Ashburn, VA

How Much Does A Home AC Compressor Replacement Cost?

$600 – $1,200 Under Warranty
$1,300 – $2,500 Not Under Warranty

The average home air conditioner compressor costs $1,000 to $2,500 to replace. A new AC unit compressor costs $400 to $1,300. The labor cost to replace a home AC compressor is $600 to $1,200. HVAC contractors charge $100 to $150 per hour plus parts to repair an AC compressor.

Get free estimates from air conditioning repair services near you or view our cost guide below.

Reviewed on October 13, 2020, by Tom Grupa and 9 Expert AC Repair Companies on HomeGuide.

Home AC Compressor Cost

A home AC compressor costs $600 to $1,200 to replace when under warranty or $1,300 to $2,500 when out of warranty. AC compressor prices are $400 to $1,300 itself, depending on the size, type, and brand. The labor cost to replace a home AC compressor is $600 to $1,200.

Home AC Compressor Cost - Chart

AC Compressor Cost
Replacement Type Total Cost
Compressor Still Under Warranty $600 – $1,200
Compressor Not Under Warranty $1,300 – $2,500

Replacing the whole AC unit or heat pump is sometimes more cost-effective than replacing a compressor out of warranty. Installing a new AC unit costs $3,300 to $5,900, while a new heat pump costs $3,800 to $8,200.

  • AC compressors cannot be repaired on-site and require replacing.
  • Many heat pumps use the same type of compressor.
  • Replacing an AC compressor takes 4 to 6 hours.
  • AC compressors last 10 to 20 years.

Average Cost To Replace AC Compressor

Average Cost To Replace AC Compressor - Chart

Average Cost To Replace AC Compressor
National Average Cost $1,650
Minimum Cost $450
Maximum Cost $3,500
Average Range $1,000 to $2,500

*Based on 49 project costs reported by HomeGuide members and homeowners.

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AC Compressor Replacement Cost

AC compressor replacement costs $1,650 on average with a typical range between $1,000 and $2,500. Compressor parts and installation labor each make up about 50% of the price.

Ac Compressor Replacement Cost - Chart

AC Compressor Replacement Cost
Factor Average Cost
Installation Labor $600 – $1,200
AC Unit Compressor $400 – $1,300
Total Replacement Cost $1,000 – $2,500

Labor Cost To Replace Home AC Compressor

The average labor cost to replace a home AC compressor is $600 to $1,200, regardless of compressor size. HVAC services cost $100 to $150 per hour for labor, depending on the region.

HVAC technician replacing AC compressor in Air Conditioner Unit

Cost Factors To Replace Home AC Compressor

Total costs to replace an AC compressor depend on the AC unit size in tons, compressor type and brand, refrigerant type, and warranty coverage.

  • Warranty – Warranties typically cover all or most of the compressor's cost, but not the labor cost to install. If the compressor is out of warranty, it's typically more cost-effective to install a new AC unit.
  • Type – Compressors come in single-stage, two-stage, and variable-speed models. Two-stage and variable-speed compressors are more efficient but are more expensive to replace.
  • Size – The size and cost of the AC compressor depends on the AC unit’s capacity in tons. Larger units are more expensive and require more refrigerant.
  • Refrigerant – The AC refrigerant requires refilling after replacing the compressor. A freon refill costs $100 to $600, depending on if it's R22 or R410a refrigerant and the amount needed to top off the system.
  • Brand – AC compressor prices vary by brand. Central AC units work best when paired with the same compressor brand they were manufactured with or when matched with a generic or OEM compressor of the same type.
  • Season – Prices increase during the summer and winter when HVAC contractors are busiest. Rates are lowest during off-peak months between mid-January and March or from late September to November.

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AC Compressor Prices By Size

Residential air conditioner compressors cost $1,000 to $2,500 on average to install, depending on the size in tons. Replacing a 5-ton compressor costs $1,450 to $2,300 or about twice as much as a 2-ton unit. Labor costs the same regardless of size, but parts and refrigerant costs increase with size.

AC Compressor Prices By Size - Chart

AC Compressor Prices
Size In Tons Total Price
6 Tons $1,650 – $3,000
5 Tons $1,450 – $2,300
4 Tons $1,350 – $2,100
3.5 Tons $1,250 – $1,900
3 Tons $1,200 – $1,750
2.5 Tons $1,100 – $1,600
1.5 – 2 Tons $1,000 – $1,250

*For both materials and labor.

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AC Compressor Size Calculator

A home AC compressor can only be replaced with a compressor of the same size. To determine what size AC compressor is needed:

  1. Look for the model number printed on the label on the outdoor AC unit.
  2. The last two digits indicate the size in BTUs by thousand.
  3. One ton equals 12,000 BTU's (British Thermal Units).
AC Compressor Size Calculator
BTU (in thousands) Tons Needed
18 1.5 Tons
24 2 Tons
30 2.5 Tons
36 3 Tons
42 3.5 Tons
48 4 Tons
60 5 Tons
72 6 Tons

When installing a new unit, the general rule is one ton of air conditioning capacity per 500 square feet or around 25 BTU's per square foot.

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New AC Compressor Cost By Type

New AC Compressor Cost
Type Average Cost
Central Air $1,000 – $2,500
Mini Split $1,000 – $2,500
Heat Pump $1,000 – $2,500
Window Unit $150 – $700

*Both materials and labor.

Central Air vs. Window vs. Mini-Split AC Unit Compressor Cost

  • Replacing a central air compressor or mini-split AC unit compressor costs $1,000 to $2,500 on average, including installation costs.
  • Installing a whole new window AC unit costs $150 to $700, which is about the same as replacing the window AC compressor.

Heat Pump Compressor Replacement Cost

Replacing a heat pump compressor costs $1,000 to $2,500 on average for parts and installation labor. Heat pump compressors under warranty cost $600 to $1,200 to replace. Many heat pumps use the same type of compressor as an AC unit.

Single-Stage vs. 2-Stage AC Compressor

A single-stage AC compressor has one speed (full-capacity) and is the cheapest to install and repair. A two-stage AC compressor has two speeds (full-capacity and 60-70% capacity) and are more efficient, better at dehumidifying, and cost less to run, but are more expensive.

Single-Stage vs. 2-Stage AC Compressor
Stage Pros Cons
Single-Stage Compressor
  • Less expensive to install.
  • Easiest to repair.
  • Less efficient.
  • More costly to run.
Two-Stage Compressor
  • More efficient.
  • Less expensive to run.
  • Better at dehumidifying.
  • More expensive to install.
  • More costly to repair.
Variable-Speed Compressor
  • Most efficient.
  • Least expensive to run.
  • Best at dehumidifying.
  • Most expensive to install.
  • Most costly to repair.

AC units require the same type of compressor the unit was initially manufactured with when replacing.

  • Single-Stage – Has only one speed and runs at full capacity until the indoor temperature hits the set range. Cheapest to install but are the least efficient and last the shortest due to frequent on/off cycles.
  • Two-Stage – Has two speeds—full capacity on the high setting and 60-70% capacity on the low stage. Two-stage units run more quietly and efficiently, produce more even temperatures, and dehumidifies better, but costs more than single-stage compressors to install and repair.
  • Variable-Speed – Operates at any capacity, making automatic adjustments to maximize energy-efficiency and deliver precise temperatures. Are the most efficient, least expensive to run, and dehumidifies best, but are the most costly to install and repair.

AC Compressor Types

Reciprocating

Reciprocating compressors are highly efficient and are the most common type found in residential air conditioners. A reciprocating compressor has pistons that move up and down inside a cylinder, creating a vacuum effect that draws in the refrigerant and compresses it into vapor.

Scroll

Scroll compressors are becoming more common for residential AC use due to their efficiency and high reliability. Scroll compressors contain a fixed center coil—known as the scroll—and a secondary coil that rotates around the first to push refrigerant toward the center and compress it.

Rotary

Rotary compressors have a bladed shaft that rotates inside a cylinder, pulling the refrigerant in and compressing it into vapor. Rotary compressors are quiet and compact and are most often used in commercial locations like hospitals where noise is a concern.

Screw

Screw compressors use two large spiral rotors to move refrigerant from the larger end of a cylinder to the smaller end, compressing the refrigerant into vapor as the space gets narrower. Screw compressors are incredibly efficient and reliable and are used in large commercial buildings.

Centrifugal

Centrifugal air conditioning compressors use centrifugal force to draw in the refrigerant and spin it rapidly to compress it. Centrifugal compressors are reserved for large commercial HVAC systems.

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Home Air Conditioner Compressor Cost By Brand

Central air conditioner compressor costs also vary depending on the brand. AC units function most efficiently when paired with the same compressor brand the unit was manufactured with initially. Some AC units also work with compatible compressors from generic or partner brands.

HVAC Compressor Cost By Brand
HVAC Brand Compressor Price
Carrier $450 – $2,000
Copeland $600 – $2,300
Goodman / Amana $350 – $1,200
Lennox $600 – $2,300
Rheem / Ruud $600 – $1,400
Trane / American Standard / Mitsubishi $450 – $2,200
York / Coleman $550 – $1,500

*Not including labor cost to install.

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Window AC Unit Compressor Cost By Brand
AC Brand Compressor Price
LG $300 – $800
Whirlpool $150 – $500
Haier $550 – $1,050

*Not including labor cost to install.

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AC Compressor Repair Cost

Most AC compressors cannot be repaired on-site and must be replaced. AC compressor repair costs $1,000 to $2,500 to install a new compressor, start capacitor, contactor, line filter-drier, and refill the refrigerant. General AC repairs cost $125 to $450 to fix.

Cost To Fix AC Compressor
Factors Average Cost
Troubleshooting Service Call* $50 – $200
Suction Line Filter-Drier $35 – $125
Replace Contactor $20 – $100
Replace Start Capacitor $30 – $80
Compressor Hard Start Kit $100 – $270
R22 Refrigerant Recharge $200 – $600
R410a Refrigerant Recharge $100 – $200
Replace Refrigerant Lines $200 – $650
Refrigerant Leak Detection & Repair $300 – $1,500

*Many companies deduct the service call fee from the repair cost when hiring them for the job.

AC Compressor Hard Start Kit

An AC compressor hard start kit costs $100 to $270, including installation, and may rescue a failing compressor or extend its lifespan. A hard start kit’s capacitor gives the compressor an extra boost on startup. An HVAC technician determines if an AC unit will benefit from a hard start kit.

Residential AC Compressor Leak Repair Cost

AC compressor leak detection and repair costs $300 to $1,500, depending on the leak's severity, AC unit's age, and refrigerant type. Refilling the freon costs $100 to $600 more, depending on the unit's size and whether it uses R22 or R410a refrigerant.

Consider replacing the entire unit or heat pump instead of repairing severe leaks.

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DIY AC Compressor Replacement

Do not attempt AC compressor replacement as a DIY project. Replacing a compressor involves draining and refilling the refrigerant. It is illegal to handle refrigerant without a license and EPA-certified equipment. Hire a professional HVAC company for the job.

Improper handling of AC refrigerant can result in criminal prosecution, prison time, and fines of $10,000 or more.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Does An AC Compressor Do?

The AC compressor is located in the outdoor unit and is responsible for circulating refrigerant through the system. The compressor changes the refrigerant to a liquid or gas as needed to propel it through the evaporator coil and condenser unit, removing hot air and sending cold air into the home.

How Long Do AC Compressors Last?

AC compressors last 10 to 20 years, depending on the home’s location. Air conditioner compressors last 15 to 20 years in the northern regions of the U.S. with proper maintenance. In the south, AC compressors last 8 to 10 years due to higher usage.

How Long Do AC Compressors Last?
Region Years
Northern U.S. 15 – 20
Midwest and Western U.S. 10 – 20
Southern U.S. 8 – 10

Routine maintenance, replacing the AC filter regularly, and keeping the outdoor unit clean and free of debris prolongs the compressor’s lifespan.

What Are The Signs and Symptoms of a Bad AC Compressor?

Here's how to tell if a home AC compressor is bad:

  • The AC is blowing warm air.
  • The compressor doesn’t turn on.
  • The outdoor unit makes loud noises.
  • The circuit breaker trips when the compressor turns on.
  • The outdoor unit shakes or vibrates when the system kicks on.
  • Leaks around the air conditioning unit.
  • Reduced airflow.
  • Higher electricity bills.
  • The outside unit is not releasing enough hot air.

Many of these symptoms may also be due to failures in other parts of the AC unit. Have a qualified technician test and inspect the system for other problems before going forward with a costly compressor replacement.

Can An AC Compressor Be Repaired or Rebuilt?

AC compressors are hermetically sealed and can’t be repaired or rebuilt on-site. Your options are to replace the AC compressor, replace the entire condensing unit, or replace the whole AC unit. The broken AC compressor is sent back to the manufacturer to be reconditioned and resold.

Should I Replace My Compressor or Whole AC Unit?

Because compressor replacement is so expensive, sometimes it's more cost-effective to replace the whole AC unit instead. If the unit is still under warranty, most HVAC technicians recommend replacing the compressor.

Consider replacing the whole AC unit if:

  • The compressor is no longer under warranty.
  • The AC unit is more than 10 years old.
  • The unit has a history of other problems.
  • The repair cost is 50% or more of the price of a new AC unit.

Before replacing the compressor or entire AC system, have a technician inspect the unit for other problems. Compressor failure symptoms often mimic the symptoms of other issues that cost less to repair.

How Long Does It Take To Replace An AC Compressor?

Replacing an AC compressor takes 4 to 6 hours on average. The refrigerant must be drained before the compressor is removed and then refilled after installing a new compressor. Jobs may take longer than one day if the technician does not have the correct parts in stock.

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Hiring An AC Compressor Installer

A licensed technician should handled AC compressor replacement. Before hiring an HVAC professional, be sure to:

  • Get at least three estimates to compare. Let pros know you’re getting bids from multiple contractors to get the best competitive price.
  • Look for a NATE-certified technician with experience installing and repairing air conditioners.
  • Confirm the technician is EPA Section 608 certified to handle refrigerants.
  • Read reviews and check out their previous work on HomeGuide, Google, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • Select companies that are insured, bonded, and have been in business for longer than five years.
  • Avoid selecting the lowest quote as quality may suffer.
  • Ask for a written contract and warranty.
  • Get a full breakdown of all costs involved.
  • Avoid making large payments upfront. Come up with a payment schedule for the work completed.

Questions To Ask

  • How many air conditioner compressors have you replaced?
  • Are you EPA Section 608 certified to handle refrigerants?
  • Are these new parts, and do they meet the air conditioner manufacturer’s specifications for quality replacement parts?
  • Are you licensed, insured, and bonded?
  • How do you handle damages that happen on the job?
  • What permits do I need, and will you obtain them?
  • What does your warranty policy include?
  • What is your payment schedule?

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