A mini-split system is a convenient and energy-efficient solution to cool or heat your house. A Ductless mini split is a great and increasingly popular alternative to a central air system.
On average, you can install a single zone mini split for $800-2,300, depending on the brand and unit capacity.
A multi-zone mini split system costs $1,200 – 5,000+ depending on the brand, unit size and the number of indoor units you need to have.
You can also request free estimates from local HVAC pros near you on the cost of installing a ductless mini split system in your home.
How Much Does A Mini Split System Cost?
The cost of a mini-split will vary depending on numerous factors: cooling/heating capacity, number of zones (indoor units), efficiency, warranty period, type (AC-only or heat pump), and availability of other features such as smart controls, refrigerant leak detection and anti-microbial filters.
It is also worth mentioning that the brand’s name affects the price much like in any other markets.
The price of a single-zone mini-split will range between $700 for a low capacity (9K BTU/hr) unit from a lesser-known brand and $2,500 for a top-brand, high capacity (36K BTU/hr) unit.
The cost of a multi-zone mini-split system has to be worked out by adding the cost of an outdoor unit to the cost of the total number of indoor units it serves.
For an outdoor mini split unit, costs range from $1,000 for a 2-zone, 17,000 BTU/hr unit up to $3,700 for an 8-zone, top-brand unit capable of providing 48K BTU/hr of cooling and heating.
The cost of one wall mounted indoor unit will range from $280 for a 9K BTU/hr unit to $850 for a 24K BTU/hr unit from a top manufacturer.
Note that other indoor unit styles, such as ceiling cassettes or ducted units, may be more expensive. This cost then has to be multiplied by the number of units you want to install in your house and added to the cost of an outdoor unit.
Check out our guide on the Top Mini Split Brands For Your Home
Mini Split Installation Cost
Many single-zone mini-splits come with a DIY installation kit including pre-charged refrigerant, which makes it possible for anyone without training to do the installation and save money.
If you are interested in installing the mini split yourself, we have a DIY Mini Split Installation Guide that will walk you through every step of the process.
However, units with capacities over 15K BTU/hr will most likely require a 230V power supply. This means you will need to make some modifications to your home’s electrical system to upgrade it from the standard 115V.
If you are confident in your skills, then this can also be a DIY project, otherwise an electrical sub-contractor must be hired.
For more complicated installations, the costs will range from $1,700 to $2,300 for a single-zone mini-split and $2,000 to $3,400 for a multi-zone mini-split system.
Additionally, the installation materials might add $130 to $375 on top, in case the installation kit is not included by the manufacturer.
You can use our comprehensive Ductless Mini Split Cost Estimator to get a price quote specific to your home.
Did you know? Since mini-splits are the most energy-efficient solutions, many models, especially Energy Star certified models, qualify for tax credits and rebates.
For example, by purchasing MrCool DIY 12K, 18K and 24K BTU/hr models, you qualify for a Federal Tax Credit – Air Source Heat Pump program, which gets you $300 in rebates.
Pro Tip: The quality of installation plays a major role in how your unit will operate and in the amount of future maintenance. To increase your chances for a successful installation, you can follow these steps in hiring the right contractor:
• Ask homeowners in your local community for recommendations. Chances are, you are not the only one who needs this service in the neighborhood
• Seek confirmation of experience from the contractor by asking for the photos of previous jobs and client testimonials
• Organize a site visit and an interview with the prospective contractor at your house. This way, the contractor will inspect your property and recommend a few options. Ask as many questions as you can to check the technical skills of your contractor
• Get at least three quotes from different contractors to get a sense of the market and to have more options in the end
• Request written quotes with price estimates that break down all the costs of all the works and materials for you to see clearly what you are paying for.
Cost Of A Mini-Split vs Central Air System
The main difference between a central air system and a mini-split is in ductwork: mini-splits simply don’t have it, and that is why they are sometimes called: “Ductless AC”.
A central air system uses installed ductwork, hidden behind the walls, and air registers to circulate the air around the whole house and cool or heat it with a single source.
In contrast, mini-splits condition the air inside the room by recirculating it through the indoor units located in each room. Each indoor unit is connected to the outdoor unit with refrigerant pipes, and it is possible to serve multiple units from just one outdoor unit.
Here is an in-depth look at the differences as well as pros and cons of installing a ductless mini split vs central air conditioning.
Below you can see various mini-split unit components.
Did you know? Manufacturers offer different styles of indoor units which include the most common wall mounted unit, ceiling cassette, floor standing, and even ducted units.
The ducted units work in the same fashion as other styles by being located in the room that they serve, but they are typically concealed above the ceiling. Ducts and air grilles are used to supply and return the air from the unit to the room in this case.
Mini-Split vs Multi-Split System
The term “mini-split” basically designates a ductless AC system. The word “split” means that indoor (evaporator) and outdoor (condenser) units are separated, as opposed to “packaged” units where all components are fitted inside the casing.
For example, a typical central AC system is also a “split” system, since it has a condenser located outdoors and an evaporator coil inside the ductwork. Because ductless systems are usually smaller in size than a central system, they are called “mini”, completing the term “mini-split”.
In some manufacturer’s literature or articles, you might stumble across the term “multi-split”. A multi-split system simply means a mini-split system with multiple (more than one) zones or indoor units.
Multi-splits have one outdoor unit which serves multiple indoor units at once. The sum of capacities of all the indoor units must match the capacity of the outdoor unit they are connected to.
Mini-Split AC-only vs Heat Pump
In your research you will most likely come across the terms “AC-only” or “cooling-only” mini-splits and “heat pump” mini-splits.
The difference is simple: heat pumps can provide both heating and cooling as required by reversing the refrigeration cycle, whereas “AC-only” mini-splits can only provide cooling.
Heat pump mini-splits have become a more popular solution among homeowners, since they are not much costlier than AC-only mini-splits and provide a 2-in-1 solution for your property.
Did you know? Until recently, heat pump mini-splits have been ruled out for heating in very cold climates, since they were not reliable under outdoor temperatures below freezing. Nowadays, manufacturers produce heat pumps that can effectively heat the rooms at outdoor temperatures as low as -22°F.
Pro Tip: If you live in a seasonal climate with hot summers and cold winters, heat pump mini-splits would prove the most efficient solution, especially compared to traditional central systems where an AC unit, furnace and ductwork are installed to provide both cooling and heating.
Mini-Split Energy Efficiency Explained
Energy efficiency is one of the main parameters used to compare different mini-split systems. It basically determines how much you will save on energy bills when the unit is up and running.
The terminology used in describing energy efficiency of mini-splits is explained below:
• Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER): This is a measure of how much cooling is provided by the unit compared to the total electric input required to deliver that amount of cooling. EER is defined at only one specific outdoor temperature which is 95°F.
• Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER): As the name suggests, it is the same as EER, but measured over the whole cooling season, which means that it is defined at various outdoor temperatures (from 65°F to 104°F). The average of these measured efficiencies is the final value used for SEER.
• Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF): It is defined as the total amount of heat provided during colder months divided by the electricity used.
In short, it is the same as SEER, but for heating. Sometimes manufacturers will list HSPF with a number behind it, usually HSPF4 and HSPF5. This number indicates the climate zone this rating is for. If no number is shown, then you can assume that the efficiency is for the climate zone 4.
Did you know? In some cases, it is more useful to compare EER of the mini-splits rather than SEER.
For example, in hot climates, it is likely that the temperature outside will be constant and close to 95°F at which EER is defined, giving a more accurate value. However, SEER would be more useful in a range of summertime temperatures.
Pro Tip: Make sure you compare the efficiency ratings of the same type. For instance, it would not be correct to compare SEER to EER or HSPF4 to HSPF5, as these ratings are calculated differently.
How To Pick The Right Size Mini-Split System For Your Home
It is important to select the mini-split system of the right size to avoid not getting enough cooling/heating and temperature fluctuations.
The best way is to ask a professional, whether a contractor or an HVAC engineer, to complete a Manual J calculation that factors in the size and R-values of your walls, windows, doors, floor and roof.
However, you don’t need a detailed calculation at the initial stage, when you just want to estimate the cost of the unit that might be required. In this case, you can use the rule of thumb and the area you need to condition.
You can also use our HVAC Heating and Cooling Load Estimator to get a fairly accurate size for your mini split.
Mini Split Cooling Demand Estimation
First, using the map below, determine which climate zone your house is located in.
Then, multiply the following values by the area of you room in feet to get the required BTU/hr:
Zone 1&2: 22-30 BTU/hr per sq.ft.
Zone 3: 20-24 BTU/hr per sq.ft.
Zone 4: 18-22 BTU/hr per sq.ft.
Zone 5: 16-20 BTU/hr per sq.ft.
Zone 6: 14-18 BTU/hr per sq.ft.
Zone 7: 12-16 BTU/hr per sq.ft.
Mini Split Heating Demand Estimation
First, find your location on the map below, then use the appropriate value in the table to calculate total BTU/hr
Is It A Good Idea To Invest In A Mini-Split Unit?
Mini-splits provide the most efficient way to cool or heat your house, however they are more expensive than traditional central systems. In certain cases, it certainly makes financial sense to buy a mini-split:
• When you add new spaces to your house, it is much cheaper and easier to install a mini-split to condition new rooms rather than extending the ductwork of your central system and upgrading the central air conditioner/ furnace to meet the new higher demand.
This also includes additional external buildings like garages, workshops or sheds, to which central system cannot reach.
• If you have an old house with no central system and no ductwork, then it will be cheaper and less troublesome to install a multi-zone mini-split system, since the installation of ductwork/baseboard for the central system will be costly and might not even be possible due to physical space constraints.
• If you are building a new house, mini-split is still recommended as an up-to-date solution for cooling and heating, offering tremendous energy savings, smart control features, reduced noise and more environmentally-friendly living, which will also increase the value of your house.
In case you currently have a recently installed central air system in a good working condition, then switching to mini-splits might not be a very cost-effective solution.