Whether you’re installing an air conditioner for the first time in your home or replacing an existing system, you’re bound to see a wide range of prices. While all air conditioners transfer heat from inside your house to the air outside, they are far from the same. Consider the various factors that affect how much an air conditioner will cost for your home.
Air Conditioner Size
The biggest factor affecting the cost of a new air conditioner is its size, which refers to its cooling capacity. This is measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units, and affects everything from the amount of refrigerant to the coils and compressor. Generally speaking, the bigger the unit, the more it’s going to cost.
However, it’s important to get the right size for your home. Trying to undersize your unit to save a few dollars during installation will end up costing you more in utility expenses, repairs, and shorter service life. Likewise, if you end up with an oversized system, you’ll have all of these same increased expenses along with a higher installation cost.
The next thing to consider is the system’s efficiency rating. When you look at an air conditioner, this is the SEER rating, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Essentially, this looks at the amount of cooling output throughout the summer compared to the energy used throughout the summer. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficiently the system runs.
14 SEER is the current minimum rating for systems manufactured in 2023. However, some systems will go as high as 15 SEER. The 25 SEER system will use about 50% less energy compared to a 14 SEER system. However, the system may be several thousand dollars more for the same size 14 SEER system.
Air Conditioner Type
Not all air conditioners utilize the same technology either, so the type of air conditioner you choose may affect the price. For instance, the standard residential air conditioner is a central air conditioner, which utilizes a single air handler to push cool air through ducts and vents throughout your home.
The next most common air conditioner style is the ductless and mini-split systems. The ductless system utilizes an air handler that’s mounted to an exterior wall and is used to cool a single room or area. You can use multiple air handlers on a single outside compressor, which is known as a mini-split system.
There are also heat pumps, which also offer a heating function over the winter in addition to a cooling function. A special kind of heat pump is a geothermal system, which either uses the ground or a water source to transfer heat to and from instead of the outside air. Ductless, mini-split, and geothermal systems all cost more to install than a standard central air conditioner, but they are also substantially more efficient.
Your air conditioner needs some supporting infrastructure to work properly. Regardless of the kind of air conditioner you’re installing, you’ll need the proper electrical connection. If you’re installing a new central air conditioner, it’ll need wiring to run directly into your circuit breaker panel. Many ductless mini-split systems require a 220-volt outlet instead of the standard 110-volt that most other home appliances use. This means you’ll likely have to run new wiring, which increases the installation cost.
If you’re installing a central air conditioning system for the first time or replacing an older system, you’ll need to install ductwork. This can increase the cost of installation by several thousand dollars, depending on your home’s size and construction.
Additional HVAC Components
When you install an air conditioner, you may want to consider installing add-on HVAC components. This could be anything from air purifiers or scrubbers to a whole-house humidifier. You can install these components at a different time, but you may save some labor costs by bundling them when installing a new air conditioner. These components can increase the cost anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
Zones and Controls
A popular option in many homes is to segment the home into zones to more tightly control heating and cooling. This is a natural part of the mini-split system. However, a central air system requires special dampers in the ductwork to close off zones that don’t need conditioning.
Each zone will either need sensors or its own thermostat. If you choose to use sensors, you have a single thermostat to set the temperature, but the sensors help the system identify which zones need conditioning. Using a thermostat allows you to set different temperatures in the zones if you need it. Then you also have to install at least one zoning panel, which acts as the brains of the system, opening and closing dampers. One panel works with up to four zones.
Time of Year
The time of year you purchase and install your air conditioner can affect the price you’ll pay. HVAC companies and equipment manufacturers generally have the most demand during the heat of the summer and the dead of winter. However, spring and fall tend to be slower, so they offer various discounts. Plan your air conditioning installation carefully to take advantage of these discounts.
Tax Incentives and Rebates
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2023 provided several rebates and tax credits for installing more efficient equipment, including air conditioners and heat pumps. Nevada is also offering the PowerShift rebate to provide instant rebates when installing a new AC rated 15 SEER or higher. Check with your installation company and tax professional to identify which incentives you may qualify for and how to take advantage of them.
Brand and Model
Like most other products, you’ll pay more for some brands than for others. Different manufacturers use different quality components, which affect how well they perform and how long they’ll last. Generally, the more durable the unit, the fewer repairs you’ll have when properly maintained and the longer the unit will last.
Not all HVAC companies are the same, so you want to find a company that has a demonstrated reputation for properly installing equipment. Improper installation can affect the system’s efficiency, increase strain, and cause premature failures. Additionally, different companies offer different perks for choosing them, such as labor warranties or some included maintenance visits. When comparing the quotes from different companies, take the time to evaluate all the details and look into the company’s reputation to understand the total value you’re choosing rather than just the price.
People around Las Vegas have trusted the NATE-certified technicians at BEST Air Conditioning Plumbing Repair to keep their homes comfortable since 2016. Our team provides both heating and AC installation, maintenance and repair together with indoor air quality solutions and a full range of residential plumbing services. Call to schedule your consultation with one of our expert installation technicians today.