How Much Does an AC Compressor Cost? (2024 Guide)
Typical price range: $800 – $3,000
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An air conditioning compressor is one of the most significant HVAC components, and unfortunately, it’s an expensive one to replace. The average cost to replace a whole-home AC compressor is about $1,500. Depending on the unit’s size and a few other factors, it may cost as little as $800 or as much as $3,000. We explain the factors that go into this cost below.
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What Factors Affect Home AC Compressor Cost?
Your home size and HVAC type will affect your AC compressor’s cost.
How Home Size Affects AC Compressor Costs
One way to measure the size of an AC unit and thus an air conditioning compressor is in refrigeration tons. This measurement doesn’t refer to weight but rather to how much air a compressor can cool. Units come in half-ton increments. Obviously, the larger your home is, the more air there is to cool and the larger an AC system you’ll need. The average 2,200-square-foot home usually needs a 3.5- or 4-ton AC unit.
Air conditioning units can also be measured in BTU (British Thermal Units), a unit of heat energy per hour. AC units consume about 12,000 BTUs per ton, and a home typically requires a system that cools 20 BTUs per square foot of interior space. Thus, a 2,200-square-foot home would need a unit that consumes 44,000 BTUs. Unsurprisingly, the larger the unit, the more expensive it is to replace the air conditioner compressor.
AC Compressor Prices by Size
How HVAC Type Affects AC Compressor Costs
The above price ranges apply to HVAC systems that cool an entire home. If you need to replace the compressor on a window AC unit, the cost will be less because the compressor is so much smaller. Unfortunately, replacing a major component like a compressor in a window unit usually costs about as much as a total replacement, so most homeowners just get a new unit.
For central air conditioners and other types of larger units, the price to replace the AC compressor is about the same because they all cool air in a similar fashion.
AC Compressor Prices by HVAC Type
What Are Other Factors in AC Compressor Costs?
Aside from the size of the unit, the variation in AC compressor replacement costs can be explained by a few other factors. Repairing or replacing your AC compressor may include these elements:
- Compressor brand
- Compressor repair costs
- Parts costs
Compressor Repair Cost
Unfortunately, bad AC compressors can rarely be repaired on-site. Most of the time, if they’re broken, they must be completely replaced. For compressors that can be repaired, most technicians charge between $100 and $150 per hour for labor. You’ll also need to pay for any necessary replacement parts.
Type of Compressor
Residential air conditioners have either single-stage, two-stage, or variable-speed compressors. When you replace the compressor, you’ll need to use a model of the same type. Single-stage compressors run on an all-or-nothing basis, running at full capacity until the air temperature matches the temperature on the thermostat. They’re the least expensive models, but they’re also the least efficient.
Two-stage compressors, on the other hand, have a high and low setting. When the air temperature is close to the desired temperature, the low setting will run the unit at 60% to 70% capacity, making the unit quieter and more efficient.
Finally, variable-speed compressors can operate at any capacity from 0% to 100%, allowing for the most precise temperature control and greatest efficiency. However, they’re also the most complex and expensive to replace.
Because of differences in manufacturing, you’ll typically need to replace your AC’s compressor with a new one of the same brand. Here are some of the most common AC brands and how much their compressors cost before installation:
- Carrier: $450–$2,000
- Copeland: $600–$2,300
- Goodman/Amana: $350–$1,200
- Lennox: $600–$2,300
- Rheem/Ruud: $600–$1,400
- Trane/American Standard/Mitsubishi: $450–$2,200
- York/Coleman: $550–$1,500
Labor or Installation Cost
For professional installation, labor costs will usually make up 30% to 50% of the overall price. In the case of a compressor replacement, that’s usually between $400 and $1,200. For smaller jobs, HVAC contractors tend to charge between $75 and $150 per hour, based on their experience level and the complexity of the job.
Because compressors are such vital parts of air conditioning systems, most come with warranties. HVAC manufacturers usually offer limited warranties on air conditioner parts, including compressors. Manufacturer warranty coverage usually lasts five to 10 years and applies to parts only, not labor. Thankfully, this can often cut the total cost in half.
Along with the above factors, a few other factors can affect how much you’ll pay for compressor replacement. If you live somewhere with a high cost of living, you’ll usually pay a bit more per hour in labor costs. Additionally, if you need a refill or recharge on refrigerant like Freon at the same time as a compressor replacement, you’ll pay an extra $100–$300.
What Is The Cost to Repair vs. Replace an AC Compressor?
As stated above, AC compressor repair isn’t typically possible. The conversation usually concerns whether to repair the system by replacing the compressor or the entire AC unit. A new central AC system costs between $3,250 and $12,586, whereas it costs $2,500–$3,000 to replace your compressor.
Manufacturer’s Warranty vs. Home Warranty
Most new air conditioners come with limited warranties that cover parts such as compressors. These warranties usually don’t cover labor, and they may only apply if there’s a manufacturing defect in the part that fails. After the first five to 10 years, you’ll need to pay the full cost of replacement if your AC compressor wears out.
A home warranty, on the other hand, typically applies to multiple home systems and appliances and covers all wear-and-tear damage, no matter how old your air conditioner is. You’ll pay a monthly premium and a service fee for a contractor to diagnose and replace the part, and the home warranty company will cover the rest of the cost. These warranties do have limits—for air conditioners, you’ll often need to show that you performed proper maintenance in order for repairs or replacements to be covered. However, for older but still functional AC units, this is your best bet for warranty coverage.
DIY vs. Professional
Unfortunately, replacing an AC compressor isn’t as simple as popping out the old one and bolting a new one in, so you can’t save money by doing it yourself. Modern air conditioners are very complex, and all major HVAC repairs are best left to professionals with their expertise, specialized tools, and training.
How To Save Money on AC Compressor Replacement
There are a number of ways that you can save money on an AC compressor replacement. The top tips for making this process more cost-effective include shopping for a new unit online to find the best price and getting multiple quotes to ensure you’re getting the best deal on your service.
Having your air conditioner’s compressor replaced is an expensive proposition, and it’s not a repair you can easily or cheaply perform yourself. If you’ve got a window unit, it’s probably better to just replace the unit. Even if you have central AC, you may want to consider replacing the entire thing if the system is no longer under warranty.
In fact, a bad compressor may be a sign that the system as a whole is failing. Call a local HVAC contractor to discuss your options and receive an estimate for replacing both the compressor and the entire system.
Frequently Asked Questions About AC Compressor Cost
What does an AC compressor do?
An AC compressor raises the refrigerant’s temperature by compressing it. As the temperature rises, the refrigerant is converted into a high-pressure gas.
- The refrigerant flows through the evaporator coil, where it absorbs heat from the surrounding air and turns from a liquid into a gas.
- Next, the compressor squeezes this gas until it increases in both pressure and heat.
- From there, the refrigerant flows into the condenser in the outdoor unit of the system, where it can cool back into a liquid.
If the compressor isn’t working properly, the refrigerant can’t move through the system.
How long does an AC compressor last?
In general, a compressor will last between seven and 18 years. Generally, the harder you run your AC system, the shorter the lifespan of parts such as the compressor.
How do I know if my air conditioner needs a new compressor?
A failing AC compressor will display obvious signs of breakdown, such as these:
- Making loud and unusual noises like clattering, screeching, rattling, growling, or clunking
- Failing to turn on
- A tripping circuit breaker
- Significantly reduced or weak airflow often points to the compressor
Is it worth replacing the compressor on an AC unit?
It’s usually not worth replacing the compressor on an AC unit that is more than a decade old. Since the whole system is older, there are likely other parts about to fail and need expensive repairs. In this case, you may be better off replacing the whole unit.
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