Ductless mini-split systems are strong contenders to central HVAC systems. They can heat and cool your home without an expensive ductwork installation. However, a mini-split installation cost is considerably different from traditional central air conditioners.
Keep reading to learn more about the components that determine the cost of your mini-split system.
Mini Split Installation Cost Summary
The cost of a mini-split system is the combination of various components. For example, if you don’t install the unit yourself, you’ll have to hire an HVAC installer (which we recommend).
The number of units you install, the distance between units, and other unique factors in your home can also affect the final price.
The table below provides the average costs associated with mini-split installations. Keep in mind that these are only estimates. You can use this table to get a quick, ballpark idea of the various component costs.
Mini Split Associated Installation Costs
|Labor for Professional Installation||$300 to $1,500|
|Installation Accessory Kit (includes wires, sleeves, lines, box, and drain tubes)||$300 to $500|
|Refrigerant Lines||$5 per foot|
|Outdoor Unit||$1,000 to $6,000|
|Indoor Wall Mount Unit||$400 to $1,000|
|Indoor Ceiling Cassette Unit||$500 to $2,000|
|Indoor Ceiling Mount Unit||$700 to $2,000|
|Indoor Floor Mount Unit||$600 to $2,300|
Note: You will only need one indoor unit per zone. You can select from one of the four indoor unit options listed in the table.
Mini Split Cost By Size
The chart below offers a quick idea of pricing based on size and the specific square footage range each unit is ideal for.
|System Size||Ideal Coverage Area (Square Feet)||System Cost|
|6,000 BTUs (0.5 ton)||150 to 250||$450 to $1,600|
|9,000 BTUs (0.75 ton)||300 to 400||$600 to $2,300|
|12,000 BTUs (1 ton)||450 to 550||$700 to $3,200|
|18,000 BTUs (1.5 ton)||600 to 1,000||$1,000 to $4,200|
|24,000 BTUs (2 tons)||1,200 to 1,600||$1,100 to $5,200|
|30,000 BTUs (2.5 tons)||1,600 to 1,900||$1,600 to $5,700|
|36,000 BTUs (3 tons)||1,900 to 2,500||$1,800 to $6,000|
|42,000 BTUs (3.5 tons)||2,500 to 3,000||$3,000 to $8,000|
|48,000 to 60,000 BTUs (4-5 tons)||3,000+||$3,500 to $10,000|
Mini Split Cost By Zones
If you know how many zones you plan on doing, the chart below is a helpful resource for a ballpark pricing range. Again, these prices are simply estimates. Your situation may look considerably different based on the brand you choose, the size (BTUs) you need, labor costs in your area, etc.
|1||$2,000 to $8,800|
|2||$2,700 to $11,100|
|3||$3,400 to $13,400|
|4||$4,100 to $15,700|
|5||$4,800 to $18,000|
Types of Mini Splits
Mini-splits come in different types, including brands, capabilities, sizing, mounting style, etc. This variety allows homeowners to choose the best option to accommodate their needs and aesthetic tastes.
Ceiling Cassette Mini Split
Ceiling cassette mini-split systems rest in the ceiling. The location allows the system to offer a wider airflow than other system types. Since these units are installed in the ceiling, they’re “out of sight and mind.”
This makes them a sought-after choice by homeowners who don’t want to mount an indoor unit on their walls and take up space where they can hang pictures of their family.
Floor-Mount Mini Split
Floor-mount mini-split systems sit on the floor at the bottom of the wall. These systems are great for homeowners who want their system out of the way but don’t want it mounted on the wall. They’re also ideal if the windows obstruct a proper wall-mount split installation or if the ceiling is too low or too slanted.
However, floor-mount mini-split systems can get in the way because they sit on the floor and could limit the layout of your furniture. But they are still a great option for homeowners seeking an alternative to other mounting types.
Wall-Mount Mini Split
As the name implies, wall-mount mini-split systems hang on your wall. Generally, the indoor unit is mounted high up on the wall in a particular room, close to the top. These units are up, off the floor, and out of the way of furniture, making them a popular choice.
In addition, they tend to be among the least expensive mounting style option of mini-split systems.
Some people dislike the look of a wall-mount mini-split, as it can detract from the overall decor and become an eyesore. However, given the system’s convenience, it remains a popular pick.
Concealed Duct Mini Split
Concealed duct mini-splits look much different than traditional mini-splits. Instead of being an entirely ductless system, concealed duct mini-splits sit in the ceiling, connecting to one or more ducts.
This allows the system to heat or cool multiple rooms or a single, expansive area. They are more expensive and harder to install, especially if your home doesn’t have ductwork.
Depending on the layout of your home, your budget, and the total amount of daily use, you may need a single zone or multi-zone mini-split. A single-zone mini-split consists of one air handler and one condenser (in other words, one indoor and one outdoor unit).
The two units allow you to cool and heat your home to a singular set temperature.
On the other hand, multi-zone mini-split systems have a single outdoor unit that connects to up to five indoor ductless units (for most brands and models).
Usually, these indoor units mount on interior walls, but you can mount them in various ways (flush, ceiling, floor, etc., like we reviewed above). With a multi-zone system, you can control the temperature in each room (i.e., zone) independently.
Single-zone mini-splits are a popular pick for homeowners who add rooms to their home, like finishing a basement or adding a bonus room above their garage.
Multi-zone split systems are best for homes that do not already have ductwork. Renovating a home to add ductwork for a central AC system can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Homeowners can dodge these extra costs since mini-split systems don’t need ductwork.
Plus, multi-zone systems work well in homes with large families with different temperature preferences. The split system allows each person to control the temperature of their room independently. No more bickering between siblings on where to set the thermostat!
Note: You may see the term “dual-zone ductless mini-splits” as well. These are the same as multi-zone systems but with two indoor units, as the “dual” name implies.
Cooling, Heating, or Both?
Ductless systems (mini-splits) come in two primary types: air conditioners and heat pumps. If you already have a furnace or don’t need cooling capabilities, you might prefer a mini-split air conditioner. These systems are only capable of cooling. On the other hand, heat pumps can do cool and heat.
On the flip side, if you live in a mild climate but need both heating and cooling capabilities, a mini-split heat pump may be better.
A mini-split heat pump transfers heat both ways. During cooler months, it will bring heat from outdoor air inside, warming your house. In summer, it escorts heat from the air in your home outside.
What Size Mini Split Do You Need?
The size of the mini-split system you need depends on the area you’re cooling. If the unit is too small, the room will feel too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. So, to guarantee a comfortable environment and get the temperature “just right,” ensure you buy the right-sized unit.
The size, generally expressed in British Thermal Units (BTUs) or tons, tells you how large of a space the system can handle.
Tons and BTUs are easily convertible, meaning you can convert one to the other easily – there are 12,000 BTUs in one ton.
To size the mini-split system, you need to know the square footage of the area you want to heat or cool. So, bust out your measuring tape or blueprints and use an air conditioner unit size calculator!
When choosing the right size mini-split for each room, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Climate: The temperature outdoors can affect the size you need. For example, if you live in an environment that regularly tops 90 degrees, you will need a higher BTU rating to cool the space adequately.
- Insulation quality: Cracks, gaps, and holes in insulation allow heated or cooled air to escape and the opposite to come in. Older homes with poor insulation and aging windows usually need about 30 percent more BTUs to condition the room adequately.
- Ceiling height: The standard ceiling in most homes is 8 feet. If your ceilings are higher, you will need a larger unit to compensate for the extra space.
- The number of windows and doors: Windows and doors allow air to leak a small amount. If they aren’t adequately sealed, the leakage increases. This allows cool air in during the winter and warm air during the summer, which affects the necessary capacity to properly heat/cool the room.
- Direct sunlight/shade: If the room is in direct sunlight, a larger unit may be necessary to compensate for the additional infrared heat from the sunlight.
- The number of occupants: People generate heat, which affects the room’s overall temperature. If there are many people in the room, you may need a larger unit to cool the space.
- Kitchen: If you plan on installing the unit in the kitchen, you may need a larger unit to cool it adequately. Ovens, stoves, kettles, coffee pots, and many other appliances produce heat, driving up the temperature in the room.
- Flooring type: Certain types of flooring provide more insulation than others. For instance, a carpet would offer better insulation than a hardwood floor.
While each factor is essential in determining the best size of mini-split for your home, you can easily calculate a general estimate size multi-split for the space. Generally, you can adequately cool about 42 to 58 square feet with 1,000 BTUs.
The “Mini Split Cost By Size” chart we discussed earlier reviews sizing and the square footage areas each size is ideal for. Refer to the chart for a general overview of sizing based solely on square footage.
Alternatively, you could hire an HVAC installer. They will calculate the exact system size you need using the Manual J Calculation and manage the installation process.
Ductless Air conditioner Installation Considerations
Installing a ductless air conditioner involves more than picking a unit based on size.
A few of these significant considerations include:
- the distance between the indoor and outdoor units
- how you plan to control the temperature
- and drainage (for condensation)
Distance from indoor to outdoor unit
The distance from the indoor unit to its outdoor unit is a crucial thing to consider. Generally, the compressor and the inside outlet can be up to 50 feet apart and still function normally.
Most mini-splits come with 15 feet of line for spanning the distance between the indoor and outdoor units. The line holds the drainage pipe, refrigerant lines, and electrical hookups for both units. If 15 feet isn’t enough or multiple heads demand more length, the overall price increases.
Condensate drainage is a necessary factor to consider as well. The installation cost can be affected by the placement of the indoor unit. For instance, if gravity can help drain condensate to an outdoor drain, you won’t need additional equipment.
Let’s say gravity doesn’t work in your favor, like if your ductless mini-split is in your basement. In that case, you’ll need a condensate pump to force the water up to the outdoors. Incorporating a condensate pump adds to the initial upfront cost and ongoing maintenance costs.
You’ll need a thermostat to control your mini-split system — each indoor unit in the ductless system requires its own thermostat. Plus, separate thermostats allow you to control each unit, regulating each room’s temperature.
Info: All ductless mini-split units have a local thermostat and most come with a wireless thermostat remote.
Alternatively, you can control all of the thermostats with a central programmable thermostat. But that will cost more to install. It just depends on what you currently have and how you want to control the system.
Wi-Fi Control/Smart System
If you’d like, you could incorporate a smart Wi-Fi controller for your ductless mini-split system. This allows you to remotely control your unit and tweak the settings as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection.
There’s usually an added cost if you want Wi-Fi control, although it varies based on brand and model. Some models have Wi-Fi and smart control built-in that work with mobile apps from the manufacturer.
Can I install a mini-split system myself?
Absolutely, you can install a mini-split system by yourself. But, installing a system like this requires a fair amount of know-how and quite a bit of involved, hands-on work.
If you buy a DIY mini-split, the refrigerant line comes already charged, meaning you won’t have to hire a professional to charge it.
If you don’t buy a DIY mini-split, you can do most of the installation, then have a professional finish up the refrigerant setup. You can’t charge the refrigerant lines yourself– only EPA-certified HVAC professionals can. It’s the law.
However, although a DIY project is certainly doable, it’s usually best to hire an HVAC installer. Hiring a professional eliminates any guesswork on your end, which is best.
An HVAC pro can correctly determine the exact cooling needs of your home, which can save you money in the long run.
If you choose to install the system yourself, it’s worth consulting a mini-split dealer to ensure you know the exact sizing requirements you need for each room.
How many square feet does a mini-split cool?
The total cooling area a particular mini-split can efficiently handle hinges entirely on the size of the system. The larger the system, the larger the area it can efficiently cool.
So, the total square footage your mini-split can cool depends entirely on the size of the system in question.
If the unit is too small for the area, it will work overtime to compensate. The room may feel tepid or take forever to reach the desired temperature. On the other hand, if the unit is too big for the space, it will short-cycle. In other words, it will cool rapidly in short, quick cooling cycles, which isn’t ideal either.
That is why it’s best to correctly calculate the necessary size for the area based on the numbers we discussed above.
Are mini-splits worth it?
Yes, they are totally worth it! Mini-split systems are a great alternative to other forms of heating and cooling in various scenarios.
Despite the upfront cost, many homeowners find mini-split systems worth it. With these systems, you don’t need ductwork, which can be expensive to install if it isn’t already in your home.
In addition, mini-splits offer excellent zoning control (dual-zone and multi-zone), allowing different people in the same household to regulate the temperature in their room based on their personal comfort.
Mini-splits are also highly efficient since you can control different zones. This means you don’t necessarily need to heat/cool your entire home if you’re not actively spending time in certain areas.
Another perk of mini-splits is their operating noise level. They are drastically quieter than most central air conditioners and heat pumps, giving you a more peaceful, comfortable cooling and heating experience.
Ultimately, the decision as to whether a mini-split system is worth it falls to you. While the units are pricey upfront, they offer extensive benefits and are cheaper than central HVAC units.
Mini-split systems are a solid choice for many situations, from homeowners to business owners in a commercial setting. The exact overall cost you’ll pay for your system(s) depends on factors like your home’s size, but hopefully, this article gives you a basic idea of what to expect.
If you’re unsure what size, brand, or zoning option is right for you, reach out to a local HVAC professional for help.
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