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Air Conditioning Checking

What Is the Average Lifespan of an Air Conditioner?

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

Whether or not to get a new HVAC system is a big decision. You might be wondering what is the average life of an air conditioner? Should I replace mine? Is it even time?

According to the US Department of Energy, the average lifespan of an air conditioning unit is about 15 to 20 years. But there are a few factors to consider when deciding whether or not you need to replace your HVAC system.

Man Lying on Sofa

The Effect of Maintenance on AC Lifespan

You can expect your average AC to last between 15 to 20 years, but a good preventive AC maintenance routine can keep your air conditioner working its best longer.

Main AC Maintenance Items:

– Changing filter regularly (every 1-3 months) – Getting AC tune-ups/servicing seasonally – Removing debris from and cleaning the casing of the outside unit – Checking on and replacing refrigerant insulation as necessary

How many of these items you perform and how regularly you perform them makes an impact on the lifespan of your air conditioner.

Do you do no maintenance what so ever? Expect your AC’s lifespan to be on the low end, 15-18 years.

If you do 2-3 of these items regularly, then your AC’s lifespan will be on the higher end of the range – between 18 to 20 years.

What if you’re diligent about doing all 4 of these maintenance items regularly? Your AC could last as long as 20 to 25 years!

Factors to Consider When Replacing Your AC


If you have an older air conditioner, you might want to replace the outdoor compressor with something more efficient – if not the whole system. Even if your air conditioner is 10 years old, keep in mind that today’s best air conditioners use 20 percent to 40 percent less energy for the same level of cooling.

New central air conditioner standards went into effect on January 1, 2015, so you may want to review them and be sure that your existing system meets these requirements.

SEER Rating

Another factor in AC life expectancy is your unit’s SEER rating. SEER stands for the Season Energy Efficiency Ratio, and it’s a number used to measure how much cooling an HVAC system can put out for every 1 unit of energy it consumes. In the past, the minimum efficiency requirements were 10 SEER. Today, HVAC systems are designed to operate at least 13 SEER — or to be 30 percent more efficient. Older systems may even have a SEER rating of only 6 — not taking into account the drop in efficiency air conditioning systems experience over time.

R-22 Usage

Your AC is most likely nearing the end of its life expectancy if it’s 10-13 years old. Another sign that your AC is on the way out is if it’s using an R-22 refrigerant. R-22 is an ozone-depleting chemical that was recently determined to be harmful to the environment. If your system uses the R-410-A refrigerant, that means it’s new enough that it’s not at the end of its life.

Review your HVAC system and look at its ratings. As we touched on earlier, if your unit is rated to be 10 SEER or less – it’s time for an upgrade (your electric bills will thank you).

Overall Efficiency

Another measure you can check is your furnace’s Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. The current national regulations call for an 80% AFUE, so if yours is only rated 60 to 70 percent AFUE, then your system is outdated and may be at the end of its lifespan.

Life Expectancy of Other HVAC Materials

In addition to the life expectancy of the air conditioner, there are other components of your HVAC system that have unique life expectancies.

– Humidifiers: 8-10 years – Dehumidifiers: 8-10 years – Ventilation/Ductwork: 8-10 years – Thermostats: 30-40 years – Geothermal System: 30+ years – Insulation: 100 years

Air Conditioner Replacement in Orlando, FL

If you want to save more on your power bills, and suspect that an outdated AC system is your problem – schedule an appointment on the phone or online with Energy Air, and one of your friendly HVAC professionals will help you find the best solution.

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Whether you need a single air conditioning unit installed or a complete air conditioning system retrofit, our team of HVAC experts will handle it. Have questions or would like to discuss your project? Give us a call today to talk to one of our friendly team members, or schedule your appointment online.

Orlando: (407) 501-6275 | Tampa: (813) 314-7261

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