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HVAC Installation Cost Estimates 2020

Complete HVAC system cost is $4,400-$14,000+ with an average cost of about $7,400. When ductwork is installed or replaced, $1,900 to $3,500 is added to the cost.

2020 HVAC Installation Costs

This guide covers complete HVAC system replacement cost, new HVAC installation cost and the cost of individual components.

HVAC installation cost factors are included that will allow you to narrow your choice. An FAQ below answers common questions.

2020 HVAC Replacement Cost for Components and Systems

Cost ranges are quite wide. The cost factors defined below will give you a clearer picture of what your costs are likely to be when you get HVAC price estimates.

HVAC installation cost, that is, installed cost for individual components and complete systems:

  • Gas furnace cost: $1,900 to $6,100
  • Oil furnace cost: $2,150 to $12,500
  • Central air conditioner cost: $2,650 to $6,950
  • Heat pump cost: $2,800 to $7,500
  • Air handler cost: $1,800 – $4,000
  • Complete split system cost: $4,400 to $14,000
  • Packaged system – Gas Packs: $3,250 to $8,800
  • Packaged system – All Electric:  $3,900 to $9,100
  • Mini split system: $2,400 to $14,000
  • Boiler system: $2,250 to $12,000
  • Thermostat: $80 – $650
  • Permits: $150 – $375
HVAC EquipmentEquipment CostInstalled Cost
Gas Furnace$750 – $5,000$1900 – $6500
Oil Furnace$1100 – $10000$2150-$12500
Central AC$1300 – $5500$2650-$7750
Heat Pump$1550 – $6000$2800-$7500
Air Handler$900 – $2800$1800 – $4000
Indoor/Outdoor Coil $585 – $1600$950 – $2400
Complete Split System$2100 – $11500$4400-$14000
Gas Packaged System$2200 – $6000$3250-$8800
Electric Packaged System$2550 – $7800$3900-$9100
Mini Split Heat Pump System$990 – $9500$2400-$14000
Boiler System$1250 – $9500$2250-$12000
Thermostat$25 – $500$80 – $650
HVAC Permits$150 – $375N/A

HVAC Installation Cost Factors

There are very clear cost factors to consider. Some HVAC equipment cost factors are related to the specific equipment you choose and others concern installation of the equipment.

How much does an HVAC system cost? Or a component cost? These factors determine it.

Single Component vs Whole System

It is obvious that a complete system – both heating and cooling, or a heat pump plus air handler – costs more than a single component such as replacement of the AC without replacing the furnace. However, if you have a complete system installed in one shot, total cost will probably be less than the combined cost of replacing one part of the system now and the other part later.

System Size

Furnaces range in size from about 40,000 BTUs of heat per hour to 140,000. Air conditioners and heat pumps start at 18,000 BTU/hour and top out for residential use at 60,000 BTUs. Sometimes AC and heat pump sizes are referred to as 1.5 to 5.0 tons. Each ton is equivalent to 12,000 BTUs.

This chart works for average climates. You might need a bigger furnace or heat pump in northern climates and a smaller one in the South.

These are general guidelines. A Load Calculation will give more exact details.

House SizeFurnace AC/Heat Pump
up to 1200 sq ft40K – 60K BTU/hr18K – 24K
1200 to 1500 sq ft45K – 70K BTU/hr24K – 30K
1500 to 1800 sq ft50K – 75K BTU/hr30K – 42K
1800 to 2500 sq ft70K – 100K BTU/hr36K – 48K
2500 to 3500 sq ft90K – 120K BTU/hr42K – 60K

System Performance

How many stages of heating and cooling do you want?

Your options start with 1-stage, basic heating and air conditioning. These are the most affordable systems, but provide the least control over your indoor climate. They run “full blast” when on, and that sometimes causes slight temperature variations – heating or cooling a little past the thermostat set point. In summer, they don’t remove as much humidity, so if you’re in a humid region, consider the next level of performance.

Two-stage or 2-stage AC and heat has a low stage, usually 65% of capacity. The system will run on that level as long as possible to keep the indoor temperature where you want it – switching to high when needed. The lower stage is quieter and balances temperature better. The system will remove more humidity in air conditioning mode too.

Finally, variable capacity, aka variable speed and modulating heating and air conditioning uses compressors (ACs and heat pumps) and gas valves (furnaces) that adjust in 1% or less increments, ramping up or down to precisely control indoor climate. These units are pricey, but might be worth considering in very hot or very cold climates.

System Efficiency

Natural gas and propane furnaces come in two types: 80% and high-efficiency (aka condensing) furnaces. An 80% furnace is ideal for warm and hot climates where it doesn’t make sense to pay more for a high-efficiency furnace. Condensing furnaces use a second heat exchanger to transfer more heat out of exhaust gases. They range in efficiency from 90% to more than 98%. 1-stage, 2-stage and variable capacity furnaces are your high-efficiency options; 80% furnaces are manufactured in single-stage and two-stage versions.

System Quality / Equipment Quality

The most expensive brands tend to be the best in quality. Trane/American Standard (identical brands), Carrier/Bryant (identical) tend to be the most expensive and the highest in reliability according to numerous independent surveys of consumers including those done by Consumer Reports. Armstrong Air/AirEase (identical) get marks just as high but are less expensive, so are a good value. Lennox is a step down in reliability, in our opinion, but are about as expensive as Trane and Carrier.

Today's Best Commercial HVAC Units For Your Multi-Site ...

Ducane is a Lennox brand that is affordable and gets good ratings. International Comfort Products brands Heil, Tempstar, Day & Night and Comfortmaker are very good and reasonably priced. Goodman quality has improved after its acquisition by Daikin. Now, Daikin/Amana/Goodman are identical, have good warranties and give you a decent product. Rheem/Ruud (identical) have improved in recent years in quality and efficiency, so they’re worth a look.

Brands we currently don’t recommend are York/Coleman/Luxaire (identical Johnson Controls brands) and Maytag/Nu-Tone/Broan (identical).

See Chart Below courtesy Consumer Reports

In ductless systems, the top brands are Daikin, Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, Gree, Pioneer and MrCool.

Number of Indoor Units – Mini Split

Ductless heat pump systems, aka mini split systems, get around the ductwork issue by using 1-8 indoor units. Each of those units brings installation costs of $400 to more than $1,000 based on a range of cost factors. The more units, the higher the cost, of course.

Three-zone mini-split system consisting of one wall ...

What Thermostat You Choose

Cheap digital, programmable thermostats cost less than $40 and might be great for your system. However, if you want a smart nest, ecobee, Honeywell Lyric, Lux or similar, expect to pay $200 to $300. If you buy the top communicating thermostat with WiFi and a touchscreen display, you might pay $500 or more.

Such thermostats include Carrier Infinity, Bryant Evolution, Goodman ComfortNet, Trane/American Standard ComfortLink II, Lennox iComfort, Ruud EcoNet, Heil Observer and Armstrong Air ComfortSync.

Control Center Support - Ruud

Ductwork Needed

It’s rare to change the ductwork in an existing home. But when it gets very old or if it isn’t the right size for your new system, replacement might be needed. In new construction, unless you’re installing a ductless / mini split system, you’ll need ductwork. Full ductwork cost is $1,900 – $3,500. If minor ductwork, i.e. the plenum where the furnace or air handler connects to the ducts, is needed, cost should be below $700.

Installation Factors

Cost tends to rise when access to the location is difficult. It’s easier to install a furnace in a walk-out basement than in an attic or crawlspace, for example. If you choose a contractor that is distant from you, that will raise cost too – but if you’re confident you’ll get better installation by doing that, then do it. Installation is just as important as the quality of the equipment you select.

As noted, having the entire system installed at the same time will cost less than having separate components installed at different times. Finally, if you hire a large company over a small one, cost might be higher. Big contractors have more overhead, so costs are higher. You won’t necessarily get a better job though. We’ll talk about how to hire a company below in the FAQs.

HVAC System Replacement Costs

HVAC replacement costs for components and complete systems cost more than when a new system or equipment is installed in new construction – for obvious reasons. The old equipment must be disconnected, removed and disposed of.

HVAC replacement cost is about $4,800 to $15,000+. Why the “+”? Because you can always find a higher price. A very expensive system will have large, highly efficient components, a high-end touchscreen programmable WiFi thermostat, air quality components and significant work done to the plenum. That all adds up.

Furnace Replacement Cost

When replacing just a furnace, your cost will be $1,900 to about $6,500. Size, efficiency and quality are the major factors.

Air Conditioner Replacement Cost

AC replacement price ranges from about $2,600 to $7,700. Again, size, efficiency and quality plus installation factors affect price the most.

Heat Pump Replacement Cost

Heat pumps cost more to replace than air conditioners because they have more equipment. The reversing valve, for example, allows the system to reverse the flow of refrigerant. The unit captures heat indoors and pump it outside in AC mode. In winter, the reversing valve allows the refrigerant to capture heat outdoors and deliver it indoors.

Looking for a general Heat Pump Buying Guide?

HVAC Labor Rates

These are rolled into most HVAC installation estimates and HVAC replacement estimates. But just to let you know where your money is going, labor rates are $50 to $100 based on where you live, the experience of the technician and the size of the HVAC company.

HVAC labor rates include wages, some of the supplies used and factor travel time and company overhead, licensing, insurance, etc.

HVAC Replacement Cost FAQs

Here are the questions we hear most commonly.

Can I install my own HVAC equipment?

The most common DIY equipment are simple gas furnaces and ductless systems designed specifically for homeowners to install.

Furnaces: It’s mostly about disconnecting the electrical, gas and plenum to the old furnace, removing it, and installing the new one. The challenges include resizing the plenum (the sheet metal connection from the furnace to the ductwork) or cold-air return sheet metal and being careful with safety issues. You certainly don’t want a gas leak on the incoming side that could cause an explosion – and you don’t want a carbon monoxide leak on the outgoing side.

Mini Split Systems: There are a growing number of DIY systems. Currently, we find them from MrCool, Ideal Air, Pioneer and Climaterite. The key to these systems is that they come with lines pre-charged with refrigerant. You just plug them into the outdoor and indoor unit.

Here's a look at installing a MrCool ductless system.

Do you recommend DIY installation?

DIY mini split systems are your best options. Any other AC or heat pump should not be installed by the homeowner. First, you won’t be able to buy refrigerant unless you have a Refrigerant Card/Certification. Secondly, you need to get the charge level right, or the system won’t function properly.

The problem with installing some other HVAC equipment is that you’ll void the warranty. Many brands are clear in their warranties that installation by someone who is not a certified HVAC technician voids the warranty. Check the Exclusions or Restrictions or Limitations sections of the warranty.

Also, units bought online or “uninstalled” are often not covered by a warranty. This would apply to local warehouses that sell to the public. Trane’s warranty says in its Warranty Exclusions that “Products purchased direct including, but not limited to, Internet or auction purchases and purchases made on an uninstalled basis” are not covered.

Search for warranty information and read it carefully on any brand you’re considering buying for do-it-yourself installation.

Can you tell me about hiring an HVAC installer?

Sure. The quality of the installation will affect the reliability, performance and efficiency of the unit or system.

Here are recommended steps to hiring an HVAC installer.

1). Get at least 3 estimates from licensed, insured HVAC installers.

2). Talk with each, asking questions about system type, efficiency and cost.

3). Check reviews of each on Google, the Better Business Bureau, Yelp (there are some there, though not as many) and Angie’s List.

4). Choose an installer you believe has the right blend of quality workmanship and fair price.

An easy way to get competitive HVAC estimates from licensed, pre-screened installers is to use our Free Estimates service. It takes a minute or two to fill out the form, and qualified installers will contact you.

It’s a great way to have questions answered, compare “apples to apples” on efficiency and cost and find a contractor you believe will do a good job. We do recommend you look at reviews before hiring.

What are the best HVAC brands?

We’ve listed them above in the Cost Factors > Brand Quality section. We like Trane/American Standard, Carrier/Bryant and Armstrong Air/AirEase. Not as high on Lennox and definitely don’t recommend York/Luxaire/Coleman.

What are the most efficient HVAC systems?

We’ve completed a handful of guides on the subject. Lennox makes the most efficient systems. Carrier is catching up fast.

2020 Most Efficient Furnaces

2020 Most Efficient Air Conditioners

2020 Most Efficient Heat Pumps

2020 Highest SEER ACs

2020 Highest SEER Heat Pumps

Predicted Reliability

AMERICAN STANDARD 7 / 10 ARMSTRONG 7 / 10 BRYANT 7 / 10 CARRIER 7 / 10 DUCANE 7 / 10 LENNOX 7 / 10 AMANA 6 / 10 ARCOAIRE 6 / 10 DAY & NIGHT 6 / 10 GOODMAN 6 / 10 HEIL 6 / 10 PAYNE 6 / 10 RHEEM 6 / 10 RUUD 6 / 10 TEMPSTAR 6 / 10 COLEMAN 4 / 10 FRIGIDAIRE 4 / 10 LUXAIRE 4 / 10 MAYTAG 4 / 10 YORK 4 / 10

Source: Consumer Reports‘ 2017 Fall Survey and 2018 Summer Survey

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