Central AC Replacement Cost in 2021, A Homeowner Guide

Do you know how much it costs to replace your central air conditioning system? AC replacement cost is a lot more than most people think. As a homeowner, at some point you will likely consider whether or not to replace your HVAC system. This is a big decision, as a new AC system can be quite expensive, and you will be stuck with it for the next decade or so. If you want to have an idea of what the total cost will be so you can make any decisions about replacing your current unit, read on.

In this blog, we will list the many factors that go into the price of a new air conditioner installation, and not all of them are easy to figure out on your own. 

If you are in Maryland, call SuperTech or schedule online for a free estimate on an AC system replacement! We’ll take care of it.

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How much Does A Central AC Replacement Cost? A Homeowners' Guide Just For You!

If you're considering AC replacement in the near future, we would love to help. Since the cost can be daunting, we also offer financing options so that comfort is always affordable and attainable. Plus, who doesn't want a free estimate? Schedule online or call today to get started on replacing your central air conditioning unit! After all, why not have a cool home this summer?

Also, keep in mind that many times, it is smarter to go with a repair for your system than a replacement. For an extensive guide on issues that your cooling system may experience, check out our blog on AC repair.

1. Size 

The size of your AC unit is an important factor to consider. You won’t feel comfortable if your AC unit is under or oversized. No, a bigger HVAC system does not automatically make it better. So, it’s important to get the right size. A load calculation is needed in order to size the unit correctly. Load calculations consider the square footage of your home, as well as elements that affect heat loss or gain such as windows and doors. The larger the size of the equipment you’ll need, the more expensive it is. A HVAC technician should do a load calculation for your home and size your central air system accordingly.

2. Efficiency

The efficiency of an air conditioner is rated using Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The SEER rating is the cooling output during a particular cooling season divided by the total electric output within the same period. SEER ratings are between 13 and 20 or higher. The higher the rating of your HVAC system, the higher the efficiency and the higher the initial cost of the unit. The operating cost of a higher efficiency unit would be lower.

Additionally, it is important to know that as of January 2023, the nation's regional SEER standards have been replaced by new "SEER2" ratings.

3. Stages

AC Stages

Air conditioners can be classified into three types: single-stage, two-stage, and variable capacity. A single-stage air conditioner only has one setting, which is 100% capacity. The two-stage air conditioner has a 100% and 50% capacity setting, so it uses less energy and is more efficient than the single-stage air conditioner. Variable-capacity air conditioners are more efficient than single- and two-stage systems. They're controlled differently and operate continuously, often at around 30% capacity. They don't cycle on and off when the thermostat reaches its desired temperature as others do. They also run much longer cycles.

4. Make

There are air conditioners brands on the market. Each brand is priced differently based on specs and individual manufacturers peculiarities. Some higher, others lower. Lennox, Carrier, and Trane are considered premium brands because they have a longer life expectancy of about 18 years. Rheem, Daikin, York, and a few others are standard brands with lower life expectancy around 15 years. Airtemp, Goodman and Ameristar are budget brands that last up to 12 years.

5. Duct work

Duct work is the system of ducts (metal or synthetic tubes) for transporting conditioned air from the HVAC equipment to the rooms and cycling air back to the equipment. Good air ducts increase indoor air quality (IAQ) and comfort. You can learn more about what may be inside your duct work by reading our blog on the subject! Sometimes, you may need to modify your existing duct work to meet the specifications of your new air conditioning system for optimum performance. Oftentimes, the existing duct work is not designed or installed well, or too much wear and tear makes it insufficient. If you address any existing duct issues or upgrade your ducts, it could increase your central AC installation cost.

6. Line set protection

Line sets are copper tubes connecting your indoor air conditioning unit to your outdoor unit. Refrigerant therefore travels in this tube. Refrigerant is a chemical an AC uses to transfer heat. The line set should therefore be protected from the weather and other damage. If it gets cracked, it can lead to a refrigerant leak, significantly impacting the efficiency of your system.

7. Electrical cost

The areas that may need electrical modifications include updating the control wiring for a new thermostat, high-voltage wiring, and adding or fixing breakers.

8. Condensate drainage

An air conditioner removes moisture from air when it’s on. The moisture changes to water, and the water therefore needs to be emptied. Water could be drained to a floor drain or sump pump by gravity through a drain line. If not, a condensate pump is needed to pump the water up to where it needs to be drained out.

9. Installation cost for central AC

The installation cost of a central AC unit may vary depending on a number of things. 

One is the complexity of the job. The cost of working on an indoor unit in an attic or crawlspace tends to be higher because installation is more difficult compared to installing in a walkout basement or first-floor utility closet. 

Two is certification. An AC contractor who is trained and certified by a premium brand will charge more than someone who isn't trained or specialized in a specific brand. 

Three is the cost of living in a certain area, which can affect cost by up to 20%.

Four is the time of the year. Installation costs are higher during the peak or high season and lower in the off / low season. The busiest season is between April and September. The demand for replacement is usually very high in the months of June, July, and August as many ACs break down during this period.

Cost also changes year over year due to inflation, cost of equipment and materials, and regulatory standards.

10. Tax credits and rebates for AC replacement

Some energy-efficient HVAC equipment qualifies for energy tax credits. There may also be local utility rebates in your area for installation of high efficiency air conditioners. For example, the EmPOWER Maryland Low Income Energy Efficiency Program (LIEEP) allows for low-income households to install energy conservation materials in their homes for free. Also, sometimes manufacturers give their own discounts for higher efficiency systems. 

11. Permits and inspection

Although federal law does not require a permit for AC replacement, local jurisdictions often do. If so, a permit needs to be obtained in order to start work. It's therefore necessary that you know these things ahead of time so you can comply with relevant local codes, system requirements, and industry standards when making that switch. This can save you a lot of stress, reduce your energy bills, and increase the life expectancy of your AC. If you are in Maryland, call an experienced HVAC contractor like SuperTech.

Our Top-Notch Technicians Will Get You The Perfect New AC!

If you're considering replacing your AC in the near future, we are the best air conditioning company in the Baltimore area to help you! Since the cost can be daunting, we offer financing options so that comfort is always affordable and attainable. And again, we offer free estimates! Schedule online or call today to get started on replacing your central air conditioning unit! Plus, ask about our gold membership club in which you can receive free AC maintenance so your system will last as long as possible.

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