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How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Central AC Compressor in Tampa, FL?

In this article, we’ll answer a few questions that may be on your mind: 

  1. What does an AC compressor do? 
  2. Why does it cost so much to replace an AC compressor? 
  3. Is it better to replace my AC or just the compressor?

Let’s start with question #1... 

Have other questions? Or want a quote for a new compressor? 


Question #1: What Does an AC Compressor Do? 

An air conditioner compressor is responsible for circulating refrigerant (the liquid/gas that cools your home’s warm air) throughout the AC system.

Think of the compressor as the “heart” of your air conditioning system, and the refrigerant as the “blood.” Without either of these two important components, your AC system can’t function.

Your compressor is located in the outdoor unit of your air conditioning system.

Signs of a Bad AC Compressor

If an AC tech has mentioned you need a new compressor, then you’ve probably experienced the following signs:

  • A ticking or rattling sound near your outdoor unit.
  • Refrigerant leaks around outdoor unit (refrigerant looks like water but has a sweet, chloroform scent that can cause irritations to the eyes and throat).
  • The air coming from your vents feels warm, even when your AC is running.
  • AC is tripping circuit breaker (a bad compressor pulls too much power as it struggles to start up, which can trip the breaker).

Question #2: Why Does It Cost so Much to Replace an AC Compressor?

The reason compressors are so expensive is because the part itself is expensive and the installation is pretty labor-intensive (can take up to 4–5 hours).

However, without looking at your specific AC system, we can’t tell you exactly how much you’ll pay. That’s because the total price of a new compressor depends on the following factors:

  1. The Type of Compressor You Choose
  2. The Size of Your AC
  3. Your AC Warranty
  4. The Contractor You Hire

Let’s go into each of these factors:

Cost Factor #1: The Type of Compressor You Choose

Compressors come in 3 different types, based on the speed of its motor:

  1. Single-stage compressor. This type of compressor runs on 2 speeds: ON (100% capacity) or OFF (0% capacity). Single-stage compressors are generally the cheapest.
  2. Two-stage compressor. This type of compressor runs on 3 speeds: ON (100%), OFF (0%), or LOW (60%–70%).
  3. Variable-speed compressor. This type of compressor operates similarly to a gas pedal: it adjusts its speed constantly. Variable-speed compressors can operate anywhere between 10% and 150% capacity. So, just like a car can speed up or down according to whatever is needed, a variable-speed compressor can run on 37%, 59%, 85%, etc. so that it only puts out as much cooling as is needed at the moment.

Since variable-speed compressors are the most complex and the most energy-efficient type of compressor, they’re also the most expensive.

Note: The prices above do not reflect labor, just the cost of the compressor itself.

Cost Factor #2: The Size of Your AC

The bigger your AC (measured in tons), the more expensive your compressor will be. Most residential AC units range from 1 to 5 tons in size.

The higher the tonnage of your system, the more powerful your replacement compressor will need to be (which also raises its price).

Cost Factor #3: Your AC Warranty

Since the compressor is a vital part of your air conditioning system, most AC manufacturers will cover the cost of a replacement if your compressor breaks down within 10 years from the date it was first installed.

This warranty is usually called a limited parts warranty, which means manufacturers will usually only cover the compressor itself, but not the labor to replace it (which can be quite expensive).

To look at what your warranty covers, visit your manufacturer's website and try searching for your AC model number. If you’re having trouble locating the warranty, contact the AC contractor who installed your system.

Note: Most manufacturers will deem your warranty invalid if...

  1. You Didn’t Register Your AC With Them When It Was First Installed and
  2. You Didn’t Have Your AC Maintained by a Professional Regularly

Cost Factor #4: The Contractor You Hire

As a general rule of thumb, the more experienced the contractor, the more expensive they’ll be.

But don’t let a higher-priced contractor scare you. When it comes to installing an important AC component like the compressor, you want to make sure it’s done right the first time, or else you’ll run into issues down the road like premature breakdowns and higher energy bills.

To help you find a quality contractor, we’ll share a few tips:

  • Make Sure the Company Has Been in Business for 10+ Years
  • Verify the Contractor Is Licensed and Insured
  • Check to See if the Contractor Offers Guarantees on Their Install Work
  • Look at the company’s online customer reviews (YelpBBBFacebook) to see if other customers have had good experiences with them.

Question #3: Is It Better to Replace My AC or Just the Compressor?

Well, here’s what we recommend: 

  • If your air conditioner is 1 to 3 years old, just replace the compressor—especially if it’s covered under warranty. Since your air conditioner is still pretty new, it probably doesn’t make sense to replace your entire system yet.

If your air conditioner is 3 to 10 years old, you’ll have to ask yourself some questions:

  • Does your AC need repairs all the time?
  • Are your cooling bills much higher than they used to be?
  • Does your home not feel as comfortable as it used to?

If you answered “yes” to all or most of those questions, your AC may be starting to give out, which means it may be time to replace it (especially if it’s 7+ years old).

  • If your air conditioner is 10+ years old, definitely replace your entire air conditioner because that’s the best use of your money. (Remember: Air conditioners only last about 10 years).

For more information about installing a new AC, read our article “Cost to Install a Central AC in Tampa, FL.”

Have Questions? Or Need a New Compressor ASAP?



To learn more about our AC install services, visit our AC installation page.

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