How Much Does an AC Installation Cost in Florida?
If you’re in the market for a new central AC unit, you’re probably wondering how much it will cost you. On average, the cost to install a new AC unit in Florida is anywhere from $4,999 to $13,000.
The range is so wide because a variety of factors affect the cost like:
- The AC’s size
- The efficiency of the AC (SEER rating)
- The length of the AC’s warranty
- Any extra features or services
- The HVAC contractor you choose
We’ll discuss each of these cost factors in detail below so you’ll have a better understanding of how much a new AC will actually cost.
Cost Factor #1: The AC’s size
The bigger your new AC unit is, the more expensive it will be.
When we say that an AC is “big,” we aren’t referring to cubic feet or other physical measurements. ACs are sized by measuring the amount of heat they remove from your home per hour, noted in British Thermal Units (BTUs).
For reference, 1 BTU is equivalent to the heat produced by one lit match. For example, a 13,000 BTU AC would remove the heat of 13,000 lit matches from your home in one hour.
Since one lit match is a minuscule amount of heat to measure, the size of an AC unit can range from 12,000 to 60,000+ BTUs.
Now that you know how AC sizing works, you may think that a bigger AC unit is better at cooling homes. However, when it comes to your AC unit, “bigger is better” is not always the case.
If your AC is too big for your home, it will create a “Short Cycle.” Essentially, the AC turns on, cools your home quickly then shuts off. Short-cycling can cause issues like high energy consumption, uneven cooling throughout your home and a reduced lifespan for your AC.
If your AC is too small for your home, it will struggle to properly cool your home and will compensate by running all the time. Your overworked AC will cause the same issues as short-cycling (i.e. high energy bills, uneven cooling and your AC wearing out earlier than it should).
So, how do you find the right AC size for your home?
An HVAC technician can tell you exactly what AC size you need by performing a Manual J Load Calculation. The load calculation is vital to the process because it considers multiple factors specific to your home, like:
- The quality of the ductwork
- The insulation levels
- Height of the ceilings
- Type of flooring (carpet vs wood)
- Size, layout, orientation of the home
- Number of and age of windows
- Number of people living in the home
- Number of doors in the home
- Type of roofing
If you hire a tech who only uses your home’s square footage to determine what AC size you need, we would recommend that you find a different technician. Only using one factor ignores all of the other variables listed above, which can result in the wrong size AC unit for your home and cost you money in the long-run.
Cost Factor #2: The efficiency of the AC
The more energy-efficient your AC is (i.e. the higher the SEER rating), the more the system will cost.
What exactly is SEER? It stands for “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio” and looks at how much cool air your AC provides (remember, measured in BTUs) for the total amount of energy the AC consumes. SEER ratings range from 13 to 25+.
Since SEER ratings affect your installation budget, we recommend that:
If you’re on a tighter budget, buy a 14-SEER AC. Per government standards, Florida homeowners are required to have ACs with a 14 SEER rating minimum.
If you’re on a larger budget, invest in a 16+ SEER AC. While you will spend more in advance, you will also see savings throughout the lifespan of your AC. Why? A higher-SEER AC doesn’t have to work hard to cool your home even during hot Florida summers. This improved efficiency can pay off in increased savings on your energy bills.
As a note, these SEER rating recommendations are only a starting point. If you have leaky ducts or a poorly insulated home, even a higher-SEER AC wouldn’t be able to cool your home properly, which may negate any savings you’d get from the higher-SEER AC.
Your HVAC technician will be able to help you assess if you’d benefit from any cost-savings with a higher-SEER AC before you invest in the unit.
Cost Factor #3: The length of the AC’s warranty
If you want extended warranty coverage, you will have to pay more in advance. However, a comprehensive policy could help save you money on expensive AC repairs down the line.
ACs tend to come with two types of warranties that also feature extended policies:
- The limited manufacturer’s warranty: Manufacturers typically include a 1-10 year warranty on vital AC parts (e.g. the compressor) but not on smaller parts (e.g. the air filter). This warranty is only applicable if the hired technician can prove the issues with a part are because of a manufacturing mistake. An extended manufacturer’s warranty can cover parts for 10-15 years total.
- The limited labor warranty: Most HVAC contractors will include a labor warranty for 1-2 years after installation. The warranty covers AC repair costs because of installation mistakes. An extended labor warranty can cover labor to repair the AC for up to 5 years total.
You’ll want to choose the warranty length that works best for you. So, if you’re going to move to another home in 5 years, it probably wouldn’t be cost-effective to splurge on an extended warranty since you won’t see the cost savings.
Once you decide on a manufacturer’s warranty length you’re satisfied with, it’s important to keep it valid by:
- Registering your AC with the manufacturer within 90 days (on average) of installation.
- Having a professional HVAC tech maintain your AC annually. While scheduling appointments may be a nuisance, it’s better than paying for a full repair that would have otherwise been covered.
- Ensuring any replacement parts are on-brand. Manufacturers void your warranty if off-brand replacement parts are used.
Cost Factor #4: Any extra features or services
You can pay additional for extra features or services during the installation to improve your home’s comfort and energy savings.
For example, some of the additional features or services include:
- Ductwork sealing service: When your ductwork isn’t properly sealed, your AC can’t work effectively since all the cool air leaks out. The AC contractor can seal or replace your ducts when they install the new AC.
- UV filters and whole-home dehumidifiers: Both products can improve your home’s air quality and kill airborne contaminants in your home.
- Smart thermostats: Thermostats that are programmable from your smartphone are great for convenience and cost-savings on your energy bills.
- Added features to quiet your AC: A loud AC system can disrupt your home. Features like dampening strips, compressor mounts and noise-reduction fan blades help quiet your AC down.
During the initial consultation for a new AC, your HVAC technician will help you determine if you’d benefit from any extra features or services.
Cost Factor #5: Which HVAC contractor you choose
When your contractor is highly-skilled, they will likely charge more for their labor. However, this higher cost shouldn’t be a deterrent. Since a new AC is a big-ticket item, you should be sure to hire a high-quality contractor with the experience to accurately size and install the new AC. If you skimp on quality to save money now, you may end up having to pay more for repair work in the future due to installation mistakes.
During your search for an experienced HVAC contractor, make sure they …
- Have been in business for 10+ years so you can check their track record
- Transparently list their license number on their website
- Give you an upfront estimate to protect yourself from surprise costs on the final bill
- Perform a Manual J Load Calculation so you know you’re getting the right-size AC unit
- Explain whether the installation fee is flat-rate or hourly
Need a new AC for your Florida home? Contact Climate Design
If you’re looking for an effortless AC installation process, schedule an appointment with our team. We’re open all week long, including Sundays. During your free AC installation consultation, our technician will perform a Manual J Load Calculation and provide you with an upfront, flat-rate estimate. We also provide financing options for your AC installation.