While we would love to be sitting here and telling you exactly how much it would cost to have an HVAC system with ductwork installed, we can’t do that. This is because there are so many different factors at play that the cost can vary quite wildly.
One person may be spending $5,000 on an HVAC system with ductwork. Another may be spending $13,000+ on a similar system.
Even if you shop around your local area, you will likely get a vast variety of prices. There are reasons for this, and we are going to discuss those reasons throughout this page. Although, let’s begin by talking a bit about the sales process.
The Sales Process of an HVAC System
We can guarantee you that if you head to an HVAC retailer website in your local area, there will not be a single hint about how much they charge for their services. They will ask you to get in touch for a quote, but they certainly will not have a price range on their website.
This is because every single HVAC installation is different. The needs of the client are different. The work required for the installation is different. The travel time to the client is different. There are so many potential influences on the price, and it is almost impossible for an accurate price to be quoted without knowing precisely what the client needs.
If the HVAC company advertised a price range, and a client had a huge property and wanted ‘top of the line equipment, then we are 100% sure that the client would be a bit irritated that the price they were given was outside of the price range.
When you request a quote from an HVAC company, they will visit your property. They will work out precisely what you need from their services. Only then will they be able to give you an accurate price.
It is probably worth noting that most HVAC companies nowadays will charge you a fee for the estimate. This is because so many people shop around for prices that many HVAC companies spend a lot of time providing estimates. They may be spending very little time carrying out the installation.
Since providing an estimate costs them time and money and they may not even end up with a job out of it, they will charge for their estimate. This is also to help prevent people from taking advantage of them.
What is Included in the Cost of an HVAC Installation?
Lots! Contrary to popular belief, there is a lot more included in the HVAC installation cost than just the equipment. Let’s run you through everything that is included in the quote that the company gives you.
The bulk of the cost will be the equipment that the installation requires. So, the furnace, air conditioner, ductwork, etc.
Now, many HVAC installers will be able to purchase this equipment from suppliers far cheaper than you would be able to purchase it from suppliers.
However, the discount is still going to be relatively minimal. The installer will likely be paying several thousand dollars for the equipment that they use in your installation.
The next ‘big’ expense on top of equipment will be labor costs. An HVAC installation requires several people to install. Sometimes the job can be completed in a day. In some cases, it may take a few days. It all depends on the size and complexity of the job.
Of course, the cost of the installation will include labor costs. The installation costs will cover the hourly wage of each person working on the job. This could easily be $50 an hour per person (HVAC installation is a skilled position, after all!)
If the HVAC installers have to travel a decent distance to get to where you are, then the travel costs will be included in the installation cost.
HVAC installers are businesses. As with all businesses, they exist to make a profit. This means that there will be a little bit of profit factored into the job.
We do use the term profit somewhat loosely here. When we are talking about profit, we aren’t talking about the company’s money from the job. The bulk of the profit will likely be spent on ensuring that their tools are in good working condition, as well as their vehicles. Some of this profit may also cover marketing costs.
The profit per job will vary from installer to installer. Some will charge 30% on top of the equipment, labor, and travel costs. Some companies may charge as much as 60%.
What can Impact the Cost of an HVAC Installation?
Before we start talking about the equipment’s costs, etc., we want to talk a little bit about some of the factors that can influence an HVAC installation cost.
Some of these factors can be controlled by you, but others may be out of your hands.
The people working on the job
As we said before, labor costs will be a substantial chunk of the cost of an HVAC installation.
A certified HVAC installer will likely be on double the salary that their assistants are on.
There will always need to be a certified HVAC installer on the job. They are dealing with dangerous equipment.
If everybody on the job is certified, then the installation cost may be higher than if you had one certified installer and a couple of installers. A single certified installer may reduce the labor costs by 25-50%.
You do not have much control over the people that are going to be working on your job. However, if you notice that a company says that they only have certified HVAC installers, then expect them to be a lot more expensive.
Salary for the Local Area
An HVAC installer in New York City will charge a lot more for their services than an HVAC installer in Eugene, Oregon. This is because the cost of living is entirely different. If an HVAC installer in New York City earned the wages that they would probably be homeless pretty quickly.
Again, not something that you can control. Some people hire HVAC installers from outside of the area to carry out the job. However, the savings will never be that much. Remember, these installers know that you are trying to save money by hiring them. They will also have to factor in their travel costs.
Time of the Year
There are some times of the year where an HVAC installation may be a bit more in demand.
For example, if you wanted an HVAC system installed because the area is going through a sweltering summer, then you would need to pay more to have it installed when the weather is hot than during the winter months of the year.
Most HVAC companies find that HVAC installations peak around the summer months, and thus they can charge a premium for that. In the winter months, they may be spending more time maintaining installed systems than installing brand new systems. So, they will likely be on the lookout for work that can make them a few thousand dollars in profit.
The Area that you Live in
Some areas have naturally higher HVAC system prices. This is because the requirements and the demand can vary from location to location.
An area that gets blisteringly cold, for instance, may require a better furnace. Areas that get very humid may require better air conditioners.
There isn’t much that you can do here, sadly. You just have to go by what the average climate is in your local area.
The Complexity of the Job
The more complicated the job, the more the installer is going to charge.
A lot of the job’s complexity is based on where the major appliances in the HVAC system need to be installed.
If more ductwork needs to be installed, this makes the job a bit more complicated.
You may not be able to control much about the complexity of the job here. However, try not to have special requirements, if you can help it. For example, do not stipulate a specific location for a furnace or air conditioner unless you need to. The installer will always try to ensure that it is stored in the least complicated area.
Complexity increases the salary and equipment costs.
Quality of Equipment Used
As we said, we are going to talk about this more in a short while.
It stands to reason that the better the equipment that is used in the HVAC installation, the more expensive the installation will be.
However, one key point that we need to make is that you should not try to get the cheapest equipment imaginable.
Yes. The cheaper equipment will keep the cost of the initial installation down. However, cheap HVAC equipment tends to be less durable. This means more maintenance. That is costly. Cheap HVAC equipment is also far less energy-efficient. This means higher energy bills.
Your HVAC installation estimator will be able to work with you to come up with equipment that suits your needs and budget. In some cases, if you can spare an extra few thousand dollars, you will get a much better system. It will also save you a lot more money in the long term.
Whether the HVAC Installer Needs your Job
HVAC installers that do not need your business, i.e., they have a lot of work rolling in already, are more likely to charge a premium for their services. After all, they know that if they cannot gain you as a customer, there will no doubt be countless other customers willing to work with them.
HVAC installers struggling to find work may be more likely to charge a lower price for their services. Although, you may want to ask yourself why these companies are struggling to find work. If an HVAC installer is trying to reduce their prices to secure your business (i.e., making very little profit), you may want to look into why nobody wants to work with them.
Some companies may just price their services so that you do not work with them. Yep. That is right. Some HVAC installers will look at a project and charge a far higher price due to the complexity. They don’t want to work on the project.
Some installers may even charge a high price because they don’t like you. For example, if you are rude to the estimator or are very demanding in what you want, the company may charge a price that discourages you from working with them.
Many people have found that by being nice to the person providing them with the estimate, the HVAC installation cost is far lower. This is because the HVAC companies want to work with people who are less likely to be critical of everything they do.
The Style of Business
Finally, you have to consider the style of business.
Some HVAC companies like to have as many jobs lined up as possible. They want to jump from job to job, so they have no downtime. This means that they charge lower prices to keep the job rate up. This may mean that they have less time to dedicate to individual projects as they will always be looking to move onto the next job.
On the other hand, there are HVAC companies that do not like doing a lot of work. So, they may price a single job in a way that earns them the profit that they would earn from two jobs.
This means that the cost will be higher, but it also ensures that the HVAC installer is not always thinking about heading on to the next project. They can give your installation the time that it deserves.
What should you Tell the Person Providing you with a Quote for your HVAC System Installation?
To be honest, there is not much that you will need to remember to tell the HVAC system installer.
The job of the person quoting you is to ensure that they can provide a suitable system for your needs. This means that they will likely ask you a lot of questions.
You probably should mention to the installer (if they fail to ask) whether somebody in the household has asthma, certain allergies, or breathing difficulties. In some cases, this may warrant the installation of certain types of equipment, and this can be factored into the price.
Do not be afraid to tell the person providing the estimate of the budget you have for the installation. They will be able to tailor the equipment they choose to suit your budget.
Well, at least get to as close to it as possible. If your budget is wildly low and you are looking for a rather hefty installation, then they may not be able to get it that close.
Some people do recommend that you steer clear of mentioning your budget unless asked. This is because HVAC installers are businesses. They want to get the maximum amount of profit from you. If you state a huge budget, trust us; they will reach that huge budget, even if the equipment they are installing for you doesn’t warrant it.
How Many Quotes should you get for an HVAC Installation?
Most people suggest that you receive at least three quotes for an HVAC installation. While you would probably benefit if you received more than three, since most companies will charge you for estimates, the costs will start to stack up pretty quickly.
We find that three is more than a large enough range to recognize which companies are charging a fair price and which ones may be somewhat overcharging for their services.
Should you Research the Cost of your Quotes?
The person providing you with a quote should provide you with a rough guide to the equipment that they will be using in your HVAC installation. You will want to pay special attention to the main components, e.g., the air conditioner or the furnace.
It probably shouldn’t take that much effort for you to discover the price that this equipment retails for. This should give you a rough idea as to whether you are potentially overpaying for the equipment.
The retail price for the equipment should only be a guide. If something retails for $2,000, the installer is not going to install it for $2,000. They wouldn’t make any money on the installation. They would end up making a loss due to the labor costs.
However, suppose you discover the costs of the HVAC system’s significant components are $2,000, but the installer is charging $20,000 for their services. In that case, you know that you are probably overpaying. To even get close to making that $20,000 estimate reasonable, there would have to be some rather substantial ductwork installed!
Knowing the price of the major components in the installation should also make it a little bit easier to make comparisons between estimates.
The Cost of Components in an HVAC Installation
An HVAC system will consist of four components:
- Cooling system
For the latter three components, you will find multiple options available. The HVAC installer will always try to ensure that you get the best system for your needs, but you will always choose when it comes to the style of system you want.
In this section, we want to give you the rough price for the installation of each component. Remember, these components’ prices can vary in light of all those factors that we mentioned previously. The only time you can know exactly how much you will be paying is to gain a couple of quotes.
Since we are talking about the cost of installing an HVAC system with ductwork here, let’s start by talking about the cost of the ducts themselves.
The cost of ductwork will vary depending on the complexity of the job and the type of ductwork that needs to be installed. You may not have that much say in the type of ductwork that needs to be installed, as the rest of the system will determine it.
You can generally expect to pay between $10 and $20 per foot of ductwork that you have installed.
The installer will try to keep the amount of ducting that needs to be installed to the absolute minimum. They do not want to make their job any harder than it needs to be for very little extra gain.
This is one of the main advantages of working with a highly experienced HVAC company. They do a better job at planning duct layout. This can help to keep the cost of the installation down.
The thermostat is the little gadget that you will be using the control the entire system.
Thermostats start at just $50. However, most people do not opt for cheaper thermostats. They want those that enable them to control a lot more features. Some people may even want to control the thermostat from their phone, no matter where they are.
A decent thermostat could easily set you back $300 or so. Smore more sophisticated units i.e., the more feature-packed ones, can stretch as high as $1000.
The HVAC installer will likely walk you through the options that you have available to you.
You have two options when it comes to heaters:
- Heat pumps
In the past, heat pumps were solely reserved for those who lived in areas where they didn’t get too cold. They couldn’t pump out huge amounts of heat, but they could do enough to keep you warm if the temperature dropped a little bit.
Nowadays, there are heat pumps available for colder climates. While we can’t imagine you would be using a heat pump if you lived in the cold depths of Alaska, most people should find a heat pump option that is suitable for them.
Heat pumps tend to be much more efficient than furnaces. They take up a lot less space too.
The average cost of a heat pump rests at about $4,000. However, they can be as low as $2,000. The lower-cost heat pumps are not as energy-efficient, though.
The traditional option for heating a home is a furnace. However, as we said, most HVAC owners are starting to opt for heat pumps instead. The only time that you would want to use a furnace nowadays is if there are long stretches of the year when the weather is below freezing. A heat pump probably wouldn’t last you long in temperatures like that.
You have three options for furnaces:
- Gas furnaces
- Oil furnaces
- Electric furnaces
You can scratch the idea of an oil furnace off of the list. Most companies will not install these nowadays. It isn’t worth the cost of having one installed either. They just are not that energy-efficient. They can also be expensive to run.
A gas furnace will be the most-efficient option if you are in an area where it can get cold for long periods. So, if you need to have a constant source of heat flowing through your HVAC system at certain times of the year, then gas furnaces are the way to go. The average cost for a gas furnace is around $3,000-$4,000.
An electric furnace is for those that may only need heat every so often, i.e., a quick blast of heat before the electric furnace shuts off. Electric furnaces tend to work best when you need heat for no more than an hour or so per day during the winter months.
An electric furnace will cost you as little as $2,000. They don’t get much more expensive than this either. There will quite often be more installation options available than a gas furnace too. A gas furnace will often have to be installed in specific areas of your home.
You will also need to have some sort of cooling system. You have two options available here:
- Air handler
- Air conditioning system
We want to point out that if you have a heat pump installed, an air handler will likely be installed at the same time. The company giving the estimate will be able to tell you whether this is the case.
An air handler is about moving air. It works in pretty much the same as a fan. It isn’t going to cool any air down. It just gives a cooling effect due to the moving air. Of course, this also means that it will not be removing any moisture from the air.
Air handlers work best in places where the humidity doesn’t get too high. They also work well in places where the temperature doesn’t get too hot.
As you can probably imagine, since an air handler is nothing more than a glorified fan, the cost of running one of these is fairly low. There is very little that can go wrong with one of these too. This helps to keep the cost of maintenance down.
You can expect a decent air handler to cost somewhere around the $3,000 mark.
An air conditioner is important if you live in a sweltering area. It is also vital if the area suffers from high humidity.
There are a lot of air conditioner systems on the market. You do get what you pay for here. A good system will start at around the $3,000 mark, but it can be found in excess of $10,000.
The HVAC company will help you to find the best air conditioner for your needs. Remember, the more of the building that the air conditioner needs to cover, the more expensive it will be.
The average cost of installation
Now that we have given you the prices for the components you need in your system, we can give you some rough pricing.
Remember, all of this is going to be exclusive of ductwork. We do not know the size of your home. Expect the ductwork to add several hundred dollars, to the low thousands, onto this cost.
You should also remember that these are still estimates. The price may vary quite a bit based on where you are living. It may be a few thousand dollars on top of these prices! We are mainly here to guide how much you will be spending, rather than a firm price.
Heat Pump; Air Handler Combination
This is a common combination of equipment. Let’s say that you are using the most average components here:
- Heat pump: $4,000
- Air handler: $3,000
- Thermostat: $100
You have a cost of a little over $7,000.
Gas Furnace; Air Conditioner Combination
This is a serious HVAC system. You are covered no matter how hot the temperature gets, and you are covered no matter how cold it gets too. The average cost is:
- Air conditioner: $5,000
- Gas furnace: $4,000
- Thermostat: $100
So, you have about $9,000 here.
This is for average equipment. You can probably shave $2,000-$3,000 from the cost if you opt for cheaper equipment, but maintenance and energy costs go up.
As we said at the beginning, we can only provide you with a rough guide to how much an HVAC installation will cost. At a minimum, you are looking at around $7,000 for an average system.
It may cost as low as $4,000 for a basic system with ductwork. The only way that you can know exactly is by sourcing quotes from HVAC companies in the local area.