When the sweltering heat of summer arrives, having a reliable air conditioning (AC) unit is a necessity.
In especially hot and humid areas of Tennessee — such as the communities of Nashville, Brentwood, Hendersonville, and Nolensville — it can be a highly valuable investment to install a new AC unit that runs efficiently and adequately cools your home without driving up your energy costs.
However, the decision to invest in a new AC unit involves several different cost factors, including the type of unit you want to purchase and the various installation costs. These expenses can vary further depending on where you live and the availability of quality equipment in your area.
In this article, we are covering the costs of buying a new AC unit in the central Tennessee region, particularly in the Brentwood, Nashville, Hendersonville, and Nolensville areas. From the average costs you can expect to the different types of AC units to choose between, we discuss everything you need to know when planning to buy a new AC unit for your home.
Stay tuned to find out the expenses and factors involved in purchasing a new AC unit!
The Average Cost of a New AC Unit
In the central Tennesse area specifically, the cost of a new air conditioning unit starts at $6899 depending on the size and unit that’s installed.
However, this price can vary from community to community.
The prices of AC units within specific communities can vary depending on several factors, from demand and availability of equipment to general customer demographics. Here’s an overview of the cost factors in the central Tennessee communities of Brentwood, Nashville, Hendersonville, and Nolensville:
- Brentwood: In the upscale suburb of Brentwood, the average cost of a new AC unit can range from $3,000 to $6,000, depending on various factors such as unit type, brand, and installation complexity. While this falls within the average range for the region, it may be to your benefit to shop around for the best priced deals for new AC units in Brentwood.
- Nashville: As the heart of Tennessee, Nashville experiences hot summers, making a functional AC unit a must. Thankfully, the size of Nashville translates to a wider selection of AC unit providers to choose from, giving you the freedom to find the best price for your budget and needs. The average cost here hovers between $2,500 and $5,500.
- Hendersonville: Situated on the shores of Old Hickory Lake, Hendersonville sees its fair share of warm weather and humidity. The average cost of a new AC unit in this area is roughly $2,500 to $5,000. Additionally, Hendersonville is close in proximity to Nashville, ensuring you have a wide selection of AC unit providers to choose from when making your purchase.
- Nolensville: Known for its small-town charm, Nolensville’s average cost for a new AC unit generally falls within a lower range between $2,000 to $4,800. However, it is important to consider that smaller communities may have a more limited availability when it comes to new AC units, especially if you are looking for a specific brand or model.
What Factors Impact the Cost of a New AC Unit?
The cost of a new AC unit can vary depending on several different factors. Understanding what these factors are and how they impact the final cost of a new AC unit is the key to making an informed decision that fits within your budget and needs.
Here are five cost factors to consider when buying a new AC unit:
- Unit Size and Cooling Capacity: The size of the AC unit you need depends on the square footage of the space you want to cool. Larger areas require units with higher cooling capacities, which can increase the cost, while smaller living spaces are well-suited for smaller units.
- Unit Type and Efficiency: Different types of AC units have varying efficiency levels, typically measured by their Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) ratings. Units with higher SEER ratings tend to be more energy-efficient but may come at a higher upfront cost.
- Brand and Quality: Well-known brands often command higher prices due to their reputation for quality and reliability. While budget-friendly options exist, investing in a reputable brand can result in a longer-lasting and more efficient unit.
- Installation Complexity: Unless you have experience installing AC units, you will need to factor in the cost of installation and labor when buying a new unit. The complexity of an AC unit installation can impact the overall labor costs, making it important to consider the specifics of an installation before committing to one type of unit over another.
- Additional Features: Some AC units come with advanced features like smart thermostats, multi-zone cooling, and humidity control. While these features enhance comfort and convenience, they can also contribute to a higher price tag.
Understanding the Different Types of Air Conditioner Units
One of the biggest factors that will impact the final cost of your new AC unit is the specific type of unit you plan on purchasing. The main types of AC units to consider include central air conditioning systems, ductless split systems, window AC units, portable AC units, HVAC systems, and geothermal pumps.
Now, let’s delve into the various types of AC units available, as well as their respective benefits and costs:
Central Air Conditioning System
Central air conditioning systems are a common type of cooling system used to regulate indoor temperatures within large areas or entire buildings. These types of AC systems are often seen in large apartment complexes and condos, as they can efficiently cool these larger spaces.
The price of a central air conditioning system can range from $2,500 to $7,500 on average.
Additionally, these units include several components that can contribute to the overall cost of maintenance. These components include:
- Compressor and Condenser Unit: Located outside the building, this component compresses and circulates refrigerant gas to release heat and absorb heat from the indoor air.
- Evaporator Coil: Positioned within the indoor unit of a furnace or air handler, the evaporator coil absorbs heat from the air, cooling it down in the process.
- Air Handler or Furnace: The indoor unit that contains the evaporator coil and the blower fan works to circulate the cooled air throughout the building.
- Ductwork: A network of ducts distributes the cooled air from the air handler to different rooms. The size of a building impacts the amount of ductwork needed.
- Thermostat: The thermostat is the control center that allows users to set the desired temperature and operate the central air conditioning system.
The benefit of a central air conditioning system comes down to its ability to provide consistent cooling with a high level of efficiency. These systems can also contribute to improving the overall air quality within an indoor space. Plus, central AC systems are quiet while operating, helping to keep your living space peaceful as your home is cooled.
Important cost considerations for a central air conditioning system can include the size of the unit, the overall energy efficiency, and the amount of ductwork needed if your home needs additional ductwork.
Ductless Split System
A ductless split system, also known as a ductless mini-split system, is a type of heating and cooling system that offers zoned comfort control without the need for ductwork.
Unlike traditional central AC systems that use ducts to distribute air, ductless split systems deliver conditioned air directly to specific areas or zones within a building. This technology is particularly useful for spaces where installing ducts is impractical or costly.
Ideal for homes without ductwork, these systems consist of an outdoor unit and one or more indoor units. You can expect to pay between $2,000 and $7,000 total for this type of system.
Ductless split systems consist of two main components that impact installation and maintenance costs:
- Outdoor Unit (Condenser): This unit is installed outside the building and houses the compressor and condenser components. The outdoor unit is responsible for generating the cooling or heating capacity of the system and impacts overall efficiency.
- Indoor Units (Evaporators): These units are installed indoors, usually mounted on walls or ceilings. Each indoor unit is responsible for conditioning the air in a specific zone or room. The indoor units are connected to the outdoor unit by refrigerant lines and electrical cables.
The benefits of a ductless split system mainly come from the elimination of ductwork from the installation and maintenance costs for the system. Additionally, these systems tend to be easier to install on your own without the help of professionals, reducing overall costs further.
Other cost factors that impact a ductless split system include the number of indoor units needed to cool your space, the features included on the indoor units (such as WiFi controls and smart thermostats), and the cost of hardware needed to install indoor units on the wall or ceiling.
Window Air Conditioner
As the most budget-friendly option, window units are designed for single rooms.
Prices for a window air conditioner vary from $150 to $800 on average. These AC units are self-contained and specifically designed for only a single room or small area. In general, this type of AC unit is best suited for people living with roommates or renting their living space who only need to worry about cooling one room rather than an entire building.
A window AC unit is made up of five main components that require some minor maintenance:
- Evaporator Coil: The evaporator coil absorbs heat from the indoor air, causing the refrigerant to evaporate and turn into a gas.
- Compressor: The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant gas, raising its temperature.
- Condenser Coil: The refrigerant gas, now in a high-temperature state, releases heat as it condenses back into a liquid.
- Expansion Valve: The expansion valve reduces the pressure of the refrigerant, causing it to cool down and evaporate once again.
- Fan: The fan circulates indoor air across the evaporator coil to cool it, and it also expels the heat generated during the cooling process to the outside.
The primary benefits of a window AC unit are that these units are very low-cost and are incredibly easy to install. However, you can still request professional assistance if needed.
Portable Air Conditioning Unit
Portable air conditioning units are self-contained devices that are easy to move to different areas in the home and are not connected to any ductwork or additional systems. Unlike window air conditioners, portable units do not require permanent installation and can be easily moved from one location to another.
The price of a portable AC unit typically ranges from $300 to $800.
Functionally, a portable AC unit involves the same basic components as a window AC unit, including an evaporator coil, a compressor, a condenser coil, an expansion valve, and a fan.
While the portability of these units is the obvious benefit, it is important to note that these AC units typically offer the least efficiency and tend to require repairs or total replacements more frequently than other AC units and systems.
An HVAC system is a central air conditioning unit that combines heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) all within the same system. This type of system is, as the name suggests, designed to provide both heating and cooling for an indoor space and is commonly used in both residential and commercial buildings of all sizes.
The cost of an HVAC system ranges the greatest of the units discussed in this guide, costing anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 or more depending on the complexity of the installation.
In general, this type of system will come pre-installed in a home, apartment, or condo, and will almost always have some kind of warranty and required annual inspection. Keeping up with HVAC maintenance and repairs is the key to avoiding costly replacements if you already have an HVAC system installed.
Like central AC systems, the biggest cost factor when buying a new HVAC system to consider is the amount of ductwork needed for a new installation.
Geothermal Heat Pump
Geothermal heat pumps, also known as ground-source heat pumps, are highly efficient and environmentally friendly heating and cooling systems that harness the Earth’s natural heat to regulate indoor temperatures. Unlike traditional air-source heat pumps that extract heat from the air, geothermal heat pumps use the relatively constant temperature of the ground as a source for temperature regulation.
As a highly energy-efficient option that uses the ground’s natural heat, these systems are more expensive upfront with prices ranging from $3,500 to $12,000 per ton of capacity, but tend to result in greater overall cost savings when it comes to your energy and utility bills.
Geothermal heat pumps involve complex installations that can further drive up labor and installation costs. Ideally, a geothermal pump should be installed during the construction of a building.
Additional AC Installation Costs to Consider
In addition to the base cost of your new AC unit and its installation, there are several additional expenses you may need to account for when creating your budget.
These costs can include:
- Ductwork Installation or Modification: If you’re installing a central AC system and your home doesn’t have existing ducts, you’ll need to budget for ductwork installation or modification, which can add around $1,000 to $3,000 to the total cost.
- Thermostat Upgrades: While basic thermostats are often included with AC units, upgrading to a smart thermostat can cost between $150 and $300. Smart thermostats offer advanced features and remote control capabilities that enhance energy efficiency but also increase overall cost.
- Permits and Inspections: Depending on local regulations, you may need permits and inspections for an AC unit installation. These costs can vary but typically range from $100 to $400 for a standard permit or inspection. Check with the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance for more information on residential permits and the relevant requirements.
- Maintenance: Regular maintenance is an important part of extending the lifetime of your AC unit. The cost of maintenance can vary but typically ranges between $100 to $300 annually for a standard tune-up, though repairs may add to this cost.
DIY AC Installations vs. Professional Installations: Which is Better?
When considering an AC installation, you might wonder whether to take the DIY approach or to hire professionals to handle the job. While DIY installations may seem cost-effective, they come with potential risks and drawbacks that are important to consider.
AC installations require technical expertise, knowledge of local building codes, and specialized tools. A mistake during installation can lead to decreased efficiency, costly repairs, and even safety hazards.
Conversely, a professional installation offers several advantages:
- Expertise: Trained technicians possess the skills and knowledge required for the proper installation of an AC unit, ensuring optimal performance and energy efficiency. Additionally, professional installation teams can also assess your living space and help you decide which type of AC unit is best suited for your specific home.
- Warranty Protection: Many manufacturers require professional installation for their warranties to be valid. If you encounter issues down the line, a professional installation can safeguard your investment and ensure you are protected under a valid warranty. While no one wants to consider the potential of having to replace an AC unit prematurely, it is vital to be prepared.
- Compliance: AC Professionals are well-versed in local building codes and regulations, ensuring your installation is compliant and safe with all local standards. This can become especially confusing when trying to perform a DIY installation, as regulations can vary from state to state, as well as from unit type to unit type.
- Installation Efficiency: Professional AC installations are typically quicker and more efficient, minimizing disruptions to your daily routine. Comparatively, a DIY installation can take vital time out of your day or week, which may lead to delays in completing the AC unit installation in a timely manner.
Investing in a new AC unit is a significant decision that requires careful consideration of various factors.
The cost of a new AC unit in Brentwood, Nashville, Hendersonville, and Nolensville varies based on location, unit type, brand, and installation complexity. To make an informed choice, it’s crucial to understand the factors that impact costs and to weigh the pros and cons of different types of AC units.
Additionally, factoring in installation costs, such as ductwork and thermostat upgrades, ensures a comprehensive budgeting approach. While DIY installations may seem tempting, professional installations offer expertise, warranty protection, compliance, and efficiency.
As you navigate the process of buying a new AC unit, keep all of the cost considerations discussed in this article in mind to help you choose the best unit for your home and cooling needs.
Determining the appropriate unit size, deciding between repairs versus a total replacement, scheduling regular maintenance, and understanding the lifespan of a new AC unit all contribute to making a well-informed choice that enhances your home’s comfort and energy efficiency.
By taking the time to research and consult with professionals, you can ensure that your investment in a new AC unit aligns with your needs, budget, and long-term goals.