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HVAC replacement

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AC replacement cost

The national average cost of replacing air conditioning is about $4,600. The total cost varies depending on the size and type of AC or HVAC unit you choose. And, the condition of the existing ductwork.

Apart from the varying costs of the AC or HVAC replacement itself, you will have to consider the complexity of the work and then add labor costs and material costs to the price of the AC replacement.

As mentioned, you will also have to factor in any additional ductwork. For repairing existing ductwork, expect to add about $1,000 to $3,000 to the total cost. For ductwork replacement, an air conditioner installation cost can go as high as $9,000.

An inspection - where an HVAC contractor performs a load calculation and tells you the right size of AC for your house - will add to the replacement cost. Here's a chart for your reference:

Total square footage to be cooled Capacity (BTUs per hour)
700 to 1,000 18,000
1,000 to 1,200 21,000
1,200 to 1,400 23,000
1,400 to 1,500 24,000
1,500 to 2,000 30,000
2,000 to 2,500 34,000

Tips for choosing the most cost-effective air-conditioning units

  • An air conditioner's efficiency is rated by the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). Opt for a higher SEER rating for greater energy efficiency, which translates to fewer greenhouse emissions and lower monthly electric bills.
  • Check the yellow ENERGY STAR ratings on units.
  • Choose the right British thermal unit (BTU) for your room size to ensure you get the most energy-efficient cooling system.

The cost for a 3-ton AC unit is $2,920 on average. For other tonnage prices look at the table below:

Tons Cost
1.5 $2,000
2 $2,620
2.5 $2892
3 $2,920
3.5 $3,550
4 $3,650
5 $3,690
  • The type of system you choose will affect your AC replacement cost. Choices for replacing air conditioning systems include heat pumps, ductless air conditioners, ducted split air conditioners and central air conditioning systems.

  • The size of the air conditioner and the cooling capacity also affect the cost of your AC replacement. Larger systems will cost more than smaller ones. However, while planning an HVAC replacement, the system size should depend on the size of the space it needs to cool. A system that is too small will need to work overtime to maintain indoor temperatures, making it less efficient.

  • The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) of an air conditioner determines how energy efficient it is. Expect your HVAC replacement cost to be affected by these ratings. The more energy efficient an air conditioner is, the more it will cost you.

  • Adding heating system replacements as well as additions such as air purifiers, humidifiers and dehumidifiers will affect the cost of the replacement.

  • HVAC replacement cost is also affected by factors like extra ductwork, repairing damaged existing ducts, and adding or sealing vents. If you're installing new duct work with your new AC system, the installation can cost you anywhere between $2,100 and $4,000, depending on the complexity of the ductwork installation. You'll also need to factor in a few days of labor to your HVAC replacement project.

If your existing air conditioning system is getting older, its efficiency has drastically decreased, and if it's getting noisier or needs frequent repair work - it's time for an HVAC replacement.

Today, newer and better AC units are quieter and more energy efficient, and they have more power than older models.

What's more, new air conditioners must meet a minimum standard of 13 SEER. Apart from the increased cooling efficiency, a high SEER rating also saves you money on your energy bills.

Moreover, the government offers tax credits to incentivize homeowners to buy energy-efficient home products, including ENERGY STAR-rated air conditioners.

So, once you decide on replacing the AC system in your home, you need to know how much of an investment you need for this home improvement.

It's also the best way to ensure that you don't stumble across any unwelcome surprises during the execution of your project.

Acquiring a free estimate for your heating and cooling unit will help you create a realistic budget for your HVAC replacement.

  • The average lifespan of an AC unit is between 10 and 15 years. Even if you have maintained your air conditioners well over the years, you will need to start considering replacing them once they become older than 10 years old. The older an AC unit becomes, the more difficult it will become to procure spares. An AC replacement may be just what the doctor ordered.

  • If your AC has been breaking down frequently, it is a sign that you may not have been prompt in booking HVAC technicians for preventive maintenance as well as for repairs. What this also means is that the more frequently it keeps breaking down, the more you will end up spending on repairs. Planning an HVAC replacement will definitely help you save that money.

  • Older model air conditioners are less efficient than newer models are. Also, the older an AC unit gets, the more power it starts to draw. If you notice your energy bills spiking month-on-month with no signs of abating, it is a good time for an AC replacement.

  • Older air conditioners use a refrigerant called R-22 Freon, which, as of 2020, has been banned by the EPA for being hazardous to the environment. While this does not stop you from using your existing AC, it does mean you will be unable to refill the refrigerant if necessary. That means it's time for you to start planning for an AC replacement.

  • Always hire a contractor who is certified, licensed and insured. That way, you can be guaranteed of the quality of work, and can also rest easy knowing that the contractor's insurance will pay for any accidents and damages that may occur. A lot of homeowners disregard this, and end up paying for damages, which only adds to the final HVAC replacement cost.

  • While planning for HVAC replacements, it is important for homeowners to be aware of which model and brand of equipment they currently have, the serial numbers on the equipment and how old it is. That way, when you consult contractors, it will be easier for them to advise you about what would be ideal for your needs, another major factor that affects HVAC replacement cost.

  • Always try to hire a contractor who is trusted by friends or relatives that live around your area. Not only may you get a referral discount on the AC replacement cost, you can also rest assured that you've chosen someone with a reputation for doing good work.

  • Before you narrow down on a contractor for your HVAC replacement, be sure to ask them for references from recently completed projects. That way, you can cross-reference the quality of their work and their reputation.

  • Always get multiple quotes before you narrow down your search for contractors. Be extremely wary of quotes that may seem too good to be true. Chances are that the contractor may be cash-strapped, and may not be able to finish the project.

  • It is also a good idea to always check online reviews before hiring an HVAC contractor.

Choosing the correct contractor has a lot to do with HVAC replacement cost. Very often, homeowners feel unsure about whether they need to repair their old air conditioning unit or replace it. Here are some telltale signs that it is definitely time for a new air conditioner.

Kukun's AC replacement cost estimator is a one-stop solution for calculating the cost of replacing your old AC instantly. This useful tool calculates on the basis of your area zip code, labor costs, and other relevant parameters that affect the total AC replacement cost.

Simply enter your specifications and the result will give you a realistic estimate for your AC replacement cost. Very often, homeowners feel unsure about whether they need to repair their old air conditioning unit or replace it. Here are some telltale signs that it is definitely time for air conditioning replacements.

Getting an estimate through Kukun's estimator is the best option for your air conditioner replacement, and it is easy too. Just follow the steps below to get your confidential address-based estimated total cost!

  • 1. Enter the size of your home
  • 2. Specify property details

Enter your full address to get the ROI/recoup value for your house or just your zip code to get only the renovation cost estimate.

And there you go - your air conditioner replacement cost estimate is ready!

With this estimate, you can analyze your finance options or hire a professional to get started on the work right away.

  • Window air conditioner
  • Cost: $550 to $3,000

This compact unit is placed in a window and is a good choice if you want cooling in just one room. The appliance pushes the warm air out of a room and blows cool air into it. An adjustable louver controls the direction of airflow for increased comfort.

Pros Cons
Popular AC option Permanently blocks a window and outside view
Easily available in the market Bulky design
Makes relatively little noise while working Replacement is tricky without exterior support
Has medium-range energy efficiency Removing the AC can be a hassle
Water drains out easily; no extra piping required Requires a trained professional for replacement
Can adequately cool a room up to 650 sq ft May pose a security risk
  • Through-the-wall air conditioner
  • Cost: $300 to $1,500

This type of air conditioner is placed flush with a wall and has a streamlined appearance. It has a higher cooling capacity and weighs slightly more compared to window ACs. A good choice if you are planning to get more capacity.

Pros Cons
Affordable Very difficult to remove once replaced
Does not block a window or view Tedious replacement and insulation requires a lot of work
Better cooling capacity than window ACs with more BTUs Replacement cannot be ill-fitted or wind will blow into house
No installation of ducts and joints required
  • Portable air conditioners
  • Cost: $345 to $700

AA portable air conditioner cools the air inside a room by venting out any warm air through an exhaust hose installed in a window. It needs no installation and is perfect for a smaller living area.

Pros Cons
No installation required Noisier cooling option
Easily moved from one room to another Cooling a room may take more time
Budget-friendly option Water tanks need regular cleaning
May be inadequate for a large room
  • Ductless, mini-split air conditioner
  • Cost: $1,300 to $4,500

These split systems have high energy efficiency. Moreover, they look neat, are flexible and quieter, and offer heating as well as cooling.

Both the outdoor compressor or condenser and the indoor handling unit are connected through an insulated conduit.

Pros Cons
Technically advanced, high energy-efficiency Not a DIY project
Relatively easy installation or replacement May cost 30% more to run than central air conditioning
Less prone to air leakage and security problems High maintenance and repair costs
Neat, quieter and less visible
Provides both cooling and heating
  • Central air conditioning
  • Cost: $660 to $4,000

A central air system is ideal for larger homes. It cools any living space efficiently and quietly. It works by circulating cool air through supply and return ducts.

However, keep in mind that an HVAC replacement requires a lot of planning. Or else you may end up with lower efficiency and higher utility bills.

Pros Cons
Best option to cool an entire house High cost to install
Generally come with smart thermostats Results in higher energy bills
Known to improve the air quality inside a house Requires regular duct maintenance
Provides both cooling and heating Keeping uniform temperature can be difficult
  • Heat pumps
  • Cost: $500 to $8,000

A heat pump works by pulling heat from the outside air or ground to warm your home, or by pulling heat out of your house to cool it.

Pros Cons
Lower running costs Difficult installation
Requires less maintenance High upfront cost
Reduces carbon emissions Requires special planning permissions and permits
Long lifespan Not suitable for extreme climates
  • Packaged central air conditioner
  • Cost: $500 to $8,000

The evaporator, condenser and compressor come in a single, compact unit. It works simply - ducts that run through exterior walls or the roof draw air from inside the house and return cooled air indoors.

Pros Cons
Neat and compact More suitable for commercial buildings
Ideal for homes with limited indoor space Has to be kept outside the house
Pre-assembled parts Prone to leakages
Easy installation and replacement May deteriorate over time due to exposure to rain and wind

For any home improvement project, it's best to take care of a few things - for your own peace of mind. Here are some steps to ensuring a seamless AC replacement:

  • Maintain a realistic budget for the project.
  • Learn about the energy-efficiency ratings of air conditioners and choose an effective model.
  • Discuss the correct location, angle tilt, replacement height and appropriate distance from the wall for your new AC.
  • Get a written contract from your contractor for your HVAC replacement with the complete schedule and payment details.
  • Make sure that all permits and inspections are up to date so your replacement project goes smoothly.
  • Be sure to get a warranty or guarantee from your AC installer.

How does the installation cost of heating and cooling systems vary?

The top factors that affect the cost of your HVAC installation are:

  • 1. Type, model, and brand of the HVAC system
  • 2. Size of the cooling and heating unit
  • 3. Size of your room
  • 4. The heating or cooling capacity required
  • 5. The SEER or AFUE ratings that determine the energy efficiency levels
  • 6. Additional work such as ductwork replacement
  • 7. Local labor rates
  • 8. Season and local climate conditions

Should you negotiate the installation cost with your HVAC contractor?

Any negotiation with your contractor is possible - provided you do your due diligence. If you get multiple quotes from local contractors and use a reliable cost calculator, you can use the average local prices as a negotiating basepoint to bring down the contract price.

What are some HVAC system top brands?

When it comes to buying top brands for HVAC systems, it's best not to skimp on the cost. A good HVAC brand should fit your price point, and offer you good performance, smart home technology, and extensive warranties. Keep in mind that you get exactly what you pay for. So, it's best to plan your home improvement budget and save accordingly.

When should I replace my HVAC system?

HVAC experts recommend replacing residential HVAC systems every 10 to 15 years.

How can you find a reliable HVAC installer?

Finding a reliable local HVAC contractor near you is very much possible. A good strategy is to ask friends and family for recommendations. Or, you could hire a listed licensed contractor after looking up their online business ratings and customer reviews. Make sure they meet your HVAC contractor checklist. Hiring the right person for the job will make the process efficient and smooth.

How long does HVAC unit replacement take?

The time taken to complete the replacement depends on the type of HVAC unit - whether it's a change-out, a full installation with ductwork, or a complete installation with add-ons. A simple change-out without replacing ductwork can take 1 to 3 days to complete. A full installation with new ductwork can take anywhere between 3 and 5 days. And, an installation with extra features such as a programmable thermostat, UV lighting, a zoning system, or a whole-house humidifier can take between 4 and 7 days to complete.

Should I replace both internal and external units?

If your AC unit is still under warranty, its manufacturer may provide you with another internal unit that's compatible with the existing external unit. However, if it's an old HVAC unit, it's a good idea to replace the entire system. For all you know, the unit may be using the banned R-22 refrigerant.

What's the AC unit cost for a 2,000-square-foot home?

A complete HVAC unit suitable for a 2,000-square-foot home may cost you anywhere between $5,000 and $9,000. Just an air conditioning unit will cost you lesser.

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