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The Cost of a New Air Conditioning System

Goodman air conditioner unit

Everyday a whole lot of people Google the question, “What is a new air conditioning system going to cost me?”

A lot of supposed answers pop up.

Want an honest answer?

We don't know.

And Neither Does Anyone Else

Buying an air conditioner for your home isn't likely buying a toaster. Toasters toast bread one way. Bread is, pretty much, sliced the same way. There isn't a lot of variation or diversity. Toasters don't have to be that complicated.

They might be mass produced, but AC units aren't toasters.

Unique and Bizarre

Every home is like a fingerprint. They're all different, and that means there's no way to give an easy answer on what a new air conditioning system will cost the average homeowner.

Oh, sure, we could quote prices for split or packaged systems, but that's hardly a real answer to the question.

Instead, the real cost of a new air conditioning system will depend on how you answer the following questions:

  • Does your home already have air ducts installed to service a modern central AC system?
  • How much operating capacity would an air conditioner need to adequately cool your home during average seasonal highs in your area?
  • How efficient a system do you want?
  • What kind of warranty protection are you interested in?
  • Do you know a trained HVAC professional who can install a new system?


First up is air ducts. Modern air ducts are where the air goes. If you've got a home built in the last 50 years, there's a really good chance you've got them already. Beyond that and things start getting sketchy. If you have a home without them, installing them will be costly if it's even possible architecturally.

You can still get cool air, but it won't be with a central AC system. We recommend you look at split and ductless AC units. There are a lot of great ones out there.


Bigger is not better! An oversized AC unit will waste energy and cool worse than a smaller, but properly sized, unit. Make sure your home is properly measured for a modern HVAC installation.

That means getting a Manual J Calculation done.

If your contractor doesn't know what a Manual J is, get a new contractor.


Better efficiency costs more, but can be worth it in regions with expensive electricity.

At minimum, make sure you get a 13 SEER system. That's the government mandated requirement. Anything less isn't street legal so to speak.


A good AC unit will last around 15 years. Your typical AC warranty lasts around 10. There are some good air conditioners with warranties less than a decade long, but not many.


Unless you do it yourself, you're going to need a professional to install your air conditioner. We highly recommend you don't do it yourself. Modern AC units are complex and sophisticated. You'll need more than a screw driver and a hammer.

So, to Answer Your Question....

Sure, we don't know how to tell you what your new air conditioner is going to cost, but, hopefully, now you know how to go about figuring it out.

Photo credit: Flickr user DaynaT

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