How Much Does an AC Compressor Cost?

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Updated May 17, 2022
A mother laughing while preparing lunch with her son
Photo: Tom Werner / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Highlights

  • AC compressors cost $1,200 on average.

  • Cost factors include compressor type, size, labor, and whether or not there’s an active warranty.

  • Though you can save money by installing a compressor yourself, it’s a heavy, complex job.

  • Save on costs by choosing a generic brand and comparing installation costs.

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It’s the ultimate heatwave nightmare: It’s scorching hot outside, but your AC unit keeps running and running without cooling your house down—yikes. You’ve called in a local HVAC repair pro, and they’ve told you it’s time to replace your air conditioner compressor. The good news is that you’re one step closer to a cool and comfortable home. 

You’ll pay an average of $1,200 to replace an AC compressor, but the cost tends to fall between $800 to $2,800, with some window unit compressors costing as little as $100.

What Does an AC Compressor Do?

Think of an AC compressor as a heart and the refrigerant as the blood in a cardiovascular system: The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant to remove the heat that it has pulled from the air, and then it pumps the refrigerant back through the system.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace an AC Compressor?

An AC compressor costs between $100 to $2,800 if you look at all types of compressors, but most homeowners will find that it’s less money to buy an entirely new window unit rather than spend a near equal amount replacing the AC compressor. 

Here’s a breakdown of the cost of an AC compressor by AC unit type:

AC Compressor TypeCost
Central air$800 – $2,800
Window unit$100 – $200
Mini-split$400 – $1,800

How Much Does It Cost to Replace an AC Compressor per Ton or BTU?

The cost per ton to replace an AC compressor varies based on the size of the compressor. Much like buying in bulk, a 5-ton compressor costs less per ton, at around $300 and $600 per ton, while a 1.5-ton compressor costs $500 to $1,000 per ton to replace.

AC Compressor Cost Breakdown

Costs for a new AC compressor, with the unit price ranging $400 to $1,600

There are a few factors that can affect your AC compressor’s total cost. Here’s a breakdown of how much AC compressors cost by material type, labor, brand, warranty, and refrigerant.

Material Type

Again, the type of AC unit you have plays a major role in the cost of your AC compressor. The parts alone cost between $400 and $1,600 on average, with central air units costing between $800 to $2,800, compressors for mini-split units costing between $400 to $1,800, and window units costing between $100 to $200.

Labor

The labor for your project accounts for approximately half of the AC compressor replacement cost, spanning anywhere from $400 to $1,200. Prices vary depending on the extent of work required and any repairs needed to retrofit the new compressor.

Brand

Much like the classic plain white T-shirt, different AC compressor brands have different prices for similar products, with variations anywhere between $100 to $200

While name brand doesn’t always mean a product is better, it’s a good idea to look at reviews before you buy to determine if you’re getting the best deal on the AC compressor. You can likely save a bit of money by going generic, but be sure to consult a pro to see if the compressor is best for your unit.

Warranty

If your old AC compressor still has a valid warranty, you might spend between $600 to $1,200 under warranty, but if the compressor you’re replacing has an expired warranty, expect to pay closer to $1,300 to $2,500.

Refrigerant

If you also need to add more refrigerant to your AC unit, tack on another $100 to $350.

Cost to Replace an AC Compressor Yourself

Cost to Replace an AC Compressor Yourself
Photo: Visoot Uthairam / Moment / Getty Images

It will cost you between $400 and $1,600 to purchase the parts needed to replace the compressor yourself; however, replacing an AC compressor is a complex installation that is best left for the pros.

Cost to Install an AC Compressor Yourself vs. Hiring a Contractor 

Though you can save roughly $400 to $1,200 on labor by DIYing your AC compressor replacement, you should only do so if you have the necessary experience and tools to safely remove the old AC compressor and install the new one. 

We don’t recommend taking on this project yourself, as an AC compressor is a heavy piece of equipment that requires multiple hands on deck and could pose a safety risk if you don’t know what you’re doing. Seriously, spend your Saturday doing something more fun. Instead, call an air conditioning repair company near you to replace your AC compressor safely.

How You Can Save Money on an AC Compressor

You can save money on an AC compressor by avoiding name-brand products when you can and shopping around for a qualified pro to do the installation for you. Be sure to reach out to multiple companies and ask for estimates to ensure you’re getting the best deal. 

AC Compressor Questions and Answers

Is it worth it to replace the compressor on an AC unit?

Not all AC units are worth replacing the compressor. For older units or low-budget window units, it’s more cost-effective to go ahead and buy a new AC unit. Compressors are pricey, heavy, and require an installer to come in anyway, so often, you might as well invest in a quality AC unit.

Why did my AC compressor stop working?

Your AC compressor may have stopped working for a number of reasons, but two common reasons include too much and too little refrigerant.

What other projects should I do at the same time?

While you’re busy swapping out that old compressor, now is a great time to have your furnace cleaned and serviced, especially if your home is older and your heating system is as old as your AC unit. Likewise, it’s a good idea to clean your air ducts to ensure air flows properly through the house.

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