Central air prices and brands: an overview

Before you install central air in your home, you should be aware of the price range and the available brands.

Central air keeps you cool. Photo by lakewentworth on Flickr.Central air conditioning is the preferred method of cooling homes. New homes are designed with the units in mind while older homes can be renovated to make central air possible.

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Before you install an AC in your home, you should be aware of the price range and the available brands.

With a firm knowledge of what you can expect to pay for a unit, you'll be better able to pick an HVAC solution that fits both your home cooling needs and your budget. To go ahead and get an idea of central air costs in your area, receive AC estimates today. 

How does central air conditioning work?

An air conditioner works in two primary ways. The central AC units are split into two sections, an outdoor section and an indoor one usually located on top of your furnace. Both of these sections work to cool your home by drawing out the heat and humidity, but they do so in two different ways.

The outdoor compressor unit circulates a refrigerant through your home, which collects heat as it passes then dissipates the heat after cycling back outside. The indoor coil unit collects heat from the air blown over it, and then cools the air while it pumps the collected hot air outdoors using the ductwork located throughout the home.

Both units also collect humidity from the air as they cool the home, creating a comfortable living environment.

AC unit prices

When you take a close look at central air prices, you'll note that the prices for different air conditioners can vary greatly. The cost of installation can be anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000 depending on the specific brand and model of air conditioner chosen.

There are two main reasons behind the price variance. The size of the chosen unit plays a large part in its price. The size of the AC unit is dependent on the size of your home and the region in which you live.

For greater cooling capacity, you'll need a larger sized AC. Sizes are generally shown in tons or BTUs, and the larger the size of the unit, the more expensive your AC will be. For example, a 1.5-ton unit may only cost $1,475 while a five-ton unit costs $3,198.

The other determinant of price is the efficiency of the AC unit. Each AC has a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) that shows the energy efficiency of the unit. The higher the ratio, the more efficient a unit is and the more you'll have to pay for it.

Federal law requires that new AC units have a SEER of at least 13, which costs on average $2,370. A unit with a SEER of 22 costs on average $5,810.

AC brands

Trane central air conditioning unitsThere are a wide variety of central AC brands, with most national AC manufacturers releasing several models.

Bryant for example, has highly efficient units available, with SEER of over 20. American Standard also has several high SEER models available. Those looking to save on the cost of a unit can go with Carrier or Lennox, both of which have units with low SEER available.

It's best to hire a contractor when you decide to install an air conditioner for your home. An experienced contractor can provide you with a cost estimate for each of the various AC options. He can discuss sizing information with you, and he can ensure that the work meets warranty requirements.

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Once the central air unit is in place, you can enjoy an improved environment where the heat outside makes no difference to your home's cool interior.

Photo credit: lakewentworth via Compfight CC.

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