What is the average lifespan of an air conditioner?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

While not an exact predictor, average lifespan is still a valuable piece of information. Here’s the average lifespan for different types of air conditioners:

  •  Split System Condensers (outside unit) - 10 to 16 years, average 14 years
  •  Split System Air Handler (inside unit) - 14 to 18 years, average 17 years
  •  Ductless (Mini-Split) - 10 to 16 years, average 14 years
  •  Package Units - 10 to 16 years, average 14 years
  •  Window Air Conditioner - 5 to 8 years, average 7 years

   Although the condenser (outside unit) of a split system tends to have a shorter life than the air handler, because a replacement condenser must now be matched for performance (by the manufacturer or certified by an engineer) with the indoor evaporator coil portion of the air handler, the evaporator coil unit may have to also be replaced when the condenser fails. 

    Regular maintenance is a good way to beat the odds and make your air conditioning system last longer, and most HVAC contractors offer a service plan with annual or twice a year visits. To learn more about heating and air conditioning systems, check out the links below to some of our other blogs.

    Many people refer to both an air conditioner ("straight cool” or “cooling”) and a heat pump as simply an “air conditioner,” but an air conditioner requires an electric resistance heat coil or combination with a gas or oil furnace for heating, whereas a heat pump can reverse the flow of refrigerant to heat the home. Most heat pumps have electric resistance heat anyway as a backup for very cold days.

    Here’s our comparison chart with the average life expectancies of different types of air conditioners, along with other appliances that provide heating and ventilation for a home.

    Go to our blog post What is the average lifespan of the parts of a house? for rating of other house components. To understand the basis, potential use, and limitations of lifespan ratings, see our blog post ”How accurate are the average life expectancy ratings of home components? Are they actually useful?  

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  To learn more about heating and air conditioning systems, see these other blog posts:

How can I find out the SEER of my air conditioner? 

My air conditioner won't turn on. What's wrong? 

How can I find out the size of my air conditioner? 

How can I tell whether the condenser (outdoor unit) is an air conditioner or heat pump? 

Where is the air filter for my central air conditioner and furnace? I can’t find it? 

Does an old air conditioner use more electricity as it ages? 

How did homes stay cool in Florida before air conditioning? 

What is wrong with an air conditioner when the air flow out of the vents is low?

Why has the thermostat screen gone blank? 

Why does it take so long to cool a house when an air conditioner has been off for a while? 

Why is my air conditioner not cooling enough? 

What are the most common problems with wall/window air conditioners?  

Will closing doors reduce my heating and cooling costs? 

    Visit our HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING and LIFE EXPECTANCY pages for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 

NOTE: These life expectancies are based on data provided by InterNACHI, NAHB, FannieMae, and our own professional experience. Because of the numerous variables that can affect a lifespan, they should be used as rough guidelines only, and not relied upon as a warranty or guarantee of future performance.

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