This article provides a detailed look at central air conditioning system prices across Canada. It will cover a/c costs by size and brand, and give a breakdown of installation costs and other factors that can affect the total price.
It will also go over how air conditioner prices have changed in the last few years, and give you an estimate about what you might pay for repairs and maintenance costs over the life of the system.
UPDATED: May 2022
Higher than average
Slightly above-average price range, which may be due to factors like a more complicated installation, or purchasing a top-of-the-line unit or premium brand.
Typical price range: $3000 – $7500
The average price range for a typical high-efficiency unit with a typical installation from an established, fully licensed & insured local HVAC contractor. Prices will vary within this range based on installation factors, brand & model, unit size/BTU output & efficiency, among other things.
Lower than average
Below-market pricing; be careful if the price is exceptionally low. The lower the price is below average, the higher likelihood that you may receive a more hastily done installation, low-end or used components, limited labour warranty coverage & ongoing support, or the company may be less established or lacking in insurance and/or licensing & certification.
Table of contents
- A/C COST CALCULATOR
- WHY ARE AIR CONDITIONERS MORE EXPENSIVE THESE DAYS?
- How Much Does a New Central Air Conditioner Cost in Canada?
- Air Conditioner Prices by Brand
- Air Conditioner Prices by Efficiency Rating (SEER)
- Air Conditioner Prices by Unit Size & Ton
- Air Conditioner Prices by City & Region
- What Contractor You Buy from Can Impact Prices
- Central Air Conditioner Rebates and Promotions
- Financing Options for Central Air Conditioners in Canada
- FACTORS THAT IMPACT AIR CONDITIONER INSTALLATION PRICES
- ANNUAL COSTS TO OWN/OPERATE A CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONER IN CANADA
As temperatures rise in the late spring and summer, Canadian homeowners may be looking for a new central air conditioning system and wondering how much their new A/C is going to cost.
This guide will go over typical prices for new central air systems across Canada and discuss how costs vary based on the brand and model you choose, home size and unit cooling output/capacity, installation costs, and other factors.
Note that these are, of course, just estimates, and costs vary based on many factors. The best way to get a more accurate idea of the cost for your individual project is to request free quotes from our certified local contractor partners.
All prices listed in this article INCLUDE INSTALLATION unless otherwise noted, as manufacturers and distributors don’t typically sell units directly to consumers anyway.
A/C COST CALCULATOR
Try our Air Conditioner Cost Calculator (~1 minute) to get a quick price estimate on adding or upgrading a central air conditioning system!
WHY ARE AIR CONDITIONERS MORE EXPENSIVE THESE DAYS?
If you’ve been keeping an eye on air conditioner prices over the past few years, then you may have noticed that the cost to buy a new system has increased quite a bit recently.
There are a number of reasons for the increase, and they’re the same reasons that costs have gone up for things like food, homes, fuel, utilities, and other consumer goods.
One of the main factors is the COVID-19 pandemic. It created labour shortages, delayed manufacturing, and disrupted the supply chain. At the same time, demand for a lot of consumer goods increased during the pandemic.
Moreover, a lot of people took advantage of the spare time they had during the lockdowns to dive head-first into home renovation projects, buy a new home, or move house. A lot of people, therefore, also wanted to upgrade their HVAC systems.
The increasing demand for goods coupled with the labour shortages and manufacturing/supply chain issues resulted in prices going up for manufacturers and consumers, and now you can expect to pay more for just about everything, including air conditioners.
Another consequence of this inflation is that prices have risen for contractors as well, so they also have to charge more for goods and services (like installation) just to cover their own costs.
How Much Does a New Central Air Conditioner Cost in Canada?
A new air conditioner in Canada typically costs between $3,000 and $7,500 on average, including installation. The price depends on factors like the brand & model, efficiency rating, and how complex the installation will be.
Here are the most important factors that can affect the cost of a new air conditioner, and then we’ll look at each in more detail:
- The specific brand
- The model and tier
- Size and cooling capacity
- Where you live
- What contractor you buy from
- Whether the air conditioner is eligible for rebates
- Current deals and promotions
- Buying upfront versus financing
Before we get started, it’s important to note that we’re going to talk about these factors and give price estimates for them individually. However, when it comes time to tally the final cost of your actual project, all of these factors together will play a role in the price of your air conditioner.
In other words, you have to look at the whole picture—prices by brand, what air conditioners cost at different sizes, installation factors, what contractor you buy from, and where you live—to get a better idea of the true cost of an air conditioner.
Air Conditioner Prices by Brand
Like cars or clothing, some brands just cost more than others. The more expensive brands aren’t necessarily always better: sometimes they just spend more on marketing and position themselves as more “high-end” products.
We’ve compared several of the most popular central air conditioner manufacturers in Canada. We’ve grouped them into three different pricing tiers based on average prices for their products across the country.
The three tiers are economy, mid-range, and premium. But remember: these tiers don’t necessarily indicate a difference in quality, but rather the relative average prices of each brand.
And while some brands may trend more or less expensive on average, there is still a wide range of prices based on factors like where you live and which contractor you buy from, the model you choose, and installation complexity and costs.
Let’s look at those in more detail, along with some price estimates.
Central Air Conditioner Prices by Brand Chart
*Please see farther down for more in-depth pricing information
Economy Tier Air Conditioner Prices
Some of the most popular economy brands in Canada include Goodman, Keeprite, and York. There aren’t as many economy brands compared to mid-range ones, but these brands offer decent quality products at a price point that’s usually slightly less than the average.
There’s a wide range of product offerings in the economy tier. Several brands have air conditioners with efficiency ratings ranging from 13 to 19 SEER, but there are also some 20+ SEER options.
Similarly, while some brands have industry-standard warranties, others in this category offer excellent warranty protection that surpasses what the premium brands give you.
Many of the brands in this tier focus on manufacturing good quality but standard air conditioners that are reliable and efficient. If you’re willing to give up some of the bells and whistles available in the higher tiers, then these brands are an excellent option for cooling your home without breaking your budget.
At the same time, you can also find some economy brands that have innovative technologies, such as communicating air conditioners and customizable climate settings. Here are the general price ranges for three of the most popular economy air conditioner brands in Canada:(Note that all prices listed in the article are general estimates that include installation (unless otherwise stated), and they will vary significantly based on where you live, the company or contractor you deal with, installation, the model, and other factors.)
Mid-Range Tier Air Conditioner Prices
A few of the mid-range brands that Canadians buy most are Napoleon, Amana, and Payne, among others. The mid-range brands make up the bulk of the popular ones on the market.
You can expect to see a slight increase in price in this tier because the mid-range brands tend to offer a little more in terms of efficiency and features.
In this tier, you’ll find air conditioners with SEERs anywhere between 13 and 24.5, though anything above 18 typically has more power than Canadian homeowners need during our comparatively shorter and milder summers.
And if you’re interested in special features and technologies, such as communicating capabilities or enhanced humidity control, then you’ll have more selection in the mid-range tier compared to the economy brands.
Premium Tier Air Conditioner Prices
Finally, there are the most expensive premium brands. This tier includes Lennox, Carrier, Trane, Rheem, American Standard, and Bryant.
Expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars more for a brand in this tier. Not because their products are necessarily better, but because the companies spend a lot of time and money marketing themselves as industry leaders, and their prices often reflect this.
The premium brands make some of the most efficient air conditioners on the market, with an efficiency range between 13 and 28. Again, anything above 18 is generally going to be a lot more powerful than you actually need to keep your home comfortable in Canada.
There are also some neat technological features available with the air conditioners in this tier, such as Wi-Fi capabilities, air conditioners that can be integrated with a solar array, and communicating control boards.
See this year’s best air conditioner brands & models >>
A Note About Model Tiers Within Each Brand
You can see that some brands, especially the mid-range and premium ones, have air conditioners available at a wide range of prices. That’s because just about every brand typically has a variety of models that fall into one of three price categories:
- Entry-level models
- More expensive mid-range air conditioners
- The priciest top-of-the-line A/C units
The entry-level models will be the most affordable ones from any particular brand. These are the most basic air conditioners: they typically have single-stage compressors, SEER ratings between 13 and 17, fewer additional features, and shorter warranties.
The mid-range models from each brand will be a little more sophisticated and a little pricier. They often have two-stage compressors and SEERs between 15 and 18. They might also have a couple of additional features, as well as a longer warranty.
The top-of-the-line units from any brand will be their most expensive air conditioners because the models have SEER ratings of 18+, the longest warranties, and come with all the additional features and novel technologies the brand offers.
Air Conditioner Prices by Efficiency Rating (SEER)
While the brand you choose can certainly have an impact on the price you pay, ultimately, most central air conditioners are priced based on the efficiency rating.
In Canada, entry-level models will typically range from 13 -15 SEER or so; mid-tier models are in the 16 – 17 SEER range; and anything 18 SEER and above could be considered premium. That being said, air conditioning systems with efficiency ratings of 24 SEER and up do exist but are rare in Canada given the milder climate compared to the Southern United States, where these more expensive units are commonly available.
|A/C Efficiency Rating (SEER)||Average Price Range (Installed)|
|13 - 15 SEER||$3,000 - $4,500|
|16 - 17 SEER||$4,500 - $5,500+|
|18 SEER and up||$5,500+|
Air Conditioner Prices by Unit Size & Ton
Another factor that will impact the price of an air conditioner is its size, aka its cooling capacity. Air conditioner size is based on how much heat the unit can remove from a space in one hour. Size can be measured in tons or British thermal units (BTUs).
It’s important to size your air conditioner properly so that it will cool your space efficiently and effectively. Beyond that, getting the right size is also important for the lifespan of the unit and controlling humidity levels in your home.
Sizing is based in part on square footage, or the size of the space you need to cool. The larger the space, the bigger the air conditioner.
But there are a number of other factors that have to be considered as well, including the height of the ceilings, how much sun/shade the building gets, and how well insulated the space is. You can learn more about sizing an air conditioner in the sizing section of our central air conditioner buyer guide.
And here’s why air conditioner size matters in a discussion about costs: the larger the air conditioner, the more expensive it will be.
The following chart gives general estimates regarding the relationship between A/C size and cost. But you have to remember that all the other factors we discuss here today, like brand, model, and installation, will also affect the final price.
Furthermore, if you live in a larger and more expensive home in a wealthier neighborhood, you can expect to pay slightly more for a new air conditioning system, just like with any other contracting job.
Here are the approximate prices for 1.5- to 5-ton central air conditioners in Canada including installation:
|1.5 Ton||$2,750 - $3,500|
|2 Ton||$3,000 - $4,000|
|2.5 Ton||$3,500 - $4,500|
|3 Ton||$3,500 - $5,000|
|3.5 Ton||$4,000 - $5,500|
|4 Ton||$4,500 - $6,000|
|5 Ton||$5,000 - $7,500|
Air Conditioner Prices by City & Region
Where you live can impact the cost of a new air conditioner for several reasons, and the main thing to look at is rural versus urban.
In rural areas, there usually aren’t as many HVAC contractors operating, and that means costs can be higher because there’s less competition. By contrast, in suburban and urban areas, there are typically more contractors operating and competing for business, and this can drive down prices.
Furthermore, people in rural areas often have to travel long distances for goods and services, and that means an HVAC contractor is likely going to charge more. Not only do they have to use more fuel to get from their office to your home, but they also have to travel farther for supplies and materials, and the extra time and money gets passed on to the customer.
On the other hand, supplies and materials are generally closer and more accessible in suburban/urban areas. Plus, because there are more companies operating, contractors don’t always have to travel as far to get from the office to the client.
There are other factors that come into play as well, such as whether you live in a wealthy area or a less affluent neighbourhood.
Let’s look at some price estimates for air conditioners, with installation, in different regions across Canada:
Air Conditioning Oshawa-Whitby, Pickering & Ajax
Air Conditioning Richmond Hill
Air Conditioning St-Catharines
Air Conditioning Kitchener-Waterloo
What Contractor You Buy from Can Impact Prices
Each HVAC company is its own entity, and each one will charge different prices for various services. Their prices depend on many things, including their overhead and the level of service they provide. We’ll talk more about that later.
Going for the best price isn’t always the best move. You may find some particularly cheap deals advertised on classified sites, for example, especially in metropolitan areas like the Greater Toronto Area.
However, you often get what you pay for. The trade-offs with an inexpensive company could include:
- Poor workmanship
- Lack of experience and training
- No additional warranty coverage or the manufacturer warranty being voided/not honoured
- Not having access to the same level of service
- The company not being established and reliable
- Getting a refurbished unit instead of a new one
We regularly receive calls for help from consumers in these situations. For these reasons, we generally advise caution with companies that offer rates that seem too good to be true.
Your best bet to get a good price and good value is to work only with established and reputable distributors. Our partner contractors have been thoroughly assessed and have proven themselves to be reliable and trustworthy companies with the right training and qualifications.
See our Certification page for more info on criteria to look for when choosing a contractor.
Central Air Conditioner Rebates and Promotions
Air conditioner rebates are regularly offered through a number of sources, including governments, utility companies, HVAC manufacturers and distributors, banks, and beyond.
Some of them can take a huge chunk off the purchase price of your air conditioner. But you have to be sure to look before you buy because you typically have to qualify for the rebate first.
Most rebates are for high-efficiency or even ENERGY STAR® certified models. These vary by region and may change at any time, but more information is available about government rebates and local contractor deals & promotions on our site.
Air conditioners can also go on sale just like other appliances, so it’s always a good idea to shop around for promotions from local HVAC dealers before you buy. Even if the HVAC company you buy your air conditioner from isn’t offering a rebate, they may still be able to help you out with the application process.
Financing Options for Central Air Conditioners in Canada
You won’t necessarily save money up front if you finance your air conditioner, but you could keep more money in the bank for longer if you find a plan that offers short- or long-term repayment options and 0 percent interest.
That way, you can spread out the cost of the air conditioner over the course of several months or years, leaving more money in your bank account to accrue interest or to spend on other things.
But there’s also a way that financing could potentially save you money. Financing can help you get a better-quality, higher-efficiency air conditioner. Not only will that save you more money in the long term on energy bills, but it could also mean the superior air conditioner is eligible for cost-saving rebates that the cheaper model doesn’t qualify for.
Many reputable HVAC distributors offer financing plans to suit different people, and you can often choose to repay over the course of one to 15 years.
FACTORS THAT IMPACT AIR CONDITIONER INSTALLATION PRICES
We mentioned already that the cost of a new air conditioner can range from $3,000 and $7,500+. However, the units alone typically only cost somewhere between $1,300 and $5,500.
So how do you go from a $1,300 unit to spending $3,000+ on a new air conditioner? The answer is installation, labour, materials, and contractor overhead costs.
Installation and Materials
For starters, the installation itself—which includes labour and materials—typically costs between $750 and $1,500.
There’s obviously a big difference between the most affordable and most expensive installation estimates. That’s because a lot of factors go into the cost. For example:
- How many technicians/assistants/apprentices are required for the job?
- Do you live in a rural area that’s not close to the HVAC company and not close to materials/supplies?
- Do you live in a large city with lots of resources and lots of competition to drive down prices?
- Are there any factors complicating the installation process, like needing to install new infrastructure?
- Is the HVAC company sending a trained, licensed, and insured technician to do the installation?
- Does your home require any safety upgrades before the new A/C can be put in?
- Is the unit being installed in an awkward location or somewhere easily accessible?
- Are you upgrading an old air conditioner or installing the first one ever (which could require additional labour)
- Does the HVAC company you bought the air conditioner from have more overhead than their competitors?
HVAC companies have a lot of annual costs to cover, such as vehicles, rent, training, staff salaries, insurance, licenses, advertising, and professional fees. These can total thousands or tens of thousands of dollars each year.
There are a few reasons why it might be worth your while to go with a more expensive HVAC company. More overhead can mean more resources, and that can mean the company has:
- More support staff
- Better customer service
- Faster response times
- More availability
- Better training practices for their technicians
- More insurance
- A wider array of services (like sales and installation, plus maintenance plans, emergency services, financing, and more)
- A larger service area
- Labour warranties
We recommend getting quotes from at least three different HVAC companies to get the best price and the best value. Remember: cheaper isn’t necessarily better.
ANNUAL COSTS TO OWN/OPERATE A CENTRAL AIR CONDITIONER IN CANADA
There are two main things that will impact what you have to pay for ongoing air conditioner costs after you buy: maintenance and electricity.
How much you end up paying each year will depend on electricity costs where you live, whether your air conditioner needs any repairs from year to year, the HVAC company you use for maintenance, and more.
Most Canadians can expect to spend $300 – $1,000+ per year to operate a central air conditioner, including maintenance and electricity.
Annual maintenance might typically cost $100 to $250 for an inspection and tune-up.
While a tune-up may not always be necessary, many manufacturer warranties and HVAC dealer labour warranties require you to have your system serviced annually to maintain coverage. Beyond that, it’s also just a good idea to have your A/C serviced every year to keep it running optimally and efficiently for as long as possible.
As for electricity costs, the average monthly cost to run a central air conditioner in most parts of Canada is likely between $50 – $250+/month. The actual monthly cost for you will depend on things like:
- Electricity rates where you live
- Whether you use the A/C most during peak hours (more expensive) or off-peak hours (cheaper rates)
- Size of your home – larger homes will require a larger unit that uses more power
- How much you use your air conditioner – some people cool their houses 24/7, but you can save money by using the A/C only at certain times of day or on the hottest days
- How low the thermostat is set – the lower the temperature setting the colder your house will be and the more it will cost to run the air conditioner
- How well insulated the home is – well-insulated homes keep cool air in and keep warm air out—and make sure to keep all windows and doors closed as well!
- Weather & climate – if you live in an area with hotter summers, then you’ll probably use your air conditioner more than if you lived in a milder climate
- Efficiency of your unit – an air conditioner with a higher SEER (around 18) will be more efficient and cheaper to operate compared to one with a lower SEER (such as 13–14)
- Shade & other factors – things like the number of trees and amount of shade around your home can affect the internal temperature and how much you rely on your A/C
You can help offset electricity costs somewhat by choosing a high-efficiency ENERGY STAR model, upgrading to a smart thermostat, keeping up with annual maintenance, keeping your home a little warmer, and making sure your home is properly insulated.
Fill out our quick quote request form to receive free, no-obligation estimates from our Certified local contractors in your area.