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Question DetailsAsked on 7/26/2016

Hiw much should a 1/2 ton ac cost for a 3rd story condo in so cal? Not coastal. Quotes $7500

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Unless you have a REALLY difficult install, or were looking for individual mini-split units (individual fan/evaporator units mounted up on the wall near the ceiling) on each of the three floors, this sounds to me like an AWFUL lot - usually you can do a 1500-2000SF home with a 3-4 ton unit for that much - and a very high-efficiency unit at that for that cosst. Even then, that amount just sounds way too high for your case - 2 or 3 mini-split "heads" coming off even a 2 ton unit should probably run about $2000-4000 in your area for around a 800-1000 SF condo.

I would be looking for several more bids - both because the cost seems so high, and also a 1/2 ton unit sounds incredibly small for SoCal - normally more like 2-4 tons in warmer areas like that for a normal sized condo unless you are way up in the mountains like at Big Bear or Angeles Crest or such where in a normal year you barely get into A/C conditions.

If your condo is so small it really only needs 1/2 ton (which would normally be more like an efficiency 200-300 SF apartment load for that load), I would just go with a window air conditioner FARRR cheaper - around $200-250 for a 1/2 or 1 ton 120V unit which you can normally install yourself using a window insert kit, or a couple hundred more for installation by a Handyman.

Another possibility is contractor offered installation of new full ducting with an outside A/C unit (assuming you have unducted electric heat) so you would be paying a lot of cost to run ducts - which would also then mean a lot of repair of drywall and repainting, which probably is not in his cost (almost certainly not if he is an HVAC contractor rather than General Contractor). For a new install in an existing condo, a mini-split unit would be FARRR more normal than trying to run ducting in an existing building, and is FAR less invasive - especially since you said you are thrid floor, so running ducting would possibly mean tearing into walls in the downstairs units to get the ducts up to you - or a rooftop installation, which gets to be a mess if not a flat or very low-slope roof. [A mini-split unit, which you can google, uses an outside A/C compressor/condensor unit, but instead of an evaporator coil being in the furnace air ducts to cool the air, has independent wall-mounted fan/evaporator "heads" or fan/register units in several locations around the house (commonly can handle 2-4 places or heads off one outside unit) - the refrigerant is run to those units in small tubing, and each head or "mini" unit operates on its own thermostat to kick on and off as that area demands.

Something is just plain wrong with this bid - unit size, price, scope, all of those ? Or your condo association is requiring a contractor who is making a killing, or (in my opinion) demanding an unreasonable installation type.

If you have had neighbors in the condo complex who have had this done ask them what they paid and what type of unit they got - and how many tons (which should be roughly proportional to condo square footage, though corner and top floor units need more than interior units which get the benefit of their neighbor's condo and halls as a buffer against the outside temperatures. Maybe that is why you only need 1/2 ton - if not top floor or corner, you might have only one narrow outside wall, being surrounded on all other sides by air conditioned spaces ? In which cas a window unit (if allowed in your complex) or a thru-wall window-type unit (at maybe double the install cost) would normally be the answer.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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