Time Frames Uncovered: How Long Does It Take to Install an AC Unit?

How long does it take to install an AC unit? On average, expect 4 to 8 hours, depending on system complexity and installation conditions. We’ll outline the key factors that can extend or shorten this process as you continue reading.

Key Takeaways

  • The average installation time for an AC unit typically ranges from 4 to 8 hours, but varies based on factors such as system complexity, installation location, ductwork condition, and additional modifications.
  • Different types of AC units, such as split systems, packaged systems, and ductless mini-split systems, have distinct installation requirements and timeframes due to design differences and system complexities.
  • The presence of existing compatible ductwork can greatly speed up the AC installation process, while the need for ductwork modification or installation extends the timeframe; regular maintenance is crucial post-installation.

Average Air Conditioner Installation Time for an AC Unit

How Long Does It Take to Install an AC Unit?

The process of installing a new air conditioner, or to install an air conditioner, requires precision and expertise. Generally, the average installation time for an AC unit, whether it’s a split system or a packaged system, ranges from 4 to 8 hours. However, this timeframe isn’t set in stone and can be influenced by a variety of factors, including:

  • The size and complexity of the system
  • The location of the installation
  • The condition of the existing ductwork
  • The accessibility of the installation site
  • Any additional modifications or upgrades required So, how long does it take to install a new air conditioner? It ultimately depends on these factors.

It’s important to consult with professional hvac contractors to get an accurate estimate for your specific installation.

Certain complexities, such as difficulties accessing the installation location, can extend the installation time beyond the average timeframe. Additionally, existing infrastructure such as wiring and ductwork plays a critical role in the process. Their presence can streamline the AC installation, while additional tasks like wiring an air conditioner to a furnace may add to the time.

Factors Influencing Installation Time

The installation time for an air conditioner can significantly vary based on the scope of the project. A key factor is the size of the AC unit. Larger homes generally require larger units or possibly multiple units, increasing the complexity and duration of the installation process.

The type of HVAC system chosen can also impact the duration. Certain systems may involve more complex setup procedures than others. Moreover, existing ductwork, if in good condition and compatible with the new system, can considerably shorten the installation time. On the other hand, the absence of ductwork or the need for repairs can lengthen the process.

Lastly, the specific layout and design of the home, including the square footage and total volume, influence the installation time.

Types of AC Units and Their Installation Timeframes

The type of AC unit you choose can significantly influence the installation timeframe. Central air conditioners come in two primary types: split air conditioners and packaged air conditioners. These two types offer different options for cooling homes and businesses. Let’s explore these types and understand how their design differences impact the installation timeframe.

Design differences between split, packaged, and ductless mini-split AC units can significantly impact the installation timeframe. Each of these units has its unique set of installation requirements and complexities. So, understanding the specificities of each type can help you estimate the installation times more accurately.

Split Systems

Split system air conditioners consist of separate indoor and outdoor components, which can lead to variability in installation times compared to systems with combined elements. The installation of the indoor unit requires mounting on a level wall bracket in a spot with sufficient floor clearance. On the other hand, the outdoor condenser, also known as the outdoor compressor, needs to be in a well-ventilated, dust-free location on a flat surface to minimize vibration.

The general installation timeframe for a split system AC can range from 4 hours to a full day and, in some complex cases, up to two days. To connect the indoor and outdoor units, installers must:

  • Run refrigerant tubing
  • Install a drainpipe
  • Install electrical cables
  • Braze the line set with nitrogen
  • Ensure the wiring accommodates seamless transition between heating and cooling as well as thermostat communication.

Packaged Systems

Packaged air conditioners combine both the condenser and coil into a single air conditioning unit. These compact units are generally smaller than split systems, making them suitable for locations with limited space. Despite their compact size, these units don’t compromise on efficiency. The SEER rating of packaged air conditioning systems can reach up to 14, indicating a high level of efficiency. Maintaining the system’s efficiency is crucial for reducing energy consumption and ensuring optimal performance, highlighting the importance of regular maintenance and proper installation.

Given their compact design, packaged systems generally require less time to take to install compared to split systems, contributing to the system’s efficiency. However, the complexity of the installation and the specific requirements of the home can add to the installation time.

Ductless Mini-Split Systems

Ductless mini-split systems are another popular choice for homeowners. These systems come with specific requirements for the placement of the indoor and outdoor units. The indoor unit should be mounted high on the wall to avoid direct sunlight or heat sources, providing ample clearance from the floor for optimal airflow.

As for the outdoor compressor of a ductless mini-split system, it should be installed in a well-ventilated area clear of dust or sand, ensuring it’s on a flat surface to reduce noise. These factors all contribute to the installation time, as ensuring proper placement and connectivity of the units is crucial for their performance.

The Role of Ductwork in AC Installation

The presence of existing ductwork and vents can significantly reduce the installation time required for a new HVAC system. However, ductwork modifications can be a significant factor that can impact the overall time frame for installing an AC unit. Let’s delve deeper into the role of ductwork in AC installation.

The duration for an HVAC system installation is influenced by several factors:

  • Whether a system change is needed or if a full installation, including ductwork replacement, is necessary
  • Compared to ductless mini-split systems, central air installations typically require more time due to the complexity of adding ductwork and wiring
  • If there is no existing ductwork, installing a central air system can take 2 days or more, depending on the extent of ductwork needed.

Existing Ductwork

If your home already has ductwork in place, you’re in luck. Using existing ductwork can significantly reduce the time required for AC installation. The process of replacing an AC unit when the ductwork is already in place, also known as a simple changeout, typically takes about one day.

Thus, having pre-existing ductwork is a significant factor that contributes to a faster and more efficient AC installation process. However, this is only true if the existing ductwork is in good condition and compatible with the new AC unit being installed.

New or Updated Ductwork

If your existing ducts have sustained damage such as holes, tears, or significant leaks, you might need new or updated ductwork. Such modifications to the duct system, such as ensuring proper air pressure, can add complexity and duration to the AC unit installation process.

Therefore, it’s crucial to have your ductwork assessed by a professional before the AC installation. They can identify any necessary repairs or replacements and provide an accurate estimate of the installation time.

Preparing Your Home for AC Installation

Before the technicians arrive to install your new air conditioner, there are several steps you can take to prepare your home. First and foremost, remove any obstacles and ensure that the area designated for the new HVAC system installation is free of clutter. This also may involve dismantling furniture to accommodate tools and installation efforts.

Valuable belongings such as antiques and artwork should be moved to a safe location to avoid accidental damage during HVAC installation. Also, arrangements must be made to keep children and pets away from the worksite to ensure their safety and to avoid interruptions to the installation team. A homeowner or designated decision-maker should be present during the installation to oversee the process and make any necessary decisions.

The Installation Process: Step-by-Step

The air conditioner installation process is a meticulous task that involves several steps. Before starting the AC installation, professionals lay drop cloths in the work area for protection. The process includes:

  1. Removing the old unit
  2. Mounting the new indoor unit on a wall bracket secured with screws
  3. Accurately running piping and cabling from the indoor to the outdoor unit, including refrigerant tubing, a drainpipe, and electrical cables

This is an integral part of the process.

One of the key steps in the process is vacuuming and then charging the refrigerant line to eliminate moisture or air, which often requires professional tools and expertise to achieve an airtight seal free of contaminants. After installation, testing includes powering up the new AC unit for cooling function assessment, with a watchful check for any unusual noises or vibrations.

Post-Installation Care and Maintenance

Once your new AC system is installed, it’s important to maintain it properly to ensure optimal performance and extend its lifespan. Regular maintenance and yearly maintenance check-ups by professionals are essential. One of the most basic maintenance tasks is changing or cleaning AC filters on a regular basis. This is essential to sustaining airflow and maximizing energy efficiency, potentially reducing consumption by 5% to 15%.

Furthermore, here are some important maintenance tasks to keep your AC system running smoothly:

  • Keep drain channels clear to prevent moisture build-up inside the home.
  • Clean the indoor evaporator coil annually to prevent impairment of the system’s heat absorption capabilities.
  • Schedule regular preventative maintenance carried out by certified professionals to avoid costly repairs and extend the AC system’s longevity.

Hiring a Professional for AC Installation

While it might be tempting to attempt to install your new AC unit yourself, hiring a professional ensures proper installation and reliable AC system performance. Knowledgeable technicians from Aquarius Home Services provide skills and experience for proper AC system installation.

Choosing a professional service like Aquarius Home Services offers:

  • Peace of mind, knowing that the installation is handled by experts who are insured against potential installation-related injuries
  • Correct and safe installation
  • Time and effort saved


In conclusion, the installation time for an AC unit can vary widely, depending on multiple factors such as the type of AC unit, existing infrastructure, and the size and layout of your home. Hiring a professional service like Aquarius Home Services ensures proper installation, saving time, and ensuring optimal performance of your AC system. Regular maintenance and care post-installation are crucial to extend the lifespan and efficiency of your AC unit. Now that you’re equipped with this knowledge, you’re ready to approach your AC installation project with confidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to install an AC unit?

An AC unit installation typically takes between 4 to 8 hours, depending on the type of unit and home factors.

What factors can influence the installation time of an AC unit?

The size of the AC unit, type of HVAC system, existing ductwork, and home layout all influence the installation time of an AC unit. These factors play a significant role in determining how long the installation process will take.

How does the type of AC unit affect the installation time?

The type of AC unit you choose will affect the installation time, as each type has unique installation requirements that impact the duration of the process. Choose the type of AC unit carefully as it can significantly affect the installation time.

What is the role of ductwork in AC installation?

Existing ductwork and vents can reduce installation time, but new or updated ductwork may be required, potentially extending the installation. Consider this when planning AC installation.

How can I prepare my home for AC installation?

Prepare your home for AC installation by clearing the installation area, relocating valuable items, and keeping children and pets away from the worksite. This will ensure a smooth and safe installation process.


  1. Purdue OWL® – Purdue University: This educational site might offer resources or references to technical writing or guides that can include information on procedural tasks like installing an AC unit.
  2. National Institute of Standards and Technology | NIST: Although primarily a time-keeping site, NIST also publishes standards and guidelines which may include information on procedures and time standards for various technical tasks.
  3. USAJOBS – The Federal Government’s Official Jobs Site: This site might list job descriptions or qualifications for technicians, including those needed for installing AC units, giving an official perspective on the time and skills required.