By Ryan Mayes
With the amount of time we spend in our homes, air conditioners have become an essential component of everyday living. And when you think about stepping inside for a blast of cool air on a hot, humid day... or how you breathe a little easier indoors when the air quality outdoors isn’t the best, it’s easy to see why.
Now imagine how you’ll feel when your central air system shows signs of aging... the day when thoughts of HVAC installation become top of mind. There’s a lot consider: everything from the types of HVAC units you’ll need, to how long it should take, where to get a reliable estimate, and ultimately, how much is this all going to cost?
In some respects, equipment is the easy part. Carrier air conditioners provide some of the quietest and most energy efficient models money can buy. And when it comes to installation, your local Carrier dealer is an expert in finding the right HVAC system for your needs and following up with professional delivery and setup to ensure optimal performance. (If you don’t already have one on speed dial, be sure to check out the Carrier residential products website to find a dealer near you.)
New Air Conditioning Installation: What to Consider
While centralized heating and cooling systems have been considered “standard” equipment in residential housing for many years, most average homeowners don’t have the expertise needed to select, size and install one for themselves. For example, if you think you are looking for an air conditioning unit, but your home needs a heating system as well, you might want to consider a heat pump. Heat pumps provide both heating AND cooling, and can be a viable option instead of a traditional air conditioner and furnace system.
Here is a summary of many of the factors involved with new AC installation:
Consult with a Local Expert
Doing your own research is helpful, but we always recommend contacting a trusted HVAC professional for an expert assessment of your current system, your home, your heating and cooling system preferences, and your budget. A trained and licensed professional can provide insights into the types of systems that have worked well for others in the same area and with similar needs.
Get Recommendations and an Estimate
Once your HVAC dealer has finished the assessment, you’ll get recommendations and a cost estimate. This is where your research can come in handy. Be sure to follow up with questions about the equipment, including expected energy efficiency, sound levels, summertime humidity control, and if the system will qualify for rebates from your local utility (often tied to higher efficiency, ENERGY STAR® certified products). Review the cost estimates and ask for a breakdown if the quote isn’t clearly itemized. Your local Carrier comfort expert will have access to a wide range of air conditioner models to meet a wide range of needs.
How Long Does Installation Take?
Most typical central air conditioner installations can be completed by an experienced technician in four to eight hours. If your new model does not require any significant modifications to your current setup in terms of where it is installed, the size of the unit, refrigerant lines or electrical connections, the installation time should be closer to a four-hour time frame. For more complicated installations, or if you are also replacing your furnace at the same time, expect it to take longer.
Can I Install it Myself?
While it may be possible to locate and purchase a central air conditioning unit yourself, air conditioner installation is an entirely different issue. Unless you are a licensed HVAC technician with up-to-date training, installing a central air conditioning system yourself is not recommended for several reasons. It starts with proper sizing. For the best performance and comfort, selecting the right “sized” unit requires understanding how to calculate your home’s heating and cooling load requirements. An improperly sized system can potentially cost you money in the long run through poor efficiency, and it may not deliver the comfort it is designed to provide. Likewise, if the unit is not properly installed, it may not operate at full capacity and efficiency. Self-installation will likely void any type of warranty protection from the manufacturer. And, the refrigerants used in residential air conditioning are highly regulated. Your old refrigerant must be reclaimed and properly disposed of according to EPA regulations. Failure to do so is illegal and can result in significant fines.
Professional installation of your new central air conditioner will be the best option for ensuring efficient, dependable comfort for years to come. A licensed HVAC technician will have the tools, the training and the experience needed to do the job according to local and national codes and requirements.
What is Included in a Professional Installation?
The short answer is everything! When you hire a trusted local HVAC technician, your installation will typically include the cost of the new air conditioner and delivery; labor costs for the crew; removal and disposal of the old unit; and other materials required to complete the job. These may include a new evaporator coil, air handler, and a new composite or concrete pad to give the outdoor unit a solid and level base. New Carrier air conditioners also come “equipped” with a 10-year parts limited warranty* with timely registration.
* If properly registered within 90 days of original installation, otherwise 5 years (except in California and Quebec and other jurisdictions that prohibit warranty benefits conditioned on registration).
What is the Average Cost of Installing AC Systems?
The average cost of installing a new central air conditioner can vary quite a bit. The size of your home, the climate in your area, the age and condition of your home and more can influence the installation and labor costs. The cost for the AC unit itself can vary as well depending on the size of the unit, its efficiency rating, number of cooling stages, and single or variable speed operation.
Here are some average costs for installing AC systems:
Average Installed Cost for Central Air1
Additional labor fees specific to your home could increase these costs, plus ductwork modifications or new installation of ductwork could add up to $5,000 in additional cost.
|Average Installed Cost
|Low End Cost
|High End Cost
Average AC Cost by Home/Unit Size1
|Cooling Capacity (size)
|Average Price Range
|750 – 900 square feet
|1.5 ton/18,000 BTUs
|$2,500 - $4,500
|1500 – 1800 square feet
|3 ton/36,000 BTUs
|$3,400 - $5,400
|2500 – 3000 square feet
|5 ton/60,000 BTUs
|$4,300 – $6,800
Another factor to consider is the efficiency of the unit. Higher efficiency models will cost more up front but can provide long term savings on your energy bills for the life of the system. And, if you just need an upgrade due to a room addition or because one room in the home that just isn’t being cooled effectively, ductless mini splits are a solution many people are turning to. Ductless mini splits can target one room with up to 28.5 SEER2 energy efficiency. And, if the room isn’t being used, you can save even more by not turning on the ductless system at all.
Get an Estimate for AC Installation
As you consider your options for your new air conditioning installation, be sure to consider which HVAC company you want to work with. Carrier invented modern air conditioning and has been in the home comfort business since 1902. Today we continue developing new technologies and systems designed to improve comfort, performance and efficiency. Carrier has a nationwide network of HVAC contractors, so there should be a Carrier comfort expert available in your local market. To learn more about AC installation or our industry-leading air conditioners, be sure to find dealer.