The High Cost of AC Parts: An Expert's Take

As an expert in the HVAC industry, I have witnessed firsthand the increasing cost of air conditioning parts and equipment. It's no secret that the availability of these parts can be a challenge, with some technicians having to order them from manufacturers or other vendors. This not only adds to the cost of repairs, but also means that customers have to pay for shipping. And with the demand for air conditioning parts, new units, and repairs increasing during warmer months, it's no surprise that prices are on the rise. But this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a perfect storm that is making HVAC parts and equipment even more expensive than usual.

The pandemic has caused a shortage of raw materials and labor in factories that manufacture these parts and equipment. This has led to a domino effect of increased costs for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Here's what you need to know about the various factors contributing to these rising costs.

The cost of diesel

is one factor that many people may not consider when thinking about the price of AC parts. As HVAC technicians, we rely on diesel vehicles to transport our trucks and equipment to customers' locations for repairs.

With diesel prices remaining high, it adds to the overall cost of our services. We also try to keep as many consumable parts, tools, and supplies in our trucks as possible to make repairs more efficient. However, larger vehicles are needed to transport HVAC units and supplies when they need to be replaced. Diesel vehicles allow us to carry more weight with better fuel efficiency, and our trucks can also stay in service longer. Another factor contributing to the rising cost of AC parts is that some HVAC companies may start reducing their service areas.

This can lead to increased travel rates for customers. The raw materials used to manufacture these parts and equipment are becoming scarce and more expensive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks the prices of products manufactured in the United States on a monthly basis, and we can see the average prices increasing over time. The NASDAQ also documents commodity prices, and we can see a clear upward trend over the past year. For example, the price of copper pipes used in air conditioning units has increased due to high demand for recycling.

This is another indication that prices are on the rise. During the pandemic, demand for these parts was low as factories were not operating at full capacity. But as things have started to open up, demand has increased, leading to higher prices. One thing to note is that a healthy air conditioning system should not need additional coolant. If it does, it means there is a leak that needs to be repaired.

This is why a fully charged system should not need to be "recharged." So if you find yourself needing to recharge your AC unit frequently, it could be a sign of a larger issue that needs to be addressed. Semiconductor chips are another crucial component in high-efficiency HVAC systems, such as variable-speed units and heat pumps. These chips are responsible for making these systems more efficient, quiet, and comfortable for consumers. However, due to the global chip shortage, which is affecting industries like automotive and technology, we can expect this shortage to extend to HVAC systems as well. This means that there may be a smaller supply of high-end and optimally efficient HVAC units and parts available. And if you need to repair or replace a PC board (the minicomputer responsible for the efficiency of these systems), it may be harder to find and more expensive.

The shortage of labor caused by the pandemic has also added to delays and a shortage of equipment, further driving up costs. As shown in the chart below, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' producer price index (PPI) for HVAC equipment has been on the rise. This index measures the average change over time in sales prices received by domestic producers of goods and services. So it's not just AC parts that are becoming more expensive, but also air conditioners, heat pumps, and other HVAC equipment. Staying informed about these market trends can help customers understand why parts may be limited and why prices are higher than usual. It's also worth noting that the overall inflation rate is trending higher than it has in recent years.

This means that the value of a dollar is lower, and consumers may have to pay more for the same item. Understanding all the market forces at play can help you plan and be patient if buying a part to repair your air conditioner takes longer than usual. And for homeowners who know their AC unit may not last through the summer, it's worth considering replacing it now to avoid potential emergency situations. Most people keep a central air conditioner for 12 to 17 years, so it's essential to get what you want since you'll likely have it for a long time. Starting the process of replacing your HVAC system before it becomes an emergency gives you more time to make a decision and explore funding options if needed.

Dealing with an expensive repair or replacement during hot weather is not ideal, so starting the process earlier can help reduce stress for everyone involved. An air conditioner failure during hot weather can be stressful for homeowners. That's why we always advocate for regular maintenance and staying up-to-date with market conditions. This allows savvy customers to have options and stay comfortable during hot weather. And at our company, we offer expert and reliable air conditioning and heating repair, installation, and consultation to keep you comfortable all year round.

We serve homes and businesses in West Houston, Katy, Sugar Land, Richmond, Fulshear, and more. When it comes to the replacement cost of an air conditioning compressor, one crucial factor is the speed of the compressor. In the HVAC industry, we refer to system speeds as "stages." Simply put, the more stages a compressor has, the higher...

Justin Prok
Justin Prok

Evil bacon ninja. Amateur travel maven. Certified bacon fan. Hipster-friendly web ninja. General zombieaholic. Wannabe coffee fan.