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How Much Does It Cost to Install a Central Air Conditioner in Florida?

December 01, 2016

Installing a central air conditioner in Florida costs anywhere from $4,500 to $6,500 with the average price around $5,500.

But to help you determine whether your installation will ring in at the high or low end of that price range, let’s look at some of the factors that affect installation prices.

Factor #1: The contractor you hire

Two ways your contractor will affect the price of your AC installation include:

  1. Upfront labor costs
  2. Long-term costs from incorrect sizing/installation

The bottom line? Higher quality contractors often come with higher upfront installation prices but save you money in long-term costs

Upfront labor costs

When you hire a contractor, you typically pay an upfront cost that covers:

  • A Manual J calculation (to correctly size your AC)
  • Installation of the new AC
  • Disposal of the old AC

Our suggestion? Get estimates from several contractors but don’t just go with the lowest price.

Instead, make sure that your contractor:

  • Is licensed and insured in the state of Florida
  • Has been in business for at least 5-10 years
  • Has a physical office they operate out of (versus a truck)
  • Offer written estimates
  • Can provide referrals from past/current customers

Long-term costs

Hiring a contractor just for their low prices can quickly backfire. If they’re not thorough and knowledgeable, they can cost you thousands in repairs and monthly cooling costs. 

For example, if a contractor installs an AC unit that is too large for your home, your AC will constantly short-cycle (run for short bursts then turn off). And that can shorten the lifespan of your unit, cause expensive damage, and leave your indoor humidity levels sky-high.

Factor #2: AC unit specifications

Three factors that affect the price of your AC unit include:

  • Size
  • SEER rating
  • Brand

Size

For the most part, the larger the AC size, the more expensive it will be.

ACs are sized in “tons” or tonnage. But tonnage has nothing to do with the weight of the unit, it measures how much heat the system can remove from your home in one hour. For the most part, residential air conditioners can be sized anywhere from 1 to 5 tons. The higher the tonnage, the more heat the air conditioner can remove from your home in one hour.

Remember, the contractor you hire should perform a Manual J calculation in order to determine the size AC you need. Beware contractors who use rule-of-thumbs to size your AC, such as only taking into account the square footage of your home. This can lead to incorrect sizing. And like we mentioned earlier, getting an AC that is too big (or too small) is expensive in the long run.

SEER

The higher an AC unit’s SEER, the more expensive the unit will be.

So what exactly is “SEER”?

SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) measures how efficient your AC is. Modern air conditioners available on the market today range from SEER 13 to 25. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the unit, meaning the more money you save in monthly cooling costs.

But don’t feel pressured to get a unit with the highest SEER possible. Most units with a SEER of 14 to 16 are highly efficient without a ridiculously high price tag.

Brand

As with most products, bigger, well-known AC brands usually come with a higher price tag. Some of the bigger AC brands include:

  • Trane
  • Goodman
  • Lennox
  • York
  • Carrier

So, do you have to stick with big brands? Well no. There are small differences between HVAC manufacturers, One might have a quieter compressor while another might advertise units with a higher SEER rating. But, at the end of the day, the person who installs your AC unit has a lot more to do with your overall satisfaction than the brand you choose. So our suggestion for those on a budget is to go with a lower-priced brand but don’t skimp on contractor prices.

Factor #3: The kind of warranty you purchase

Higher quality, longer warranties usually make the overall installation price higher. The AC business offers 2 types of warranties:

  1. Manufacturer’s warranty (covers equipment and parts)
  2. Contractor’s warranty (covers labor costs for repairs)

Manufacturer’s warranties are always built into the price of the unit and can last anywhere from 2 to 10 years. However, contractors’ guarantees vary from the minute they leave your home to 10 years. If you’re getting installation quotes, ask about the labor warranties each contractor offers and what it covers so you’re comparing apples to apples.

Need a quote on your Florida AC installation?

If you live in Fort Myers, Naples or surrounding area and need to install a new AC, we’re here to help.

Just contact us today and we’ll send over an experienced tech to inspect your home and offer professional advice.


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