Nothing is more refreshing than sitting on your couch with the AC blasting. There are many types of air conditioners, including central AC units and window units. However, a ductless split air conditioner is an efficient and affordable alternative.
Installation of mini-split units can cost between $2,000 to $14,500, depending on your home’s size, the efficiency and size of the unit(s), and the local labor rate. The average homeowner will spend $3,000 on a mini-split, including labor and materials.
What Is a Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner?
The ductless mini split air conditioner can cool (and heat) your home without a complicated duct system. A mini-split air conditioner uses an outdoor condensing system and one or several inside air units called heads. Each indoor unit cools one area (or zone) in your home.
Mini-split ACs are more cost-effective (and efficient) than central ACs because they cool only certain areas of your house. Mini-splits require less maintenance because they don’t have a system of ducts that runs through your home.
How Much Does a Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner Cost?
On average, a mini-split installation costs $3,000. The cost includes both the unit and the labor required to install it. Prices can range from $2,000 to $14,500.
Cost of Mini-Split ACs by Type
The indoor units or heads of mini-splits are different in terms of type and price.
- Ceiling mounted heads
- Wall mounted heads
- Floor-mounted Heads
- Ceiling cassettes (also known as recessed heads)
Your overall cost can be affected by the type of indoor unit you select. Ceiling-mounted heads range from $700 to $2,000 each, while floor-mounted models cost slightly more at $1,300 to $4,000. Wall-mounted heads are the most popular and economical type, costing between $400 and $1,000 each.
A recessed unit in your ceiling can cost between $500 and $2,000. These units may be more attractive, but labor costs are higher due to the complexity of installation. You may need to hire both an HVAC specialist and a carpenter.
Factors That Affect Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner Costs
The cost of installing a mini-split can vary widely. This is due to the many aspects that affect the price, including the size of your unit and the number of rooms you wish to cool.
Unit Size (BTUs)
British thermal units (BTUs) are used to measure the size of a ductless AC unit. The bigger the area you want to cool and the higher the BTUs should be, the larger unit is needed.
A typical home needs a system that can cool 500 square feet. Mini-split systems cool specific zones in your home instead of central air conditioning, which cools the entire house. You don’t have to consider the entire square footage of your home when choosing a system.
A 12,000 BTU system will cost you around $3,000 to install. A 6,000 BTU unit ($450 to $1600) may be sufficient for homeowners who need to cool only a small area of their home. However, large homes that rely solely on a mini-split will need something larger. A 60,000 BTU system, for instance, costs between $3,500 and $10,000. It can cool up to 2,500 square feet.
Calculating what size unit you need can be complex, especially if your home is cooled by central air. You can work with an HVAC contractor to determine the correct size unit to cool and heat your home. HVAC technicians can give recommendations on size and the number of heads, the most reliable brands, and SEER ratings.
Number of Zones
The basic mini-split has two major components: outdoor and indoor condensing units. Installing multiple heads will allow you to cool different rooms in your house. Cooling two zones within a large room with high ceilings is possible.
The cost of a standard system, with an outdoor unit and a single indoor head, ranges between $2,000 to $8800. The cost includes labor and additional supplies, such as a refrigerant line and an installation kit.
Budget an additional $700 to $2300 per indoor unit. The extra labor costs and material costs are included in this budget.
As you add more heads indoors to your project, these costs will increase:
- One head: $2,200 to $8800
- Two heads: from $2,700 up to $11,100
- Three heads from $3,400 up to $13,400
- Four heads: $4.100 to $15.700
- Five heads: $4.800 to $18,000
You’ll have to pay more upfront for better quality and efficiency in your home renovation, but the investment will pay off over time.
We express mini-split efficiency regarding the seasonal energy efficient ratio (SEER). A mini-split should have at least a SEER rating 13 but can reach as high as 25.
It may be worth investing in a high-efficiency but more expensive unit if you live in an area with a warm climate or a cool large house. The higher SEER may cost more, but you will save money on electricity over time.
Your mini-split cost can be affected by the brand you select. Daikin Panasonic and Frigidaire are some budget-friendly brands, with units starting at $1,000.
Mitsubishi, Fujitsu, and Rheem are premium brands. Prices can vary depending on the SEER, number of heads, and BTUs. However, premium brands can cost up to $8,000.
Here are just a few of the brands available. Find the best brand and model of ductless mini-split air conditioners by checking out our list.
Cost is just one part of the equation. If you don’t want to do the installation yourself, you must hire an HVAC technician to connect the outdoor to the indoor unit.
HVAC technicians usually charge $75 to $150 per hour for a basic installation. This is $375 to 1,500 for an easy install.
More complex projects, such as those with multiple heads or difficult-to-reach exterior locations, can cost more. Your project may also require an electrician to install the correct breaker boxes and for a carpenter to cut a hole through your wall to feed the refrigerant or to install recessed units on the ceiling.
- Hiring an electrician ranges between $50 and $ 100 per hour.
- The average cost of hiring a carpenter is $60 per hour.
You can remove ducts in your home for an HVAC system you will no longer use. It could increase the labor cost of your project.
Single Vs. Multi-Zone Mini-Split AC System Costs
The most affordable mini-split AC systems are single zones (costing between $2,000 and $8,800 on average), but to cool the entire house, you will need multiple zones. Each additional zone increases costs between $700 to $2,300.
You may need to install an additional outdoor unit if you have more than eight indoor units. This will ensure that your system is powerful enough to cool all areas of your home at once.
Many homeowners with central AC still install single-zone AC systems to provide additional cooling (without running the central AC day and night) or to cool an area difficult to reach by ducts, such as an attic.
A window unit is more cost-effective in such situations. Before you decide, compare the differences between mini-splits and window air conditioners.
Installation of a Mini Split AC with Ductless System: Additional Costs
When estimating the cost of mini-split installations, remember that your ductless AC unit’s size and efficiency (as well as the number of units) are essential.
You’ll have to pay extra for additional units. You may also get an installation kit or refrigerant line included in the price. Always check before you buy to make sure.
A kit for installation costs between $300 and $500, while a refrigerant line is priced at about $6 per foot. An HVAC technician will determine how much line is needed.
In most municipalities, homeowners must obtain a permit before installing mini-splits. Permits can cost between $250 and 400, depending on your location. Your HVAC technician can help you with this process.
Costs can increase if you add features to your ductless AC that make it more convenient and functional. You’ll pay more for a ductless AC system with individual remotes for every head.
Some mini-splits also include heat pumps. They cost more, but you can use the system to heat your house in winter.
DIY vs. Hire a Professional Mini Split AC Installer
Although installing your mini-split AC yourself is possible, many homeowners will want to hire an HVAC specialist. Professionals like Air Conditioning & Heating of Houston Co. can spend five to ten hours on the project, which involves working with electrical components.
An HVAC technician can install your unit correctly and advise you throughout the process. This will ensure that you buy a system of the correct size and efficiency for your home. Find a technician knowledgeable about your area’s HVAC industry by researching the top HVAC companies.
How to Save on Mini-Split Installing
A mini-split AC costs an average of $3,000 per unit. Check out these tips to reduce the cost of installing a mini-split air conditioner if you are on a budget.
- Install your system in spring or fall. Because of extreme temperatures, HVAC technicians are more in demand during the summer and winter. The two off-seasons make the ideal time to purchase an air conditioner.
- Get multiple quotes. Do not choose the first HVAC technician you speak to. It is recommended to get quotes from 3-5 contractors. This may result in a lower price.
- Do not forget rebates and credits. Tax credits may be available for some mini-splits. Speak to an accountant if you are unsure if your project is eligible before filing your tax return.
- Do not just choose the cheapest option. It’s essential to weigh the actual cost of the cheapest option when doing projects within a budget. Although a low-efficiency, small mini-split might save you money upfront, you may pay more in the long run.
What Is the Value of a Ductless Mini Split?
The cost of installing a mini-split ductless system may be worth it. Installing a mini-split system is much cheaper than central AC if your home does not have ductwork. Central air may be the more cost-effective option if your home has ductwork.
Does a mini split add value to your home?
Mini-splits increase the value of a home. Mini-split systems are attractive to potential buyers because they require less maintenance and use less energy.
Are ductless mini-split air conditioner systems efficient?
Mini-split systems with ductless air conditioners are a great way to cool and heat your home. You can save energy by cooling or heating certain zones of your home.
Experts estimate that mini-splits can be up to 60% more efficient than central AC, depending on the home and system.
Is Installing mini splits more expensive than central air?
Installing central air conditioning costs $5,700 on average while installing a mini-split only costs $3,000, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Mini-splits are, therefore, more affordable than central AC in general. However, the cost of installing mini-splits can be higher (up to $14,500), depending on how many units you install.
Can I save money by using a mini-split AC?
Saving money is possible with a mini split AC. Mini-split AC costs less to install than central AC. Depending on usage, mini-split ACs can be up to 60% more energy efficient. This will allow you to save more on your electric bill.
Mini-split systems are less expensive to maintain than central AC because they have fewer parts.
Is an electrician required to install mini-split ACs?
Some homeowners can install a mini-split AC themselves. However, hiring a professional is safer if you are not an experienced DIYer.
You’ll at least need to hire an HVAC contractor to install your system. You may need to hire an electrician for some projects if you do not have a 110-volt or 200-volt power box.