The 2024 Edmonton Central Air Conditioner Buying Guide

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"Thank you for the excellent service.

I got service from Atmosphere Plumbing & Heating from John. He was a great man—very friendly. He diagnosed my AC and right away found out what the problem was. He explained to me in a simple way and he fixed it! Also to Karen, I want to say thank you. The customer service was outstanding. I had amazing experience with this company and I highly recommend them to anyone!!"

- Elizabeth, July 2024

Your summer is heating up.

Alberta average summer temperatures have been trending up each year, and it doesn’t look like that’s about to change. Hot, sleepless nights, and sweaty days indoors can make even Edmonton’s summers feel less than comfortable.

So, as an Edmonton area homeowner, what can you do?

One of the simplest ways to ensure the comfort and health of your family at home is to invest in central air conditioning. You can easily control the temperature inside your house, allowing for a better sleep and quality of life for everyone.

But before you commit to getting a quote for central air conditioning installation (or any cooling system) in your home this year, it’s important to know what the process looks like, as well as considerations with your solution and your chosen provider.

This guide should give you everything you need to know about air conditioner installation in your home this year.

Your Options: Central Air Conditioning Systems vs. Portable Air Conditioners vs. Window Air Conditioners

HVAC is a field with many solutions to two problems: keeping things hot, and keeping things cool. As such, there are different types of air conditioning solutions available on the market today. But in terms of affordability, availability, and efficacy in the Edmonton market, these three options are by far the most common.

Central Air Conditioning Systems

When you say “AC” in Edmonton, this is typically what people think of.

Controlled by a thermostat, with condenser units located outside the house, this is a system you’re probably familiar with already. Cold air comes out of the heating registers around your house and cools the house in the same fashion as your furnace heats it.

Central air conditioners are the most standard solution for long-term cooling needs, and ultimately they offer the best performance per dollar spent. These systems return actively cooled air through your furnace system, improving indoor air quality and home comfort.

If you’re looking for peace of mind, a new air conditioner install can be a great investment in your house.


  • Most effective at rapidly controlling precise indoor air temperatures
  • Least invasive to your indoor space—uses existing venting and ducts
  • Long lasting and air conditioner repair can keep them running for decades
  • New units are highly efficient
  • Add value to your home for any future sale


Portable Air Conditioners

These are becoming somewhat popular in recent years as their efficiency improves, and they are adept at short-term cooling of a limited space where the building can’t be altered.

For instance, if you rent an apartment or condo and need to cool a specific room on demand, a portable air conditioner might be the right choice for you.

The downside is that heat doesn’t just disappear—it has to be actively moved or replaced with colder air, and because a portable air conditioner is meant to be moved around, they need window access for their piping.

For home owners looking to cool a space larger than a single bedroom, these units typically don’t pack enough punch and create a lot of noise as they attempt to cool down your house.


  • Lower cost to purchase
  • Portable to move around different rooms


  • Can be noisy
  • Lack of power
  • Relatively inefficient on power

Window Air Conditioners

Window air conditioners are window-mounted, so they are more effective than portable units in terms of transferring hot and cold air.

The downside? They eat up quite a bit of window space in the room you want to cool, and not every window casing is able to support a window air conditioner.


  • Lower cost to purchase
  • Effectively cool a single room


  • Can be noisy
  • Blocks windows
  • May not be powerful enough to cool larger spaces

What to look for in when purchasing a new central air conditioner in Edmonton

If you decide that central AC is the right choice for your house, there are a number of things that affect which unit to go with, and ultimately the cost of installation. The following are some of the biggest considerations we look at when determining the right solution for your home.

The right unit for the space (AC sizing and efficiency)

Choosing the right size air conditioner for your house can be a bit intimidating, which is why usually a site visit by a trained professional is the best way to get an accurate plan in place. But for your reference, central air conditioning systems come in different sizes, which are measured in tons.

A good rule of thumb is 600 sq/ft per ton, with typical minimum tonnage starting at 1.5 tons and going as high as 5 ton units for some houses. It’s a bit less common to see 4-5 ton units, and those houses typically have two furnaces.

You’ll also come across something called a SEER rating, measured in numbers ranging from 8 to 20. 13 SEER is considered “high efficiency” and offers a good balance of up-front cost to ongoing electrical usage.

There are countless factors that affect your choice of AC unit, but things like house layout, age of the house, and air tightness will be considered above and beyond raw square footage.

The goal of a professional installer is to make sure you get exactly the right unit for your space and budget.

Electrical and duct planning

Do you have space in your existing breaker panel for a 2 pole breaker? Because you’ll need it.

Also, do you have a hot tub or an electric car charger? This means that you will likely be over the allowable amps to have an AC installed.

Sometimes a simple AC install can lead to unexpected electrical upgrades, but it’s worth it to stay safe and legally up to code. We can bring in an electrician to do a load calculation and possibly add in a load stabilizer to your home in these cases.

Your existing furnace

The age of your furnace may also play a role in how much you spend to get central air conditioning installed in Edmonton. Sometimes older mid-efficiency furnaces are a bit underpowered, and they are unable to push enough air through the AC coil.

High efficiency furnace typically don’t have this issue, but again a site visit is ideal to give you the most accurate sense of how your system is set up to handle the additional demands of central air conditioning.


Not all warranties are the same. When discussing an investment of this nature with your AC installer, it’s important to ask them about the product manufacturer’s warranty for their selected brands, as well as the warranty or guarantee on labour through the installer.

A good installer knows the value of a happy customer (and referrals) and will work hard not just to earn your business, but to keep your system running to spec year after year.

After service

Which brings us to after service. Your installer will let you know what maintenance looks like for your central AC system, but in case they need to come out to help service it, it’s good to work with someone who will answer the phone when you need them. There’s nothing worse than going to lower the thermostat in 30°C weather and it doesn’t kick on, but as long as you go with a trusted installer, they should be able to send someone out quickly to get you sorted.

How much does a central air conditioner installation cost?

The answer to that, of course, is, “it depends.”

But with a bit of planning, you can roughly determine the range you’re looking at before you call for a proper quote. And hopefully, by leveraging all the information in this guide, you’re well prepared to ask the right questions and get an informed answer about the cost of your AC install in Edmonton.

The following are some rough estimates for the cost of Edmonton area 13 SEER high efficiency air conditioning installation in 2024, without electrical or other major modifications.

1.5 to 2 ton units: $4,500 to $5,000 

2.5 to 3 ton units: $5,000 to $5,500

3.5 ton units: $6,000

4 to 5 ton units are priced after a site visit as they typically have 2 furnaces, and may require a more custom installation process.

These prices include the AC unit as well as installation labour costs.

We offer financing options as well, so it can be affordable to invest in air conditioning for your house sooner rather than later.

Edmonton Air Conditioning
Installation Cost Calculator

This calculator will output a dollar amount in Canadian dollars. This figure represents the approximate cost for a central air conditioning install in Edmonton, based on your answers.

Atmosphere Plumbing & Heating reserves the right to accurately estimate the cost of your install, which may differ slightly from the answers here. This calculator is an approximation only, and results are not a formal quote.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does central air conditioning work?

In simplest terms, your central air conditioning system will have supply and return ducts, an evaporator, a condenser, and a fan (which is your furnace).

The condenser unit, located outside the house, releases heat outside and sends chilled coolant to the evaporator coil.

The evaporator coil is the part that picks up heat from the indoor air, thus cooling the air itself, and warming that incoming coolant.

Your furnace fan sends this cool air around your house via supply ducts.

That warmed coolant then goes outside to the condenser coil to be chilled again, and the process cycles.

Should I get central air conditioning or a heat pump?

Recently you may have heard of the Greener Homes Energy Grant. The grant has now been closed but during its offering the Canadian Government was pushing hard for Heat Pump Installations.

But how do they differ from your standard AC unit?

Simply put, an AC unit will ONLY remove hot air from the inside of the home and transfer it outside. It has a single job to do and it will do it very well if sized and installed correctly.

A heat pump will do that as well as take heat from outside of the home and transfer it to the inside of the home.

Like most products, they have successes and limitations depending on the environment they are installed in. Heat pumps will operate with a higher success rate in humid environments.

Humidity holds heat and will allow a heat pump to transfer that heat at an efficient rate. If you live in a dry climate, then a heat pump may not work to your desired capacity. They also use a high amount of energy to operate, so they work well with homes that have solar energy systems installed.

How fast can you install an AC system?

Most AC installs take a day to install. We need a clear/clean path to a location outside of the home to run a line set for the refrigerant to travel. We are able to install AC units in the winter, but are unable to start up the system until the outside air temp is above 16C.

What is a typical maintenance schedule for my central air conditioning?

AC systems, like any HVAC system, require a high amount of airflow to work properly. Changing your furnace filter often and making sure the outside condenser is clean of leaves and matting will keep the system running smoothly. Everything from duct cleaning to upgrading your old furnace into a new furnace will be beneficial to keep your system running at top performance.

You should have a certified technician look over your system before each season to make sure the AC system will be operating at manufactures specifications. They will also be able to process any warranties, if applicable, while the unit is covered, and run a tune-up as required.

How much electricity does central air conditioning use?

New systems are vastly different than older, low-efficiency systems. Because the energy efficiency of your unit is a major factor in the overall electricity consumption, newer units inherently use less than older ones.

However, just like any system, how much you use it and how hard you push it will determine the actual energy usage.

For example, in two identical homes with identical systems, the user who runs their system at 16°C for 12 hours a day will have vastly higher costs than a user who runs their system at 20° for a few hours in the evening.

Typically Edmonton electrical usage during a normal summer, with responsible daily or evening usage might mean your system uses between 400-600KWh in August for a 2000 sq/ft house.

How long will my central AC last?

As great as central AC is, nothing lasts forever. With solid maintenance, though, you can likely expect your system to last anywhere between 10-30 years. How much you use it, how hard you push the system, and how you maintain all the components will all play a factor in this number.

You might want to look into replacing your central air conditioning system if you notice foul odours, poor performance, or loud noise coming from any part of the system.