This article covers installed costs for major HVAC components and complete systems.
Here’s a list of 2018 HVAC installation cost estimates. Cost factors are discussed in detail below.
- Gas furnace cost: $800 to $5,500
- Central air conditioner cost: $1,650 to $6,100
- Heat pump cost: $2,125 to $6,750
- Oil furnace cost: $900 to $11,500
- Complete split system cost: $2,400 to $12,800
- Packaged system: $1,800 to $5,100
- Mini split system: $2,000 to $14,000
- Boiler system: $2,100 to $11,000
The cost factors are divided into general factors related to all HVAC types and then specific factors for each type. A summary table follows.
General 2018 HVAC Installation Cost Factors
There are certain cost factors that apply to any system you have installed, and most are obvious.
A 60,000 BTU furnace costs less than a 140K unit, all else being equal. For central air conditioners, heat pumps and mini split systems, they’re also measured in BTUs or in tons – 12,000 BTUs per ton. Sizes are 2-5 tons for residential ACs and heat pumps.
Furnaces, ACs, heat pumps and packaged units are available in single-stage, two-stage and variable-capacity models. One exception is oil furnaces. Most are single-stage, though a few pricey two-stage models are offered. Mini split systems are the other exception: They all have variable-capacity performance. This means the compressor runs between 25% and 100%, adjusting in tiny increments, to create just enough heat or AC to perfectly balance indoor temperatures.
The more efficient a unit is, all else being equal, the more it will cost. Furnaces are rated in AFUE – annualized fuel utilization efficiency. It’s a measurement of how much of the heat created is transferred out of the furnace and into the ducts. Furnaces range from 80% AFUE to more than 98%.
AC and heat pump cooling is measured in SEER and EER. SEER range is 13 to 26 for standard split systems and up to 38 for mini split systems. EER range is lower. Heating is measured in HSPF – heat seasonal performance rating. HSPF range is about 8.0 to 13.0 for standard systems.
Some brands simply cost more due to quality, marketing and reputation. Among the costliest brands are Carrier, Lennox, Trane, Samsung, Mitsubishi, Weil McClain and Peerless Boiler.
Systems installed in an attic or crawlspace or on the roof are more difficult than those installed on the first floor or in a walkout basement. That’s an obvious job complexity, but there are others specific to each job.
Cost of living
The cost of most consumer goods is highest in the Northeast and Northwest and other East Coast major metropolitan areas. It is lowest in rural areas of the Midwest, South and Plains. Most other regions are average. Of course, costs are quite high in Alaska and Hawaii. Cost of living can affect the total cost by as much as 30%.
We don’t recommend DIY installation for any HVAC systems. When gas is involved, there is a risk of gas leak and of carbon monoxide leak, both of which can be deadly. For heat pumps, a license to handle refrigerant is required. Having said that, some readers have experience or friends with the experience, tools and certifications that allow for DIY installation.
For most systems, the labor cost of installation is $600 to $2,000 for a single unit and up to $5,000 for a complete unit. Mini split systems with multiple indoor units can cost more to install.
Specific Cost Factors
There are a few notes to make regarding specific system types.
Gas systems: Gas furnaces and boilers are available in non-condensing and condensing units. Non-condensing systems are standard. Fuel is burned, the heat from it is transferred through the heat exchanger to heat air or water. Top efficiency for non-condensing systems is about 90%. Condensing furnaces have a secondary heat exchanger to transfer more heat from exhaust gases before they are vented. Condensing boilers use that heat to pre-heat water coming into the unit. Condensing systems cost up to 33% more than similar non-condensing systems.
Oil furnaces: Most oil furnaces offer mediocre efficiency from about 81% to 87%. Adams and Granby Conforto are two brands that make condensing oil furnaces, and efficiency ranges into the mid-90s.
Mini split systems: The system cost range is the broadest for these systems because they can include one to eight indoor units, and installation cost per indoor unit can be $300 to $700 based on the types of cost factors listed above.
Boiler systems: As noted, boilers can be standard or condensing. There’s another price factor – the type of system. Hooking up a boiler to an existing water-to-water or water-to-air system is affordable. Having to install additional equipment to complete the system such as heat exchangers, manifolds, in-floor tubing or baseboard radiators can significantly raise the cost.
Summary Table of HVAC Installation Cost Estimates
This table shows Average, Low and High ranges for each of these system types. The price factors above will give you a good ballpark estimate of which range your system will fall into. These are generalities.
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|System Type||Low Cost||Average Cost||High Cost|
|Gas Furnace||$800 – $2,000||$2,300 – $4,000||$4,500 – $5,500|
|Oil Furnaces||$900 – $2,200||$2,650 – $4,200||$6,000 – $11,000|
|Central ACs||$1,100 – $2,300||$2,450 – $4,175||$4,250 – $6,000|
|Central Heat Pumps||$1,400 – $2,825||$2,800 – $4,650||$4,700 – $6,750|
|Standard Split Systems||$2,400 – $4,000||$4,200 – $7,000||$9,000 – $12,800|
|Mini Split Systems||$2,000 – $4,300||$4,550 – $8,125||$10,200 – $14,000|
|Boilers||$2,100 – $4,850||$3,300 – $4,675||$6,200 – $11,000|
The Low Cost range for each type includes DIY and professional installation costs, though NOT recommended.