How Much Does It Cost to Install A Window AC Unit? (Updated In 2024)
If you are looking for a way to cool down your house but do not have the money to install central air conditioning, you could be in the market for a window AC unit. Window air conditioners are small units that are installed in a window. They are great for cooling small spaces and individual rooms. That might sound great in theory, but how much does it cost to install a window air conditioner? Is it cost prohibitive, or is it affordable?
This guide will cover all the costs you can expect to run into when installing a window AC unit, including the unit itself, potential labor, hidden costs, and extras that you can expect. By the end, you will have a good idea of what it should cost to fully install a window AC unit without any surprises.
Window AC Unit Pricing
The largest cost when installing a window AC unit is the air conditioner itself. For inexpensive units, the cost of the air conditioner will make up half the cost or more of the installation. For more expensive air conditioning units, the cost of the unit itself will be 75% or higher. That is because labor to install a window air conditioner is very inexpensive and, in some cases, free.
The cheapest window air conditioners run between $150 and $200. These units are often made by foreign companies and are designed to cool a very small space. Medium window units are what most people look at buying, and they are good for cooling a large room like a bedroom or office. Those units typically run around $450 on average. The largest window air conditioners are designed to cool lofts, apartments, and other large open spaces. Some of these units can cool spaces as large as 1000 square feet. These large units can cost upwards of $800 or more in some cases.
Choosing a window unit size depends on three factors, the size of your space, the size of your window, and the power options near the window. Check to see how much space a window air conditioner can cool before buying one, and make sure it fits your space.
Window AC Unit Cost
|Small Window Unit
|$150 – $300
|Medium Window Unit
|$300 – $600
|Large Window Unit
|$600 – $800
For the most part, window air conditioners are designed to be installed at home by hand without any professional help. However, not everyone feels comfortable or has a space where that is an option. If you can install the air conditioner yourself, you will pay nothing in labor. That can translate to huge savings, but it is not always realistic. Some people want the peace of mind that a professional HVAC technician brings. Other people have issues with their power or window that require professional labor.
Potential Labor Costs
|Cost Per Hour
|$75 – $150
|$40 – $100
|General Contractor Labor
|$50 – $150
Labor can add a significant cost to your air conditioning installation. The good news is that AC window units typically take less than four hours to install. However, if you live in an area with expensive labor, that could add anywhere from $200 to $600 for installation.
The average cost for a full window air conditioner unit installation from start to finish is $400. The high-end costs can run as much as $1200, but that includes the high costs for both the unit and labor. If you can install the unit yourself, you will just pay the cost of the unit plus a little extra for incidentals.
Additional Costs to Anticipate
Installing a window air conditioning unit might seem straightforward, but it can come with many incidental costs that can add up quickly. Before you buy a window AC, you should consider the following costs.
AC Window Unit Installation Kit
A large number of window air conditioners come with everything they need to be installed, but not all of them do. Cheap and small units sometimes forgo all the pieces they need to be effectively installed. If that is the case, you will have to purchase an AC window unit installation kit.
These supplemental kits include everything you need to install a window unit and can be purchased for an additional fee. Thankfully, these kits are not very expensive. They can be found at your local hardware store or online at major retailers. The price for a window AC installation kit runs between $20 and $40 on average.
Window Repair or Alteration
Before installing a window air conditioner, you should inspect your window. You should never install a window unit into a window that is damaged. Look for signs of cracking, splitting, or rot around the window frame. If you spot any of these things, you might need to have the window repaired before it can safely hold an air conditioner.
Sometimes windows need to be slightly altered to get the unit to fit properly. This type of work can run anywhere from $50 to $300 depending on the extent of the damage, alterations, and repairs required to get the air conditioner to sit safely.
In order to get the best seal possible around your air conditioner, you will likely need some sort of insulation. You do not want to leave any gaps between the AC and the window frame, or else you will let your valuable cold air escape. Gaps can also let in bugs and moisture, which can quickly degrade your room.
Sealing the gap between the AC and the window is generally simple. You will need window tape, weather stripping, or expandable foam. These materials can cost anywhere from $25 to $100 depending on the size of the window and the size of the gap.
Circuit Inspection / Upgrade
Air conditioners use a lot of electricity, and that includes window air conditioners as well. If you do not have a circuit or a fuse box that can handle the increased drain on the system, you will need to have your outlets and circuits looked at and potentially upgraded.
If you install your new window AC and you notice frequent tripped switches, dimming of the lights, or power outages, you could be looking at an electrical issue. Some window ACs can be plugged into a standard outlet, but some of them require a more heavy-duty outlet to function, similar to a stove or dryer.
If you need to have electrical work done to get your window AC running properly, it can cost anywhere between $100 and $500, depending on the issue.
Increased Power Bills
Lastly, installing a window air conditioner is guaranteed to raise your electric bill. Air conditioners use a lot of electricity. The cost to run a window air conditioning unit can run anywhere from $0.01 per hour to $0.35 per hour. The final cost will depend on your electricity prices, how much the air conditioner needs to run per hour, and how many hours per day you are running the unit.
If the AC is going to cost $0.05 per hour to run and you want to run the unit 12 hours a day, that is $0.60 extra per day. That means your new window unit will add $18 per month to your power bill. On the high end, in places like California and New York City, the cost can be close to $100 extra per month based on usage and power prices.
Some places have much more affordable electricity prices than other places. Some people will only need to run their window unit for a couple of hours before bed. The individual monthly power bill increase will vary depending on a number of individual factors.
Window AC Unit vs. Central Air Costs
How does a window air conditioner compare to a central air conditioner in terms of cost? A window air conditioner is much, much more affordable than a central air unit. Installation for a central AC can run anywhere from $5000 to $20,000. The units themselves can be close to $5000 without installation costs. If your house is not rigged for central air conditioning, meaning you don’t have the ducts, the vents, and the outdoor infrastructure capable of holding a large AC unit, the costs quickly approach $20,000 to get all of that additional work done.
That means a window AC unit can save you 90% or more than a central air conditioning unit. If the cost of a window AC is making you apprehensive, you definitely do not want to get a quote for a central AC installation.
Central AC has the benefit of cooling an entire home rather than just one individual room or space, but even if you buy and install three window air conditioners, you won’t start approaching the lower end of central air conditioning costs. Window units are far cheaper than central AC, and it is not even close.
People can typically expect to pay between $400 and $500 for a complete window AC unit installation. That cost includes the cost of the unit, everything you need to install it, and perhaps some labor. There are some extraneous costs that can come up during the installation of a window AC, but generally, the job is very straightforward. A window AC is far cheaper than a central AC and is perfect for anyone looking to get a better cool for a lower price.
Featured Image Credit: James Andrews1, Shutterstock