand and model unit, 10-year parts and labor warranty, a comprehensive maintenance and cleaning agreement, high-end Wi-Fi connected thermostat, variable-speed everything, etc. etc. etc.


What Does the Average New Air Conditioning & Heating System Cost?

The average new AC unit & heating system including everything typically ranges between $6,000 and $9,000 including tax installed. NOTE: This is before any applicable rebates or discounts. For that money, you should expect a premium brand name like Trane, Lennox, Carrier, or newcomer Bosch.

You should also expect a mid to high-efficiency AC unit (15-18 SEER), a brand name touchscreen or similar thermostat, all the necessary air plenums, condensate drain system, etc. This should also include a maintenance agreement, a good warranty, and high-end installation.


What’s the Most Important Consideration When Buying a New AC Unit?

I’ve been working in the HVAC Industry for over three decades, and started Magic Touch Mechanical in Mesa, AZ over two decades ago. Unfortunately, I’ve seen literally thousands of people get screwed by inferior HVAC installations.

The best equipment installed poorly winds up costing the homeowner thousands of dollars to correct.

In almost every instance, the problem wasn’t the brand or model they chose. It was the thing they didn’t get… a good installation! This is usually the result of choosing the cheapest price.


So how do you know if the price of a new AC unit is too cheap?

The cost of the equipment will not be more that 10% at most between a contractor that buys two-million dollars of equipment from a manufacturer, and the contractor that buys fifty-thousand dollars annually.

That’s important to know because if Contractor A’s price is $1,000 less than Contractor B’s price, you are probably not getting what you should be from Contractor A. The people that wind up with a bad installation usually thought Contractor B was “too expensive – for the same unit”.

The problem is, most likely Contractor B was not too expensive, he or she was including all the necessary items. Contractor B was not cutting corners and had better trained installers, etc. Unfortunately, it’s the things you can’t see and don’t know about HVAC that make that difference.


Compare New AC Units, Brands, and Prices with our Comparison Tool

Our new website includes a tool for consumers to compare new ac units’ side-by-side. We have complete reviews, specifications, and price ranges for dozens of models from multiple manufacturers. And, we’re adding more every day!

Note: There are many variables, sizes, applications, and price ranges based on where in the country you live. The prices shown don’t account for factory or utility rebates, or contractor sales and promotions.

If you live within 35-miles of Mesa, AZ, you are in Magic Touch Mechanical’s install area. We’d love the opportunity to show you what we are one of the highest rated air conditioning and heating companies in Arizona!

We offer free in-home consultations and estimates with no-pressure, no-obligation, open-book pricing.


about the author rich morgan