“Just not the AC compressor.” The compressor is the last thing you want to break down in your central, mini-split, or window air conditioner. When it does, however, you have to replace it (or buy a new AC unit?).
Here we will go over the complete AC compressor replacement cost estimate process to answer a somewhat simple question:
“How much does it cost to replace the air conditioner compressor?”
Replacing a home AC compressor is not cheap at all. The upper cost of all-in-one replacement for big 5-ton units can reach as high as $3,400. The total cost to replace a malfunctioning AC compressor is comprised of two parts:
Compressor Replacement Cost = New AC Compressor Cost (1st Section) + Labor Costs (2nd Section)
A new AC compressor with parts can cost anywhere from $400 to $2,550. To get the full compressor replacement cost, you have to add the labor costs of an HVAC technician that is paid anywhere between $50/h to $150/h. Labour represents 40% to 60% of the final AC compressor replacement cost.
Further on, we break down the cost of removing and installing a new AC compressor in detail. We need to take into account the following key factors to adequately estimate the full price of an AC compressor. This includes:
- AC capacity or tonnage. Example: It’s cheaper to replace a 2-ton central AC compressor than a 5-ton central AC compressor.
- AC type and brand. Single-stage AC compressors are the cheapest. Two-stage ones are mid-level, and the variable capacity AC compressors are the most expensive to replace.
- Labor costs to replace an air conditioner compressor. The cost (and time spent) of removing the old compressor and replacing it with a new one depends on the complexity of your AC. It also heavily depends on where you live; the cost of living in New York or California, for example, is higher, and so are the HVAC technician’s hourly rates.
- New AC compressor price + relevant warranties. New compressors by Trane, Carrier, Lennox, and so on can cost up to $1,900; every AC compressor has a warranty that can help you out financially.
On average, you can expect to pay:
- $450 – $2,150 for central AC compressor.
- $550 – $2,400 for mini-split (or heat pump) compressor. Mini-split or heat pump compressors (they are the same type) cost, on average, a bit more than central AC compressors.
- $120 – $225 for window rotary or inverter compressor.
Add to that the labor costs that can be up to 60% of the final cost and you get up to about $3,400 total cost for the compressor + parts + labor costs.
In the end, we will also use the complete AC replacement costs to answer a question that is on a lot of homeowners minds:
“Should I replace my AC compressor or just buy a new air conditioner?”
AC compressor repair vs. replacement can be quite a dilemma.
In the 1st section, we will factor in all the estimates for the final price for the new AC compressor (tonnage, brand, type, warranty coverages). In the 2nd section, we will talk about labour costs (replacement complexity, location).
In the end, we will summarize the total AC compressor replacement cost (new compressor + labor) and see when it’s better to buy a new air conditioner instead of replacing the existing AC compressor.
AC Compressor Cost: $400 – $2,550 With Parts (1st Section)
The price of the AC compressor depends on several factors (we will cover all of them). Primarily, it depends on:
- Tonnage (1.5 ton, 2 ton, 2.5 ton, 3 ton, 3.5 ton, 4 ton, 4.5 ton, 5 ton)
- Type of air conditioner (central AC, mini-split or heat pump, window AC).
- Air conditioner brand (Carrier, Lennox, Ruud, Trane, Goodman, LG, Whirpool, etc.).
- Type of compressor (single-stage, two-stage-variable, variable capacity).
- Warranties (1-year, 2-year, 5-year, 7-year, 10-year compressor warranty).
The final price for a new air conditioner compressor includes the AC compressor replacement parts. To replace an AC compressor, you inevitably have to use these parts:
- Start capacitors.
- Compressor leads.
- Compressor lugs.
- Hard start compressor kit.
- (Optional) Refrigerant lines.
- (Optional) Circuit board.
All of these parts are usually already included in the air conditioner compressor price.
Let’s first look at how the price to replace an AC compressor depends on the size of the AC unit:
Tonnage-Based AC Compressor Cost
Inevitably, the home AC units with higher capacity (measured in either tons or BTUs; 1 ton = 12,000 BTU) have pricier capacitors.
Example: The price of a 4-ton AC unit compressor is, on average, higher than the price of a 3-ton AC unit compressor.
Here is the list of AC compressor parts prices (estimates) based on tonnage:
|AC Compressor Size (Tons)||AC Compressor Price|
|1.5 Ton AC Compressor cost:||$400 – $1,200|
|2 Ton AC Compressor cost:||$600 – $1,500|
|2.5 Ton AC Compressor cost:||$900 – $1,700|
|3 Ton AC Compressor cost:||$1,100 – $1,800|
|3.5 Ton AC Compressor cost:||$1,200 – $2,000|
|4 Ton AC Compressor cost:||$1,400 – $2,200|
|4.5 Ton AC Compressor cost:||$1,500 – $2,400|
|5 Ton AC Compressor cost:||$1,700 – $2,550|
It’s useful to know that a 5-ton air conditioning compressor costs about twice as much as a 2.5-ton compressor.
Note: Having these prices of AC compressors in mind is also useful when talking to your HVAC guy. If you’re being quoted $3,000+ just for the compressor alone, you’re probably getting swindled.
The bottom line is this:
The bigger the cooling capacity (in tons), the higher the cost of the AC compressor and subsequently the higher the total cost of replacing a home AC compressor.
These cost ranges are quite broad, right? Let’s narrow it down by accounting for the secondary factors:
Compressor Cost For Different Type Of Air Conditioners (Central, Mini-Split, Window)
The largest and most well-known AC units are central air conditioners. They have to be ducted and will deliver cold air to every room in the house. In recent years, ductless mini-split air conditioners have become increasingly more popular due to easier installation, high SEER ratings, and no ductwork needed.
Both of these larger units, as well as a bit smaller window AC units, might require compressor replacement. The price of the compressor and parts does depend on what type of air conditioner you have.
Here are ballpark estimates of how much is a new compressor for central, mini-split (or heat pump), or window air conditioner:
|Type Of Air Conditioner||Price Of AC Compressor|
|Central Air Conditioner||$400 – $1,900|
|Mini-Split Air Conditioner||$550 – $2,250|
|Window Air Conditioner||$120 – $225|
Do note that the price of mini-split air conditioner compressors is, on average, higher than the price of central air conditioner compressors. That is because you will find more mini-split units that use advanced variable-speed inverter compressors than central air-con.
Those are better, produce higher energy efficiency (SEER rating), and in almost 100% cases pay for themselves in electricity savings.
Compressors for window AC units are relatively cheap; even the best window AC units cost about $500. Paying $150 for a compressor is about 30% of the cost of the AC itself; that ratio is also valid for many central and mini-split AC. We’ll talk about if it’s better to replace the compressors or replace the whole air conditioner in the end.
Note: Mini-split air conditioner and ductless heat pump (basically, an air conditioner that can heat as well) use the same kind of compressors. When we talk about the price of mini-split AC units, you can assume that the price to replace a compressor in a heat pump is basically the same.
Compressor Cost By Brand (Carrier, Lennox, Ruud, Trane, Goodman, LG, Whirpool)
All big brands offer compressors, but at a slightly different cost. Generics compressors and parts – usually used in lower-quality AC units – are cheaper.
Here are rough estimates how much compressors cost for a specific air conditioning brand:
|AC Brand||Price Of AC Compressor|
|Trane Compressor Cost:||$550 – $2,350|
|Lennox Compressor Cost:||$750 – $2,550|
|Ruud Compressor Cost:||$700 – $1,600|
|Carrier Compressor Cost:||$550 – $2,200|
|Goodman Compressor Cost:||$450 – $1,350|
|LG Compressor Cost:||$500 – $2,300|
|Whirpool Compressor Cost:||$400 – $1,900|
|Copeland Compressor Cost:||$750 – $2,550|
|Rheem Compressor Cost:||$700 – $1,600|
|Amana Compressor Cost:||$450 – $1,350|
|American Standard Compressor Cost:||$550 – $2,350|
|Mitsubishi Compressor Cost:||$550 – $2,350|
|Coleman Compressor Cost:||$500 – $1,800|
|York Compressor Cost:||$500 – $1,800|
It’s hard to say which air conditioning brand offers the most expensive or the cheapest compressors. Primarily, the price depends on tonnage. As you can see Trane, Lennox, Copeland, and Mitsubishi, for example, offer $2000+ AC compressors; but that’s only because they are for big 5-ton AC units.
Brands like Goodman, Amana, and Whirpool do offer a little cheaper compressors. The prices for the same-tonnage AC units can differ up to about $300.
Prices Of AC Compressors By Type (1-Stage, 2-Stage, Variable Speed)
The price of the compressor also depends on how advanced it is. Basic 1-stage compressors are the cheapest, and the advanced variable speed ones can cost a few $100 more (depending on the tonnage and other secondary factors).
The mechanism of action also counts. The most basic compressors are rotary; they are the cheapest. According to HVAC compressors statistics by Statista, the sales of rotary compressors accounted for about 80% of global compressor sales.
In the US, however, we are more used to scroll compressors. We also know screw compressors, hermetic reciprocating compressors, semi-hermetic reciprocating compressors, centrifugal compressors, and inverter compressors.
All these specific types of compressors have their own price ranges. Example: Rotary 1-stage compressor for 2-ton AC unit might cost $800 while inverter variable-speed compressor with same 2-ton AC capacity costs $1,200.
Tertiarially, the price of compressors also depends on refrigerant type a bit. For example, the R22 AC compressor cost can be a few % higher than the cost of the R410A AC compressor.
Warranty: Does Your Warranty Covers AC Compressor Replacement?
The compressor is an air conditioner part that has the best and longest warranty protection. As we have seen, just the cost of the new AC compressor demands solid warranty protection.
Warranties can vary quite a bit from one air conditioning manufacturer to the next. Generally, you do get a warranty for parts; a warranty for an AC compressor is separate from the warranty for parts.
You have 2-year, 5-year, 7-year, or even 10-year AC compressor warranties. However, the important part to note is this:
AC compressor warranty includes only the compressor; not the labor.
While compressor costs may reach up to $2,000, the labor costs of replacing a malfunctioning AC compressor can easily go over $1,000, as we’ll discuss in the 2nd Section.
Warranty is essential when you’re deciding if you just want to replace the compressor or buy a new air conditioning unit. In most cases, if the warranty is no longer valid, buying and installing a new air conditioner makes sense financially.
If your AC compressor is still under warranty, however, you cut a big chunk of costs off your AC compressor replacement bill because you don’t have to pay for the compressor yourself.
What you have to pay for, however, are the labor costs. Let’s discuss these in the 2nd Section:
Labor Cost To Replace Home AC Compressor (2nd Section)
You might not have to pay for the AC compressor + parts (if they are under warranty), but you definitely have to pay for the air conditioning guy to replace your home AC compressor.
With the compressor, you pretty much see the price upfront. Labor costs to replace an AC compressor can vary much more. You also have to be careful not to get, well, swindled.
It’s useful to understand how the price list of HVAC guys who are going to remove the old compressor and install the new one looks like.
It doesn’t look like this:
- Labor cost to replace a central air conditioner compressor = $1,200.
- Labor cost to replace a mini-split air conditioner compressor = $1,500.
- Labor cost to replace a window air conditioner compressor = $200.
The true price list can be a bit more complex. It can include numerous intermediary tasks like:
- Disconnecting the old compressor from the refrigerant lines.
- Removing the old compressor from the AC unit, and properly disposing of it.
- Checking if there is any freon left in the refrigerant lines (be it R22 or R410A), and removing it, if necessary.
- Installing the new AC compressor, with all the parts included. There are quite a lot of extra parts to install; you can’t just plug the new AC compressor in and that’s that.
- Replacing freon. The refrigerant lines have to be filled up again; you can check our article about how to recharge freon in the window AC unit, just to see it’s not a piece of cake.
- Testing the new setup to check if the new air conditioning compressor is functioning as expected.
At the end of the day, the labor costs of replacing an AC compressor are summarized in an hourly rate. Of course, HVAC repair companies add the tool use, wages, insurance, and profit into the hourly rate.
Hourly rate to replace a new air conditioner ranges from $50 per hour to $150 per hour. The exact price of an hour of labor depends on where you live; zip code is everything.
It’s not unusual to pay at least $130/h for AC compressor replacement in California, for example.
The full price of labor to replace an air conditioning compressor is usually calculated like this:
Full Labor Cost = Hourly Rate x Number Of Hours
Example: Let’s say an HVAC technician is getting paid $100 per hour. He successfully removes your old AC compressor and replaces it with a new one in 10 hours. The full labor cost is calculated like this:
Full Labor Cost = $100/h x 10h = $1,000
Most AC compressors can be replaced in 1 or 2 days. It shouldn’t take an experienced HVAC technician more than 15 hours for the whole replacement; from start to finish.
If you’re interested in getting some quotes, you can fill in this form and get 4 free quotes for AC compressor replacement from vetted HVAC guys in your area (applies for central, mini-split, heat pump, or window AC compressors).
Bottom line: The total cost of labor to replace a compressor should be within 40-60% of the total cost of replacing the AC compressor.
To Replace AC Compressor Or Buy A New AC Unit?
Let’s end with a question that many homeowners with faulty AC compressors ask. Is it even worth replacing the AC compressor, or should I just buy a new AC?
As we have seen, the full cost of a new compressor + parts + labor can be in $1,000s. How much is a new central air conditioner, for instance? If you check this article about 2-5 ton central AC costs, you see that a new AC unit can cost up to about $10,000.
In the end, however, the replace AC compressor vs new AC unit comes down to these factors:
- Is the compressor still under warranty?
- How old is your existing AC unit? If it’s 10+ years old, buying a new one seems reasonable.
- What is the energy efficiency of your existing AC? If you have a 14 SEER rated unit and want to replace it with a 20 SEER rated AC unit, that’s a good reason to just skip the AC compressor replacement, and buy a new and more energy-efficient unit.
The simple rule of thumbs is this:
- If you have a malfunctioning compressor in an older AC (10+ years); just buy a new air conditioner.
- If you have a malfunctioning compressor in a relatively new AC unit (0-5 years); replace the compressor, especially if it’s still under warranty.
All in all, nobody really likes to deal with all the air conditioning compressor replacements and associated costs, but if you do have to go through that, it makes sense to have some costs in your mind before you start the whole process.
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Overall, the average cost to replace a whole-home AC compressor is about $1,500. However, depending upon the size of the unit and a few other factors, it may cost as little as $800 or as much as $3,000. The factors that can affect your AC compressor's replacement or repair cost include your home size and HVAC type.Is it worth replacing compressor on AC unit? ›
The compressor is an expensive item to replace. Because dead compressors usually happen in old air conditioners, it's more cost-effective to start over with a new AC rather than pay to put a new compressor into a system that's already wasting power and a few years from the junk heap.How much is a compressor for a 5 ton AC unit? ›
The larger the compressor, the higher the initial replacement cost. However, that cost varies by size. A 1.5-ton compressor may cost $500 to $950 per ton to replace, while a 5-ton compressor would cost $300 to $550 per ton.How long does it take to replace a compressor in an AC unit? ›
It entails removing and disposing of any remaining refrigerant, disconnecting and removing the old compressor, installing the new one with proper fittings, and recharging with refrigerant. Add it all up and it typically takes four to six hours.Is it better to replace compressor or whole unit? ›
If your compressor is still under warranty, replace only the compressor. Assuming the compressor is no longer under warranty, we recommend replacing the outside unit if one or more of the circumstances also applies: Money is really short right now and you're not sure it'll be better anytime soon.Why is it so expensive to replace AC compressor? ›
Why is a compressor so expensive to replace? Replacing a compressor is costly for two reasons: The part itself is expensive. The job is time-consuming (requires 4+ hours)How long does an average AC compressor last? ›
Compressors are actually very dependable (lasting on average between 12-15 years) so typically, when your AC compressor has gone bad there's an underlying cause that needs to be addressed lest the problem reemerge even after the unit has been replaced.When replacing AC compressor what else should be replaced? ›
For the compressor that is seized, you will at the very least need to replace the compressor assembly and clutch, receiver drier, expansion valve, and flush out the system. I recommend having a mechanic diagnose your vehicle to see if any other components need replaced in order to fix your air conditioner.What kills an AC compressor? ›
Loss of refrigerant: This is the #1 way a compressor might die years before its time. The amount of refrigerant in an air conditioner is specially set to work with the compressor. If the AC loses refrigerant through leaks, the imbalance will eventually cause the compressor to overheat.How much is the labor to install a compressor? ›
The average home air conditioner compressor costs $1,000 to $2,500 to replace. A new AC unit compressor costs $400 to $1,300. The labor cost to replace a home AC compressor is $600 to $1,200. HVAC contractors charge $100 to $150 per hour plus parts to repair an AC compressor.
Modern air conditioners can last between 15-20 years, and older air conditioners last around 10-12 years.Do you need to replace dryer when replacing AC compressor? ›
In fact, most compressor warranties require that the dryer also be replaced if the AC system is worked on. As mentioned, the dryer contains desiccant, which functions to remove any moisture that may get trapped in the system.What happens if you don't replace AC compressor? ›
Without a working compressor, the air conditioning unit won't operate properly. This can lead to a lack of air circulation in your car's cabin, which can cause dirt or mildew buildup in the vents, causing mold growth. Clearly, it's never ideal to drive a car with mold in the air conditioning unit.How often should AC compressor be replaced? ›
According to manufacturers, it typically has a 10- to 15-year life span. If the compressor is within or nearing its maximum age and suddenly breaks down, the damage is probably irreparable, and it would be best to replace the entire AC unit.Which compressor is best? ›
Screw compressors are among the most reliable and efficient around, but not cost-effective for smaller applications. Rotary compressors are the preferred option when operating noise is a factor. They are quiet, have a modest footprint, and do not suffer from vibration as much as other compressors.How long do replacement compressors last? ›
On average, the lifespan of a compressor ranges from 10 to 15 years.What causes AC compressor failure? ›
Power surges, compressor overheating and dirty AC coils are some of the common causes of air conditioner's compressor failure.How much does it cost to replace a 2.5 ton AC unit? ›
New AC unit cost recap
A 2.5-ton AC unit cost is going to be about $3,300 to $3,700 installed. A 3-ton AC unit cost runs homeowner around $3,400 to $3,700. When it comes to a 3.5-ton AC unit cost, you will pay around $3,500 to $3,700. A 4-ton AC unit cost is $3,700 to $3,800 on average.
- Your AC Is Making Growling, Screeching, or Clattering Noises. Electrical failures in the compressor will make your AC emit unusual clunking or rattling noises. ...
- You Have a Hard Time Getting Your AC to Start. ...
- Your AC Stops Blowing Cold Air. ...
- Circuit Breaker Problems. ...
- Diminished Airflow.
Get Yearly Maintenance
- Clean the condensing coils on your unit.
- Oil the fan motor.
- Check the operating pressure.
- Check the coolant levels.
- Check the amp draw of the compressor and check that the belts are adjusted properly.
If the unit, however, starts vibrating or makes a rumbling noise, a popping sound, banging noises, clicking, growling, clattering or screeching noises, it could be the sign of several potential problems. Any of these noises might signify that the A/C compressor is having electrical problems.Does vinegar help with AC? ›
You can prevent a clogged AC drain by performing routine cleaning. By pouring a ¼ cup of vinegar into your AC's drain line, you will kill any mold, algae, mildew, and other forms of bacteria or fungi, preventing it from forming a buildup and causing a clog. Repeat this monthly for the best results.How do I protect my AC compressor? ›
- Check for leaking refrigerant. ...
- Only hire qualified HVAC professionals. ...
- Get the right replacement parts. ...
- Keep your coils clean. ...
- Keep your AC well oiled. ...
- Make sure suction lines are clear. ...
- Inspect wiring. ...
- Prevent contamination.
Here's the thing—you can't repair an air conditioner's compressor if it breaks down. The compressor of your air conditioner is essentially the heart of the system, responsible for allowing the refrigerant process that even makes it possible for your cooling system to… well… cool.What size AC do I need for 350 square feet? ›
To cool a bigger or busier room ranging from 250 to 350 square feet, you'll want to step up to a midsized air conditioner rated at 7,000 to 8,500 Btu.What size AC do I need for 4000 sq ft? ›
Simple answer: You need 0.0016 tons of AC per square foot. In general, for every 600 sq ft, you need 1 ton of AC. This is a general estimate.How many sq ft will a 3.5-ton AC cool? ›
Choose a unit that is 3.5 tons if your home measures more than 1,800 but not more than 2,100 square feet. A four-ton unit is suitable for homes that are more than 2,100 square feet up to 2,400 SF.What AC unit lasts the longest? ›
How Long Do Central Air Conditioners Last? (20 To 25+ Years) Needles to say, the ducted central air conditioner is the most durable AC unit type. However, everybody dreads replacing the central air conditioner because it's both complex, time-consuming, and, above all, expensive.How long do AC compressors last? ›
The short answer is that your AC compressor and refrigerant should last about 12-15 years. Learning what crucial components, and how to maintain the compressor, can keep your AC running efficiently for its entire lifespan.
- Odd Sounds. You might hear some strange noises when you flip on your vehicle's air conditioner and if you do, it's probably the compressor. ...
- Hot Air. The whole point of turning on your vehicle's AC is to get cold air to come through the vents. ...
- Fluid Leaks. ...
- Stuck Clutch.
Rotary compressors are the preferred option when operating noise is a factor. They are quiet, have a modest footprint, and do not suffer from vibration as much as other compressors. In the unit, a bladed shaft rotates within a graduated cylinder to push and compress refrigerant at the same time.What can make a compressor go bad? ›
- OVERHEATING. Overheating is one of the main reasons why compressors fail, and it is usually caused by not enough refrigerant in the system. ...
- REFRIGERANT CHARGE AND PIPING. ...
- CONTAMINANTS. ...
- INCORRECTLY SIZED AND MATCHED. ...
- POOR INSTALLATION AND MAINTENANCE.
Some common causes of compressor overheating are lack of external cooling, poor ventilation, short cycling, low suction pressure, high head pressure, lack of lubrication, excessive wear and tear, and electrical problems.What is the most common cause of AC compressor failure? ›
Power surges, compressor overheating and dirty AC coils are some of the common causes of air conditioner's compressor failure.What is the most common cause of compressor failure? ›
AUTOPSY OF A COMPRESSOR: The two most common causes of compressor failure are loss of lubrication and slugging, according to Brainerd Compressor Inc.Will AC work if compressor is bad? ›
If the compressor is not working, the fan will not be able to do its job properly and cool air will not be circulated. In some cases, the AC fan may still run even if the compressor is bad, but it will not be as effective in cooling your home.Is it worth fixing AC compressor in car? ›
If this is the case, then yes, a compressor replacement is absolutely worth considering. But the likelihood of a compressor breaking down entire while still under warranty is fairly slim. So, in the absence of a warranty coverage, it's time to consider a full AC system upgrade.How long should an AC compressor last in a car? ›
It has been estimated that an A/C compressor can last from eight to ten years. Many drivers will then say that they will not need to change their A/C compressor at all since this number denotes the life of the car.How often does car AC compressor need to be replaced? ›
The heart of any car's A/C system is the compressor. Generally, these parts can stay working for eight to ten years. However, issues other than time can result in an entire replacement of a car's A/C system.