North Carolina HVAC license and insurance requirements

North Carolina HVAC license and insurance requirements

Ashley Henshaw
By Ashley Henshaw
Jan 27, 2023
8 min read

Have you ever wondered where the term “air conditioning” came from? North Carolina native Stuart Cramer coined the term back in 1906 while touting the technology’s benefits at an Asheville convention for cotton manufacturers.1

At that time, Cramer was primarily interested in how humidity control and ventilating equipment could benefit production in cotton mills. But today, most North Carolinians have air conditioning to keep cool in the state’s famously muggy summers. And even with milder winters, home heating is still essential when temperatures drop into the 40s and 50s.

As an HVAC contractor in this state, you’ll likely have plenty of jobs. But before you can start working, you’ll need a North Carolina HVAC license. That requires professional experience and passing an exam. Learn more about how to get an HVAC license in North Carolina in this guide, which covers the following:

Do you need a license to be an HVAC contractor?

There are two types of HVAC licenses in North Carolina:

  • Refrigeration contractor license
  • Heating and cooling contractor license

The licensing process you’ll need to follow depends on the kind of work you do. North Carolina HVAC license reciprocity is not available for refrigeration or heating and cooling contractor licenses.

Refrigeration contractor license

According to the North Carolina State Board of Refrigeration Contractors, anyone who performs the “installation, maintenance, servicing and repairing of refrigerating machinery, equipment, devices and components” must have an active refrigeration contractor license.2 

There are four classes for this type of license:3

  • Class I: For commercial refrigeration contracting
  • Class II: For industrial refrigeration contracting
  • Class III: For refrigeration service contracting
  • Class IV: For transport refrigeration contracting

Heating and cooling contractor license

Contractors who work on heating and cooling systems need this type of license. Depending on the systems you work with, you’ll need to choose one of these three license groups:4

  • H1: For any type of water-based heating system
  • H2: For forced-air heating/cooling systems with a cooling capacity of more than 15 tons
  • H3: For forced-air heating/cooling systems with a cooling capacity of 15 tons or less

You’ll need a class I contractor license in any of the above groups to work in residential, commercial or industrial buildings. Class II licenses are for single-family residences only. Class T is reserved for HVAC technician licenses.

How to get an HVAC license in North Carolina

To obtain a North Carolina HVAC license, submit your license application, the $100 license fee and a criminal background check to the proper state board:

  • Refrigeration: North Carolina State Board of Refrigeration Contractors
  • Heating and Cooling: North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors5 

If the Board confirms your licensure eligibility, you’ll receive information on how to sign up to take the license exam. You must earn a score of at least 70% on each part of the HVAC contractor exam to pass.

HVAC license requirements

The work experience and education requirements for both refrigeration contractor and heating and cooling contractor licenses are the same. 

You must have at least 4,000 hours of relevant HVAC work experience acquired while working under the supervision of someone with an active contractor’s license. You may substitute academic or technical training directly related to the field for up to 2,000 hours of experience.

If you’re applying for a refrigeration contractor license, you must also provide documentation to show that you have the proper CFC Certification (also known as Section 608 technician EPA certification) to cover your scope of work.6

North Carolina license renewal requirements

You must pay a fee of $80 for refrigeration contractor license renewal, which is required by October 31 of each year.

Heating and cooling contractor licenses expire on December 31 of each year and require a renewal fee of $150.

North Carolina HVAC license bond requirements

Certain cities in North Carolina require a surety bond for HVAC contractors. For example, Greensboro, NC, requires a $2,000 bond, while Winston-Salem requires a $2,500 bond. Check with your local government to make sure that you are meeting the bond requirements for the areas where you work.

What kind of insurance does an HVAC need in North Carolina?

Depending on the nature of your work, you may want to obtain several types of HVAC insurance to help protect your business. Learn more about your North Carolina business insurance coverage options.

Workers’ Compensation insurance

All North Carolina business owners with three or more employees must have workers’ compensation insurance.7 This insurance can help provide wage protection and other benefits when injuries occur on the job.

General Liability insurance

NC general liability insurance can help can provide financial protection for some of the most common accidents at a business, including if someone other than an employee gets hurt or you damage someone’s property.

Tools and Equipment insurance

If your work gear is stolen or damaged, tools and equipment insurance can help cover the repair and replacement costs.

Commercial Auto insurance

Commercial auto insurance can help cover accident-related costs, including property damage and medical bills. 

Commercial Property insurance

If you rent or own property for your HVAC business, commercial property insurance can help cover costs related to damage or vandalism.

What is the certificate of insurance requirement for HVAC contractors?

HVAC contractors must meet specific insurance requirements in some parts of the state. For example, Iredell County, NC, requires all contractors to provide proof of insurance coverage if they work on county property.8 

Check with your local government to learn more about insurance coverage requirements and how to submit your certificate of insurance.

How NEXT supports North Carolina HVAC contractors

Thousands of contractors have turned to NEXT Insurance to get insurance coverage. We’re here to help you navigate the insurance requirements for your area and get the protection you need for your business.

With our online services, applying for coverage is easy and only takes a few minutes. You’ll also be able to obtain and share a certificate of insurance anytime, anywhere, from any computer or mobile device.

Because we specialize in small business insurance, NEXT knows how to put together a custom package that includes the HVAC insurance coverage you need. Our affordable rates help save you money month after month.

Get an instant quote online today.

Thinking about taking on HVAC projects in another state? Check out our summary of HVAC contractor license requirements in every U.S. state.


1 NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

2 North Carolina State Board of Refrigeration Contractors

3 Refrigeration Contractors General Statutes

4 North Carolina License Definitions

5 North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors

6 Environmental Protection Agency

7 North Carolina Industrial Commission

8 Iredell County, NC Minimum Insurance Requirements

North Carolina HVAC license and insurance requirements


Ashley Henshaw
About the author
Ashley Henshaw is a contributing writer at NEXT Insurance and a writer and editor at BrainBoost Media. She specializes in small business topics, covering everything from insurance and branding to web hosting and cryptocurrency. Her work is focused on helping independent business owners and entrepreneurs access the tools they need to succeed.
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