- What Is a Mini Split HVAC System?
- Our Picks for Best Mini Split Air Conditioners
- Best Mini Split Comparison Chart
- Can You Install a Mini Split System Yourself?
- How Hard is it To Install a Mini Split System?
- How Long Do Mini Split Air Conditioners Last?
- How Much Does It Cost to Install a Mini Split Air Conditioner?
- Do You Need a Mini Split in Every Room?
- Does a Mini Split Heat in the Winter?
- What is The Best Mini Split Brand Name?
Mini Split air conditioning systems are one of the best ways to heat and cool a home.
They cost much less compared to traditional home HVAC systems and cost much less to operate in electrical cost.
This post is here to help you find the best mini split that fits your heating and cooling needs.
What Is a Mini Split HVAC System?
A mini split is a small HVAC system that has separate inside and outside evaporator condensing units.
Two small copper refrigeration lines are run between the two units transferring heat away or into a home.
Mini split units cost much less compared to standard HVAC units.
They are very popular since there are many Do-It-Yourself kits that can be installed by a homeowner bringing down cost.
Mini splits do have their limitations since they don’t push air through ducts; they really only cool and heat the room they are in and don’t push on past walls.
This makes them ideal for garages, home add-ons, mobile homes, or any area that needs a low-cost, long-term solution to heating and cooling.
Homeowners can take advantage of a mini splits cheap cost to operate while cooling one section of a home when the rest isn’t used much.
I am one of those homeowners that love mini split cooling systems and have three installed at strategic locations in a three-bedroom home.
Even though there is a traditional HVAC unit in my home, it is much cheaper to cool the room I am in at the time instead of the entire house.
Plus, mini split units have very high SEER efficiency ratings, which can drastically reduce a power bill.
What works for me will not work for everyone, so it is simply an example of how versatile a mini split is and how it can be used to your advantage to save money long term.
There are many units available in all sizes and price ranges, below are simply the best options I have found and my own personal opinion.
After installing many mini split units, below are the best DIY kits I have set up and have been using.
I also wrote post and made videos of installing the units to show the steps involved.
Be sure to read the reviews on Amazon, forums, here or elsewhere to be sure a unit is a good fit for you.
*This post contains affiliate links
Our Picks for Best Mini Split Air Conditioners
- MRCOOL DIY Series
- Mitsubishi Hyper Heat
Pioneer makes several units from 9000 BTU to 36000 BTU along with both 120 volt and 220 volt systems.
Installing a unit is not hard but does require some skill so be sure to call a professional if needed.
I installed a 12000 BTU unit and it has been working very well. It was installed for a friend in a home addition that had no A/C and made a video along with a post of how I install a Pioneer mini split here.
Most standard home units are measured in Ton instead of BTU with a 12000 BTU unit equal roughly to a 1 Ton unit.
For example, a 1-Ton air conditioner is rated at 12,000 BTU per hour. A 2-Ton unit would be rated at 24,000 BTU per hour.
Most homes usually have a 2-5 Ton unit on the roof, depending on how many square feet the house is.
So far, this unit has worked very well for me, along with the ability to install it without the need for an HVAC company.
Senville is another popular brand that has an entire mini split kit that comes with everything needed to install the system, except for electrical wiring.
It comes in different sizes 9000 BTU, 12,000 BTU, 18,000 BTU, and 24,000 BTU.
I installed a 9000 BTU unit and made a video along with a post showing how I install a Senville unit which is here.
Mini splits come pre-charged with refrigerant that is released after the line set is vacuumed out.
Even though someone could be hired to install it this is also perfect for the home Do-it-Yourselfer (DIY).
Tools will be needed if you do it yourself, such as a vacuum pump and HVAC gauges, but these can be picked up cheap compared to the cost of hiring an HVAC tech.
A handy person combined with all the YouTube videos out there most likely can install a mini split in a day or two.
Of course, someone can be hired to install the system, and this may be the best option for many people.
If you do decide to install a mini split yourself, the most difficult thing will possibly be the wiring.
The electrical is not difficult if you have done it before, such as wiring a dryer or ceiling fan.
Of course, the electrical can simply be outsourced to an electrician who will wire it in quickly if needed.
The MRCOOL DIY Series of Heat pump mini split units are marketed for DIY individuals.
Everything comes with the kit except the electrical, including the line-set and pre-charged unit.
The MRCOOL mini split units do cost more compared to Pioneer or Senville but are very popular and used by many.
One of the things that makes MRCOOL units different from other mini split kits is there is no need to vacuum down the lines.
MRCOOL line-sets are already in a vacuum and have a seal that is broken when bolted onto the outside condenser.
This makes them the easiest to install, with no need to worry about vacuum pumps and gauges.
I installed an MRCOOL Mini Split on a garage which turned out very well and was much simpler compared to other kits.
It used 115-volt 20 AMP breaker the same as most home outlets.
MRCOOL has both 115-volt units and 230-volt units along with different sizes available.
Daikin is another A/C manufacturer that has been around for a long time and builds many good units, including mini split DIY kits.
They have differently sized units from 9,000 BTU – 24,000 BTU.
They use a copper line-set that will need a vacuum pump and gauges to pump down.
Many HVAC companies install Daikin since they are well-built units with a good warranty.
In fact, I once worked for an HVAC company that the owner would only install Daikin units.
There are many good units with Daikin one of the more trusted brands.
Mitsubishi is a company that is known for its well-built units and good warranties.
They have many split systems that can be installed, including the Hyper Heat model, which is designed for colder temperatures.
Most all mini split heat pumps work very well when cooling a space in the summer but can have problems in the winter if the temperature drops too much.
Heat pumps can struggle to heat during a very cold winter, with most units able to work down to -8, -10 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Mitsubishi Hyper Heat are heat pumps built to work in very cold climates.
If you have mild winters, such as in the American southwest, most any unit will have no problems heating.
But if you live in a colder northern climate, a Hyper Heat model would be a good option.
It also has a very good 26 SEER rating, making it one of the most efficient units available.
One downside to Mitsubishi units is cost; since they are such good units, they cost more.
They also are not as friendly for a do-it-yourself job and are meant for a professional to install.
They can be installed by an experienced homeowner who has installed a mini split before.
Anyone new to doing an install and looking for a DIY kit would likely be better off with one of the dedicated DIY kits.
Best Mini Split Air Conditioners Comparison Chart
Can You Install a Mini Split System Yourself?
Yes, a DIY mini split system can be installed by any handy type of person looking to save on installation costs.
A good kit will come with everything for an installation except for the tools and electrical wiring.
There are several DIY kits available that come in all price ranges and SEER ratings.
How Hard is it To Install a Mini Split System?
Depending on your skill level with general construction installing a mini split can be hard or easy.
You will need to use drills, saws, along with HVAC tools such as a vacuum pump and gauges.
Installing a mini split requires running electrical from a panel, drilling a 3-inch hole in the wall, running control lines, a line-set, and more.
There are many YouTube videos to watch and see if you have the skill level to install a unit.
Calling an HVAC company and getting a quote to do an install likely is best for most people.
How Long Do Mini Split Air Conditioners Last?
Mini Split systems have a long lifespan, with the average unit lasting 15-20 years.
This is well above a traditional HVAC home system that lasts an average of 10-15 years.
Of course, how well maintained the unit is, and the climate will have an outcome for how long it will last.
Changing out the indoor filter and keeping debris away from the outside condenser should be part of regular maintenance.
Some brand names do last longer since they are better built, such as Daikin or Mitsubishi units.
With that said I have seen low-cost brand names keep working for many years and known brand name units break down.
If you have the money, one of the quality brand names, such as Mitsubishi, would likely be best.
The Pioneer or Senville units will likely be best if you are on a budget.
When installed properly and with the right maintenance, almost any mini split brand name will last many years heating and cooling.
How Much Does It Cost to Install a Mini Split Air Conditioner?
The cost to install a mini split can vary greatly since several things need to be considered.
- The average cost for a mini split unit is between $700-$2500.
- The average Do-It-yourself job costs $100-$500 for electrical and tools, plus the mini split unit.
- The average cost for an HVAC company to install a mini split is between $1000-$5000.
If you are a Do-It-yourself type person, a lot of money can be saved installing a unit.
The unit will need to be bought along with electrical wiring and tools.
There are many budget tools that can be used, which will bring the cost down.
If you plan on hiring an HVAC company to do the installation, the only way to know the cost is to call around and get quotes.
Every company and location will be different for how much they charge for an installation.
How a home is built, the location of the mini split, and the electrical panel will all be things to consider.
For example, a unit close to an electrical panel will cost less to run AC power compared to a unit far away from a panel.
Do You Need a Mini Split in Every Room?
HVAC systems are sized to the square feet of the space.
For example, a 700 Sq Ft home would need a unit rated for 18,000 BTUs.
Since mini split systems are ductless, they don’t push air on past walls and only cool the space they are in.
A large home with multiple bedrooms would benefit from multiple mini split units.
When mini split units are installed as the sole heating and cooling source in large homes, multiple units or zoned units are used.
For example, a 1500 Sq Ft home usually has 3-4 units strategically placed in different rooms.
A smaller house such as a mobile home will usually have 1-2 units.
Each home will be different and need to be thought out for the best install and setup.
Does a Mini Split Heat in the Winter?
A mini split heat pump unit will both cool in the summer and heat in the winter.
Notice the word Heat Pump.
As long as it is a heat pump, it has what is called a reversing valve that sends heat outside or inside on-demand.
This means that as long as the unit is a heat pump, it will heat and cool.
Most mini split units are heat pumps but be sure it is labeled as a heat pump.
One problem with heat pump HVAC systems is they don’t work well in very cold climates.
Most new units can work down to a -5/-10 degrees Fahrenheit before they start to struggle; of course, check the unit’s rating for temperature.
If the temperature drops too much, they will have difficulty pulling heat from the air, and the outside condensing coil will freeze up.
This makes them ideal as a heating solution in climates such as the American southwest.
For very cold climates, another heat source should be installed for very cold nights.
What is The Best Mini Split Brand Name?
With the many mini split system available, there is no single best brand name.
Every homeowner will have a different price range, installation, and climate.
For those who want the best brand name, warranty, and SEER rating mini split the Mitsubishi units are widely agreed to be the best.
They are more expensive compared to other packages and are not as DIY (do-it-yourself) friendly as many other kits.
Daikin is also a good brand name with a good warranty and costs less than the Mitsubishi units making them a good mid-range system.
Pioneer and Senville are budget systems built for the DIY individuals looking to save money and install the kits themselves.
MRCOOL is the best kit for the home do-it-yourself type person with their kits set up directly for a homeowner installing a system themselves.
All these units, when installed properly, will last many years heating and cooling.
Which mini split is the best will depend on how much you want to spend on a unit and if you install the system yourself.
The Pioneer, Senville, Daikin, Mitsubishi and MRCOOL Ductless Wall Mount Mini Split are good units with different sizes and voltages depending on the need.
The smallest unit is a 9,000 BTU with bigger sizes if needed.
There are many more units and simple ones that I have installed and worked well for me.
With the variety of different packages, there is no doubt a size that will fit any location it is needed in.
Installing a unit yourself is always an option if you have had previous experience with A/C systems and wiring.
Paying someone else to install the unit is a good idea if you don’t have any experience in HVAC, wiring, or construction in general, as there can be potential hazards.
As always, be sure to read the reviews on Amazon, forums, here, or elsewhere to be sure a unit is a good fit for you.