Replacing the evaporator coil of your air conditioner can cost you between $400 and $2,000 on average. However, the actual replacement cost may vary based on several factors, such as the type, refrigerant, size, coil style, labor, location, and SEER ratings.
As a homeowner, you can purchase different types of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems for your home.
From evaporative coolers to furnace heaters, each system has its own use case. In this regard, air conditioners are possibly the most common HVAC systems today.
But in order to get the best use out of your AC, you need to look after it. And replacing the evaporator coil is one of the most crucial maintenance tasks for an air conditioner.
So, if you want to know how much it costs to get this component replaced, then keep reading!
What Is An AC Evaporator Coil?
- What Is An AC Evaporator Coil?
- Factors That Affect AC Evaporator Coil Replacement Costs
- Average Cost Of AC Evaporator Coil Replacement
- Signs That You Need An AC Evaporator Coil Replacement
- Evaporator Coil FAQs
As you already know, an air conditioner is a fairly complex piece of equipment. There are several components inside this appliance, such as the fan, air handler, heat exchanger, compressor, condenser, air filter, and so on. All of these components work together to provide cooling or heating inside the room. And one of these components is the evaporator coil, which plays a crucial role in the functioning of your AC.
Simply put, the evaporator coil absorbs the heat from the air to lower the room temperature. Because of this reason, it is also known as the cooling coil of the AC unit. It works alongside the condenser coil of your AC to complete the heat exchange process, thereby conditioning the air inside your home.
Therefore, it is absolutely essential to replace this part if it breaks or starts to malfunction. If you don’t, your AC will fail to provide sufficient cooling (or heating), which will defeat the entire purpose of the machine.
Factors That Affect AC Evaporator Coil Replacement Costs
When it comes to replacing the evaporator coil of an AC, there is no fixed price point that can be specified. This is because the actual cost of replacement depends on a variety of factors. For your convenience, I have discussed each of these factors in detail below.
1. Type Of HVAC System
The biggest factor that influences the replacement cost of an evaporator coil is the type. There are several types of air conditioning systems available today, with each type having a different arrangement of evaporator coils. That is the primary reason behind the replacement cost differences.
On that note, the four types of ACs which are the most common for residential usage are mini-split, window, portable, and central air conditioner units. The other types of HVAC systems that are not as commonly used are geothermal, through-the-wall, and smart air conditioners.
You will notice that window and portable ACs are relatively cheaper. This means that you won’t have to spend a lot of money on replacing their evaporator coils. On the other hand, mini-split or central AC units are expensive, which means the evaporator coil replacement will be costlier in those cases.
Here, you should keep in mind that other types of HVAC systems – such as furnaces and heat pumps – may come with evaporator coils too. A typical heat pump or furnace supplies warm air instead of cold air, which makes it better suited for those living in colder climates.
2. Type Of Refrigerant Liquid
Besides the AC type, the refrigerant type influences the cost of evaporator coil replacement as well. That is because the evaporator coils need to be filled with these refrigerants to function properly. These refrigerants are available in different types based on the constituent chemicals that have been used to make them.
The R-22 chlorodifluoromethane refrigerant (also known as Freon) is the most expensive to purchase. Fortunately, most modern ACs use the R410A refrigerant, which is a bit cheaper and more eco-friendly.
Typically, it will cost you around $150 to $300 to replace your evaporator coils after refilling them with a suitable refrigerant. However, older models of air conditioners use outdated refrigerants, which are generally harder to find. As a result, the replacement process might be a little more expensive in this situation.
3. Size Of The AC Unit
The size of the AC is another key factor that affects the cost of evaporator coil replacements. Normally, the sizes of air conditioning systems are represented in tons. The tonnage of an AC is usually measured in BTU (British thermal unit), and it refers to how much air the machine can process in an hour.
An air conditioner of one ton has a cooling capacity of 12,000 BTU per hour. Thus, an AC unit that has a higher tonnage will have a considerably high BTU rating. As such, it will be able to cool a large space more effectively than an AC unit that has a lower tonnage.
In this regard, the tonnage of the AC is dependent on the size of a room as well. For instance, if you have a small room, you can use a small-sized AC of 1.5 tons without any issues. But if your room is a large one, you will need an AC that has a size of 2.5 tons or higher.
Needless to say, a large-sized AC will have a larger and more complex system of evaporator coils. So, the cost of replacing them will naturally be higher.
4. Evaporator Coil Style
The style of evaporator coil used in the machine also influences the cost of replacement. By style, I am referring to the overall shape of the coil. In that context, there are five different coil styles commonly used in AC units today. These are the A-coils, Z-coils, N-coils, slab coils, and uncased coils.
As you can guess, the A, N, and Z coils are shaped like the corresponding letters of the alphabet, and they support both vertical and horizontal airflow. Conversely, slab coils are designed to support only horizontal airflow. Regardless of that, all of these coils have an outer casing that protects them from damage.
Uncased evaporator coils, on the other hand, do not come with an outer casing (hence the name). However, they can be used in both horizontal and vertical configurations. And in terms of cost, they are cheaper to purchase than the previous coil styles. But be advised – the lack of an outer casing makes them vulnerable to damage.
When replacing the evaporator coil in an AC system, you need to consider the labor costs too. On average, professionals involved with HVAC system repairs and installations charge around $50 to $150 per hour. The better their reputation, the higher their charges will be.
In general, replacing the evaporator coil takes around three to four hours. Based on that, the average cost of labor can be calculated to be between $150 and $600.
6. Unit Location
This is another factor that affects the AC coil replacement cost. If your air conditioner unit is located in an area that is difficult to access, then the cost of replacement will go up. This is because the technician will have to put in more effort to access the unit, which will increase the cost of labor.
7. SEER Rating
The seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating also needs to be considered when getting a new evaporator coil for your AC. All HVAC systems, ranging from swamp coolers to heat pumps, come with a SEER rating, which determines how much energy the unit consumes. A high SEER rating implies that the unit is more energy efficient and vice versa.
One thing you should keep in mind is that the quality of the components used in the air conditioner influences its SEER rating. So, if you do not want your AC’s energy consumption to increase, you will need to find an evaporator coil that is compatible with the SEER rating of the AC. Obviously, more efficient coils will come at a higher price, so you need to keep that in mind.
Average Cost Of AC Evaporator Coil Replacement
Now that you have familiarized yourself with the factors that affect evaporator coil replacement cost, it is time to discuss the specifics. That is what I have dealt with in this section, so I’d suggest that you read on.
1. How Much Do You Need To Spend On Replacing An Air Conditioner’s Evaporator Coil?
Based on my observations and the discussion I have provided above, I’d say that it costs between $400 and $2,000 to get this whole job done. This price range includes the cost of labor, materials, equipment, and everything else that is related to this task.
The coil itself will cost you around $150 to $1,600 to purchase. All things considered, the average price that you need to pay to purchase an evaporator coil in the United States is around $1,350.
As for the remaining amount, it will be spent on labor costs, the range of which I have already mentioned. Although, if you feel confident about taking a do-it-yourself approach, the total cost will be considerably less.
2. Evaporator Coil Replacement Costs By Size
The size is possibly the most prominent factor that affects the evaporator coil cost. That’s why I have shed some more light on this aspect here.
On average, replacing the coil of a 1.5-ton or 2-ton AC will cost you around $400 to $1,600. Similarly, it costs between $500 and $1,500 to replace the coils of a 2.5-ton or 3-ton AC unit.
For ACs that are 3.5 tons and higher, you will need to spend between $750 and $2,000 on average. Keep in mind that the above costs are inclusive of labor charges, meaning that they can be lowered if you take a DIY approach.
3. Evaporator Coil Costs By Style
Here, I have discussed the average costs for the different coil styles in a bit more detail. Uncased coils typically have the lowest average price, which is around $800. On the contrary, the prices for most cased coils start from $1,000.
Slab coils are usually a bit cheaper, given that you can get them at an average price of $1,200. Subsequently, the average prices for A-coils are around $1,300, and those for N and Z coils are approximately $1,500.
Signs That You Need An AC Evaporator Coil Replacement
A faulty or old evaporator coil is accompanied by several signs, as I listed below. If you notice one or more of these signs, then you should immediately replace the old coil with a new one.
- There is a drop in the indoor air quality
- The AC unit is pumping out hot air
- Odd sounds are coming from inside the unit
- The cooling efficiency has reduced noticeably
- There are visible signs of a refrigerant or water leak
- The moisture level of the air is high
- You have difficulty turning on the unit
Evaporator Coil FAQs
Simply put, the evaporator coil removes the heat from the air inside your room, while the condenser coil expels this heat to the outside.
When the refrigerant liquid flows through the evaporator coils, it absorbs the excess heat from the air via the process of heat transfer. This warm refrigerant is then circulated to the condenser coils, which use the same process as above to expel this heat to the outside. On that note, these coils also help to remove moisture through the process of condensation.
Whether or not your AC’s evaporator coil comes with a warranty or guarantee depends entirely on the brand. Some manufacturers include a home warranty on most components, including the evaporator coil. In that situation, you can seek free replacements and service in case of any manufacturing defects.
However, there are some brands that provide limited or no warranties on evaporator coils. In that case, you will have to spend out of your own pocket to replace this component.
The evaporator coils used in modern air conditioners can last anywhere between 10 and 15 years, which is almost the same as the lifespan of the AC. Thus, you will need to replace the coil at the above intervals, provided the rest of the unit is still in working condition. If not, then it’s a good idea to replace the whole thing altogether.
That said, if you maintain your AC unit properly, you can extend its lifespan by a few more years. Fail to do that, and your coils will need to be replaced at shorter intervals.
An evaporative cooler is different from an air conditioner, both in design and mode of operation. This particular HVAC system uses the process of water evaporation to cool the air inside a room. In contrast, an air conditioner uses refrigerants to do the same.
Therefore, evaporative coolers do not have any evaporator coils that need to be replaced. And purchasing this appliance is a lot more affordable than purchasing a conventional air conditioner.
That brings me to the end of this detailed guide. I hope that you will find the information provided here helpful in preparing a suitable budget for this task.
Here, I should emphasize the need for proper monitoring and maintenance since that will save you a lot of money in the long run. If you clean the air conditioner from time to time, you can keep the evaporator coil (and the AC) in top working condition for a long time.
In that context, if your coil needs some minor repairs after a while, you can get it done at a relatively lower cost than a full replacement. Still, replacing your coil will eventually become necessary, and that is when this guide will become useful.