If you’ve wondered how much a heat pump or AC coil costs, this guide has the answers. It covers evaporator coil costs, condenser coil costs and the factors that affect them.
With these AC coil costs in front of you, you’ll be an informed consumer that won’t get taken advantage of when you get coil price estimates from local HVAC contractors. We’ve included tips about whether repairing or replacing the unit is a better decision.
Parts Under Warranty
In the tables below, we’ve listed parts cost and installation cost before giving a total. Coil warranties range from 5 years on base models to 10 years for most AC/heat pump coils to 12 years on some high-end units.
However, labor warranties might be just 1 year. They are rarely more than 2 years unless you bought an extended warranty when the unit was installed. Note that the extended warranties from most brands are third-party warranties rather than manufacturer warranties. We give our opinion about extended warranties in our comparison article on Trane vs. Carrier vs. Lennox air conditioners.
In most cases, if your AC or heat pump is still under warranty, you will pay just the installation cost. If your unit is not under warranty, then you’ll be faced with the decision to pay the entire repair bill or replace the air conditioner or heat pump. Since we want to get to prices early in this post, we’ll save itemizing the installation cost until after covering costs.
Condenser Coil Costs
Have you been told you need a new condenser coil or outside coil, but you’re not sure what it is? Here’s a brief explanation before we get to prices.
Your outside unit – AC or heat pump – is called the condenser or condensing unit. It gets the name because when in air conditioning mode, the superheated refrigerant carrying heat from inside your home is condensed in the coil inside the AC or heat pump.
When condensed, the heat is “squeezed” out of it. The heat radiates out through the fins of the coil and is dispersed with the help of the condensing unit fan. Most coil fins resemble the fins on an automobile radiator.
Here are condenser coil costs for your central air conditioner or heat pump.
|Coil Capacity||Part Only||Installation Cost||Total Cost|
Condenser Coil Replacement Cost Factors
That’s a broad spectrum of prices. Where your estimates fall will depend on:
- Warranty: You won’t pay the cost of the part if it is under manufacturer warranty.
- Home warranties: If you have a home warranty that covers HVAC, the portion of the parts and labor cost you’ll be expected to pay will be determined by the terms of the warranty.
- Type of coil: There are three types of condenser coil. We’ve described them below. In terms of cost, they are Standard coils ($-$$), Spine Fin coils ($$-$$$) and Micro-channel coils ($$$)
- Brand or generic: Spine fin and micro-channel coil replacements must be manufactured by the brand. Lennox parts are also proprietary. Most standard coils can be replaced with generic/universal parts, though brand-name replacement parts can be specified.
- Unit size: The greater the unit’s capacity, the more the repair will cost. This is because the part is larger and because it requires more refrigerant, and refrigerant is expensive.
- Cost of living: HVAC repair prices are in line with your area’s cost of living. They are high on and near the Coasts and in Alaska and Hawaii, lowest in rural areas and about average in metropolitan areas not on the Coasts.
Replacing a condenser coil involves more than just the 3-5 hours of labor needed to remove and replace the faulty coil with the new coil. The installation cost includes:
- Removing any remaining refrigerant from the system and disposing of it
- Disconnecting, removing and disposing of the old coil
- Installing the new coil and any supporting parts not usable from the old coil and connection
- Adding the proper refrigerant charge and testing the system
- The company’s overhead costs including wages, insurance, travel, equipment and tools.
- Fair profit
It’s not hard to see how costs add up quickly.
Condenser Coil Types
Here’s a brief description of each.
- Fin coil: Most coils are large and have copper or aluminum refrigerant tubing running through the coil, transferring heat to the fins. Most brands not mentioned in the next two types of coil have standard coils. This includes Carrier, Bryant, Goodman, Amana, Rheem/Ruud, Heil, Lennox and Armstrong Air.
- Micro-channel coil: These coils feature thin, flat tubes carrying the refrigerant through the coil. The fins are densely packed. The goal is to maximize surface area for faster heat transfer. Johnson Controls brands York, Luxaire and Coleman use these in some of their models. So do Nortek Global brands including Maytag, Frigidaire, Westinghouse, Tappan and Broan. Micro-channel coils are used in the HVAC and automotive industry. However, micro-channel coils from Johnson Controls have a well-documented problem with leaking. In fact, in 2017 Johnson Controls settled a large class action lawsuit over their problematic coils.
- Spine fin coil: American Standard and Trane (Ingersoll-Rand brands) are the only manufacturers of spine fin coils. The coils have tiny spines that look a bit like bristles on a bottle brush, except that they’re made of aluminum. The heat is radiated through them.
If you’d like to learn more about coils, this YouTube video is informative. HVAC professional Steve Lavimoniere gives a quick overview of these types along with their pros and cons…and a few laughs too.
Evaporator Coil Costs
The evaporator coil is also called the indoor coil. Refrigerant inside tubing in the coil evaporates when passing through a valve. When it does, it collects heat from the air passing over it. The cooled air is blown through ducts into your home. The evaporator coil cools as heat is removed from the air around it. Moisture in the air passing over it condenses on the coil and runs into a drain. This is how the air in your home is cooled and dehumidified.
There are two general types of evaporator coil:
- Uncased: An uncased coil is one that is installed inside the furnace cabinet or possibly the ductwork. It has no case of its own. When you’re replacing just the coil, an uncased unit will likely be used.
- Cased: A cased coil comes in its own cabinet and is usually installed in conjunction with a replacement furnace or air handler. We include costs for both types for those thinking about upgrading their entire HVAC system.
|Coil Capacity||Uncased||Cased||Installation||Total Cost*|
|*Unless your system requires an expensive proprietary part, your total cost will be closer to the low end or middle of the part cost and total cost.|
We detailed Coil Replacement Cost Factors and a breakdown of Installation Costs above for Condenser Coil Costs. They are the same for evaporator coils except for the type of coils. The actual coil, whether cased or uncased, is one of three shapes:
- A-coils: These are the most common. Shaped like an A-frame home, the moisture condenses on the coil and runs down the slope into the drain.
- N-coils: The benefit of an N-shaped coil is the extra “leg” that allows for more surface area for heat transfer.
- Slab coils: These units are flatter than the others. Slab coils are used in horizontal HVAC systems.
N-coils cost 15% to 25% more than A-coils and slab coils for the same capacity.
Repair vs. Replacement
When faced with a costly repair bill, should you choose the repair or opt to replace the entire unit or system? Let’s take each component separately.
Condensing coils: We recommend replacing the entire air conditioner or heat pump when it is not under warranty and the coil fails. This is due to the significant expense of condensing coil replacement. It’s so high in some cases that replacing the entire condensing unit (AC or heat pump) costs less than replacing just the coil. The reason is that taking the unit apart, making the repair and putting it back together takes much more time than building a new unit on a factory assembly line. Even if the cost of the part is covered, you might choose to replace the unit. A new heat pump or air conditioner comes with a warranty. Plus, you have options for higher efficiency for reducing energy use and cost and a performance upgrade to one that offers better climate control and comfort.
Evaporating coils: If the furnace or air handler used with the indoor coil is less than 10 years old and in good working condition, then replacing the evaporator coil makes sense. This is especially true if a universal replacement coil can be used to keep costs low. When the replacement part must be a proprietary part, then you’ll have to compare costs to make the repair/replace determination.
When the furnace or air handler is 10+ years and has already required costly repairs, the better choice is to replace all your indoor equipment – the furnace or air handler and the evaporator coil. Replacement gives you a new unit with a warranty and allows you to upgrade efficiency and performance, if desired.
There is more detailed information in our Trane Repair and Replacement Guide. The principles of when to replace a unit can be applied to any brand.
Using Our Free Estimate Tool to Compare Repair and Replacement Cost
By using our free estimate tool, you can get at least 3 quotes (both repair and replacement) in minutes from your local contractors. Then you can compare and decide if you need to replace the whole unit according to the above guideline.