Ashburn, VA

How much does an air handler cost?

$1,500 – $3,400 average cost to replace

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January 11, 2022

Reviewed by Tom Grupa and 6 expert AC installers on HomeGuide.

Air handler cost

An air handler costs $1,500 to $3,400 to replace on average, depending on the ton size, brand, and type. Air handler prices are $700 to $1,600 for the unit alone, plus $800 to $1,800 for replacement labor. Air handler fan coil units from top brands like Trane, Carrier, and Lennox cost the most.

AIr handler cost to replace - chart
AIr handler cost to replace - chart

Air handler prices
Home size (square feet) Average cost to replace
600 – 900 $1,400 – $1,600
1,000 – 1,200 $1,500 – $2,000
1,300 – 1,500 $1,600 – $3,200
1,600 – 1,800 $1,700 – $3,300
1,900 – 2,100 $1,800 – $3,400
2,200 – 2,500 $2,000 – $3,600
2,600 – 3,000 $2,100 – $3,900

An air handler contains a blower motor, evaporator coil, and air filter. Air handlers last 12 to 15 years on average.

Average cost to replace an air handler

The following table shows the average cost for an air handler with installation.

Average cost to replace an air handler
National average cost $2,300
Minimum cost $650
Maximum cost $5,600
Average cost range $1,500 to $3,400

Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

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Air handler prices

Air handler prices are $600 to $2,100 for the unit alone, depending on the ton size, brand, and type. An average 3-ton air handler costs $900 to $1,500. Air handlers with variable-speed or ECM motors are the most expensive but most efficient.

Air handler prices by size
Home size (SF) Tons Average unit price
600 – 900 1.5 ton $600 – $800
1,000 – 1,200 2 ton $700 – $1,200
1,300 – 1,500 2.5 ton $800 – $1,400
1,600 – 1,800 3 ton $900 – $1,500
1,900 – 2,100 3.5 ton $1,000 – $1,600
2,200 – 2,500 4 ton $1,200 – $1,800
2,600 – 3,000 5 ton $1,300 – $2,100

Air handler installed vertically in garage
Air handler installed vertically in garage

Hydronic air handler prices

Hydronic air handler prices are $1,000 to $1,600 on average, depending on the size and brand. A hydronic air handler connects to a condensing gas boiler or tankless water heater, redirecting the hot water through its own coil to heat the air before blowing it through the ductwork.

Variable-speed air handler cost

A variable-speed air handler costs $1,400 to $2,500 on average. Variable-speed motors are more energy-efficient because they can run at any capacity and adjust automatically to meet the home's current heating or cooling needs. Single-speed motors only run at full capacity.

Air handler price list by brand

Most brands offer air handlers in sizes ranging from 1.5 to 5 tons with a 10-year parts warranty:

Air handler price list by brand
Brand Unit only price Total cost to replace
American Standard $800 – $1,500 $2,000 – $3,000
Armstrong $850 – $1,500 $2,000 – $3,000
Bryant / Heil $800 – $1,500 $1,800 – $3,000
Carrier / AirQuest $800 – $1,600 $1,000 – $3,400
Coleman $700 – $1,500 $1,500 – $2,400
Daikin / Amana $500 – $1,300 $1,200 – $2,800
Goodman $500 – $1,300 $1,000 – $2,400
Lennox $800 – $1,600 $1,800 – $3,400
Rheem / Ruud $600 – $1,300 $1,000 – $2,600
Trane $750 – $1,600 $1,500 – $3,400
York $700 – $1,500 $1,500 – $3,000

Commercial vs. residential HVAC air handler prices

A commercial HVAC air handler costs $1,300 to $4,300, depending on the size and airflow requirements. Commercial air handlers are larger than residential models and typically range from 5 to 25 tons. Large industrial or office buildings use modular systems with multiple air handling units.

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Fan coil unit prices

Fan coil unit prices are $650 to $1,600 on average. The term "fan coil" is often used interchangeably to describe air handlers, but they are different systems. Fan coil units recirculate the air in a single room or space without ductwork and are typically installed in commercial areas or apartments.

Ductless mini-split air handlers

A ductless mini-split air handler costs $450 to $1,600, depending on the size and style. One outdoor mini-split AC condenser supports up to five indoor air handlers mounted on the wall, floor, or ceiling to create individual temperature zones without ductwork.

Air handler replacement cost

Air handler replacement cost
Factor Average cost
New air handler $700 – $1,600
Installation labor $800 – $1,800
Total cost to replace $1,500 – $3,400

The indoor air handler connects to an outdoor heat pump or AC condenser. The air handler is typically included in the total cost when replacing a heat pump or central air conditioning system.

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Cost to replace heat pump and air handler

The cost to install a heat pump is $3,800 to $8,200 on average, depending on the size, SEER efficiency rating, and brand. A new heat pump installation typically includes an indoor air handler.

Cost to replace condenser and air handler

AC condenser replacement costs $1,200 to $4,200 on average. Replacing the air handler and condenser at the same time is recommended because the two components must match in tonnage and SEER rating.

Air handling unit replacement part costs

Average AC repairs cost $75 to $150 per hour, plus parts. Replacing parts within the air handler may be more cost-efficient:

Air handling unit replacement part costs
Part Average replacement cost*
Blower fan / motor $200 – $900
Evaporator coil $400 – $2,400
Coil cleaning $100 – $400

*Including parts and labor.

  • Blower motor replacement costs $300 to $900 on average. The blower motor pushes conditioned air from the air handler through the ductwork.
  • AC coil replacement costs $650 to $2,400 on average. The air handler evaporator coil extracts heat from the indoor air.
  • Air handler coil cleaning costs $100 to $400 on average. AC coils should be cleaned at least once per year. Coil cleaning improves air quality, increases the AC unit's lifespan, and reduces energy costs.

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Air handler installation cost factors

Labor for air handler installation costs $800 to $1,800 and makes up approximately 50% of the total price. Installing an air handler may require new ductwork and is the best time to add an HVAC zoning system or whole-house air purifier.

Air handler installation cost factors
Factor Price range
Electric air handler $700 – $1,600
Labor $800 – $1,800
New ductwork $1,400 – $5,600
Duct repairs $200 – $700
Duct cleaning $300 – $700
Permit & inspection $100 – $250
Thermostat $140 – $350
HVAC zoning system $1,700 – $4,500
UV light air filter $400 – $800

Other cost factors include:

  • Air handlers are sized in tons equal to their BTU heating or cooling capacity. Larger units cost more.
  • High-efficiency models with higher SEER ratings cost more than standard efficiency units.
  • Ductwork replacement costs $1,400 to $5,600.
  • Ductwork repair costs $200 to $700 to fix minor leaks.
  • Air duct cleaning costs $300 to $700 on average or $25 to $45 per vent and is recommended when replacing an air handler.
  • Thermostat replacement costs $140 to $350, including the unit and installation.
  • Electricians charge $40 to $100 per hour to run new wiring to an air handler.
  • HVAC technicians charge $75 to $150 per hour for other repairs and maintenance.
  • An HVAC zoning system costs $1,700 to $4,500 for room-by-room climate control.
  • A whole-house air purifier costs $400 to $4,000
  • Permits for air handler installation or replacement cost $100 to $250, depending on local requirements.

Air handler cost in attic, closet, basement, or garage

Horizontal air handler installation is most common in attics and crawl spaces, while vertical installs are more common in basements, garages, and dedicated closets.

Additional costs may incur, depending on the location:

  • Drywall repair costs $100 to $400 and may be required when installing an air handler in a closet, garage, or finished basement.
  • Attic insulation costs $1.50 to $3.00 per square foot and improves efficiency for an air handler installed in an attic.
  • Pest extermination costs $135 to $200. Consider hiring an exterminator to treat a crawl space or attic before installing an air handler.

Cost to move air handler

Moving an air handler costs $1,500 to $3,000 and requires altering ductwork, moving the drain line, and running new electrical connections. Relocating an air handler may also require installing a new line set or reconfiguring a gas line.

UV light for air handler cost

A UV light filter for an air handler costs $400 to $800 with installation. Ultraviolet filters use UV light to destroy bacteria and mold and sanitize the coils, improving indoor air quality and increasing the HVAC system's efficiency.

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Frequently asked questions

What size air handler do I need?

The air handler must match the size of the condenser unit in tons for optimal performance. To find your condenser unit's size, look for the two-digit number within the model number on the label. Divide that number by 12 to get the tonnage.

How does an air handler work?

The air handler regulates the circulation of air in the home and consists of a blower motor, evaporator coil, and air filter. The blower motor moves air across the evaporator coil for heating or cooling then distributes it throughout the home via the ductwork.

The air handler creates a continuous cycle, drawing air in from the home through the return vents and delivering conditioned air back to each room via the supply vents.

Where is an air handler located?

The air handler is located indoors, typically in the attic, crawl space, basement, or a dedicated closet.

How long do air handlers last?

An air handler lasts 12 to 15 years if properly maintained. The air handler's lifespan depends on the quality, environment usage, and whether it is cleaned and serviced regularly. HVAC systems in areas with extreme temperatures typically have the shortest lifespan.

An AC tune-up costs $70 to $200, extends the air handler's life, and often prevents the need for costly repairs.

What’s the difference between a forced-air and hydro HVAC system?

A forced-air furnace burns fuel to heat the air and uses a blower to push warm air through the ducts. A hydronic HVAC system heats water in a boiler and distributes the hot water to radiators, baseboards, or radiant floor tubing throughout the home.

What’s the difference between an air conditioner and an air handler?

The air handler is the indoor component of a split-system air conditioner or heat pump. The outdoor AC condenser unit sends refrigerant to the evaporator coil in the air handler, where heat is removed from the air and the cooled air is blown into the ducts.

What’s the difference between air handler and furnace?

A furnace burns fuel to produce its own heat and uses a blower motor to distribute the air. An air handler connects to a heat pump or AC condenser and distributes air that is heated or cooled by the system. Some furnaces can function as an air handler when paired with an evaporator coil.

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Hiring an HVAC Contractor

Before hiring an AC company near you, be sure to:

  • Get at least three air handler estimates to compare.
  • Look for a NATE-certified company with experience installing HVAC equipment.
  • Read reviews and check out their previous work on HomeGuide and Google.
  • Select companies that are insured, bonded, and have been in business longer than five years.
  • Confirm whether a manufacturer's warranty covers the air handler replacement cost.
  • When comparing quotes, confirm they include equipment of the same size and quality.
  • Avoid selecting the lowest quote as quality may suffer.
  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.
  • Never pay in full before the project starts. Follow a payment plan instead for work completed.

Questions to ask

  • How long have you been installing HVAC systems?
  • Are you licensed and insured to install an air handler?
  • Are you NATE- and EPA Section 608-certified?
  • Should I replace my condenser and air handler at the same time? Why or why not?
  • How much will it cost to remove my old air handler?
  • What extra costs should I expect?
  • How long will it take to install the new air handler?
  • How long is the warranty, and what does it cover?
  • How long will the system last?
  • What kind of maintenance will the system require?
  • What is your payment schedule?
  • Are there any discounts or rebates available?

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