How to Estimate the Cost of a New Home A/C System

how to estimate the cost of a new ac system

During the cold winter months, thoughts of air conditioning are probably far from your mind. But right now, is the best time to do your research, review your options and plan for a new AC system installation. Don’t wait until the sweltering months when you’re hot, sweaty and uncomfortable. Take advantage of “off-season” pricing and the availability of experienced installation professionals.

Home AC Pricing Considerations

Numerous factors impact the cost of a new home AC system and its installation.

  1. Location and timing
  2. Performance and efficiency
  3. Size of home
  4. Quality and brand

Location and Timing

Pricing for your system and service costs can vary across different states and regions and during varying times of the year. For the purposes of this blog, price estimates represent a national average. In your Virginia area, the costs may be higher or lower than the ranges represented here. Seasonal specials and discounts may also impact price.


Performance and Efficiency of Air Conditioning System

An AC’s SEER rating refers to the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the efficiency/SEER rating of your system, the more you pay for initial purchase and installation. However, the long-term benefits can quickly offset this price difference, as you can expect to see lower cooling bills with more efficient units. Over time, these savings can really add up.


The standard rating for a new central AC system is typically 14-15 SEER and runs about $1,435 for the equipment and approximately $2,770 installed. As you move into high, super high and the highest available efficiency, the price can increase to $3,680 for the AC and Coil and $6,750 installed. For the highest level 22-24 SEER systems, you may also need a solar panel installed on your roof, further increasing the cost.


Size of home and Air Conditioning Tonnage

The size of the space that needs cooling determines the size of the required AC unit. Have your HVAC pro perform a load calculation on your house for accuracy. Residential central air units range from 1.5 to 5 tons of cooling capacity. With installation, the price for these units can range from $1,895 for a 1.5 ton, 18,000 btu AC and Coil to $3,590 on a 5 ton, 60,000 btu AC and Coil.


Quality and Brand of Air Conditioning equipment

As with any product, you pay more for brand name and quality items. Consider a Trane central AC unit at $2,225 or $3,650 with installation. By opting for a lesser known budget brand, you only pay about $1,000 for the equipment and less than $2,000 installed. When choosing your unit, identify the features and options you want and need and then do some comparison shopping before making your final choice.


This is just a basic overview to help you start the research process. Other criteria may factor into pricing: type of home, home construction and age, and desired extras – like zoning controls. As you can see, the price range can be vast – as low as $1,500 for a new system and installation and as high as $15,000 or more for a top brand with all the bells and whistles.

Questions about pricing or specific units and installation costs in Northern Virginia? We’ve got answers. Ask away in the comment section below. Thank you!

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