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How Much Does it Cost to Install an AC Unit?

Are you considering installing an AC unit in your home or office, but hesitant because of the potential cost? Look no further. In this article, we will provide you with invaluable information about the expense associated with installing an AC unit. At TES Heating & Cooling, your local Los Angeles HVAC Company, we prioritize our customers by offering a wide range of HVAC services, including not only AC unit installation, but also Mini Split, Heat Pump, Furnaces, Package Unit, Wall Heaters, Air Ducts, Attic Ventilation & Insulation, Air Conditioning systems, and HVAC Tune-Up & Maintenance. With our expertise, we can install various types of HVAC systems, tailored to your specific needs, whether it be for residential or commercial properties. If you’re still unsure about the cost or need an estimate, visit us at www.tes-hvac.com or contact us at info@tes-hvac.com. Alternatively, you can give us a call at 424-400-6692 to get started on an estimate.

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Factors Affecting the Cost of AC Unit Installation

When it comes to installing an AC unit, several factors come into play that can affect the overall cost. It is essential to consider these factors to get an accurate estimate and make an informed decision. Here are some crucial factors that can influence the cost of AC unit installation:

Size of the AC Unit

The size of the AC unit is one of the primary factors that affect the cost of installation. Generally, larger AC units tend to be more expensive to install due to their increased capacity and complexity. The size of the AC unit needed for your space depends on factors such as the square footage of the area and the climate in which you live.

Type of AC Unit

Different types of AC units, such as central air conditioning, ductless mini-split systems, or window units, vary in their installation costs. Each type has its own installation requirements and complexities. For example, installing a central air conditioning system may involve more extensive ductwork, while a ductless mini-split system requires multiple indoor air handlers to be strategically placed.

Labor Costs

Labor costs play a significant role in the total installation cost. The complexity of the installation, the number of technicians required, and the time it takes to complete the job can all impact labor costs. Additionally, the labor rates may vary depending on the location and the HVAC contractor you choose for the installation.

Location and Accessibility

The location and accessibility of your property can affect the installation cost. If your property is in a hard-to-reach or remote area, it may require additional time and effort for the installation team to transport equipment and complete the installation. Similarly, if the AC unit needs to be installed on a higher floor without proper access, additional equipment such as a crane or special rigging may be required, adding to the overall cost.

Additional Components

In some cases, additional components may be required during AC installation. These components can include items like thermostats, air purifiers, humidifiers, or zoning systems, depending on your specific needs. The cost of these additional components should be factored into the overall installation cost.


If you are installing a central air conditioning system that requires ductwork, the condition of your existing ducts and any necessary modifications or repairs can impact the installation cost. If your ductwork needs significant upgrades or replacements, it will add to the overall cost of installation.

Electrical Work

AC unit installation often involves electrical work, including wiring, circuit upgrades, or electrical panel modifications. The complexity of the electrical work required and any necessary permits can affect the installation cost.

Permits and Inspections

Before installing an AC unit, it is crucial to obtain the necessary permits and pass inspections to ensure compliance with local building codes. These permits and inspections may come with associated fees that should be taken into account when calculating the total cost of installation.

Energy Efficiency

Opting for a more energy-efficient AC unit can have long-term cost savings in terms of energy consumption. However, high-efficiency units usually come with a higher upfront cost. It’s important to consider energy efficiency ratings, such as SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio), when selecting an AC unit and factor in the potential savings over time.

Warranty and Maintenance

Consider the warranty and maintenance plans offered by the manufacturer or HVAC contractor. Some companies offer extended warranties that cover parts and labor for a specific duration. These warranties can provide added peace of mind but may come with an additional cost.

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Average Cost Range for AC Unit Installation

The cost of AC unit installation can vary significantly based on several factors, including the size and type of AC unit, labor costs, additional components, and location. Here’s a breakdown of the average cost range for AC unit installation in residential and commercial settings:


For residential properties, the average cost of AC unit installation typically ranges between $2,500 and $7,500. This cost includes the AC unit, labor, additional components, ductwork modifications (if required), electrical work, permits, and inspections. However, it’s important to note that these are just average estimates, and the actual cost may vary based on specific requirements and location.


Commercial AC unit installation costs can vary widely depending on the size of the building, the complexity of the HVAC system, and the specific needs of the business. On average, commercial AC unit installation costs range from $8,000 to $20,000 or more. The installation of larger, more robust systems with extensive ductwork can contribute to the higher cost.

Detailed Breakdown of Costs

To understand the overall cost of AC unit installation, it’s essential to consider the various components that contribute to the total expense. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the costs involved:

Cost of the AC Unit

The cost of the AC unit itself can vary depending on the brand, model, capacity, and features. On average, residential AC units can range from $1,500 to $10,000 or more. Commercial AC units, which are often larger and more powerful, can range from $5,000 to $30,000 or higher.

Installation Labor Costs

Installation labor costs cover the wages of the HVAC technicians who will install the AC unit. Labor costs vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the installation, the size of the AC unit, and the location. On average, labor costs can range from $1,000 to $3,500 or more for residential installations. Commercial installations typically require more labor and can range from $3,000 to $10,000 or higher.

Additional Component Costs

If you choose to install additional components such as thermostats, air purifiers, or humidity control systems, these will incur additional costs. The cost of these components can range from $100 to $1,500 or more, depending on the brand and features.

Ductwork Costs

If your AC installation involves modifying or replacing ductwork, this will add to the overall cost. Ductwork costs depend on factors such as the extent of modifications needed, the size of your property, and whether the ducts are accessible. On average, ductwork costs can range from $1,500 to $5,000 or more.

Electrical Work Costs

Electrical work costs cover any necessary wiring, circuit upgrades, or electrical panel modifications required for the AC unit installation. The complexity of the electrical work and the size of the property can impact the overall cost. On average, electrical work costs can range from $500 to $2,500 or more.

Permit and Inspection Costs

Permit and inspection costs can vary depending on the local building codes and regulations in your area. These costs typically range from $100 to $500 or more, depending on the specific requirements.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an AC Unit

Choosing the right AC unit for your space is crucial for optimal cooling and energy efficiency. Several factors should be considered when selecting an AC unit:

SEER Rating

The SEER rating indicates the energy efficiency of an AC unit. A higher SEER rating means greater energy efficiency, which can result in long-term cost savings. Consider selecting an AC unit with a SEER rating of 14 or higher for maximum efficiency.

BTU Output

BTU (British Thermal Units) refers to the cooling capacity of an AC unit. The BTU output required depends on factors such as room size, insulation, ceiling height, and local climate. A unit with insufficient BTU output may struggle to cool the space adequately, while one with excessive output may cycle on and off frequently, leading to energy inefficiency. It is crucial to select an AC unit with the appropriate BTU output for your specific needs.

Brand and Quality

Choosing a reputable and reliable brand is important when selecting an AC unit. Established brands often have a track record of manufacturing high-quality and long-lasting units. Research different brands, read customer reviews, and consult with HVAC professionals to determine which brand is best suited for your needs.

Features and Advanced Technology

AC units come with various features and advanced technologies that can enhance comfort and energy efficiency. Some features to consider include programmable thermostats, variable speed motors, zoning capabilities, and smart home integration. Evaluate the features offered by different AC units and choose the ones that align with your preferences and requirements.

Noise Level

Consider the noise level produced by the AC unit. Loud air conditioning units can be disruptive, especially if they are installed in living areas or bedrooms. Look for units with lower decibel ratings or noise-reducing features to minimize disturbance.

Size and Space Requirements

Ensure that the AC unit you choose is appropriately sized for your space. An improperly sized unit can result in inefficiency, inadequate cooling, and increased energy consumption. HVAC professionals can perform a load calculation to determine the correct size of the unit based on your specific requirements.

Benefits of Professional AC Unit Installation

While some individuals may consider installing an AC unit themselves, there are several benefits to hiring a professional HVAC contractor for the job:

Quality Workmanship

Professional installation ensures that the AC unit is installed correctly, adhering to industry standards and manufacturer specifications. HVAC professionals have the expertise and experience to perform the installation with precision, minimizing the risk of errors.

Proper Sizing and Installation

Improper sizing and installation can lead to energy inefficiency, inadequate cooling, and premature equipment failure. HVAC professionals can accurately assess your space, calculate the appropriate AC unit size, and install it correctly, optimizing performance and energy efficiency.

Avoiding Costly Mistakes

Attempting a DIY installation without the necessary knowledge and experience can result in costly mistakes. HVAC professionals have the expertise to avoid potential pitfalls and ensure that the installation is done right the first time, saving you money in the long run.

Ensuring Efficiency and Performance

Professional installation guarantees that the AC unit operates at its maximum efficiency and delivers optimal cooling performance. Proper installation techniques and professional adjustments enhance overall system performance and minimize energy waste.

Manufacturer Warranty

Many AC unit manufacturers require professional installation for their warranties to be valid. Hiring a professional ensures that you comply with these requirements, allowing you to take advantage of any warranty coverage if needed.

Safety and Compliance

AC unit installation involves working with electrical components, refrigerants, and potentially hazardous materials. HVAC professionals are trained to handle these aspects safely, reducing the risk of accidents or safety hazards. They are also well-versed in local building codes and regulations, ensuring that the installation meets all compliance standards.

DIY AC Unit Installation vs. Professional Installation

When it comes to AC unit installation, you may have the option to either attempt a DIY installation or hire a professional HVAC contractor. Here are some pros and cons of each approach:

Pros of DIY Installation

  1. Cost Savings: DIY installation can potentially save you money on labor costs.

Cons of DIY Installation

  1. Lack of Knowledge and Experience: HVAC installation requires specialized knowledge and experience. Mistakes in installation can lead to inefficiency, inadequate cooling, or costly damage.
  2. Potential Safety Hazards: Working with electrical components and refrigerants can be dangerous without proper training and equipment. DIY installation can pose safety hazards if not done correctly.
  3. Voided Warranties: Many AC unit manufacturers require professional installation for their warranties to be valid. DIY installation may void the warranty coverage.

Pros of Professional Installation

  1. Expertise and Experience: HVAC professionals have the necessary knowledge and experience to handle the complexities of AC unit installation.
  2. Proper Sizing and Installation: HVAC professionals can accurately assess your space, calculate the appropriate AC unit size, and install it correctly, optimizing performance and energy efficiency.
  3. Compliance with Manufacturer Requirements: Professional installation ensures that you comply with manufacturer requirements for warranty coverage.
  4. Safety and Compliance: HVAC professionals are trained to handle the installation safely and in compliance with local building codes and regulations.
  5. Peace of Mind: Hiring professionals gives you peace of mind that the installation is done correctly and that your investment is protected.

Cons of Professional Installation

  1. Additional Cost: Professional installation comes with labor costs that may add to the overall expense. However, the benefits and long-term savings may outweigh the upfront cost.

Tips to Save Money on AC Unit Installation

If you’re looking to save money on AC unit installation, consider the following tips:

Compare Multiple Quotes

Obtain quotes from different HVAC contractors to compare prices and services. Ensure that the quotes are comprehensive and include all the necessary components and services for a fair comparison.

Choose Energy-Efficient Units

Although energy-efficient units may have a higher upfront cost, they can result in long-term savings through reduced energy consumption. Look for AC units with high SEER ratings and Energy Star certifications.

Proper AC Unit Sizing

Ensure that the AC unit is appropriately sized for your space. An oversized or undersized unit can lead to energy inefficiency and poor cooling performance. Consult with HVAC professionals to determine the correct size.

Regular Maintenance and Tune-Ups

Invest in regular maintenance and tune-ups for your AC unit. Proper maintenance can enhance performance, extend the unit’s lifespan, and minimize the likelihood of breakdowns or costly repairs.

Take Advantage of Rebates and Tax Credits

Check for available rebates and tax credits for energy-efficient AC units. These incentives can help offset the upfront cost of installation and provide additional savings.

Consider Financing Options

If the upfront cost of installation is a concern, consider financing options offered by HVAC contractors. Many contractors offer flexible payment plans or financing options that can make the cost more manageable.

Common Mistakes to Avoid During AC Unit Installation

Avoiding common mistakes during AC unit installation is crucial to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Here are some mistakes to avoid:

Incorrect AC Unit Sizing

Installing an AC unit that is either too large or too small for the space can lead to inefficiency, poor cooling, and increased energy consumption. Proper sizing is essential for optimal performance and energy efficiency.

Poor Insulation

Inadequate insulation can result in energy loss and make it difficult for the AC unit to cool the space effectively. Ensure that your property is properly insulated to improve energy efficiency and maximize cooling performance.

Improper Ductwork

If ductwork modifications are required during AC installation, it is important to ensure that the ducts are properly sized, sealed, and insulated. Poorly designed or leaky ductwork can lead to air loss, reduced cooling efficiency, and increased energy consumption.

Neglecting Electrical Requirements

Electrical work during AC unit installation should be handled by a licensed electrician. Neglecting proper electrical requirements can result in hazardous conditions and equipment malfunctions.

Not Obtaining Necessary Permits and Inspections

Obtaining the necessary permits and passing inspections is essential to comply with local building codes and regulations. Failing to do so can result in legal consequences and potential safety hazards.

Skipping Professional Installation

While DIY installation may seem tempting to save money, it is important to consider the complexity of the job. Hiring a professional HVAC contractor ensures that the installation is done correctly, optimizing performance and efficiency while avoiding costly mistakes.

FAQs about AC Unit Installation

How long does the installation process take?

The duration of the installation process can vary depending on factors such as the size of the AC unit, the complexity of the installation, and the specific requirements of your property. On average, residential AC unit installation can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, while commercial installations may take longer.

Will the installation team remove the old AC unit?

In most cases, HVAC contractors can remove and dispose of the old AC unit as part of the installation service. However, it is essential to clarify this with the contractor beforehand to avoid any misunderstandings.

Do I need to be present during the installation?

It is recommended to be present during the installation process to ensure that any questions or concerns can be addressed promptly. Additionally, being present allows you to provide access to the property and discuss any specific preferences or requirements.

How often should the AC unit be serviced?

Regular maintenance and tune-ups are essential to keep your AC unit in optimal condition. It is recommended to have your AC unit serviced at least once a year, preferably before the start of the cooling season, to ensure peak performance and identify any potential issues.

What is the average lifespan of an AC unit?

The average lifespan of an AC unit can vary depending on factors such as usage, maintenance, and quality. On average, residential AC units can last anywhere from 10 to 15 years, while commercial units may have a shorter lifespan due to heavier usage.

Are there any precautions I should take after installation?

After installation, it is important to follow any specific instructions provided by the HVAC contractor. This may include guidelines for operation, maintenance, and basic troubleshooting. Regularly changing air filters and scheduling professional maintenance are also recommended to keep your AC unit running smoothly.


AC unit installation involves several factors that can affect the overall cost, including the size and type of AC unit, labor costs, location, additional components, and electrical work. It is crucial to consider these factors when estimating the cost and selecting the right AC unit for your space.

While professional installation may come with an upfront cost, it offers several benefits, including quality workmanship, proper sizing and installation, avoiding costly mistakes, ensuring efficiency and performance, manufacturer warranty compliance, and safety and compliance.

When considering AC unit installation, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of DIY installation versus professional installation and take steps to save money, such as comparing quotes, choosing energy-efficient units, proper sizing, regular maintenance, and taking advantage of rebates and financing options.

Avoiding common mistakes and considering factors such as SEER rating, BTU output, brand and quality, features, noise level, and size requirements are crucial when choosing an AC unit.

By understanding the factors affecting the cost and considering essential considerations, you can make an informed decision and enjoy optimal cooling comfort and energy efficiency in your home or commercial space.

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