Mini Split Air Conditioner Cost Guide
A mini split air conditioning system can be a great option for homeowners who do not have the necessary ductwork to service a central AC unit. A mini split AC system does not require any ducts, yet can still effectively cool multiple areas of the home at once.
See all the specifics and the costs that go into a mini split AC system below. Once you are ready to install, let us connect you with an HVAC pro in your area for free!
Table of Contents
- Mini Split Installation Cost
- Advantages of Mini Split Air Conditioning Systems
- Disadvantages of Mini Split Air Conditioning Systems
- How Does the Cost Compare to Traditional AC?
- Mini Split AC System Types
- How Mini Splits Work
- Where Can You Install?
- How to Install A Mini Split AC System
- Find A Pro
Mini Split Installation Cost
- The average cost to install a mini split air conditioning system is $1,900.
- The maximum average cost to install a mini split air conditioning system is $2,100.
- The minimum average reported cost for mini split-air conditioner installation is $1,700.
Homeowners thinking about installing a split AC system, or ductless air conditioning system, in their homes should also be aware of all the costs associated with doing so. After all, it is necessary not only to purchase the AC unit itself, but to have it installed by a trained and qualified HVAC professional. Unlike a simple window unit, there are a few specific connections that must be made between the condenser and the evaporators to ensure the system runs properly. Furthermore, proper insulating must be done to maximize energy efficiency.
When hiring an HVAC company or contractor for mini split AC installation, there are some specific factors that must be taken into account. The cost of the unit itself usually ranges between $1,100 and $1,400. Beyond that, however, there are of course labor costs associated with any mini split installation.
Depending on the amount of time it takes to install the unit and the number of evaporators being installed with it, labor can cost anywhere from $600 to $700 and usually takes around 10 hours. Finally, there is also the cost of the materials needed to properly install and insulate the unit, such as tubes and insulation. Homeowners should expect to spend around $40 to $50 on these materials altogether.
Researching and gathering quotes from various HVAC companies is key. Furthermore, having the installation done at certain times of the year, such as the fall or winter, can yield lower costs, as HVAC companies tend to be less busy. Homeowners should also be on the lookout for special promotions and discounts, such as free installation or discounted labor.
Advantages of Mini Split Air Conditioning Systems
Homeowners who do not have ductwork in their homes and are considering a mini split air conditioning system should start by carefully weighing both the advantages and disadvantages of such a system.
One of the largest advantages of installing a mini split AC system is the fact that there is no need to retrofit an existing home with the appropriate duct and ventilation work, which can cost thousands of dollars. Furthermore, since these ductless AC systems do not require much complex wiring or tubing, they tend to take less time to install, lowering the average cost to install a mini split AC system.
Another great aspect of a split air conditioner is the fact that they can be customized to the home. For example, one condenser may have as many as four evaporators connected to it, all of which can serve different rooms around the home. These evaporators can be independently controlled, which is great for keeping electric costs down. For example, if a homeowner wants to cool just one room in the home, all he or she has to do is shut off the evaporators to the rest of the home.
Finally, unlike a window-mounted air conditioning unit, most mini splits are mounted on the ceiling and do not need to be exposed through a window to the home's exterior. This creates an increased sense of security for homeowners as break-ins through window units are sadly quite common.
Disadvantages of Mini Split Air Conditioning Systems
Of course, mini split AC systems do not come without their potential drawbacks. For starters, these units are not nearly as energy efficient as a forced-air system like central AC. In fact, according to Energy.gov, mini split AC units can cost 30% more to run than a central air conditioning unit.
Furthermore, not all homes are well suited for mini split air conditioning systems. It will take a qualified HVAC contractor to come out to a home, assess the space and determine whether or not such a system can be installed. Finally, some homeowners are also unhappy about the look and space requirements of the split AC system.
How Does the Cost Compare to Traditional AC Systems?
As we already said, mini split systems are cheaper (to install) than most other air conditioning systems. While a split AC unit may not cool a room like a heat pump or traditional system, it does provide the necessary coolness we all need. Fortunately, when comparing the average installation costs, you’ll understand why some homeowners choose mini split AC systems.
In addition, if you don’t have ductwork in place, you would have to install it. According to our duct installation cost estimator, that will add roughly $1,000 to your total installation cost.
Mini Split AC System Types
When choosing a mini split AC system, homeowners need to decide which unit is best for them. In general, there are two common types of mini splits:
- Single Zone
- Multiple Zone
Single zone units are less expensive, but are generally only used to cool one area of the home. These are ideal for smaller spaces such as studio apartments. However, multiple zone units are designed to cool several spaces within a home. These also tend to be more expensive, as the capacity for these systems must be higher and more powerful.
How Mini Splits Work
Like other air conditioning systems, mini split AC systems move hot and cold air where you need it. In the summer, your mini split evaporator will remove the heat inside your house, transport it to you condenser and release it outside. In the winter, the system can reverse the process and bring cold air outside.
Furthermore, mini splits are also great for moving cold or hot air from one room to the other. Therefore, if your basement is cold (which they tend to be) and you’re sleeping in your bedroom, the mini split can take that cold air from the basement and move it upstairs.
Like other AC systems, the capacity of mini splits is based on its BTU and SEER rating. Both help determine the strength of airflow. A single unit should be rated at 24,000 BTU with a SEER of at least 17. To determine what system you need, please check out AJ Madison’s BTU calculator.
Where Can You Install?
Design should be considered with any home remodeling project and mini splits are no different. Luckily, you can install your mini split AC system in a few different areas.
Mini splits can be attached to your ceiling or wall. High up on the wall is more common, but as time has evolved, more homeowners are disguising them in the ceiling. If you choose to install your mini split ac unit in the ceiling, you can have it suspended, recessed or concealed. As you might imagine, recessed or concealed units are very popular for smaller units. The less noise in the room, the larger it will feel.
The location of your mini split AC system must be considered before purchase.
How to Install A Mini Split AC System
While a mini split installation is not easy for the common homeowner, it is possible. Luckily, it’s much like installing a heat pump, which we outlined in How To Install A Heat Pump.
- Install the Condenser
- Add Evaporator Mount
- Mount the Evaporator
- Connect the Evaporator to the Condenser
- Cover the Lines
- Make Final Connections
If you’re installing a recessed or concealed unit, consult a local HVAC pro. This project includes extra drywall, electrical and HVAC expertise.
Find A Pro
Mini split AC systems can be a viable option for homeowners who do not have extensive ductwork done in their homes, but still want to enjoy a comfortable living space.
If you’re in need of an inexpensive mini split system, click here and let us connect you with up to four HVAC contractors for free!
Last updated on Jan 12, 2017
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