AC Compressor Cost in 2021
How much does it cost to replace or repair your home air conditioner compressor?
The compressor is the beating heart of your air conditioner. It pumps refrigerant around your AC unit, which in turn cools the air inside your home. When it stops working, your whole cooling system stops working, which can be a nightmare in those hot summer seasons.
The compressor is the last part of your air conditioner that you’d want to break down, but when it does, it will need to be replaced, repaired, or you’ll have to get a new AC unit altogether. It’s important to know that not every option costs the same, and the right choice for you can depend on a lot of different factors.
Keep reading to learn about AC compressor replacement costs, or jump to the section you need most by using this handy table of contents.
Table of Contents
- 1 How Much For A New AC Compressor?
- 2 Should You Replace Your AC Compressor, Or Buy A New AC Unit?
- 3 Is It Better To DIY Or Hire An HVAC Professional?
- 4 My Final Thoughts
I’ve been working as a licensed Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) engineer for over a decade. During that time, I’ve replaced and repaired plenty of AC compressors. Now I want to help you to understand compressor replacement costs, as well as repair cost, and see whether buying a new air conditioner could actually be your cheapest option.
Read on, and I’ll walk you through everything you should know about home air conditioning compressor prices.
How Much For A New AC Compressor?
To properly answer the question ‘how much does an air compressor cost?’, we’ll need to first break the overall cost down.
Cost Based On Size
It should come as no surprise that an AC compressor price increases along with the cooling capacity of the air conditioner.
Cooling capacity is measured in tons or British Thermal Units (BTUs). So, for example, to replace the compressor of a 2-ton capacity unit will cost less than the replacement costs of a 4-ton capacity air conditioner.
I’ve put together this convenient table of the average cost you can expect to pay for different air conditioners based on their capacity in tons.
|AC Compressor Size In Tons||Average AC Compressor Cost|
|1.5 Ton AC Compressor For House||$400 – $1,200|
|2.0 Ton AC Compressor For House||$600 – $1,500|
|2.5 Ton AC Compressor For House||$900 – $1,700|
|3.0 Ton AC Compressor For House||$1,100 – $1,800|
|3.5 Ton AC Compressor For House||$1,200 – $2,000|
|4.0 Ton AC Compressor For House||$1,400 – $2,200|
|4.5 Ton AC Compressor For House||$1,500 – $2,400|
|5.0 Ton AC Compressor For House||$1,700 – $2,550|
As you can see, the cost of replacing a 3-ton AC compressor is roughly double the cost of replacing a 1.5-ton compressor. It’s worth having these figures at hand when you get a quote from an HVAC professional, so you’ll know if you’re being overcharged.
These estimates may seem pretty vague, so I’ve broken down the AC compressor replacement cost even further. I’ve included the key factors that can affect how much you’ll pay, so you can consider all these when replacing your home AC compressor.
Compressor Cost For Different Types Of Air Conditioners
The cost of an AC compressor repair or replacement will depend on the type of air conditioner in question. There are 3 types of air conditioners, and each uses a different type of compressor.
A central air conditioner is the most common and well-known type of home AC unit. It is a ducted system that cools air from multiple rooms at once at a central location. Central air conditioning is often fitted with a basic single-stage compressor or a more efficient but often more expensive two-stage compressor.
Mini-split air conditioners are systems that allow you to control the temperature of individual rooms or spaces, using an air compressor outdoor unit and one or more indoor air handlers. Some mini-splits can also heat as well as cool your home and are known as a heat pumps.
Replacing the compressor in a mini-split is usually more expensive than doing so for central AC since they often use more advanced, variable-speed inverter compressors (more on these later!) These are better are far more efficient than other compressors since they vary the flow of refrigerant through the home AC. They can save hundreds of dollars on your energy bills each year.
WIndow AC compressors are comparatively cheap since even a top-range window AC unit shouldn’t cost more than around $500.
If replacing the compressor in such an outdoor unit costs $150, that’s around 30% of the cost of the AC unit itself. This is also the percentage you should be looking for when considering compressor costs for central AC and mini-split systems.
Here are some estimates of how much you’ll pay to replace an AC compressor in a central, mini-split, or window air conditioner.
|Type Of AC||AC Compressor Replacement Cost|
|Central Air Conditioner||$400 – $1,900|
|Mini-Split (Heat Pump) AC System||$550 – $2,250|
|Window Air Conditioner||$120 – $225|
Compressor Cost By Brand
Buying an air conditioner from a well-known brand ensures you’re getting a high-quality, reliable, and energy-efficient AC system. But it also means that you may have to pay slightly more to replace the compressor should it stop working at any point.
Generic off-brand compressors are available, and they may be cheaper than their big brand-labeled counterparts, but they’ll also be made with more affordable parts, which can affect their lifespan and durability.
I’ve looked into the average price ranges of compressors from some of the top US HVAC brands and put my findings into this table so you can quickly compare costs.
|HVAC Brand||Air Conditioner Compressor Cost|
|Trane||$550 – $2,350|
|Lennox||$750 – $2,550|
|Ruud||$700 – $1,600|
|Carrier||$550 – $2,200|
|Goodman||$450 – $1,350|
|LG||$500 – $2,300|
|Whirlpool||$400 – $1,900|
|Copeland||$750 – $2,550|
|Rheem||$700 – $1,600|
|Amana||$450 – $1,350|
|American Standard||$550 – $2,350|
|Mitsubishi||$550 – $2,350|
|Coleman||$500 – $1,800|
|York||$500 – $1,800|
Cost Of Air Condition Compressor By Type
The type of compressor your AC unit uses will also affect the cost of repair or replacement. AC compressors come in three different performance levels. From basic to advanced, these are single-stage, two-stage, and variable-speed.
A single-stage compressor is the most basic model, and it’s the least energy-efficient compressor, but it’s also the cheapest.
Two-stage compressors are more advanced, more efficient, and deliver more cool airflow than single-stage compressors. But, if they stop working, a two-stage compressor costs more to replace or repair.
A variable-speed compressor is more advanced again, saving much more energy off your bills than any other compressor and providing the most effective cool airflow. But their cost to replace can be a few hundred dollars more than their single- or two-stage counterparts.
Your replacement air conditioner compressor must be the same kind that your AC was initially bought and installed with. It simply isn’t impossible to upgrade a compressor later on.
The action mechanism also influences the cost of replacing an AC compressor. Most units use a rotary compressor, while scroll compressors are also increasingly common. Other types include screw, reciprocating, centrifugal, and inverter compressors, and these all have their different price.
For example, a basic rotary single-stage compressor for a 2-ton AC may cost $800. An inverter variable-speed compressor for the very same model could cost around $1,200, which is a significant price difference to consider.
The refrigerant used in your AC can also affect the compressor replacement cost. A compressor for an AC that uses the more ozone-friendly refrigerant R-410A may cost around 5% more than one that uses R-22 refrigerant, R-290 refrigerant, or R-32 refrigerant.
Does Your Warranty Cover AC Compressor Replacement?
It makes sense that the compressor is usually the part of the air conditioning unit that has the longest and best warranty protection since replacement or repair can often cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
It’s important to know the coverage that you have for your old compressor. If you need to replace it with a new compressor or have it repaired, you’ll be able to find the warranty on your AC brand’s website.
Your warranty for your air conditioning compressor will most likely fall into one of the following categories:
5-year warranty- A 5-years warranty is usually supplied with the cheapest AC models
10-years warranty- The most common terms supplied by most top HVAC brands is for 10-years
12-years warranty- Some top-of-the-range models from top brands offer a 12-years warranty
Lifetime warranty- Offered on some models from Goodman and Amada
Unit Replacement Warranty- Some brands offer a complete unit replacement guarantee. If the compressor breaks down, they’ll replace your old outdoor compressor unit with a new one instead of just replacing that part or parts.
If your warranty, for whatever reason, is no longer valid (expired or voided), then it may make sense financially to replace the whole old air conditioning unit. If your home AC compressor is still under warranty, you can at least save the price of the part itself.
However, it’s also important to note that your warranty won’t cover the labor cost.
Labor Cost To Replace AC Compressor
An experienced HVAC professional will usually take 1 or 2 days to repair or replace your old compressor or AC unit. You’ll be charged an hourly rate for the labor.
They’ll need to first disconnect the old compressor from refrigerant lines before disposing of it properly and safely. Then, they’ll install the new compressor and all the parts that come with it. Finally, they’ll refill the refrigerant lines and test the system to check if all parts are working.
The exact labor costs for replacement or repair will vary according to your zip code, but you should expect to pay somewhere between $50 and $150 per hour.
Should You Replace Your AC Compressor, Or Buy A New AC Unit?
This is a question to which the answer will depend entirely on your own circumstances. While AC compressor repair, parts replacement, and labor per hour costs can often cost thousands of dollars, brand new AC units can often cost even more.
To help you decide, consider whether the compressor is still under warranty, as well as how old your current air conditioning system is. If it’s over 10 years old, it makes sense to get a new model.
You should also consider the energy efficiency of your current unit. Replacing a 14 SEER rated AC with a 20+ SEER rated model could be a wise investment that will recoup your outlay through energy savings in the long run.
If your faulty compressor is in a unit that’s over 10 years old, get a new air conditioner. If your AC is 5 years old or less, get a new compressor instead.
Is It Better To DIY Or Hire An HVAC Professional?
Although replacing the compressor could be possible for somebody with some advanced home DIY skills, I recommend having an HVAC professional carry out any replacements or repair work.
While the costs of labor and parts may seem expensive, attempting these jobs yourself could not only void your warranty but also lead to incorrect or unsafe repairs and installation. In this case, you’re putting yourself and your family at potential risk from faulty electrics.
My Final Thoughts
Although it can be expensive to repair or replace a compressor or get a new AC entirely, I hope that this guide has given you an idea of what you should be paying without being ripped off.
And remember that in some cases, it can actually work out more cost-effectively to buy a new central AC, mini-split, heat pump, or window AC than paying for new parts and labor!