Having air conditioning throughout your home is a great way to keep cool in the summer months. However, if your home does not have ducts, central air conditioning can be an invasive and expensive thing to install. Instead, a ductless air conditioner or mini-split system could help you cool as many as eight rooms in your home with a less invasive installation.
There are many different types and installation styles for ductless air conditioners. Also, they are available in various sizes. The national average range for installing a multi-zone system is between $3,150 and $9,000, with most homeowners paying around $5,377 for a 24,000 BTU ductless mini-split heating and cooling unit. At the lowest price point for the project, you’ll pay $1,678 to have a 9,000 BTU 230V ductless mini-split unit installed. The most expensive ductless AC prices will be around $9,548 for a 230V ductless mini-split system, with installation costs included.
|Mini-Split AC Cost|
|National average cost||$5,377|
A mini-split installation cost varies largely on the style chosen and the size of space needed to cool. In particular, multi-zone systems will cool multiple levels or rooms of a home and are more expensive units. The labor cost to install a multi-zone system also costs about twice as much as a single-zone system. Ductless air conditioners come in various styles, with ceiling-mounted and concealed units generally costing more than floor-standing or wall-mounted ones. While a ductless air conditioner cost is relatively greater than traditional central air conditioning to install, they are significantly more efficient. This mini-split cost calculator provides you with installation and material costs based on your location and requirements.
Depending on the size and layout of your home, you may need a single-zone or a multi-zone system.
In a single-zone system, you have an outdoor compressor and an indoor air handler 1. The air handler is made to cool only the space where it is located. For open floor plans and small homes, a single-zone may be enough.
However, if you have more than one level in your home or have multiple rooms to cool, a multi-zone system may be best. In this case, each outdoor compressor can accommodate up to four indoor handlers. Large homes may need two compressors and as many as eight handlers inside.
In general, multi-zone systems cost more to purchase and install than single-zone systems. The average cost of a multi-zone system is around $7,000. The average price of a single-zone system is about $3,500 to $4,000. The larger the system or the more BTUs needed, the higher the cost of the system, regardless of how many zones it has.
A homeowner will discuss their cooling needs, including how many zones will be covered within the residence. Typically, a zone refers to a single room in a home. For example, if you need one room cooled, you would likely need a one-zone mini-split for the project. The following refers to the average number of zones that a home may have and the cost to install a mini-split that accommodates the number. The fewer the zones, the less expensive the project cost.
|Zones||Average Cost (Installed)|
|1 Zone||$1,600 - $3,500|
|2 Zones||$5,250 - $7,100|
|3 Zones||$6,500 - $9,800|
|4 Zones||$7,250 - $11,400|
|5 Zones||$9,600 - $13,000|
|6 Zones||$11,100 - $16,200|
|7 Zones||$13,800 - $19,750|
|8 Zones||$15,000 - $22,500|
The average cost to install a one-zone mini-split is $1,600 to $3,500. A one-zone mini-split is a simple and straightforward project. The single mini-split will have one unit for indoors and one unit for outdoors and would be used to cool a single room. For instance, you may have a one-zone mini-split for a room that isn’t being cooled by your current HVAC system, such as a finished basement or converted attic.
The average two-zone mini-split cost ranges from $5,250 to $7,100. With a two-zone mini-split system, you are cooling two distinct areas of the home. Two is the lowest number that multi-zone split systems can accommodate. With this setup, you may only choose to use the two-zone system to cool bedrooms in a two-bedroom residence. One compressor will be outside with this setup, with two indoor units located in the selected rooms of the home.
The average three-zone mini-split cost will be in the range of $6,500 to $9,800. The three-zone mini-split installation cost is increased due to the higher number of indoor units needed to accommodate the system. With this setup, a compressor is located outdoors, and three of the indoor units are placed in your selected rooms. Indoor units typically include floor-mounted, wall-mounted, or cassette options.
Homeowners pay $7,250 to $11,400 for the four-zone mini-split installation cost, including labor and materials. A four-zone mini-split starts to get more costly because you pay for four different indoor units. Each unit will be sized to cool each room. As you start to install more indoor units, you may run into issues like increased electrical needs. Although you can have more than one unit on a single compressor, maximum BTUs can’t be used simultaneously.
On average, a five-zone mini-split costs from $9,600 to $13,000. The cost to install a five-zone mini-split is expensive due to the number of indoor units you require. For example, suppose you want to cool two bedrooms, the kitchen, the living room, and an office. Each room can have a different indoor cooling unit with budget and accessibility dictating the best choice for the space. In many cases, ceiling options are considered as a way to make the five units less visible within the home.
The average cost of a six-zone mini-split system is $11,100 to $16,200. A six-zone mini-split system starts to get into a very large, oversized system. Professionals may discuss comparing costs at this point to other cooling options, including central air conditioning. With a six-zone mini-split system, you will have a setup similar to a five-zone type with many indoor units concealed through recessed options or floor types. With six units, you will have to consider the possibility of equipment upgrades like electrical panels.
Homeowners pay approximately $13,800 to $19,750 for a seven-zone mini-split system. With a seven-zone mini-split, you’re getting near the largest type of system that a mini-split can accommodate. However, the system can usually cool most of your residence. For example, in a three-bedroom home, the system can cool the bedrooms, the kitchen, living room, home office, and den. Besides electrical requirements, your contractors may need to perform some construction work to put in seven different indoor units.
An eight-zone mini-split system will cost an estimated $15,000 to $22,500. An eight-zone mini-split system is the largest type available on the market and provides heating and cooling for small to moderate-sized residences. Although you have eight zones, you wouldn’t run all at the same time. You have better control over the temperature in each area of the home. Since you’re looking to cool a larger area, contractors may recommend larger units or cassette-style models.
Ductless air conditioners or mini-split systems come in several different types, depending on the location and type of installation. A professional will recommend a type of ductless air conditioner system based on your specific cooling needs and budget. In some cases, you may even be able to install multiple types of ductless systems within a single residence. However, not all types of systems can operate at maximum BTUs at the same time. Each system has its own attributes and cost to consider, which a professional can review with you before purchase. Keep in mind all types need installation by a certified HVAC technician.
|System Type||Average Cost Range|
|Wall-Mount||$850 - $3,000|
|Floor-Standing||$1,300 - $4,000|
|Ceiling Cassette||$1,500 - $7,200|
|Ceiling-Suspended||$2,500 - $4,500|
|Concealed Duct||$2,900 - $7,500|
|Vertical Air Handler||$3,600 - $8,800|
Wall-mounted air conditioning units cost between $850 and $3,000. A wall-mounted system is the most common and generally the least expensive. The indoor air handler is installed in the wall, usually below the ceiling, while tubes connect it to the outdoor handler, which operates the system. Newer systems include smart home features such as remote temperature control and programmable thermostats 2. The wall-mounted types can be used for single-zone and multi-zone systems.
A floor-mounted split system costs between $1,300 and $4,000 on average. This is also a wall-mount system, but it is for mounting close to the floor in rooms with low or sloped ceilings or whose windows are too high to install above them in the wall. These systems can be used to supplement heating and cooling or as part of a multiple-zone system. Compatible outdoor condensers are typically required for a floor-mounted, ductless, mini-split system to operate correctly.
Homeowners can anticipate the cost of a ceiling-mounted split system to run between $1,500 and $7,200. Like the name suggests, this system is installed on the ceiling. It provides greater airflow due to its position and does not take up any wall space. It is good for homeowners who want their system out of sight. Ceiling cassette styles come with a standard operating range between 9,000 and 18,000 BTUs. The fans can normally be set by timers and have quiet operations.
A suspended ceiling mini-split system costs between $2,500 and $4,500. This is a larger version of the ceiling cassette. It installs suspended from your ceiling, so it gets better airflow and does not take up wall space. It is more obvious, however, coming down further from the ceiling in some instances. A major benefit of this type of design is the capability to move the air around the room more efficiently. The style option is ideal if you have large areas of a home to heat or cool.
On average, a concealed ductless mini-split system will cost between $2,900 and $7,500. This is also a ceiling-mounted system that hooks up to one or more existing ducts in your home. It cools larger amounts of space with one unit, including multiple rooms with ductwork and vents connected to them. Homeowners often prefer this system for aesthetic reasons since the design isn’t protruding like other ductless systems. Heating capabilities can also be included in this type of system and other types that obtain a heat pump 3.
A mini-split vertical air handler has a price tag from $3,600 to $8,800. This is a completely self-contained air conditioning unit that is generally concealed in a vertical cabinet. It is a single-zone system and does not require indoor and outdoor components, making installation a little bit easier in some instances. These systems are usually designed for portable use and can be an option for venues looking to provide cooling for guests. They could also be a space-saving choice for temporary spaces that require cooling.
The brand that you choose for your ductless air conditioner affects the overall price of the project. Certain brands are more costly than others and may have higher-end features. For instance, brands could include whisper-quiet operation, higher efficiency ratings, programmable features, and smart home connectivity. The following are a few top providers of ductless air conditioner models and their average costs without installation.
|Brand||Average Price Range (Materials Only)|
|Daikin||$1,200 - $4,000|
|Mitsubishi||$2,500 - $6,500|
|Fujitsu||$2,700 - $4,500|
|LG||$3,000 - $5,000|
The cost of Daikin mini-split systems starts at $1,200 and can be as expensive as $4,000 for the unit only. The company’s top-selling model is its multi-zone mini-split system option. The multi-zone unit handles heating and cooling for up to eight separate rooms, with only one outdoor compact component needed. An affordable single-zone Daikin model is available and typically meant for homes that only need cooling in a small space or one or two rooms. Daikin offers two types of warranty options. It comes with a standard six-year type covering the compressor, indoor unit, and repair costs. An extended warranty option keeps you protected for 12 years and can be purchased before the unit is installed in your home.
The average Mitsubishi mini-split AC cost ranges from $2,500 to $6,500 for the unit only. Mitsubishi specializes in a variety of system options for homes in need of ductless air conditioners. Indoor and outdoor units are offered along with hybrid varieties. Model highlights from the brand include wall-mounted, ceiling cassette, floor-mounted, and horizontal mounted. The company provides indoor and outdoor system options depending on your heating and cooling needs. Systems can be managed through various thermostat 2 devices, including wired controllers, handheld types, and smartphones. The Mitsubishi ductless AC cost is more expensive upfront but can have long-term savings due to recent investments in high-efficiency designs. Mitsubishi comes with a five-year parts warranty with purchase. The compressor for their units is covered under warranty for up to seven years. A 12-year warranty option can be purchased for these mini-splits.
A Fujitsu mini-split cost will be an average of $2,700 to $4,500 without installation for residential purposes. Fujitsu produces both a single-zone and multi-zone mini-split option under their Halcyon product line. The single-zone air conditioner cools one room and can be floor-mounted, wall-mounted, universal ceiling style, or cassette. The multi-zone system accommodates anywhere from two to five zones with a ceiling and wall-mounting kit option. The Fujitsu ductless air conditioner cost is adjustable because the company allows for customization with their product options, including combinations that make products ENERGY STAR-rated. The Fujitsu mini-split warranty covers five years for parts and seven years for the compressor. Any accessories are covered for 90 days. An extended warranty for 12 years is available for purchase.
The LG mini-split cost will be between $3,000 and $5,000 for most residential systems. LG specializes in residential mini-split options and only has a few light commercial products. LG has a range of single-zone models, multi-zone models, and split units for indoor and outdoor use. The majority of the multi-zone systems from LG accommodate up to five zones within a single residence. Style options for the brand include cassette, wall-mounted, and floor-mounted. Larger systems include wall-mounted thermostat controls. Smaller systems use remote controls for adjustments. Most LG mini-split warranties cover all parts for five years and the compressor for seven. The LG mini-split warranty provides both ten-year coverage for parts and the compressor in some models at an extra cost.
Labor costs for installation are calculated in several ways--the size of the system, the number of units, the placement of the system, and how difficult it is to access. In general, the labor for a multi-zone system will be roughly twice the cost of labor for a single-zone system. Labor for single-zone systems ranges from $300 to $2,000, depending on type and location. Labor costs for multi-zone systems range from $700 to $3,000, depending on the number of handlers and the type and location.
In general, the average cost for labor when installing a multi-zone system is around $800 out of the $5,377 total.
Mini-splits must be installed by an HVAC professional. HVAC contractors should always have a valid license and an up-to-date certification. If you attempt to use someone who isn’t licensed, permits may not be granted, depending on your state’s requirements. Professional HVAC contractors are needed due to the handling of the refrigerant line as part of the installation process. Also, electrical connections with high-voltage wires are usually required when installing a mini-split. The cost of ductless air conditioner installation increases if the HVAC professional can’t easily access these components.
The type of installation you need depends on how many indoor air handlers you have and the kind of system you purchase. In general, installation is carried out by first installing the brackets for the indoor unit and creating a hole for the tubes and refrigeration line. These are fed through the hole ahead of the unit so that they can be connected outside. The unit is hardwired to your electricity. The indoor unit is mounted and installed on its bracket in the wall.
The outdoor unit is installed next, either on a roof or a pad adjacent to a wall. The tubing and lines from the indoor unit are connected to the outside unit. All the wiring from the outdoor unit needs to be connected to the interior unit and electricity. The outdoor unit will be placed and installed in its final location.
If you have a multi-zone system installed, the same process is carried out with the internal components, connecting each of them to the outdoor unit one at a time. The system is then tested to ensure it works properly.
While there is a DIY package available, in most cases, it is recommended to have your unit installed by a professional, particularly when connecting multiple zones or mounting anywhere other than the wall.
When choosing the size of the system that you need to cool your home (or heat, if your system also includes a heat pump), determine the number of BTUs needed for the square footage. The chart below provides a basic idea of the unit size you need based on the square feet of the area you are installing it in:
|BTUs Needed||Room Size per Square Foot|
|6,000 BTUs||150 - 250|
|7,000 BTUs||250 - 300|
|8,000 BTUs||300 - 350|
|9,000 BTUs||350 - 400|
|10,000 BTUs||400 - 450|
|12,000 BTUs||450 - 550|
|14,000 BTUs||550 - 700|
|18,000 BTUs||700 - 1,000|
|21,000 BTUs||1,000 - 1,200|
|23,000 BTUs||1,200 - 1,400|
The amount of electricity your system uses varies depending on location, size of your home, unit size, how often it runs, and how much insulation your home has.
In general, ductless systems are between 20% and 60% more efficient at cooling your home than central air conditioning, which can save you in the long run. To lower your costs even more, consider adding additional insulation to your attic.
Homeowners can estimate that a standard mini-split model with 9,000 BTUs will run on 600 watts to 800 watts if used conservatively. However, during peak loads, the same mini-split could run at 2,000 watts or more for cooling purposes. It’s important to know the power consumption of your mini-split system because you want to use less power than a traditional air conditioning unit.
There aren’t many ENERGY STAR rated mini-split air conditioners available on the market, but a few are available. Save on your energy bills by considering types that have low EER ratings. EER stands for energy efficiency ratio and is calculated by dividing the BTUs of a mini-split by the wattage. The higher the EER, the better.
Many factors go into determining the cost of your mini-split system. This includes the system type, number of air handlers 1 or zones, system size, and installation complexity. Even the brand of the unit influences the total cost, as can purchasing more efficient units that use less energy to cool your home. The area you live in also plays a role, with some states having higher or lower installation costs for this type of system.
Square footage plays a large role in determining the final price, including the ductless mini-split air conditioner installation cost. How much space do you need to heat and cool? How many single split or multiple split units will need to be professionally installed to accommodate your parameters? Some homeowners save money by zoning out their heating and cooling requirements. For example, you may choose to use only a mini-split to cool the downstairs of a two-story home. Multi-zone systems will be the most costly not only to install but also to run.
Accessibility impacts the final cost of the project. For instance, if you need any construction or electrical work done to accommodate the mini-split, the cost increases. Electricians charge an average of $40 to $100 per hour for any type of residential work.
Most mini-split systems include a warranty that covers the unit for up to ten years. Review warranty options with contractors to avoid costly repairs down the road.
Review ductless mini-split electrical requirements with your contractor before installation since this could affect the ductless AC system cost. For small systems, you will likely be able to rely on a 110-volt service. However, any system over 12,000 BTUs is likely to require 220 volts. Your contractor may recommend a surge protector for the mini-split. A surge protector prevents power spikes from reaching the mini-split. These power spikes can cause internal damage and shorten the lifespan of the units.
As far as amps, it depends on how many mini-splits you have in the home. On average, you can estimate the need at 15 to 45 amps for every mini-split. Since the mini-split runs on amps, it requires a dedicated circuit. Nothing else can be run on the same circuit as a mini-split to prevent any issues, such as blown fuses.
Check with your local municipality to determine if you need a disconnect box for the mini-split. The disconnect box allows for the system to be safely turned off during service appointments or repairs. Your electrical service panel may need to be upgraded before a mini-split installation to accommodate the added voltage.
If your home does not currently have ducts, having ductless air conditioner units installed is a much less invasive method of delivering heat and air conditioning to your home. You will have a single hole cut for each handler instead of needing to find ways for the ducts to travel through your home.
Because the system does not have ducts, it will not get as dirty. Vents collect a lot of dust and debris over time, which means that your ducts need to be cleaned on occasion to free them up and keep the unit working at its best.
Also, ducts can begin to leak air over time, which may lower the efficiency of a unit. Without ducts, a mini-split system does not lose its efficiency in the same way and can be even more efficient in many cases.
Keep in mind that these systems may not add value to your home if you already have ducts. They may not cool large homes on hot days effectively without multiple handlers.
Mini-split systems can last 10 to 15 years on average if they are regularly maintained. This means cleaning the exterior of both components regularly, removing the covers, and cleaning the coils and internal pieces. In addition, have your unit serviced twice a year to ensure that it is cleaned and operating at peak efficiency.
Turn off the unit before removing the filter for cleaning. Although each model is different, most ductless air conditioner filters can be wiped clean with a dry cloth. Clean the filters every six weeks while operating the unit. Coils can be wiped clear of dust at this time before replacing the filters.
Check the outdoor components for any debris or dirt. Remove any snow or ice from the outdoor compressor during the winter months. Also, remember to inspect all wires and lines for signs of damage. Contact a professional if you notice any leaks or exposed wires.
When comparing the costs of a ductless mini-split system and central air conditioning, you need to consider a few factors. If your home does not already have ducts installed, you can have a mini-split installed for around $4,000 - $7,000 for a 2,000 sq. ft. home, assuming you require two zones.
To have central air conditioning installed for the same size home, you would have the same costs for the system plus an additional $2,500 to $3,500 or more for the ducts, making your total closer to $7,000 to $10,500 for central air conditioning.
In a home that already has ducts installed, costs are similar. In some cases, the price of a central air conditioner may be less money because you do not need multiple units to handle the various zones.
Single-split air conditioners and multi-split air conditioners operate in the same way. They utilize heat pumps 3 to push the hot air out of your home to the refrigerator coils, where the hot air is condensed, cooled, and returned to your home.
The biggest difference is that in a single-split, you use a single thermostat 2 to control the system. Multi-split systems require different thermostats for the various outdoor units.
Multi splits require fewer working parts than using multiple single splits to heat and cool the home. The unit could operate efficiently and have simpler electrical requirements than multiple single splits. Some homeowners even choose to have a mix of both single splits and multi-split air conditioners. Ductless AC cost for the mini-split style will be around $3,000 to $5,000 installed. The ductless AC system cost for a multi-split is $3,800 to $6,500.
Most ductless air conditioners contain a heat pump as part of the system to help circulate the air. During the colder months of the year, you can use only the heat pump to warm your home. Ductless mini-splits can also be known as ductless heat pumps. The reason for the name is that the air conditioning system can operate in two directions. When cooling is needed, it sucks out the hot air and redirects it outside. When heat is needed, it takes heat from the outside air and transfers it inside.
Cooling-only mini-split systems are available. They are generally only found in tropical and other high-heat areas that do not even need occasional heating. They tend to cost less, around $750, to start for a single wall-mounted unit, and they have similar installation and labor costs to the standard system.
If you are replacing another system with a ductless air conditioner, you may be charged a removal fee for the old equipment. This cost varies from $50 to $200, depending on the company and type of equipment. Check with your installer to find out their policy.
Depending on the age of your home and type of panel, you may need to have an electrician upgrade your electrical system or install a new panel. An upgrade can cost $1,300 to $3,000, depending on the level of work required.
This depends on the size of the system you are installing. A multi-zone system costs around $5,377 on average.
Air conditioning increases the market value of homes. Each year, single-family residences with air conditioning have sold for approximately 2.5 percent more than homes without air conditioning in the United States.
This depends on the area where you live, but most HVAC systems require a permit and inspection.
This depends on the size of the system and how many zones. It could take two to eight hours to install.
This depends on whether you have ducts. If you do not have ducts, then yes, it is cheaper. Otherwise, it may have similar costs.
If the rooms are closed off from one another, then yes. In more open floor plans, a single-zone may be all you need.