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AC compressor prices: an overview

AC compressor prices are determined largely by the type of compressor and the model of the residential AC unit in which it's being placed.

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AC compressor pricesFor many homeowners, the air conditioner (AC) is the central unit of their heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. At the center of the outside condensing unit is the AC compressor.

Should the compressor fail, AC compressor prices for a new unit can force you to have to decide on whether to repair or replace either the compressor itself or the whole condensing unit.

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What is a compressor?

Before you go searching out AC compressor prices, you should have some idea of just why prices for this particular part are so high.

It compresses a low-pressure gas contained in the unit into a high-pressure gas, creating heat in the process. This gas is then sent through the condenser where it's cooled into a high-pressure liquid. The liquid is then pushed through an evaporator into copper tubing where it draws heat from the room to change back into a gas, cooling the room in the process.

The compressor is typically the largest part of the AC unit.

Types of home compressors

Four types of compressors are available, with each type common to a particular type of air conditioning unit. In a window unit or some central air conditioning systems, the compressor running the system is a rotary type. These are fairly inexpensive and tend to be built for durability.

Another common type of compressor is the reciprocating compressor that can be found in some low-rated seasonal energy-efficiency ratio (SEER) split air conditioners. These are also relatively inexpensive to replace, but tend to have a higher failure rate than those used in higher-rated units.

The higher-rated units use either a scroll compressor or the newer variable speed compressor. Both are expensive to replace compared to the other two types.

AC compressor prices

AC compressor prices are determined largely by the type of compressor and the model of the unit in which it's being placed. The larger the AC unit, the more expensive the compressor will likely be. Newer models will tend to use more expensive compressors as well.

Most compressors will last for years. Most breakdowns occur due to the effects of age on the system. By the time the compressor has broken, replacement is generally not recommended as the AC unit is likely to have other serious air conditioner problems as well, requiring the replacement of the entire unit.

The exception to this is with the breakdown of compressors in newer units due to mistakes made during the installation of the air conditioner or manufacturer error. These newer units are typically covered by warranty though, so there's little to no cost to the homeowner to replace the compressor.

If you're still under the warranty of the unit, it may cover the cost of replacing the compressor.

If you need a new AC compressor and you're not under a parts warranty, you can receive an estimate on AC compressor prices from an experienced HVAC contractor. After the estimate, the same contractor should be able to handle the replacement of the compressor or the AC unit as a whole. Or he may find it is not worth replacing and instead provide estimates for a new air conditioner system. Find contractors now.

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About the Author

Dale Eklund is a former construction manager with more than 20 years of experience building, remodeling and landscaping homes. To share home improvement ideas, find him on Google+.