HVAC duct systems can be one the most costliest additions to any home and one way to offset those rising expenses is by installing a ductless air conditioning system, the most common of which is a mini-split AC system.
A mini-split air-conditioning system does not require any ducts, yet can still effectively cool multiple areas of the home at once, which is why it’s a more popular option than traditional window air-conditioning units.
Continue reading to hear all the costs, necessities, benefits and drawbacks of a mini-split AC system.
Mini-Split AC System Basics
There are two main components of a mini-split air-conditioning system: the outdoor unit, or the condenser, and the unit that is placed inside the home, the evaporator. For larger homes, several evaporators may be connected to the main condenser.
Ductless AC Costs
According to our min-split air conditioning material estimator, the average cost to install a mini-split AC system is $1,900. Note, however, the price can surge up to $2,100 or decrease to $1,400.
As previously noted, one of the key advantages of a ductless AC system is the price. That $1,900 price tag is well below the market average for the more traditional HVAC systems.
What Affects the Ductless AC Cost?
Like most appliances, size plays a huge factor in the overall price. In general, there are two common types of mini splits: single zone or multiple-zone.
Single zone units are less expensive, but are only used to cool one area of the home. These are ideal for smaller spaces like studio apartments. Multiple-zone units, on the other hand, are designed to cool several spaces within a home. As expected, they are more expensive, given their extra power and capacity.
The next factor is installation. While we always encourage our fans to try new DIY projects, HVAC, along with electrical and plumbing, can get tricky and expensive. The safer bet is to hire a HVAC pro. Unlike a simple window unit, there are specific connections that must be made between the condenser and the evaporators to ensure the system runs properly.
Nonetheless, if you feel confident in your DIY skills, know that you can save up to $700 in labor costs by installing the units yourself!
Tip: If you hire a pro, have them come out in the fall or winter. AC pros tend to be less busy in the fall and winter and frequently offer discounts to interested homeowners.
Advantages of Mini-Split Air-Conditioning Systems
There are other advantages of ductless AC systems other than the price. First off, if your home does not have a duct system in place, there will be no need to add this expensive feature. While central HVAC systems work great, they can take up a lot of space and/or provide an eyesore to certain rooms.
Installation is another pro. We all live busy lives and when it comes to the home, every minute counts. Luckily, ductless AC systems do not require complex wiring or tubing, so they tend to take less time to install which in turn, lowers your labor costs.
Additionally, more and more homeowners are customizing their homes to fit their exact needs. Fortunately enough, you can place the condenser and evaporator(s) anywhere. Just like a window unit, if you have multiple evaporators, you can control each of them individually, something you can’t do with central AC systems.
Finally, in addition to any room, you can place the evaporator nearly anywhere, including the ceiling. This especially comes in handy in rooms with no windows.
Disadvantages of Mini-Split Air-Conditioning Systems
No HVAC system comes without its drawbacks. Mini-split AC systems are part of the older generation of AC systems. Rarely, do you see them in modern homes.
A big reason why the public has lost interest in mini-split systems is their effectiveness. While the installation costs may be thousands less, the overall costs tend to even out. In fact, according to Energy.gov, mini-split AC units can cost 30% more to run than a central air conditioning unit.
Additionally, mini-split systems are not as energy efficient as most central HVAC systems. As a result, it not only works harder, but doesn’t conserve the healthy air you and your family breath.
Finally, larger homes would benefit from central AC. Disregarding the other drawbacks above, central AC will almost certainly cool your home faster than any mini-split system.
Many new homes have central AC or advanced duct systems, but that doesn’t mean they are right for you and your family. Mini-split AC systems offer a cost-effective solution for homeowners looking to save on AC installation. While they are not as efficient as a few other AC systems, they certainly get the job done.
On the other hand, if you are considering adding a new duct system to your home, please see HVAC Duct Design.