Affiliate Disclaimer: All products and services featured are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
The average cost of a new AC compressor is $800 to $2,800 for both parts and installation.* An air conditioner compressor is a vital part of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. If you notice your AC unit blowing warm air, you might need a new compressor.
Compressors for smaller units, such as window or mini-split systems, start as low as $100. How much you pay depends on your compressor and home size, your HVAC system, and your warranty coverage. We’ll go over different cost factors and answer other important questions in our guide.
*Article cost data sourced from Angi, Home Advisor, and Lowe’s.
What Does an AC Compressor Do?
An AC compressor is responsible for compressing refrigerant and circulating it through your HVAC system. An HVAC encompasses your entire heating and cooling system, including the AC, heat pump, furnace, and air ducts.
The refrigerant in your air conditioning unit pulls heat from your home and cools it over an evaporator coil. The hot air changes the refrigerant to a gas, which is then transported outside to the condenser coil where it becomes a liquid again. The AC compressor moves the refrigerant between the evaporator and condenser coils.
Think of an AC compressor as the heart of your air conditioning system and the refrigerant as the blood. It pumps the refrigerant through the HVAC system to cool your home.
AC Compressor Cost Factors
AC compressor replacement cost depends on the type of HVAC system you have, your home size and AC brand, and the labor required for installation. Replacing an air conditioning compressor is a time-intensive job, so expect fairly high labor costs.
Below is a breakdown of the main costs associated with installing a new AC compressor.
Cost by Type of HVAC System
The type of compressor you need depends on your HVAC system. This can affect compressor prices. Note that replacing a compressor in a smaller system, such as a window unit, is often more expensive than simply buying a new AC unit.
Here’s the cost to purchase and install an AC compressor for each HVAC system type:
|Type of HVAC System||Compressor Cost|
Cost by Home Size
AC sizes are denoted in BTUs (British thermal units), which essentially measures how much energy an AC needs to remove heat from your home. Larger homes require more BTUs to cool your living space. It’s usually more expensive to replace an AC compressor in a larger unit than a smaller one.
An average residential home needs 20,000 to 50,000 BTUs, or about 20 BTUs per square foot of living space. Here are HVAC system BTU recommendations for different home sizes.
|Home Size||BTUs Recommended|
1,000 square feet
1,500 square feet
2,000 square feet
2,500 square feet
Not all HVAC units have the same capacity, efficiency, or operating range. Therefore, different types of AC compressors work in slightly different ways. Another option is to upgrade the type of compressor in your AC, which may increase the price.
- Single-stage AC compressor: This compressor always runs at full blast and never varies its speed. It costs $250 to $1,200.
- Two-stage AC compressor: This compressor has a high and low setting to meet specific home cooling demands. It costs between $1,000 and $2,000.
- Variable-speed AC compressor: A variable-speed compressor operates at different speeds, runs longer, and cools more slowly. Because it cools slowly, it more effectively dehumidifies your home. It ranges in price from $1,500 to $2,800.
Installation and Labor Cost
Labor to install an AC compressor costs between $75 and $150 an hour, or a flat fee of $300 to $900. The flat fee typically covers travel costs, the inspection, and four to six hours for the replacement.
Cost by Brand
Prices vary among air conditioner brands, such as Lennox, American Standard, and Goodman. We recommend choosing the same brand as your HVAC unit to ensure compatibility. Brand choice alone could mean an additional $100 to $200.
Some brands have the same parent companies, so ask your HVAC technician if they recommend changing from one brand to another within the same parent company.
Additional Factors Affecting AC Compressor Cost
The following factors can also affect AC compressor installation costs.
Your AC compressor may be covered under your HVAC warranty. Compressor warranties are usually valid for 10 to 15 years and may include some or all of a new unit’s cost; however, it doesn’t typically include labor.
If you have a valid warranty, you could spend $600 to $1,200 replacing your AC compressor. If it’s expired, you could pay $1,300 to $2,500.
Seasonal Availability of Contractors
Homeowners rely heavily on their air conditioning systems to stay comfortable in hot weather. Increased usage can lead to more wear and tear, which can cause breakdowns and malfunctions. As a result, HVAC technicians are in greater demand during the summer and may charge a higher price to replace your AC compressor.
Costs drop around September and March, except on weekends and holidays or for emergency requests.
Upgrading Your System
A broken AC compressor may be a sign that it’s time to upgrade your entire HVAC system. If your system is more than 10 to 15 years old, it may be more cost-effective to upgrade to a new system rather than only replace the compressor. An old AC system is likely to be less efficient than a newer model, leading to higher energy bills and frequent repairs.
It costs between $5,000 and $10,000 to replace your entire HVAC. This includes the cost to install a new air conditioner and dispose of the old system. A ductless mini-split AC could cost as much as $14,500.Window ACs cost the least to install at around $150 to $500.
Repair vs. Replacement
An entire compressor replacement isn’t always necessary. Sometimes, a smaller repair can suffice. AC compressor repair costs between $75 and $150 per hour for labor. The technician may advise you to replace the compressor or the entire system if repair needs are extensive.
An HVAC technician might need to refill the refrigerant in your AC. This adds $100 to $350 to your total but could be as much as $600, depending on the refrigerant type, your system, and related repairs. Refilling refrigerant is only necessary if your system has a leak and your refrigerant levels are low.
Refrigerant is sometimes referred to as freon, but this chemical is no longer used in new systems. Today, AC systems use safer refrigerants that meet Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements.
Contractors may charge more if your system is in a hard-to-reach area. Accessing and repairing systems in inaccessible areas can be more time-consuming and require specialized equipment or tools. This can result in higher labor costs.
Professional vs. DIY AC Compressor Installation
You could save $400 to $1,200 by replacing the AC compressor yourself, but hiring a professional HVAC contractor is worth the investment. Plus, a do-it-yourself (DIY) job is only possible if you have the necessary electrical and mechanical skills and tools to complete the task safely.
Professional Compressor Installation
Replacing an AC compressor is a complex job. Before beginning any work, the HVAC pro will evaluate the system to determine the compressor failure cause and identify other potential issues. Then, the technician will recover the refrigerant, remove the old compressor, and install the new one.
Once installed, the technician will evacuate any air and moisture from the system and recharge it with the appropriate refrigerant levels. Before finishing, the technician will test the system to ensure it is operating properly.
Hiring a pro ensures the work is done safely and correctly. In addition, many HVAC contractors offer warranties on their work, providing homeowners extra protection if something goes wrong after the repair.
There are possible disadvantages to hiring a professional HVAC contractor. Contractors may not be immediately available to perform the repair, especially during busy seasons. This means homeowners are dependent on the contractor’s schedule. Hiring a professional is also more expensive than doing the repair yourself, costing around $75 to $150 per hour.
DIY Compressor Installation
A DIY compressor installation is only feasible if you have the necessary experience and tools. Though you can save money, it’s not worth the risk of something going wrong. Plus, if you need to refill the refrigerant, you must be certified under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. You can’t purchase refrigerant without this certification.
To replace the compressor, you’ll need a recovery machine to drain the refrigerant, an oxygen-acetylene torch for the copper lines, and a vacuum pump. This would cost $1,040 on the low end.
How to Reduce AC Compressor Costs
Here are a few tips to reduce costs on your compressor replacement project, even if you hire a professional:
- Avoiding expensive name-brand products. Look for similar products from lesser known but reputable companies.
- Request quotes from at least three HVAC contractors to ensure you’re getting a fair price.
- Schedule annual air conditioning system maintenance to prevent future compressor failures or other issues. HVAC service and maintenance usually costs $75 to $200 per visit. You can also get your air ducts cleaned for $268 to $491, or up to $700 for larger homes.
How to Hire a Professional
Consider these factors when hiring a professional to replace your AC compressor.
- Do research: Read online reviews from customers and gather references from friends and family. Ensure every contractor you contact is licensed and insured.
- Get multiple quotes: Get quotes from at least three HVAC contractors. This will help you determine whether you’re getting a fair price. Avoid companies that charge significantly more or less than others.
- Ask questions: Ask contractors about their experience. Ask about all included costs and fees and if they’ll be stated in the contract.
- Ask about warranties: Some HVAC contractors offer warranties, including on parts and labor.
- Get a timeline: Request a date for the project’s completion and ask what happens if the deadline passes.
We recommend hiring a professional HVAC contractor to replace or repair an AC compressor. A professional has the experience, skills, and tools to get the job done correctly and safely. The AC compressor cost should reflect the brand’s quality, the air conditioning system’s type and size, and the installation’s complexity.
AC Compressor Cost FAQ
Is it worth replacing AC compressor?
It may be worth replacing the AC compressor if you have a new unit. A full system replacement may be a better investment for older units.
Why is it so expensive to replace AC compressor?
Replacing an AC compressor is expensive because of the part itself and the labor. Replacing a compressor takes four to six hours.
How long does an AC compressor last?
Your AC compressor and refrigerant should last 12 to 15 years. Their life span depends on how well you take care of the system and how frequently it’s used.
How do I know if my AC compressor is bad?
The most obvious sign you have a bad AC compressor is when your unit only blows warm air and doesn’t cool your home. Other signs include reduced airflow, strange noises, or difficulty getting your system to start.
What is the most common AC compressor problem?
Some of the most common AC compressor problems include overheating, electrical failure, dirty coils, or a low refrigerant charge.