February 6, 2020

A broken AC can be expensive to replace. If you know yours is on the way out, begin estimating how much a new one will cost so you can save up before it kicks the bucket. Finding out the price of a commercial AC unit can be easier said than done given the wide range of factors you’ll have to consider from the brand you want to the different prices for labor each contractor will quote you. However, once you know how to systematically evaluate your choices for a new AC, you’ll be able to save time and money when the time comes to purchase a new one.

If you’re a building manager or business owner in Las Vegas who is looking into commercial AC replacement, schedule an appointment with The Cooling Company. (702) 567-0707

How Much Does a Commercial Air Conditioning Unit Cost

Knapp Schmidt Architects reports that small businesses with one cooling zone can expect to pay $3 to $4 per square foot for their AC, but this can range from $7.50 to $10.50 for larger businesses. However, this can vary depending on the size of your business and what brand you purchase, which means your price could hit five figures or more. Given the number of variables that affect the price, your costs could be much higher or lower depending on your needs. The following are some of the most important factors to consider before deciding which AC is right for your business.

Type of Unit

Single and multi-split constant air-volume (CAV) systems are some of the most common types of commercial AC units. They feature an outdoor compressor and an indoor blower, and they are most useful in smaller businesses with relatively few rooms to cool. Variable air volume (VAV) systems modify the amount of air they move based on the current temperature, making them more efficient than CAV systems. Variable refrigerant volume (VRV) systems include a coolant in their blowers and allow you to heat and cool individual rooms as needed.

Brand & Features

Each AC brand offers a different set of features, and you may find one is better suited to your needs and budget than another. Lennox is renowned for efficiency and offers some of the highest SEER levels in the industry, making this a good choice if you’re trying to cut down on expenses. Top-of-the-line brands like American Standard and Carrier are known for their reliability and value but can be expensive. Some brands like Heil offer high-tech features that offer granular control, while others like York are known for their relative simplicity and reliability.

Related: What Is the Best Commercial HVAC Brand?

Size of the Commercial Building

The size of your building is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing an AC unit. If your AC is over or underpowered, it may have difficulty keeping a stable temperature in your building. Even worse, it might start and stop frequently, which increases wear and tear on your AC and can shorten its lifespan. Assuming each room in your building is 8 feet tall, you can estimate its cooling needs by dividing your building’s square footage by 500, then multiplying this number by 12,000 to determine how many BTUs your AC should move.

Related: How Many Tons of AC Do I Need?


Labor costs can vary widely from contractor to contractor, but a lower price might not be all it seems. Some contractors may include costs for insurance or other factors in the price they quote you for labor, while others will add them in later as a line-item. You’ll want to find out what each contractor includes in their quote for labor before comparing them, as a seemingly higher price with one contractor might be a better offer than a lower price with another. You may also consider asking for references to better evaluate the offers from each contractor, if possible.

Type of Business

Every type of business will need different cooling needs, making this an important factor when considering when looking for an AC unit. For instance, a restaurant might need more cooling than a small office, while a warehouse might need far more than both while using an entirely different kind of cooling system. What your business does, how many people work there, and what kinds of goods or services you offer can all play a role in determining your cooling needs. For instance, each window and kitchen contributes about 1-1,200 BTUs respectively and should be factored in when determining the tonnage of your AC.

The best way to minimize disruptions to your business and plan ahead for buying a new commercial AC unit is to speak with a qualified HVAC technician and get an estimate.

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