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Some window ACs cost as little as $150 to install, while others can be upwards of $2,000.* Still, this is a fraction of the cost to install a central air conditioner, which runs $3,800 to $7,500. A new air conditioner (AC) is a big investment. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective alternative, window-mounted ACs are a good option to cool smaller living spaces, such as apartments.
We analyzed price ranges from multiple retailers, and here we provide a breakdown of the various factors that impact window AC installation costs. We’ve also compared window units to other options, such as portable and wall-mounted ACs, to help you find the right fit for your home.
*Cost figures are averaged from multiple sources, including The Home Depot, ComfortUp, and Walmart.
When to Buy a Window AC
If you only need to cool a small space, window ACs are much more cost-effective than central AC units. They’re also quick and easy to install, requiring no ductwork, thermostat, or refrigerant. We recommend installing central air conditioning if you’re cooling more than three rooms.
Cost of Window AC Installation
A new window AC unit costs about $150 to $800. Basic models start around $150 and have simple functions that allow you to select a cooling level and set the unit to fan or cooling mode. More expensive models can cost up to $800 for the unit alone. Many of these high-end units have additional features such as heating functions, timers, and Wi-Fi capability.
Labor costs an additional $50 to $200 for professional window air conditioner installation. Most HVAC contractors charge an hourly rate, but some may have a flat service call fee. Window ACs typically take two to four hours to install, costing a total of $600 to $2,000 including the unit itself.
Price by Size
An AC unit’s size has the biggest impact on cost. An air conditioning system’s size is measured in tons. This doesn’t refer to the unit’s physical weight, but rather the volume of air it can cool in an hour. Many companies also use British thermal units (BTUs) to measure cooling capacity. BTUs measure how much heat a unit can remove per hour.
The higher either of these measurements are, the more the AC will cost. Central air conditioning systems can exceed 5 tons, but most window AC units are 2 tons or less.
See average prices for various AC sizes in the table below.
|Unit Size (Tons)||Unit Size (BTUs)||Unit Cost|
Though the unit’s size has the most influence on price, the following factors can also impact the cost.
- Electrical work: If there’s no outlet near the window where you’d like the new AC unit, you’ll spend around $140 to $300 to install an electrical outlet. You may also need other electrical updates to ensure your home’s electrical circuit can handle the power demand. Electricians typically charge $165 to $525 per hour.
- Energy efficiency: Energy-efficient window air conditioning units are typically more expensive. A unit with Energy Star certification or a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating will land closer to $500 to $800 regardless of size. However, energy-efficient units save you money long-term by reducing your energy bills, resulting in roughly $400 in annual savings.
- Existing window AC unit removal: If you’re replacing an old window AC, you’ll have to pay additional labor fees to remove it plus any local recycling or environmental fees to properly dispose of the old unit and its freon. This costs an average of $100 to $200.
- Extra features: The more features a unit has, the more it will cost. Some smart home and high-end features include automatic timers, automatically shutting off when the temperature outside drops, and Wi-Fi and smartphone remote control.
- Heating capabilities: Many high-end window air conditioners have heating features. Units that act as both heating and cooling systems typically cost more than average and exceed $1,000.
- Permanent versus temporary units: Depending on your living situation, you can cut costs by opting for a temporary unit rather than paying for permanent installation. Many homeowners only use window AC units during the year’s hottest months. Temporary installation is less complex and usually only costs $50 to $75. Permanent installation takes a little more effort, with an average cost of $100 to $200. However, permanent window ACs are more discreet.
- Window repair: Before installing your new window AC unit, inspect the window to check if it needs repair. Window repair costs $170 to $568, but it may be necessary to prevent leaks or additional damage to your windows and the AC unit. More extreme situations require full window replacement, costing roughly $700 per window.
Window AC Units vs. Portable vs. Wall-Mounted Units
Window air conditioners are one of many options for heating and cooling systems for smaller spaces. Wall-mounted and portable air conditioners are also designed for smaller households and situations. Learn more about these options below to see if they better suit your needs.
Portable AC Unit
A portable AC is a good option if you don’t have the proper window space for other AC types, need to move the unit regularly, or don’t want an AC unit to clash with your window’s style. These units attach to a window with a hose that connects to a free-moving floor unit. Some products have dual hoses: one to bring in outside air and another to expel hot air. Portable air conditioner kits cost around $250 to $700.
Wall-Mounted AC Unit
This type of AC is popular for homeowners who want effective cooling but need to keep their windows free. A wall-mounted AC, also called a through-the-wall AC, uses a metal enclosure on an interior wall.
Wall-mounted air conditioners cost around $450 to $700 for the unit alone, but the project’s total cost is higher. Installation requires an HVAC technician to cut through an exterior wall and mount the air conditioner, which takes 10 to 12 hours and costs up to $1,000. You may also have to pay for extra drywall and trim repair.
Professional vs. DIY Window AC Installation
Window AC unit installation can be a do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement project. However, there are some situations where you should hire a professional.
Professional Window AC Installation
Consider hiring a professional HVAC contractor and electrician to install your window AC if the unit is 15,000 BTUs or higher, or if you can’t carry a 200-pound unit alone. We highly recommend contacting a professional if you’re unsure about the window’s structural integrity, or if the job requires any special wiring or electrical work.
Using a professional HVAC company ensures the job is completed correctly, resulting in fewer costly repairs from unforeseen issues later on. Additionally, many professionals include a warranty covering workmanship and parts to protect your investment.
DIY Window AC Installation
Most window AC units—especially smaller ones—come with an installation kit to help you put them in place yourself. You’ll need a utility knife, screwdriver, power drill, torpedo level, and a tape measure. You may want some help if the unit is heavy. You can also buy a support bracket that doesn’t require drilling or tools for an additional price (typically under $100).
You might want to call a pro if you don’t own the necessary tools and can’t find help. You should hire a professional HVAC company if your project requires extra work, such as electrical outlet installation, as this is more complicated and potentially dangerous.
Window ACs are an excellent, cost-effective solution for small spaces. There are other options, such as portable or wall-mounted ACs, so do your research to determine what type of unit best suits your needs. Though window ACs can be easy DIY projects, we recommend looking into professional installation for any type of HVAC system. Hiring a pro ensures that the AC unit is installed correctly and prevents the need for future repairs and replacements due to slight mistakes.
Use our tool below to connect with HVAC contractors that service your home’s address.
Window AC Installation Cost FAQ
Is a window AC hard to install?
A window AC is not hard to install. It requires minimal heavy lifting and tightening of a few screws. However, you should contact a professional if your installation requires changes to the window or additional work for the surrounding area, such as drywall and electrical work.
When are window ACs not preferred?
Window AC units are not ideal for homes with three or more rooms. They won’t effectively cool large spaces. In addition, you may not want to install a window AC unit if noise is a concern. A mini-split or central AC system may be better in these cases.
Do I need to winterize my window air conditioner?
You should winterize your window AC unit for maximum performance and efficiency. In most cases, it’s best to remove your unit, clean it, and store it during colder months to keep it in good condition for its entire 10-year life span.