Seven System Features That Will Affect AC Installation Cost
If you’re about to take the plunge and invest in a new air conditioning system for your Maryland home, congratulations – today’s state-of-the-art, high efficiency units are a substantial upgrade from decade-old systems, even if they’ve been well maintained.
When it comes time to get down to brass tacks on price, you’ll want to know how to compare apples to apples when it comes to comparing estimates, since (if you’re smart) you’ll be talking to several contractors.
Here are seven key things that will affect the price of your central AC or HVAC system:
- House Size – Central air conditioners come in many sizes, typically measured in tons. In this case a ton isn’t a weight measure – it’s a measure of an air conditioner’s ability to cool air: a one-ton system can output 12,000 BTUs in an hour (read more about BTUs here) – about enough to cool 400 square feet of floor space.*
- Ductwork – Does your price quote include ductwork (including parts and labor) or not? Replacing ductwork can easily add several thousand dollars to the cost of an HVAC installation. Hanging ductwork is labor intensive and requires highly skilled technicians to do the job right (right means in a way that encourages proper air flow while preventing costly leaks and mold problems later).
- Type of Equipment – If someone asked you how much a car costs, you’d want to know whether they wanted a Hyundai or a BMW, right? Both will get you from A to B, but the journey (and the price to get there) will be quite different. The same is true of air conditioners – most reputable brands work reasonably well, but some are more expensive than others. The key is to find the one that offers you the best performance within your budget range.
- Features – Do you need zone cooling? An indoor air quality add-on like a humidifier, dehumidifier, or germicidal UV light? Each of these features will add cost to your system.
- SEER Value – Prices increase by about 8-10 percent for every 1-point increase in SEER rating, all other things being equal. Read more about SEER here.
- Project Difficulty – Are you trying to install an HVAC unit in a home with tight spaces or wide-open access? Do you have blown-in or fiberglass insulation? Do you live in a “character home” where you want to preserve certain features that will require “workarounds”? All of these factors will affect the amount of time and materials a contractor will need to do the job right – and time, of course, means money.
- The Quality and Experience of the Contractor – Many of today’s AC installation companies are here today, gone tomorrow outfits. You may pay less for their services in the short run, but as with many things in life, you get what you pay for in the long run. Look for licensed, bonded contractors who give detailed estimates, can provide references, and have been around at least 10 years. Read more here for questions to ask your HVAC contractor before you hire him.
It’s great to take a plunge on a new AC – just look before your leap! Contact us today for a FREE estimate on a smart and affordable cooling solution for your Maryland home!
* This is a rough estimate only. Many factors – not just space size – will affect your home’s “cooling load”, including the amount of sunlight exposure your home gets, your home’s building materials, the amount and type of insulation you’ve installed, and much more. Look for more on cooling loads in a future blog!