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R&W Heating Cooling, Inc. Blog

How Much Does a New Central Air Conditioner Cost?

Installing central air

Summer’s relentless heat can make even the most charming home feel like a sauna. That’s great if you want to relax your muscles and soothe aches and pains, but not so much if you’re trying to keep cool. If your central air conditioner is struggling to keep up, it might be time to consider upgrading to a new unit.

Recognizing the signs your A/C may be nearing the end of its lifespan and which issues to look out for will help you understand when it’s time to upgrade to a new cooling system.

Signs Your Central A/C Needs Replacing

Unless you find yourself sweating profusely when your central air conditioner is set to max, it isn’t always readily apparent that your cooling system isn’t working correctly. Look for signs such as:

  • Age: A/C units typically last 10-15 years. If yours is nearing or exceeding this, consider replacement, even if it’s still functioning.
  • Performance: Uneven cooling, frequent short cycling, unusual noises, and weak airflow indicate trouble.
  • Cost: Rising energy bills or frequent repairs are an indication that an inefficient A/C is nearing its end.
  • Coolant Leaks: Visible leaks signify refrigerant issues and potential system damage.
  • Reduced Cooling Power: If your A/C struggles to maintain comfortable temperatures, it might be time for an upgrade.

Common A/C Issues

Just like furnaces, central air conditioners can experience a range of issues, some of which are easily addressed and others requiring professional attention. Here are some common problems to be aware of:

  • Dirty air filter: This is a common cause of reduced airflow, inefficient cooling, and higher energy bills. Replace your filter monthly during peak season.
  • Frozen evaporator coil: Low airflow from a dirty filter or restricted ductwork can cause the evaporator coil to freeze. Thaw it by turning off the A/C and letting it defrost naturally.
  • Tripped circuit breaker: If your AC uses electricity, check your breaker box to see if a breaker has flipped. If it trips repeatedly, there might be a bigger issue.
  • Low refrigerant levels: This can lead to reduced cooling capacity and may damage the compressor. If you suspect a leak, call a qualified technician immediately. Adding refrigerant without addressing the leak is not a solution..
  • Faulty compressor: A malfunctioning compressor won't cool effectively. Diagnosis and repair should be done by a professional.
  • Blower motor problems: If the blower motor isn't working, your A/C won't circulate cool air. This might require repair or replacement.
  • Electrical problems: Wiring issues or malfunctioning control boards can prevent the A/C from starting or functioning properly, requiring professional diagnosis and repair.

Regular maintenance, including cleaning/replacing the air filter and scheduling regular service checkups, can help prevent many of these problems. But eventually, age will catch up, and your best bet will be a new central air conditioner.

Benefits of a New Central A/C Unit

Regardless of whether your A/C is still working, if it’s an older unit, you should consider an upgrade. Modern A/C units use less energy to produce cool air, saving you money on utility bills. They ensure even cooling throughout your home for improved comfort and contribute to a smaller carbon footprint. A newer A/C system can enhance your home’s value and marketability — something to keep in mind if you’re planning on selling in the near future.

“Older central air conditioners aren’t just less efficient; they may also use R-22 refrigerant, which is less environmentally friendly and more expensive than the newer R-410A,” explains Pete Harms of R&W Heating & Cooling. “There are a lot of factors to think about beyond the obvious when deciding whether it’s time to upgrade.”

New Central A/C Costs

There are two main types of central air conditioners. Split systems are most common; they consist of an outdoor condenser and an indoor evaporator coil. They provide efficient cooling and flexible installation options. Packaged units combine the indoor and outdoor components into a single compact unit and are ideal for limited spaces.

Heat pumps are an additional option. These provide both heating and cooling, offering year-round climate control.

The cost of a new central air conditioner varies depending on a variety of factors, including:

  • Type of system: Split systems are generally the most affordable, followed by packaged units and heat pumps.
  • Size and efficiency: Larger homes, especially those with multiple levels, and higher efficiency models cost more.
  • Brand and installation: Reputable brands and experienced installers generally mean higher prices.

For a ballpark range, split systems can cost you $3,000 - $8,000, packaged units run $4,000 - $10,000, and heat pumps might cost $5,000 - $12,000, including installation.

The right central A/C unit depends on your individual needs and desired comfort. As a certified Lennox dealer, R&W Heating & Cooling offers a variety of high-quality cooling systems, including air conditioners and heat pumps, for homes of all sizes. Our professional installers offer free in-home appointments to take measurements and make sure the central air conditioner you select is adequate for your needs and space. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!