If you’re in the market for a replacement AC, the first question on your mind is probably, “How much will this cost me when all is said and done?”
And that’s a tough question to answer because all AC installations are different. However, we can give you a price range to expect.
In the New Mexico area, the cost to install a central AC ranges from $7,000 to $18,000.
Yes, that’s a wide price range but that’s because there are a handful of price factors to consider.
The cost factors that impact the cost of an AC installation include:
- The size of the AC system
- The system’s SEER rating
- Your current AC system (central vs swamp cooler)
- The contractor you choose
Let’s take a closer look at how those factors will affect the price you pay to install an AC at your home.
Need an exact price estimate for your AC installation? Just contact us for a free estimate. We’ve installed countless ACs throughout the New Mexico area and will help you find the perfect AC for your home and budget.
Cost factor #1: The size of the AC system
The bottom line: The “bigger” the AC, the more you’ll pay for the system.
Now, keep in mind that ACs aren’t sized by their physical dimensions but by their cooling capacity, which is measured in “tonnage” or BTU rating. Tonnage and BTU (British Thermal Unit) ratings essentially measure the same thing: the amount of heat an AC system can remove from your home in an hour.
The tonnage you need is largely determined by the square footage of your home. In fact, some homes require multiple AC units depending on the square footage.
However, there are also a lot of other factors that go into what size AC (and how many units) you need, including:
- How many doors/windows your home has
- How many people live in the home
- The state and dimensions of the ductwork
- And much more…
That said, it’s crucial that you have a professional perform a “load calculation” before installing your AC. A load calculation ensures correct AC sizing because it takes into account all of the factors that impact AC sizing, not just square footage.
So why is getting the correct AC size important?
Well, if your AC is over or undersized for your home, you’ll see higher energy bills, more frequent repairs and a shortened system lifespan in the long run. Sometimes homeowners will ask us to slightly oversize their AC system thinking it will increase their comfort but the opposite is actually true. An oversized system will cool the home too fast and quickly turn off. This rapid ON then OFF cycle (called “short cycling”) causes hot/cold spots throughout the home and strains the AC motors, which can ultimately cause more repairs and breakdowns.
Cost factor #2: The system’s SEER rating
The bottom line: The higher the AC’s SEER rating, the more the system will cost. However, a higher SEER rating means lower energy bills and higher savings over the lifetime of the system.
SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and measures the efficiency of the system over the course of a cooling season. SEER ratings can range anywhere from 14 to 22+. For New Mexico homeowners, we typically suggest SEER ratings around 14 to 18 for optimal comfort and lower energy bills. Note: Anything lower than 14 is below the federally mandated minimum requirement for SEER and ratings above 18 will sometimes result in higher upfront costs that you may not see savings on.
Learn more in our blog “What Is SEER Rating?”
Cost factor #3: Your current AC system (central vs swamp cooler)
The bottom line: If you’re converting to a central AC from a swamp cooler, you’ll likely pay more than if you were simply replacing another central AC.
The reason that converting from a swamp cooler to a central AC costs more is because more likely than not, your home’s electrical system will need to be upgraded. Central air conditioners require more electricity to operate than swamp coolers, which means that your AC installation will probably require upgrades to your home’s electrical panel.
The state of your ductwork is another factor to consider when converting from a swamp cooler to a central AC. Many times, the ductwork that was adequate for a swamp cooler is not adequate for a central AC. And if your ductwork needs modifications, expect your AC installation cost to rise.
Learn more in our blog, “Things to Consider Before Converting to Refrigerated Air Conditioning”.
Note: If your home’s current cooling system is a ductless mini-split system, your most cost-effective option is to replace it with another ductless system (this is cheaper than installing ductwork plus a central AC system). That said, the price of a ductless system installation is typically more expensive (if you’re cooling an entire home) than a central AC installation.
Cost factor #4: The contractor you choose
The bottom line: More experienced and qualified AC installation contractors will cost more.
Here’s our advice though, be careful who you choose to install your AC. If the installation is poorly or incorrectly done, you will likely pay more in the long run in the form of higher energy bills, more frequent repairs and even a premature system failure.
Paying a little more upfront for a qualified AC installation contractor will likely mean less wasted money and time in the long run and peace of mind that the job is done right (the first time around).
Need some tips on choosing a qualified contractor? We suggest:
- Verifying that the contractor is licensed and insured to perform AC installations in the state of New Mexico
- Asking the contractor to provide an upfront estimate in writing
- Asking the contractor for references from satisfied (recent) customers
- Checking the contractor’s reviews on social sites like Google and BBB
Looking for AC installation pros you can rely on?
Trust TLC for your AC installation project. We’re the HVAC company that homeowners all over New Mexico have trusted for 34+ years. We can install any brand or model of AC you like, including our very own TLC brand. Plus, we offer flexible financing including working with Nusenda Credit Union to make any installation easy to afford.
If you’re ready for a down-to-the-penny FREE estimate for your AC installation, just contact us. We’ll perform a load calculation to ensure proper AC sizing then let you know exactly how much it will cost to install your new AC—all before any work is done.
Ready for your new AC?