The average cost of an air conditioning unit in the United States is $394. This price will vary depending on several key factors, including: type of air conditioner, size and whether installation is needed. Different brands of air conditioners will also be priced differently. We found LG to be generally the most expensive, while Arctic Wind ACs were on the budget side. This article breaks down the costs of AC units across different factors.
Table of Contents
- Window Unit Air Conditioners
- Central Air Conditioning
- Portable Air Conditioners
- Electricity Cost of AC Units
- Installation Costs
How Much Does an Air Conditioner Cost?
A typical window unit air conditioner will run you $394. However, if you want a central air conditioner installed in your home, such a system may cost as much as $5,000 or more. These prices will vary depending on how big your apartment or home are, as you will need an air conditioning unit that is adequate for the square footage of your living space.
Window Unit Air Conditioners
The most common type of air conditioner is the window-mounted unit. Visiting New York City, you’ll be hard pressed to find an apartment or home window without one of these. The table below breaks down typical costs of such units by brand.
|Air Conditioner||Average Price|
Know that another way to differentiate between these types of air conditioners is by their Cooling Rating (BTU/h). Here is a breakdown of BTU/h and the associated average price for each. As a rule of thumb, an air conditioner needs 20 Btu for each square foot of living space. Therefore, a 300 square foot space would require an AC with 6,000 BTUs.
|BTU Range||Average Price|
|7,000 – 8,999||$336|
Cost of Central Air Conditioning
Central Air Conditioning is typically regarded as more high-end and requires a professional installation. Central AC units have much higher BTU cooling ratings than window units, running anywhere between 12,000 and 30,000 BTUs. These units are also significantly more expensive, ranging in price between $2,000 and $10,000. The table below shows popular central air conditioning units and their typical price.
|Central Air Conditioner||Average Cost|
Again, if you care less about the brand and more about the power needed to cool your space, here is a breakdown of price based on BTU.
Portable Air Conditioner Costs
Lastly, it’s worth pointing out a third category of air conditioners – portable. These small units are typically used to cool a bedroom, and have smaller BTU ranges. If you are looking to cool a space you use only occasionally, or don’t need something that is installed permanently, this may be a good solution. A portable air conditioner typically costs just around $250 and requires no installation.
Electric Cost of Air Conditioning Units
A big factor one should consider when choosing an air conditioner is its lifetime electric cost. Your electric bills are sure to increase with an AC unit, especially if you run it frequently enough.
Electric energy providers charge per hour of electricity provided (kWh). Choose Energy reports that the average price per kWh in the United States is 13.2 cents.
The cost of your air conditioning unit as it relates to the power bill will vary greatly depending on its power efficiency. Below, we mapped out a typical monthly cost of different types of air conditioning units. For all, we assumed that the unit would run for an average of 12 hours per day. Even if this assumption is different for your household, the relative price of one of these units to another will remain the same.
Air Conditioner Type|Energy Consumption|Estimated Monthly Cost
Central Air Conditioning|3,500|$172
Window Unit|1,440 watts|$71
Split System|900 watts|$44
Installing window units is simple, and many people choose to do it themselves. A handyman could also install a window unit for you in a matter of minutes, so it shouldn’t cost more than $30 (with tip).
Installing a central air conditioning unit will cost from $3,000 to over $7,000 on average. That cost can climb to over $15,000 and beyond if you need to install or repair duct work.