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Your air conditioner depends on numerous functioning components to blow cool air evenly within your home. From its thermostat reading the current indoor temperature and sending signals to the AC unit to turn on to the filters releasing uncontaminated air, each part has a unique job. The compressor is no different, and like any other part, it can go bad, so how much does an AC compressor replacement cost?
Many factors affect compressor parts and installation costs. To ensure a dishonest technician doesn’t rip you off, you need to understand those factors and choose the #1 team in the area for an AC replacement & installation in Richmond Hill, GA. Below, our Georgia Air Cooling & Heating team will break down all things compressor.
What Is an AC Compressor?
The AC compressor is a crucial component located in the outdoor condenser unit of your air conditioning system. Many consider it the heart since it pumps refrigerant throughout your air conditioner or heat pump, refrigerant being the blood that travels through the coils between the indoor and outdoor compartments. As the name suggests, it also compresses the refrigerant.
When your unit begins a cooling cycle, the liquid refrigerant travels over the evaporator coils, absorbing warmth from the air that travels within it. The liquid becomes a low-pressure gas that the compressor pulls into the condenser unit. The compressor then pressurizes the gas until it turns into a high-pressure liquid so it can release the heat outside your home.
Then, the compressor moves the liquid back into the indoor evaporator unit, where it starts the cycle all over again.
How Can You Tell You Have a Faulty Compressor?
Your AC compressor should last 12 to 15 years, the average lifespan of your air conditioner. That means that with proper care and regular semi-annual cooling system maintenance, you shouldn’t have to replace your compressor. However, if it becomes faulty, you’ll notice any of the following signs:
- Indoor warmth: The compressor changes the refrigerant’s form so it can release heat outdoors. But if it doesn’t pressurize the Freon, the refrigerant will have a hard time traveling back to repeat the process to remove more warm air.
- Weird noises: If your compressor has difficulty performing its job, it’ll begin screeching, clattering, or grinding. If you don’t care for it immediately, the noises will crescendo, and the compressor issue will eventually affect other parts.
- No airflow: A weakened compressor will struggle to move air, causing little to no airflow. Check your filters and vents first, but if they are clean and in good condition, call a professional for an HVAC compressor replacement.
What Factors Affect Compressor Replacement Costs?
The overall AC compressor replacement cost typically ranges between $900 and nearly $3,000. While the product can cost anywhere between $600 and $2,000, service charges add a few hundred dollars to your final bill. However, the exact cost for either depends on a few factors.
As you can assume, the compressor size affects its price point, with smaller ones being more economical than larger ones. However, you can’t choose the size according to your budget; instead, it relies on your unit’s dimensions.
Professionals measure system sizes either by tons or British thermal units, which is how much energy your unit uses to remove heat every hour. The bigger the unit, the higher the BTU rating. For instance, a smaller 1.5-ton AC unit with a BTU rating of 18,000 has a compressor cost between $800 and $1,400, while a compressor for a larger five-ton unit with a BTU of 60,000 ranges from $1,800 to $3,000.
Household Square Footage
If you have too large a home for your air conditioner, the system will long cycle, raising electricity bills and prematurely deteriorating the system. On the other hand, if the system is too big for your home, it’ll short cycle, turning on and off frequently, causing uncomfortable hot and cold spots.
Therefore, since your air conditioner system size depends on your home’s square footage and your compressor size depends on your AC unit’s size, the bigger the area you want to cool, the larger your compressor should be to keep up with cooling demands.
A professional will measure the length, width, and height of each room you want to cool and determine the appropriate BTU rating for your air conditioner and compressor. For instance, if your home size measures 1,000 square feet, you’ll have a 20,000 BTU rating. Larger homes of about 2,500 square feet have a BTU rating of about 50,000.
Cooling System Type
Your AC compressor cost also depends on the type of cooling system you own. Since some unit types are naturally smaller than others, the AC unit compressor replacement parts for these units have a lower price point.
Window air conditioners comprise the most compact HVAC system type. They require the smallest compressor size, usually costing between $200 and $700. However, since a compressor replacement and a total window air conditioner replacement cost about the same, many homeowners usually spring for a new unit altogether.
Heat pumps, ductless mini-splits, and central air conditioners are larger, with a compressor replacement cost ranging from $800 to $3,000.
Just like air conditioners, compressors come in numerous types, which affects price ranges.
Single-stage compressors are most common among residents. Unlike other compressor types, they don’t have different settings, meaning they run at full speed throughout the entire cooling cycle until your indoor temperature mirrors your thermostat setting. Although that means they’re least efficient, it also means they have fewer parts, making AC compressor replacement costs cheaper, from $250 to $1,200.
Two-stage AC compressors become more complex with two speeds. The cooling cycle starts with the high-speed setting, but as the gap between the current temperature and your desired temperature becomes smaller, the unit switches to the low-speed setting. That means the compressor’s cooling capacity drops from 100% to about 60%, proving energy efficient. However, the complex unit costs up to $2,000 to install.
Variable-speed compressors offer the most variation, ranging between zero and 100% cooling capacity. It also cools slowly, creating the most accurate temperature indoors while removing humidity from your home. As the most complex of the three, installation costs vary between $1,500 and $2,800.
You’ve probably heard you get what you pay for. It’s no different with compressor brands since if you purchase cheap, off-brand products, you’ll have a smaller installation cost. However, you run the risk that your compressor won’t last a standard compressor lifespan, meaning you’ll require more frequent air conditioning system repairs in the long run.
On the other hand, high-end brands cost more, from the more economical Goodman and Amana compressor brands that cost $350 to $1,200 (depending on compressor type) to the more expensive Copeland and Lennox brands that carry compressors ranging from $600 to $2,300. Consider matching your compressor and unit brand, but if several brands fall under a parent company, any one of them will do.
Installation charges depend not only on the price of the product but also on the service cost.
One of the factors that affect service costs is seasonality. The summer and winter seasons remain the peak cooling and heating times of the year. During these seasons, residents experience issues that need repairing and replacing, so the HVAC specialists are in higher demand and may charge more for services.
Technicians also charge $75 to $150 every hour. So, for minor jobs, like installing a simple single-speed compressor or small compressor type, it may take an average of four hours, which costs less than a larger compressor repair. Larger repairs have a higher AC compressor replacement cost because it can take a full workday.
How To Care for Your New Compressor
After your replacement, you’ll want to care for your new compressor so you don’t have to worry about servicing it for a long time. Unfortunately, unlike the filters you clean seasonally and the vents you wipe down to prevent limited airflow, there is not much DIY maintenance you can perform on your compressor.
Instead, hire a professional semi-annually in the spring and fall to maintain all unit parts, including the compressor. They’ll take apart the indoor and outdoor units to clean, tighten, and lubricate all components, prolonging your unit’s lifespan and increasing efficiency. You should also pay attention to unusual noises and other imperfections that abound between checks and call immediately for repairs.
For Peachy Five-Star Services!
When it comes to your indoor climate, you want it to be as comfortable as possible, especially when extreme temperatures abound just outside your four walls. With our top brands, state-of-the-art tools and equipment, and 100% customer satisfaction guarantee, you know comfort is our top priority.
To learn more about air conditioner repair expenses, why your AC keeps breaking down, or AC compressor replacement costs, contact us. Call Georgia Air Cooling & Heating at 912-513-3756 in Richmond Hill, GA, today!