How Long Does It Take To Install An Air Conditioner?

How Long Does It Take To Install An Air Conditioner?The second most frequently asked question after how much does it cost is how long it takes to install an air conditioner. The answer to that can depend on who is doing the installation, but it’s generally between half a day and 2 days. We’ve seen some go 3+ days if the space is big enough.

Here at Compass Heating and Air, we have over 20 years of experience in Elgin and the surrounding areas. I personally completed tech school in my last year of military service, and have been working in the HVAC industry ever since. In the meantime, I’ve completed numerous factory trainings and installed hundreds of HVAC systems.

So let’s break down what you need to know about air conditioning system installations.

What Affects How Long It Takes To Install An AC Unit?

Installing a total home air conditioning system requires careful planning and selection. The size of your home and the type of system you choose both play a factor in your installation time.

Size of the Air Conditioner

The installation time of an air conditioning unit largely depends on the size of the system. Larger AC units require more time for installation, as they may involve more complicated electrical issues and additional furniture dismantling. Furthermore, square footage plays a significant role in determining how long it takes to install an AC unit, as systems designed for larger spaces often have more complication factors.

Type of Air Conditioner

The type of air conditioner also affects the installation time. There are various types of air conditioning systems, such as split units, packaged units, and condensing units. Each type has its own installation requirements and complexities.

How Long Does It Take to Install Central Air?

Central air conditioning unit installations tend to take longer than other types of AC units, primarily due to their complexity. Before the installation of a central air conditioning unit, an initial inspection is necessary to evaluate the existing HVAC system and determine if any modifications are needed.

The installation process itself involves setting up the indoor evaporator coil, the outdoor condensing unit, and connecting the two with a line set. The entire process can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours or more, depending on the size and specific requirements of the system.

In addition to the physical installation, system commissioning is a crucial step to ensure that the new central air system operates efficiently and safely. This involves checking for proper wiring, refrigerant levels, and overall functionality.

What Affects How Long It Takes To Install An AC Unit?

Aside from the size and layout of your home, there may be a few other factors affecting price and the length of time for installations. I have broken out a few factors for you to consider.

Home Size and Layout

The home size and layout significantly impact the duration of an air conditioner installation. Larger homes with more square footage require more time to perform system commissioning and ensure proper functioning of the HVAC system. Additionally, complex layouts with multiple crawl spaces or challenging access points can increase the time needed to install an AC unit, particularly during a first-time installation.

Indoor and Outdoor Unit Locations

The location of the indoor evaporator coil and outdoor condenser units also affects the air conditioner installation process. The installation location should provide adequate space for both components while ensuring optimal performance. When performing an AC unit replacement, technicians must consider the existing setup and potentially modify it to accommodate the new system, which may extend the installation time.

Ductwork Repair or Installation

Ductwork modifications or repairs are sometimes necessary during an air conditioner installation. If a home’s ductwork is outdated or damaged, it may need to be repaired or replaced to ensure proper airflow and energy efficiency. In some cases, asbestos may be present in older ductwork, requiring specialized removal and disposal according to EPA guidelines.

Furthermore, first-time installations in homes without existing ductwork can be more time-consuming, as the entire duct system must be designed and installed to accommodate the new HVAC system. Factors such as the home’s condition, location, and accessibility to different areas can impact the time needed for ductwork installation or modification during an air conditioner installation.

Read More: Installing A Ductless Mini Split Into A Sunroom

Changeout Vs. New Installation

There are two main types of air conditioner installations: first-time installations and changeouts. The time it takes to complete the installation varies depending on which type you’re dealing with.

AC Service Is Essential To Keeping Your System Running EfficientlyHow Long Does it Take to Replace an AC Unit?

In a first-time installation, an entirely new AC system is set up, including wiring an air conditioner to a thermostat, running refrigerant lines, and installing indoor and outdoor components. This process typically takes longer because it requires more preparation, planning, and work to set up everything from scratch.

On the other hand, an AC changeout or AC unit replacement involves removing an existing air conditioning system and installing a new one in its place. In these cases, the in-home estimate is crucial for determining the scope of the project and identifying any additional work needed, such as modifications to ductwork or line set configurations.

During an AC replacement, the existing system is dismantled and removed, along with all the wiring to the old air conditioner. The refrigerant in the old system is captured to prevent environmental damage, which can take a couple of hours.

Once the old equipment is removed, the new AC unit is installed, involving tasks like brazing the line set and connecting the wiring.


Here are a few of the questions we hear most when it comes to how long an AC installation can take.

How long does it take to put in a whole new AC unit?

The length of time to install a whole new AC unit can vary depending on accessibility, weather and unforeseen issues. Generally speaking, it is between 4 hours to 2 days long.

What should I expect when getting an AC installed?

Professional, courteous service is the first expectation. Your installation can vary depending on if it is a replacement system or a new installation involving ductwork. Check with your contractor to get a complete idea of what you should expect.

How long does it take to install central air without existing ductwork?

A clean installation without added ductwork should take a matter of hours. If a single room requires cooling, you may wish to consider a ductless mini split unit. Reliable AC installation for Elgin, IL homes.

Call Compass Heating and Air at (630) 504-8688, for reliable AC installation for Elgin, IL homes.