If you’re in the market for a new air conditioner, the first thing on your mind is probably cost.
In Connecticut, the cost to install an air conditioner ranges between $6,000 and $17,000.
While it’s quite a wide range, the overall cost is determined by a variety of factors, such as:
- The unit’s specifications
- Added warranties
- The difficulty of the installation
- The contractor
In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at each of these cost factors and how they will impact your overall installation cost so you can have a better idea of what you might end up paying for your new AC system.
Cost factor #1: The unit’s specifications
The price of an AC varies depending on the unit’s specifications, which include:
- The size of the AC
- The SEER rating of the AC
- Add-on comfort and performance features
ACs that are bigger will cost more.
Keep in mind, though, the size of an AC is determined by its cooling capacity, not its physical dimensions. Air conditioners are sized according to their tonnage (how much heat the system can remove from your home in one hour).
Most residential air conditioners range between 1.5 to 5 tons. The higher the tonnage, the more cooling capacity the AC system has. However, you don’t want to get an AC that’s too big (or too small) for your home. An oversized or undersized AC can require frequent repairs and lead to higher energy bills.
To decide the correct size of AC for your home, you’ll want an air conditioning expert to perform a “load calculation”.
A load calculation helps to determine proper AC sizing by taking into account factors such as:
- The home’s square footage
- Insulation levels
- Number of windows, doors, rooms
- Geographical location
- And many other factors
The bottom line? Determining the right AC size for your home is a complex process and is best left to a professional.
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) measures how energy-efficient an AC is and is expressed as a rating between 13 and 25. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient and expensive the unit will be.
The U.S. Department of Energy enforces minimum SEER requirements that differ by geographical region. In Connecticut, all ACs must have a minimum SEER rating of 13, but most homes opt for a 14- or 16-SEER AC system since they are more energy-efficient and will save you more money.
Add-on comfort and performance features
Adding comfort and performance features to upgrade your system will raise the overall cost.
Here are some examples of available comfort and performance features:
- Variable-speed technology: “Variable speed” means the AC blower motor and compressor can incrementally adjust their speed to match the cooling demand, which delivers lower energy bills, higher comfort, and prolongs the life of the system.
- Noise reduction features: ACs can be loud. However, some systems have dampening strips, compressor mounts, or noise-reducing fan blades to lower the overall volume of the system.
- Smart thermostat: A smart thermostat allows you to control your AC from your smartphone. A smart thermostat can also learn your family’s daily schedule to automatically adjust the temperature to a comfortable level when people are home, and raise the temperature when people are away to save money.
Cost factor #2: Added warranties
Extended parts warranties and/or extended labor warranties will provide peace of mind and can potentially save you money in the long run, but they will increase the upfront costs of your installation.
Most manufacturers provide a limited parts warranty for all new AC systems. This warranty will cover the cost of expensive replacement parts if the AC breaks down within the warranty period (usually 5 to 10 years). You may also have the option to purchase an extended parts warranty, which extends the period of warranty coverage by an additional 5+ years.
Pro tip: After your AC is installed, be sure to register it with the manufacturer to guarantee it’s covered by the limited parts warranty.
There are other warranties available, such as an extended labor warranty from the contractor who installs your AC which covers the cost of labor should something go wrong with your AC after it’s installed.
Cost factor #3: The difficulty of the installation
Some AC installations will require more time and effort on behalf of the contractor. Increased labor time will raise the overall cost.
Factors that impact installation:
- The location of the AC: Air conditioners in hard-to-reach places such as a crawlspace or attic will take longer to replace.
- Upgrades or modifications to the ductwork: A new AC may require upgrades or modifications to your home’s ductwork, which increases labor time and cost.
- Electrical modifications: Adding an outlet or upgrading your electrical panel to power the new AC will cost more.
Cost factor #4: The contractor you hire
In general, there may be higher upfront costs associated with experienced contractors, but going with a reputable contractor can save you big in the long-run. Air conditioners are a big investment, so ensuring that your system is installed correctly the first time is key.
While it may be more appealing to go a cheaper route, you may end up paying more down the road in utility bills and expensive repairs for a poorly-installed AC system.
We recommend finding a reputable, experienced contractor to install your AC to avoid any issues.
To find a high-quality HVAC contractor, try the following tips:
- Verify the contractor is licensed and insured in the state of Connecticut to perform central AC installations
- Ask what guarantees and warranties the contractor offers on AC installations and ensure they are written. For example, beware of contractors who don’t offer at least a 1-year labor warranty on their installation work.
- Check to see if the contractor has good customer reviews
- Make sure the contractor offers estimates upfront (in writing) so you know there are no hidden fees