How Long Does It Take to Install an Air Conditioner?

HVAC Logo IconBy Tom MoorJune 4, 2024
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HVAC contractor installing new air conditioner

Choosing the perfect air conditioner for your home is just the first step in creating your ideal indoor oasis. As you anticipate the cool relief it will bring, the next phase is scheduling the installation. But before you mark your calendar, you might find yourself wondering: just how long does it take to install an AC unit? answers that important question and discusses factors impacting installation time and how to prepare for the replacement process.

The Average Length of an AC Installation Project

While the length of an AC installation can vary based on several factors, expect a standard installation to take about 4 to 8 hours from start to finish. However, if you’re also installing new ductwork with your air conditioner, the total project could take a day or more.

For a standard AC installation job, homeowners should plan on allocating a full day for the process. By setting aside a day where you can be home, you ensure that the installation team can work efficiently without interruptions.

The air conditioning replacement process typically involves three main steps: a pre-installation assessment, followed by the installation itself spanning, and finally, a system testing and commissioning phase lasting to ensure optimal performance and efficiency.

Factors that Impact AC Installation Time

Some of the main factors that can influence the time it takes for a contractor to install your new air conditioner include:

System Size

There’s no one-size-fits-all air conditioner. Air conditioners vary in size – measured in tonnage – based on factors such as the square footage of a home, insulation levels, and the climate you live in. Larger 4-ton or 5-ton units take longer to install due to the complexity of handling and positioning them compared to smaller systems.

Two-Stage and Variable Speed Compressors

Air conditioners with two-stage or variable-speed compressors may take longer to install than a single-stage unit due to the additional wiring and configuration required to accommodate multiple operating modes and advanced features. However, the enhanced comfort and energy-savings offered by these advanced systems often outweigh the extra installation time and effort.

Condition of the Ductwork

Ductwork typically lasts about 10 to 25 years, generally the same lifespan as a central air conditioner. You may need to update your ductwork to be compatible with a new, high-efficiency system, or because it’s aging or damaged. Installing new ductwork can take 1 to 4 days on average depending on your home’s size and the complexity of the layout.


Factors such as the accessibility of the installation site and any obstacles or challenges the technicians may encounter can affect the length of the installation process.

The Technician’s Experience

The contractor you hire to install your central air conditioning system can also play a key role in how long it takes to install the unit. An experienced technician will typically complete the installation more efficiently and accurately compared to inexperienced or unqualified installers.

How Homeowners Can Prepare for AC Installation

To ensure a smooth and timely AC installation process, consider taking the following steps:

  1. Clear the Installation Area: Remove any obstacles or clutter from the installation site to provide easy access for the technician. This includes clearing space around the indoor and outdoor units and moving furniture or other belongings so they don’t obstruct the work area.
  2. Communicate Any Concerns: If you have specific concerns or preferences regarding the installation, such as preferred placement of the indoor unit or scheduling constraints, be sure to communicate these with your HVAC contractor in advance. Clear communication will prevent any misunderstandings and ensure all of your needs are taken care of.
  3. Arrange for Assistance: While the installation team will handle the technical aspects of the installation, homeowners may need to assist with tasks such as granting access to the property, providing information about the existing HVAC system, or making decisions regarding system placement. It’s also important to secure pets so they don’t get in the way of technician’s work.
  4. Plan for Post-Installation Testing: After the installation is complete, the technicians will conduct tests to ensure that the new AC unit is functioning correctly. Plan to be available for this testing phase to address any questions or concerns that may arise.
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