The cost to have central air installed by a pro is $3,550 to about $12,000 based on your home’s square feet, your climate and factors related to the quality of the equipment.
Average Cost of Central Air by Square Feet
What is the cost to add central air?
Homeowners in 2,000 square foot homes in the middle of the country pay an average of $6,800 to $8,400 to replace central air when hiring a certified technician.
The cost is also determined by the brand quality, efficiency and performance of the AC – whether it is 1-stage, 2-stage or variable capacity (all explained below).
Before we provide details for both retail equipment costs and installed costs, here are a few common home sizes and the cost to replace central air for them. The cost for new construction is included.
These are the cost of installed central air:
- The average cost of new central AC for 1,200 square foot houses is $5,700 for a 2 ton AC system.
- The average cost of central air for 1,700 square foot houses is $6,900 for a 3 ton system.
- The average cost to install central air conditioning in a 2,000 square foot houses is $7,800 for a 3.5 ton system
- The average cost of new central air for 2,400 square foot houses is $8,600 for a 4 ton AC system
- The average cost to add central air in a 3,000 square foot house is $9,300 for a 5 ton system
Those AC prices are way too high!
We wish they were. But prices are up across the country for all HVAC equipment – and much more, as you know.
In 2021, all major HVAC manufacturers including the big ones Carrier/Bryant, Trane/American Standard, Lennox and Rheem/Ruud, announced price increases of around 15% for the equipment.
Installers’ cost is rising too due to rising labor costs.
Unfortunately, central air costs you’ll find other places online are quite a bit low. You can rely on prices here. Pick HVAC keeps track of the market, and our pricing is up to date.
Cost of Central AC for Houses 800 to 3,000 Square Feet
This table shows house size first. The retail cost is in the middle column, and the installed cost is on the right. Please read the notes below the Central Air Cost by House Size table for a full understanding of the information.
Cost of central air for 800 – 3,000 sq ft house
|House Size (sq ft)||Central Air Equipment Cost||Central Air Installed Cost|
|800 sq ft||$2,400 - $4,250||$3,550 - $5,975|
|900 sq ft||$2,400 - $4,250||$3,550 - $5,975|
|1,000 sq ft||$2,400 - $5,100||$3,550 - $7,750|
|1,100 sq ft||$2,400 - $6,000||$3,550 - $8,600|
|1,200 sq ft||$2,950 - $6,000||$4,300 - $8,600|
|1,500 sq ft||$3,300 - $7,150||$4,650 - $9,900|
|1,600 sq ft||$3,300 - $7,700||$4,650 - $10,650|
|1,700 sq ft||$3,400 - $8,000||$4,700 - $10,900|
|2,000 sq ft||$3,800 - $8,650||$4,900 - $11,300|
|2,500 sq ft||$4,250 - $9,700||$5,625 - $12,500|
|3,000 sq ft||$4,800 - $9,700+||$6,200 - $12,500|
See costs in your areaEnter Your Zip Code
What is the cost of central air for 1200 sq ft house?
$4,300 – $8,600. Find 1200 in the left column, House Size. When you scan to the right, you’ll see that the cost of central air for a 1200 square foot house is $4,300 – $8,600. The average cost is around $6,500.
Cost of central air for 1500 sq ft house?
$4,650 – $9,900, according to the Cost of AC per House Size Table above. This is an installed cost. Most homeowners pay around $7,900 for an average-quality, 16 to 18 SEER AC.
How much does an air conditioner cost for a 2,000 sq ft home?
The price is $4,900 to $11,300 based on the quality, efficiency and performance of the system. Installation factors like changes to the ductwork affect cost too.
How to Get the Best Air Conditioner Prices
- Firstly, keep in mind that installation quality is always the most important thing for residential HVAC project. So never sacrifice contractor quality for a lower price.
- Secondly, remember to look up the latest rebates as we talked above.
- Thirdly, ask for at least 3 bids before you make the decision. You can click here to get 3 free estimates for your local contractor, and this estimate already takes rebates and tax credit into consideration and filter unqualified contractors automatically.
Lastly, once you chose the right contractor, remember to use the tactics from this guide: Homeowners Tactics When Negotiating with HVAC Dealer to get the final best price.
AC Cost FAQs
What size ACs are included?
Central air conditioning sizes are 1.5 tons (18,000 BTU) to 5 tons (60,000 BTU). Mini split sizes begin at about 6,000 BTU, or .5 tons, but we’ve used standard split system air conditioners for this table.
The size of the central air system needed is based on square feet, climate (how sunny it is) and home insulation.
As a result, the same size house in various locations will require a different AC size.
Here are the square feet for the house and AC size needed based on factors mentioned.
- 800 and 900 – 1.5 tons
- 1,000 – 1.5 to 2.0 tons
- 1100 – 1.5 to 2.5 tons
- 1200 – 2 to 2.5 tons
- 1500 – 2.5 to 3 tons
- 1600 – 2.5 to 3.5 tons
- 2000 – 3 to 4 tons
- 2500 – 3.5 to 5 tons
- 3000 – 4 to 5+ tons
Why are some price ranges greater?
Because the potential AC size needed varies so much. Based on proper sizing, for example, a 1200 square foot home will need either a 2 or 2.5 ton AC.
But a 1600 square foot home could require a 2.5, 3.0 or 3.5 ton AC – a wider range of possibilities, so a wider cost range.
Is that the only reason the price ranges are so wide?
No. The energy efficiency of the AC, its performance and features account for a lot of the cost. And quality affects price too.
At two ends of the spectrum:
- A Goodman 3-ton, single-stage, 14 SEER AC will cost around $4,900 installed.
- A Lennox 3-ton, variable-capacity, 24 SEER AC will cost $9,900, a $5,000 difference.
Is a 5 ton AC enough for a 3,000 square foot house?
In cooler climates and if the house is shaded/average and has average to good insulation, then yes. But if the house is in a hot zone or has poor insulation, then two central ACs are often used to cool each side or floor of the home.
Complete HVAC System: Cost to install Central Air and Heat
The cost to replace an entire system is higher, of course, but not double. This is partly because furnaces cost quite a bit less than air conditioners.
Here are the two most common types of split systems that deliver AC and heat.
An air conditioner and gas furnace system remains the most popular.
The second type is a heat pump and an air handler instead of a furnace. The heat pump removes heat from indoors during summer (AC mode), and brings heat from outside into the house in winter (heat mode).
How much does it cost to install central air and heat in a 600 – 2,000 sq ft house
|House Size (sq ft)||Central Air and Heat Equipment Cost||Central Air and Heat Installed Cost|
|600 sq ft||$2,050 - $5,985||$3,200 - $3,450|
|800 sq ft||$2,875 - $7,100||$4,450 - $9,400|
|900 sq ft||$3,500 - $8,250||$6,150 - $11,000|
|1,000 sq ft||$3,800 - $8,700||$6,575 - $11,650|
|1,200 sq ft||$4,200 - $8,700||$7,000 - $11,650|
|1,300 sq ft||$4,200 - $8,950||$7,000 - $12,400|
|1,400 sq ft||$4,650 - $9,850||$7,550 - $13,500|
|1,500 sq ft||$4,900 - $10,800||$8,000 - $14,450|
|1,600 sq ft||$4,900 - $11,300||$8,000 - $15,375|
|1,700 sq ft||$5,400 - $11,300||$8,500 - $15,375|
|2,000 sq ft||$5,750 - $12,200||$8,800 - $16,700|
See costs in your areaEnter Your Zip Code
How much does it cost to install central air and heat in a 1,000 sq ft house?
$6,575 to $11,650. Find 1,000 in the left column. The equipment price is in the middle, but it’s mostly for information since most HVAC systems must be installed by a licensed technician. The total installed cost range is in the right column. Cost depends on brand quality, efficiency and whether it is a 1-stage, 2-stage or variable AC.
Important equipment note: This Table starts at 600 square feet. The smallest standard split system AC or heat pump would be too much equipment for the space. So, pricing up to 1000 square feet on this table includes the cost of mini split heat pump systems and standard AC/gas furnace systems.
How much to replace central AC?
The average cost is $6,800 to $8,400 for a 3 ton system. Replacement central air conditioner prices range from less than $4,000 for small, affordable models and more than $12,000 for a 5 ton Lennox or American Standard central AC.
Do the prices include ductwork?
No – HVAC equipment only, whether just air conditioning or AC and heating equipment.
How much does ductwork cost?
In a home with no existing ductwork, installing ductwork is much easier than changing ductwork in an existing house.
New construction ductwork cost: $2,200 to $4,800 based on house size and layout, HVAC equipment location and what type of ductwork is used.
The cost to replace ductwork is much higher due to increased difficulty in removing old ductwork and working within an existing house structure. Instead of $2,200 to $4,800, expect to pay $3,500 to $6,500 for ductwork replacement.
How much does Trane central air cost?
Trane is one of the top rated AC brands for quality and reliability. That’s why it is higher in price than average. Trane central air price, installed, is $4,400 to $12,000 with a cost of about $8,200 for a 17 SEER, 2-stage, 3 ton Trane AC.
How much does Lennox central air cost?
It’s the most expensive brand, but the top Lennox ACs are also the most efficient on the market. Central air replacement cost ranges from $4,800 to $12,500 for Lennox. The average cost of a 3 ton, 18 SEER, 2-stage Lennox AC is $8,500 installed. New air conditioner cost is a little lower, because there’s no need to remove an old AC.
Can I install my own AC?
Probably not. All central AC split systems require a technician with a refrigerant license to handle the installation – at least charging the system with refrigerant. There are a few DIY mini split systems, however.