How Much Does It Cost to Install Central Air Conditioning?
On windless, hot summer days, air conditioned spaces offer relief from the oppressive climate. Commercial office buildings and shopping malls grant such comfort outside the house. But inside the home, central air conditioning can cool down all rooms at the same time. Installing this machine is not a job for amateurs and demands the services of professionals.
The most common type of central air conditioning is the split system, which circulates refrigerant between an outdoor condenser with compressor, and an indoor coil. This cools the air, which a blower then moves through the ducts of a home. A less common option is the heat pump that discharges heat from the house into the air or underground in the summer. In the winter, it brings in heat from the ground or the air into the house. Air conditioners are described with Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating or SEER. Federal regulations mandate a SEER of 13 or greater.
A big part of the cost of installing central air conditioning is the price of the unit itself, which varies by size, brand and capacity. For example, an outdoor Five-Ton, 13-SEER Goodman Air Conditioner costs about $1,377 and has a cooling capacity of 60,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units). A Three-Ton, 16-SEER Ducane Condenser costs about $1,463, and has a cooling capacity of 35,400 BTU. And a Three-Ton, 19.5-SEER Rheem 2-Stage Split System costs about $4,074, and has a cooling capacity of 39,000 BTU.
According to Cost Owl, with prices accurate at the time of publications, installing central air conditioning costs from $3,500 to $5,500 if it uses existing ductwork. If professionals must install new ductwork, costs can rise to between $10,000 and $12,000. Pricing can also increase with the size of unit, the age of the home and the local climate. Both the federal government and many state government offer tax credits that can bring down the cost of installation but only if you use ENERGY STAR rated units, that offer maximum energy efficiency.
Wages vary across the country, so location determines the cost to install central air conditioning. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that as of May 2010, air conditioner installers made a mean $21.57. Their highest wages were in Alaska at a mean $27.87 per hour, the District of Columbia at a mean $27.75 and Hawaii at a mean $26.48 per hour. However, below-average rates were shown in Vermont at a mean $18.77 per hour, Florida at a mean $18.90 per hour and Maine at a mean $20.37 per hour.