Air Conditioning Costs

Air conditioning (A/C) comes in various types and sizes of equipment that all offer the highest cooling potential, but also the highest cost to operate compared to other cooling approaches like ventilation or evaporative cooling. 

The cost to install average air conditioning depends upon type, cooling capacity and zone coverage, efficiency rating, preparation and special needs, and the labor rate.

Type and cost summary

In the following table the Cost figure is based on average air conditioning for zones ranging from 340 sq.ft. to 1,000 sq.ft.; and includes transport, material, equipment, and waste.

Type (cooling zone)ProsConsCost
Window (340 sq.ft.)Easy install/removeWindow blockage$253

Low costWindow only location


Lesser efficiency
Portable (340 sq.ft.)Easy install/removeDucted exhaust$345

Low costOccupies floor space

Flexible location

Ductless (600 sq.ft.)Flexible locationSome wall-cutting$1,416

Higher efficiency

Wall (1,000 sq.ft.)Flexible locationWall opening$2,225

Under window

Central (1,000 sq.ft.)Higher efficiencyDucting adds cost$3,598

Multiple zonesSome wall-cutting

Thermostats


Other considerations and costs

  • Taxes and permit fees are not included.
  • Energy efficient A/C will save money, and in some cases rebates may be available.
  • For A/C units of greater than 12,000 BTU/h (or 3.5 kilowatts) a multi-phase electrical circuit is generally required.
  • For a sunny room, add 10% more A/C capacity than required for room size.
  • Add 600 BTU/h per person if usually occupied by more than two persons.
  • For the kitchen, add 4,000 more BTU/h than required for room size.
  • During the initial inspection the contractor should inform the homeowner of any and all necessary modification or upgrade on electrical circuits or building structure.

DIY considerations

  • Window and portable units are highly suitable for DIY, and split systems are commonly provided with a DIY kit from vendors.
  • Wall and central units require greater skills and perhaps professional licensing.

References

  • Craftsman Estimator Costbook, complete series year 2015.
  • Latest prices found on Home Depot and other vendor Web sites.
  • Literature review of DIY Web sites.

Cost to install air conditioning in my city

Cost to install air conditioning varies greatly by region. To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.