Cost to Replace Home AC System


  #1  
Old 12-14-09, 09:30 AM
W
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: texas
Posts: 2
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Question Cost to Replace Home AC System

Can someone please explain to me why it is so expensive to replace an ac/heater system (split or package system)?

It is my understanding from a new home builder that the units themselves are not that expensive.

I have recently replaced one of our split system 4 ton units with a mid efficient system. I also have received estimates for a package 2.5 ton system for the same $ amount. Neither replacement includes any additional work(duct work,etc.).

I would think that a package system located entirely outside would be fairly easy to install since there is no attic work. Also the package system is about half the tonnage.

I seem to get a standard estimate of about $8000 for a mid range AC/heating replacement from several ac contractors. Other folks also get about the same. Please give some insight as to the cost of a replacement system?

Thanks,
 
  #2  
Old 12-14-09, 12:15 PM
dun11's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Local
Posts: 753
Upvotes: 0
Received 1 Upvote on 1 Post
Besides the equipment there is all the misc stuff, line sets, pad, disconect, thermostat, wire, breakers, refrigerant, refrigerant recovery, I could go on and on. There is also disposal of the old equipment and many, many things that are done behind the scenes.

Lets not forget about labor ( to include techs, sales, customer service, and more) payroll taxes, insurance benifits, 401k plans, workmans comp, disability, liability ins, vehical ins, vehicals, gas, truck stock, stock at the shop, the shop itself and all the bills associated with it, phone, electric, computors, faxes etc. uniforms, cell phones, lawyers, accountants, marketing and more. Oh yeah did I mention taxes, and last but not least profit.

Ask your new home builder friend why if all the materials to build a house only cost $100,000 he's selling it for $250,000?

The point I'am trying to make is there is a cost (a considerable cost) to doing business especially in a home service type of business.
 
  #3  
Old 12-14-09, 12:17 PM
F
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 16,321
Received 38 Upvotes on 30 Posts
The cost of the component parts is maybe 1/2 the total cost. Add to that the overhead (not profit!) of running a business and then you will see why the cost is as high as it is.

People that work on refrigeration (that includes A/C) need to have passed an examination given by the Environmental Protection Agency on the safe handling of refrigerants. The exam is NOT free. The EPA rules on refrigerants are quite detailed and non-compliance will earn the company a pretty hefty fine, up to $25,000 as I recall. The company obviously needs to have several insurance policies to cover worker's compensation (if a person is injured on the job), liability (for several other items but including an accidental refrigerant loss), vehicle insurance (usually much more expensive than personal auto insurance), many different licenses from both state and local governmental agencies, bookkeeping expenses, payroll taxes, equipment capital costs such as vehicle replacement, refrigerant recovery equipment, specialized tools such as vacuum pumps and leak detectors along with torches for brazing refrigerant piping.

There are also many consumables used such as dry nitrogen for leak testing and line purging, the regulators for the nitrogen cylinders, general inventory items, often multiplied for each service truck. Then of course are the wages paid to each service-person and the office staff and I'm sure many more that I have missed. It all adds up and it is not cheap or easy to run such a highly regulated business as refrigeration and A/C installation and service. Trust me, it takes more than a bum off of skid road to install and service this equipment.
 
  #4  
Old 12-14-09, 02:44 PM
W
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: texas
Posts: 2
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Thank you both for your responses...all of the things you listed I get and I of course know that there are lots of cost of doing business. I appreciate your input and the work of AC contractors which are quite often small businesses which are very important to our economy.

My real question was... why is the cost the same no matter what the size of the unit or even the brand or whether it is a split system with installation in 2 parts of the home or a package system with installation only in one location of the home.

Is a 2 ton unit the same cost as a 4 ton and is a package system more expense or more work to install than a split system thus the same cost?

Are the brands all the same price to the HVAC installer?

Thanks again for helping me understand....I am looking for the logic.
 
  #5  
Old 12-14-09, 02:57 PM
F
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 16,321
Received 38 Upvotes on 30 Posts
Residential air conditioning is not really my area of expertise but the wholesale cost differential between a 2 ton and a 4 ton system is likely pretty small, maybe a couple of hundred dollars at most.

There are trade-offs between a packaged unit and a split system that pretty much balance out. The package system is harder to work on because of tighter clearances, it will be heavier (because of everything being in one package) and the ductwork to install is a bit harder. On the other hand a split system requires the running of refrigeration supply and return tubing, testing of the tubing, brazing the tubing to the respective components and leak testing the entire system and then adjustment of the refrigerant quantity and expansion valves. So the packaged unit requires slightly less work to install but the component price may be a bit higher than the split system.
 
  #6  
Old 12-15-09, 04:27 AM
dun11's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Local
Posts: 753
Upvotes: 0
Received 1 Upvote on 1 Post
No, all brands are not the same price, niether are the respective systems. As an example, if I were to qoute a 3 ton 14seer builder grade system vs a 3 ton 18seer high effiency system with all the bells and whistles there would be a considerable $ differance. Furd pretty much explained the packaged vs split system labor issue. It may be in your particular circumstance that the two just come in around the same price, there is no way to tell from here I would have to see the scope of work and determine what you as the consumer are looking for. I would suggest talking to friends and nieghbors to see who they have used and are happy with and get a couple more estimates. But remember, your not buying an air conditioner, your buying a complete cooling system. The installing contractor is more important then the equipment, concentrate on that.
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: