AC Unit For 1,000 Sq Ft House: Cost, Size (Tonnage), 3 Options

If you looking for an air conditioner for a 1,000 sq ft house, you basically have one goal in mind:

To adequately provide cooling to 1,000 sq ft home.

Now, there are a lot of air conditioning options out there. You want to make the best choice for your 1,000 sq ft house. Here are the preferences most homeowners have:

  1. AC unit for 1,000 sq ft house should cost at little as possible (minimal upfront cost). Air conditioning cost with installation for a 1,000 sq ft house can cost anywhere from $2,000 to more than $10,000. This primarily depends on SEER rating and if you already have HVAC ductwork. You want to get as close to $2,000 as possible.
  2. Lowest possible running costs (high SEER rating). SEER rating denotes the energy efficiency of AC units; 20 SEER unit is about 40% more energy-efficient than 14 SEER unit. This will lower your cooling costs by 40% (albeit the difference between 20 SEER vs 14 SEER can be substantial; several $1,000s).
  3. A reliable and durable unit. AC unit for 1,000 sq ft should last for at least 15 years. You want to look for the longest lifespan and minimal maintenance units.

As you might imagine, the cost of an AC unit for 1,000 sq ft and its SEER rating and inversely proportional. You want to make the best compromise between the upfront price and the SEER rating (running costs).

types of air conditioners for 1000 sq ft home
Types of AC units for a 1,000 sq ft house include central air, ductless mini split AC units, and room AC units.

Before you buy an AC unit for a 1,000 sq ft house, you need to address these two vital questions:

  1. What size AC unit do you need for a 1,000 sq ft house? We are talking about the AC tonnage.
  2. What type of AC unit is best for a 1,000 sq ft house? Here you have 3 options: central air conditioner, ductless mini split AC units, or room AC units (portable or window units).

This is quite a lot to consider. To help you out, we will first address the AC tonnage you need for a 1,000 sq ft house and what types of AC units you can choose from.

Based on this, we will also look at what are the prices of AC units for 1,000 sq ft, associated installation costs, and the reliability of different types of air conditioners.

Note: If you would need additional advice or help with choosing a specific AC unit for a 1,000 sq ft house, you can use the comment section below and we’ll try to help you out as best we can.

What Size Air Conditioner Do You Need For 1,000 Sq Ft House?

Sizing is everything. You need to figure out what size (how many tons or how many BTUs) you need to adequately cool all those 1,000 square feet.

US Department of Energy (DOE) has a simple rule of thumb for sizing air conditioning requirements. This is the rule of thumb:

20 BTU per sq ft of living space (8 ft ceilings)

If we apply this rule to a 1,000 sq ft house, we get that, on average you would need 20,000 BTU cooling capacity (or between 1.5-ton and 2-ton air conditioner). Here’s the calculation:

Cooling Capacity (1,000 Sq Ft) = 20 BTU/sq ft × 1,000 sq ft = 20,000 BTU

Given that 1 ton is equal to 12,000 BTU, we are talking about 1.67 tons of cooling output.

Of course, if you live in hot Florida or have big sun exposure, you should opt for a bigger 2-ton capacity for a 1,000 sq ft house. For colder climates and less sub exposure, you’re looking at a 1.5-ton AC unit. You can make more precise calculations with this AC tonnage calculator.

Now that you know you need a 1.5-ton or 2-ton air conditioner, you can decide for which type of air conditioning system you want to choose for a 1,000 sq ft home.

Here are the options:

Types Of Air Conditioning Systems For 1,000 Sq Ft House

Here is what we see homeowners choosing for different size houses:

  • Big houses: Central air conditioners or ductless mini split air conditioners. These units can generate 1-6 tons of cooling output.
  • Standard houses: Ductless mini split air conditioners. These units generate 1-5 tons of cooling output.
  • Small houses: Ductless mini split air conditioners or room air conditioners (these are portable and window AC units).

1,000 sq ft is considered a small-to-standard size house. Many homeowners still want to install central air even in 1,000 sq ft houses. Central AC systems are very expensive, especially if you don’t have existing ductwork. Just the ductwork can cost several $1,000s.

New central air conditioner cost for 1,000 sq ft house can run up to or even above $10,000. They do last 20-25 years, however.

Nowadays, everybody wants ductless mini split AC units (these serve as heat pumps as well; providing heating in the winter). The best choice for a 1,000 sq ft house is actually a mini-split air conditioner.

They have several advantages including:

  • Extremely high energy efficiency ratings (20+ SEER). That means they are cost-saving and have low running costs.
  • Fairly durable with a 15-20 year lifespan.
  • Rather easy to install. You would probably need a professional installation but, if you are a technical type, you also have DIY mini splits you can install yourself and save up to $3,000 on installation costs.
  • Require no ductwork. That’s a big cost saver.
  • Require little to no maintenance.
    cooling a 1000 sq ft house air distribution with airflows
    Ductless mini split AC units are the best option for cooling a 1,000 sq ft house.

Mini splits for 1,000 sq ft make a lot of sense. Given the specs, easier installation, and lower upfront and running costs, they are a perfect option for these smaller to standard houses.

Additional options for a 1,000 sq ft house are the room air conditioners. These are portable air conditioners with 8,000 BTU to 14,000 BTU capacity (around 1-ton), and window air conditioners with 5,000 BTU to 25,000 BTU capacity (from about 0.5 tons to more than 2-tons).

These units are cheaper (cost less than $1,000), you can install them yourself, but they tend to be much less reliable than mini splits and last about 10 years. Nonetheless, for smaller 1,000 sq ft houses, they do have enough cooling power. You can get 2 portable units, or 2 window units, or 1 big 2-ton window unit, and you have sufficient cooling output to adequately cool a 1,000 sq ft house.

Regardless, however, most HVAC experts recommend ductless mini-split AC units for 1,000 sq ft houses. That’s why let’s look at how much these 1,000 sq ft units cost, how much they cost to install, and what are the expected yearly running costs:

Cost Of A New AC Unit For A 1,000 Sq Ft House (+ Installation)

According to Modernize, the average cost of a 2-ton 14 SEER central AC unit is $2,620 (1.5-ton unit costs about $2,000). If you want a higher energy efficiency unit – and you definitely want that to lower the running costs – the 20 SEER 2-ton central AC units cost more than $5,000. If you go with Carrier, Trane, or Lennox, you will likely pay extra due to a recognizable brand.

On top of this, you will have to pay for professional installation. That costs as much as the central AC itself (even more if you have to install ductwork as well). If you choose a new central AC unit for 1,000 sq ft, you are looking at a minimum of $5,000 and you will get a unit with high running costs for that money.

If you, however, choose the recommended mini split AC for 1,000 sq ft, you will most likely pay less than $5,000 for a highly efficient unit (20 SEER or more) and low running costs.

1.5 ton (18,000 BTU) and 2 ton (24,000 BTU) mini splits cost at most $2,500. The installation also costs as much as the unit itself (let’s say up to $2,500). But you don’t require ductwork which further reduces your costs.

What is more, you can opt to install a mini split yourself. MrCool DIY mini splits here are what most people choose because you get an exceptional 20 SEER rating and these are the easiest DIY mini split most homeowners can install themselves (they come with the complete installation kit + step-by-step installation manual).

Example: 1.5-ton MrCooL (this is the 18k model) has a 20 SEER rating and costs about $1,750. 2-ton MrCool (this is the 24k model) has a 20 SEER rating and costs about $2,050.

diy mini split for 1000 sq ft house
MrCool 24k (2-ton) unit is a well-optimized choice for most 1,000 sq ft homes.

Given the superb specs and track record for durability, these are the best mini split AC units currently on the market (you can check out mini split spec-by-spec analysis here).

That means that you can adequately cool a 1,000 sq ft for about $2,000. You will need 1 afternoon for the installation. Of course, you can also call a professional to do it. Installing a $2,000 mini split costs about $2,000.

Portable and window AC units are a less reliable choice for a 1,000 sq ft house. However, they are extremely cheap, especially compared to central air, and don’t require professional installation. You can buy 2 portable AC units or 2 window AC units for about $1,000.

If you want to opt for portable or window AC units for a 1,000 sq ft house, you can check out:

It’s quite important, however, to think about the energy-efficient and running costs:

Energy Efficiency Of AC Units For Small Houses

Up till now, we have only seen the upfront costs of 1,000 sq ft air conditioning systems:

  • Central air costs more than $5,000.
  • Mini splits cost between $2,000 and $5,000.
  • Room AC units can cost as little as $1,000.

Of course, we can all note how much a unit costs. What is more difficult – and overall more important – to calculate are the running costs.

Here is an example to illustrate this: Let’s say you are buying an air conditioner for a 1,000 sq ft house and you decide on a $5,000 unit. Cooling costs over the next 20 years, however, can surpass $10,000.

It is quite evident that it can pay off to decrease these $10,000 or more future electricity costs. You do that by choosing an energy efficient air conditioner.

The efficiency of air conditioners is measured by SEER rating. A higher SEER rating equals to lower running costs. As we have seen, a 20 SEER unit can lower the cooling costs by about 40% compared to a 14 SEER unit. That reduces that $10,000 bill to $6,000; a whooping $4,000 difference.

In general, it always pays off to invest in a high SEER unit for a 1,000 sq ft home. Yes, the upfront cost will be higher (especially if you go with central air), but the cooling costs in the next 20 years will be lower.

Hopefully, now you have a full overview on how to go about choosing the best air conditioner for a 1,000 sq ft house. If you have any questions or would like advice on which AC units to choose, you can use the comment section below and we’ll try to help you out as best we can.

Thank you.

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