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How Much Does a New Central Air Conditioner Cost?

Posted 03-13-15 in Air Conditioning

A new air conditioning system with installation can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000+ in the Atlanta area.

Why such a wide range?

How much you pay for a new air conditioner and installation depends on many different factors. Here’s several of the biggest ones.

The size (tons) of the system

In general, the larger your home, the larger your air conditioner will need to be in order to cool it. And the larger the air conditioner, the higher the cost of a new one.

Besides size of your home, there are other things that can affect the size of the new air conditioner (and therefore its cost). Here are a few:

  • Number, size and energy efficiency of windows. The bigger and less energy efficient your windows, the more heat that will pass into your home. And the bigger AC you’ll need to remove that heat.
  • Height of ceilings. High ceilings mean there’s more air in your home to cool. Therefore, you’ll need a larger air conditioner.
  • Level of insulation. More insulation means your home is more energy efficient. Less insulation means the opposite and, you guessed it, the larger air conditioner you’ll need.
  • Number of people who live in the home. People give off heat and actually affect the size of air conditioner you need.

A good air conditioning contractor will take all of these things into account in a calculation known as a “Manual J” heat-load calculation. This will help determine the optimum size air conditioner you need.

P.S. Don’t just default to a “bigger is better” mentality as an oversized air conditioner can also cost you serious money. Learn more about oversized systems.

Energy efficiency of system

Air conditioning systems’ energy efficiency is measured in SEER. Essentially, this is similar to a car’s MPG (miles per gallon). The higher the number, the more efficient the system.

And the more efficient the air conditioning system, the more it will cost.

Related: Which SEER Rating Should I Buy?

Type of system you’re replacing

Most homes in Atlanta have split air conditioning systems. This simply means that the 3 main components (condenser, evaporator coil and blower) of your air conditioning system are split into 2 pieces (the outdoor unit and the indoor unit).

In a split system it is possible, although not recommended, to replace only part of the air conditioning system without replacing the rest. If you do that, your price will be less upfront, but it will probably cost you in the long run.

Read more about why you should replace both the indoor and outdoor units at the same time.

The state of your air ducts

You want your air conditioner to do 2 things:

  • Keep you comfortable during our hot, humid Atlanta summers
  • Do this as efficiently as possible

That’s why when we give you a quote a new air conditioner install, we’ll also look at your ductwork.

Your air ducts are the arteries of your air conditioning system. They circulate the air to and from the air conditioner. All the cool air that makes it into your home passes through your ducts.

And yet:

  • ENERGY STAR estimates that most homes leak up to 30% of the air that passes through them. That’s means for every $100 you spend on AC, your ducts are losing $30 of it!
  • Many Atlanta homes have inadequate return ducts. This suffocates your AC, making it work harder and longer (so, less efficient) and leaving you uncomfortable.

So ignoring your ducts could jeopardize the goals of your air conditioner (staying comfortable and doing it efficiently).

If you take care of your air ducts, the cost of the new air conditioner installation will be more —but will pay off from improved energy efficiency and comfort.

The installer

When it comes to cost for installing the air conditioner, you may find very wide ranges among different companies.

Keep in mind that you are paying for more than the install; you’re paying for peace of mind.

A small, new company might offer you a cheap installation, but will they be around in a year or two if you have a problem? Do they have a track record of providing great service in the Atlanta area for over 5 decades? Do they guarantee or warranty their work?

Learn more about how to choose the right contractor.

Other extras

If you are wanting a zoned air conditioning system installed or have your eye an AC with a smart thermostat that you can set from your phone, the air conditioner and installation will cost more.

Get a more precise quote

If you’re looking for more than the $3000 to $15,000 range (and you live in Atlanta), you can request an in-home estimate from us. Don’t worry, it’s free and there’s no obligation to purchase.


Coolray has been serving Atlanta and the surrounding areas since 1966. Read more about us.

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