Apr. 20, 2018
Heads up: If you’ve been told you have a “bad” compressor, you’ll most likely need to completely replace it (vs just repairing it). Home AC Compressors are “hermetically sealed”, meaning there is no way to open a compressor up and repair a single broken component.
So if your central home AC compressor is showing signs of trouble, you’re probably wondering how much it will cost to replace it.
Well, in the New Jersey area, replacing a central AC compressor unit in New Jersey typically ranges from $1,500 to $2,500+.
Yes, we know that’s expensive for a central AC compressor unit and we know you probably have lots of questions, like:
- Why is a central AC compressor so expensive?
- What factors affect the price of an AC compressor?
- Should I just replace my entire AC unit?
If you live in the New Jersey area and need a quote on your AC compressor replacement?
Why is a home central air compressor so expensive in New Jersey?A central AC compressor is expensive in New Jersey to replace because it’s one of the most complex and integral components in your AC system.
Think of an home AC compressor as the “heart” of your AC system. Just like a heart pumps blood throughout your body to keep your body functional and...well, alive, the compressor pumps refrigerant (the substance that removes heat from your home’s air) throughout the AC system.
Put simply, without a compressor, your AC is useless and wouldn’t even produce a single blast of cold air.
So—yes, the cost of the part alone is pricier than most AC parts. But the cost of labor is also very high because replacing a compressor requires many intricate steps such as:
- Removing all of the refrigerants from the system (which can only legally be done by a licensed HVAC tech in NJ)
- Removing the bad compressor
- Soldering in the new compressor
- Replacing other smaller parts if needed (i.e. contactor/capacitor)
- Putting all the refrigerant back into the system
Four factors that affect the cost to replace an air conditioner’s compressor include:
What factors affect the price of an AC compressor replacement?
- The size of your AC system
- Whether the compressor is a single-stage, multi-stage or variable-speed
- Whether or not the compressor is “under warranty”
- The professional you choose for this job
All AC systems are sized according to how much heat they can remove from your home in one hour—this is measured in “tonnage”.
1. The size of your AC system
The higher the tonnage, the “larger” the AC system. And, the larger your AC, the more expensive the compressor will be.
Typically, residential ACs range in size from 1 to 5 tons (half sizes included, i.e. 2.5, 3.5, etc.). If you’re not sure what size AC you have, find the model number located on the white sticker on your outside unit (seen here).
Once you find the model number, look for an isolated string of 3 numbers. Match those 3 numbers up with the ones listed below to find your AC size.
The particular “stage” of a compressor refers to how many speeds it has. The more stages a compressor has, the more expensive the part.
2. Whether the compressor is a single-stage, multi-stage or variable-speed
We’ve listed the different stages a compressor can have in order from least expensive to most expensive:
A two-stage compressor has 2 speeds: HIGH and LOW (LOW is typically used for mild summer days and HIGH is reserved for extremely hot weather).
A variable-speed compressor has unlimited speeds. It constantly adjusts the compressor speed to produce just the right amount of cooling that’s needed at a given time.
If your compressor is “under warranty”, this will decrease the cost of your compressor replacement.
3. Whether or not the compressor is “under warranty”
But what does “under warranty” really mean and how do you know if your compressor is under warranty or not?
Well, first off, whenever you first purchased your AC system, it came with a limited parts warranty that likely lasted anywhere from 10–15 years after your purchase. A limited parts warranty states that if certain major AC components fail due to a manufacturer defect, the manufacturer will cover the cost of the replacement part (this does not cover the cost of labor).
And, yes, most limited parts warranties cover the compressor.
To determine if your compressor is under warranty or not, write down the model and the serial number of your unit. Then contact the manufacturer with this information. They should be able to look up your system and determine if it is under warranty or not.
Be warned: Your limited parts warranty is likely void if:
- You didn’t register your unit with the manufacturer within 60-90 days of the initial purchase (some manufacturers won’t completely void the warranty but will just shorten its length if you didn’t register)
- You haven’t had your AC unit annually maintained by a licensed HVAC tech
- You didn’t keep a record of those annual AC maintenance visits
- You’ve had your AC repaired with off-brand parts (parts that didn’t come from the manufacturer)
4. The professional you choose for this jobThe higher the skill and experience of the professional, the more they typically charge for a compressor replacement.
If you’re tempted to go with a contractor who offers rock-bottom prices, don’t be surprised if you see more problems down the road. You see, lower-priced contractors often come with low-quality work that really just costs you more in the long run.
Some tips for choosing a contractor for your compressor replacement:
- Only pick contractors who are licensed and insured in the state of New Jersey
- Choose a contractor who is experienced in compressor replacements
- Choose a contractor who offers upfront pricing—in writing
- Choose a company who offers a labor warranty of at least 1 year (so that if anything goes wrong with the compressor within the year, they’ll fix the problem at no cost to you)
Compressor replacement is pricey—should I just replace the entire unit?This is a valid question. Most of the time, if a compressor has gone bad and needs to be replaced, it’s a sign that the AC (as a whole) is aging and may need to be completely replaced.
Consider replacing the entire AC system (versus just the compressor) if…
- Your air conditioner is 10+ years old
- Your home ac compressor isn’t under warranty
- Your current AC no longer keeps you comfortable
- Your current AC needs more and more frequent repairs
Since the indoor and outdoor units work in tandem, having a newer, more efficient outdoor system paired with an older, less efficient indoor system can lower the overall efficiency of the unit, cause frequent repairs and lower the unit’s lifespan.
Have home AC compressor questions? Ask a New Jersey tech
Think you need a compressor replacement and want a fair, upfront quote? Or just have some questions?