Central Air Conditioner Prices – Tips & Advice

By Laurence Eisold. You will find information on central air conditioner prices throughout this page.

Related Story: Central Air Reviews

If you live somewhere that experiences hot weather, you know how uncomfortable the living conditions can get. After you have installed fans in every room and are still sweltering, it’s time to explore the current central air conditioner prices to see if a system is affordable. You probably already know that when purchasing an appliance of this type, things can get somewhat pricey. This is why doing some research before you go out and start shopping is a smart idea. You will want to learn about the products and read consumer reviews.

Central air conditioning delivers dehumidified, cool air to multiple rooms through a ductwork system. Some models use pipes that provide heat exchangers in multiple rooms with chilled water. Unlike the portable version, neither type is plugged into a standard electrical outlet. These come in either split or packaged systems, in which the location of the components varies.

First we will discuss some of the basics, then move on to factors that affect central air conditioner prices, and then provide some useful tips.

There are many things to consider, such as the brand, size, efficiency, functionality, durability and the type of unit. There is also the installation cost to keep in mind. Also, what type of building will this be for? Commercial central air conditioner prices are much more expensive than residential ones.


One of the most important factors in the central air conditioner prices is the size of the actual unit itself. This brings up the term BTU: British Thermal Units. This refers to the amount of heat that it removes per hour, otherwise known as cooling capacity. An air conditioner’s size is listed using the number of BTUs. The larger the size, the more expensive the unit is, and it is also stronger. An AC unit will have a listing between 5,000 to 18,000 BTUs. The size of the area you wish to cool determines the appropriate amount of BTUs needed.

The size of the AC unit is also referred to in terms of tons, which is equal to 12,000 BTUs. You want to buy the correct size for your situation as a central air conditioning unit that is too small will not cool efficiently, while a unit that is too large is not only going to cost more up front, but will use more energy. The most common sales are for units in the 3-6 ton range.

An example of some typical wholesale AC unit costs based on tons:

– $475 – $1000 for a 1 ton

– $550-$1,400 for 3 ton

– $725-$2,200 for 5 ton


The basic rule of thumb is that the longer the warranty is, and the more parts that are covered, the more you will spend. This is true of almost anything you buy. Consumers should read all warranty information carefully and decide what will save them the most money in the long run. Many people opt for the longer warranty to save a huge expensive a few years down the road. But if your goal is to save money right now, then the shortest warranty timeframe is best for you. Keep in mind that warranties will vary between different manufacturers.


The efficiency of the AC unit is going to have a big impact on the price you pay. Basically, an energy-efficient unit will cost more than one that consumes more energy. There are long term benefits of having a high-efficiency central air unit. You will most likely pay more for the unit upfront, but from that point on you will save of money as the unit uses less energy. In other words, the difference in cost will pay for itself with enough use.

It’s advised that the SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) number on the system you choose be 13 or higher. Another good reason to get a higher SEER unit is that in some cases you can qualify for the energy tax credits, which can be significant.


Another thing that will impact the central air prices is the brand. Some brands cost more than others due to the types of materials they are made of, the quality, how popular and trusted the brand is, and the technology that is used. If a unit takes more money and effort to produce, then it will cost more. Some brand names cost more due to better quality, but sometimes, frankly, you are just paying for the name. An AC unit that is energy star rated usually costs more than a standard one.

Some of the more popular, or high-end brands, are Trane, Carrier, Lennox, and Amana. You will no doubt come across these in your search. Some of the cheaper ones would be Goodman, Comfort Maker, Bryant, and Rheem to name a few. Some of these brands are nearly identical to the high-end brands.


Don’t forget to add in the cost of installation when determining your total cost. For example, an average cost for a regular 13 SEER, 3.5 ton unit might be $2,700. Installation might cost from just under $2,000 to $15,000 or more with ductwork included. The quality of the workmanship during the installation can make quite a difference. You will pay more for better workers, but it is worth it. A poor installation job can reduce efficiency, or worse, nullify the warranty.

Central Air Conditioner Tips

One of the first things you should look for when buying an air conditioner is an energy sticker. This tells you it has been manufactured by a quality company.

Where can you find the best prices? No doubt all the choices can be overwhelming at first. Start your search at your local outlet or discount stores. Not only will you find the best savings here, but you can talk to someone about calculating the BTUs you will need, and what size AC unit will be best for your home or business. A warehouse store provides a huge selection, allowing you to check out the brand names and Energy Star ratings. No search is complete without browsing the internet. This is the best way to compare prices and brands, and to read consumer reviews.

Like many purchases in life, the best central air conditioner prices will arrive in the off-season. Some people wait until it gets hot out to get one, a time when top dollar will have to be paid. The same way you wouldn’t want to wait until the first snowfall to buy a snow blower.

Hopefully this page has given you some helpful ideas in your search for information on central air conditioner prices. To begin with, it is probably best to start checking out central air ratings and reviews online.

Video – How Much does an HVAC System Cost?