Why Do HVAC Installation Prices Vary So Much?
Before making any big purchase it seems reasonable to check around to get an idea how much you might be spending. But it’s really tough to find out how much a new HVAC system might set you back by just researching the cost of a new unit on the internet. When you can’t get a straight answer from clicking “Search” it might seem like there’s some grand conspiracy keeping the ball in the contractor’s court, but it’s really too broad a question like clicking “how much is a new car?” You will find lots of confusing and often conflicting information. Just like comparing car prices, you have to know exactly what you need and want to get an idea of how much you will be spending. Unlike buying a car, you are buying an integrated system, not just an HVAC unit. There is no secret plot- it’s just that your actual cost is the result of a highly tailored calculation of many factors made by a professional just for your situation. Pricing is focused on the needs of each individual customer and the use and configuration of each building to be custom-fitted. Generic answers don’t work.
Base Equipment Prices
There are financial trade-offs between choosing systems made by different companies. Prices vary between manufacturers and brands for a variety of reasons. Better workmanship costs more and is associated with better warranties. High quality name brand units are always going to cost a bit more. Companies frequently offer the same equipment under a less well-known name which can cost less:
- Trane also makes American Standard;
- Goodman also makes Daikin and Amana;
- Carrier also makes Bryant, Day & Night, ICP, Payne, Arcoaire, GrandAire, Comfortmaker, Heil, KeepRite, and Tempstar.
- Rheem also makes Ruud, and Weatherking.
While it is possible to look up the retail price of a particular model and to purchase it online, keep in mind that a reputable contractor may not be able to warrantee that equipment and may be able to bet a better deal than you can.
Plan In Advance To Get The Best Deals
Naturally, it costs less to buy during sales, promotions and special financing offers. It is always better to be proactive rather than reactive. Like planning a trip knowing the tires are bald – you might make it home, but do you really want to put yourself in a position where you’re forced to make a choice rather than following through on a well-planned decision.
The Down and Dirty Bottom Line
For a 2,000 square foot home requiring installation of the necessary infrastructure, you can expect to spend between $6,000 and $12,000 for a complete heating and cooling package. A central heating furnace replacement costs between $2,000 and $5,000. Central air-conditioning replacement will cost between $5000 and $10,000 for a 2,000 square foot home. Bigger houses naturally cost more. Add-ons and zoning cost more.
Make Sure You’re Not Comparing Apples To Oranges!
It is important to know what you are buying like comparing the HVAC equivalent of a Lamborghini or a Ford Fiesta. Like buying a vehicle there are a lot of decisions to make. Do you want a car or a truck, standard transmission or automatic, leather or vinyl, power seats or manual? Is this project a renovation or just a replacement? Do you need a zoned system for a 2 story home? If so, add $2,300 to $3,500 to the price. If efficiency important you might want to upgrade to a higher SEER rating or a variable speed system. If air quality is critical you might want to add a UV light or HEPA filter. What about a smart thermostat? Your system, loaded with the features you want, may cost $13,100 to $17,000.
What Isn’t Included?
Your HVAC expert will determine what special circumstances your job presents. Commercial pricing is greater than residential because the roofs are higher and there’s more and bigger equipment. Obtaining custom load calculations assure proper sizing of equipment and the cost varies on the size of the job. If the job requires fabrication of new ductwork or removal and replacement of old ductwork it will cost about $2,000-$3,000 for new labor intensive insulated properly strapped flex ductwork with custom fabricated manual dampers at each junction to balance air. Every joint must be crimped and double-sealed to prevent separation. Rough-in on new construction including building new duct systems, furnace and fresh air flues, running the gas line from the house to the appliance increases the cost. Every space is different and every family’s needs unique.
A Reputable Contractor Always Saves You Money!
Proper professional installation by a reputable licensed and bonded contractor is essential when installing a new HVAC system. Every job requires some custom fabrication of parts and certain units require special set-up: i.e. Split systems require more mechanical fine-tuning than roof systems which are “ready-to-go.” There are plenty of handymen out there willing to take your money but may not have the expertise to install highly technical equipment to industry specifications and balance it to work properly – which can mean you spent a lot of money to be uncomfortable and at risk for premature failure and excessive energy use. Of course it’s cheaper for a charlatan to use unskilled labor and used (or even pilfered) equipment! Don’t let your goal be “cheap,” you’ll pay more in the end!