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What’s the Cost of Adding Air Conditioning to a Home With No Ductwork?

So you’re thinking of adding central air conditioning to your home.

But there’s just one problem: there’s no ductwork.

If you are looking to have an AC installed but your home has no existing ductwork, you have 2 options:

  1. Install new ductwork and a central AC system. Homeowners can expect to pay anywhere between $3,000 to $10,000 for ductwork installation. On top of that, the cost of AC installation in Minneapolis is anywhere from $2,800 to $7,000.
  2. Install a ductless mini-split AC system. Prices for a ductless AC system and installation range between $2,000-$7,000.

Yeah, we know that’s a wide range. So let’s look at all the factors that affect the cost of adding central AC to a home without ductwork.

Factors that affect the cost of ductwork

When determining the price for ductwork, just remember that the design of your house is the primary cost factor.

To determine what it will cost to install ducts in your home, you and your contractor will need to consider the following:

Where your ductwork will be installed

Ductwork is usually hidden in either an attic or a basement. Some houses have one or the other. Some houses have both.

Your contractor will need to determine the most efficient placement for your ducts.

Number of stories

More floors means the addition of extra ductwork, which in turn means more money.

Number of vents needed

The amount of vents that your contractor needs to install is directly related to the amount of rooms you want conditioned.

Your contractor can advise you on best placement for vents (usually near windows is ideal) as well as how many vents an area needs.

Duct material used

Ducts are made of various materials including sheet metal, wire coil, or fiberboard.

Each have their own pros and cons but flexible ductwork made from wire coil is generally the least expensive while sheet metal ducts are more costly.

Number of temperature control zones

Temperature control zones allow you to split your home into various areas with their own thermostat and temperature.

These systems increase the comfort of your home but also add to the price of duct installation.

Cost of labor for your chosen contractor

Every HVAC contractor/company has different prices. Some charge a flat upfront fee for duct installation and some charge per hour of work.

Choosing the right contractor means the difference between proper ductwork installation and inefficient ductwork that will cost you more money in the long run.

Factors that affect the cost of an AC unit

Once your ductwork is installed, it’s time to choose your AC unit.

Here’s a quick look at some of the factors that determine the price of your air conditioning unit.

  • Size
  • Energy efficiency (SEER)
  • Contractor labor costs

Want to learn more about how each factor affects price? Check out our article, “How Much Does it Cost to Replace an Air Conditioner in Minneapolis?”.

Cut your costs with a ductless mini-split AC system

All those dollar signs got you down? If your home doesn’t have ductwork installed, you’re in a great position to consider a ductless mini-split AC system.


The cost of adding ductwork and a central air conditioner will usually cost more than the cost to install a mini-split AC system.

You see, a ductless mini-split system cools your home efficiently without the need for air ducts. So you’re essentially bypassing the cost of installing ductwork but still finding a system that can cool your entire home.

Want to learn more on how this system works? Read our article that compares central cooling to ductless mini-split AC systems.

Need an estimate from a Minnesota tech?

Have further questions on which AC system is best for your Minneapolis home? Or need a quote on installation?

Our Minnesota HVAC professionals at MSP are here to help. Just contact us today to get your free estimate and get your questions answered.