I have an A/C, Heater package unit on the roof of my condo in Southern California. My unit works but my neighbor's unit just kicked the bucket and it is being replaced.

The estimates she got varied from $7k to $12k. She picked the $7k unit, 3 ton. Our package units (condo built in 1986) are Rheem 2.5 ton, gas for heater and electricity for the A/C. I have a 40A breaker for it inside my condo. I know we need a crane to do the work (the unit are two stories, garage on bottom, condo on top) so that adds to the installation cost. Besides the electrical and gas connection there is a water drain (PVC) that need to be removed/connected to the old/new unit.

I see some package units from Goodman are about $3k shipped. Other brands are about the same price. Assuming the crane is about $500. Where is the rest of the expense? Does it really cost $2k - $3k to connect the electricity, gas and water drain?

I know my numbers are not exact ... taxes are unavoidable...lol. BTW no rebates being used. I'm wondering because I'm thinking of replacing my unit myself. I can do the electrical, gas and pvc without a problem. I can contract a crane but maybe I'm missing something? Does the weight of the unit keeps it in place or is it screwed on?

Oh the price does not include any modification to the base where the old unit is placed.

UPDATE: Added a picture of my unit


  • What are you basing your crane estimate of $500 on? I've never rented a crane, but that sounds low to me... – Nate S. Feb 24 at 23:00
  • How tall or number of stories? I have put units on roofs using high lift forklifts. I think they can if to 45’ but -5 because you hang the unit by chains. – Ed Beal Feb 24 at 23:24
  • @Ed Beal: 20 ft (from the ground to the roof) – Rodo Feb 25 at 1:20
  • @Nate S.: I remember asking crane operators that have been here before doing the install. I'm thinking outdated info by now though. – Rodo Feb 25 at 1:21
  • Do you have the equipment and knowledge to charge the freon? – Mattman944 Feb 25 at 1:58

I would look into renting a “reach forklift”, or boom lift forklift, suitable for rough terrain. They have names like Gehl, SkyTrak, JLG & Genie. The last one I rented was $250/day with a delivery charge of $75.00. A crane requires a certified crane operator which goes for $100/hr in my state with a minimum rate; that’s for just the operator. So the forklift saves big time. (They go up to 40+feet, depending on model.)

As far as the charge for connections, that is off topic, but I can say on a condo it would require a licensed electrician at a minimum in my state, possibly adding the required 120v receptacle as well, as I don’t see that. Possible changes in mounting, power, gas, drains all add time.

With commercial properties, like condos, we usually have to meet current code when there is a change (your neighbor going from 2.5 ton to 3 is a change).

So as far as cost, there may be multiple trades required in your state and some other changes we don’t know about. So the cost may sound steep to me, but I did not bid the job and don’t know all your local requirements. The more requirements, the higher the cost.

  • I'm quickly getting to the conclusion that this is not a DIY project for me. Thanks. – Rodo Feb 25 at 19:45
  • A smart person will know when they are over their head but investigating may help you decide. – Ed Beal Feb 25 at 20:17

The last time I got a quote for crane service, which was not very recent, it was a couple hundred fee to show up and another hundred or two per hour on the site. I can see it taking more than a single hour to get the old unit free and down to the ground and the new unit settled into its final resting place the last time. Your crane estimate might be a little low.

Don't forget labor: a crew of two for most of a day at close to $100/hr rings up $1600 or so.

There'll be another hundred or two in materials as well. Gas pipe will have to be re-routed, duct size or shape will have to be modified, and so on. The meter keeps running on the crane as well while some of these matters get sorted out.

  • From older install that I've seen the crane doesn't stay here more than 30mins at the most. The new unit is here ready though. I imagine the old is ready to be removed as well. Yeah...cranes are not cheap. – Rodo Feb 25 at 1:22

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