Ductless AC, also known as a mini split, is an ideal option if you live in an older house where installing central air is not feasible.
In many cases, a mini split system is a lot more convenient and efficient than portable AC units.
The average cost of a ductless air conditioning system is $3,000-7,500 ($1,200-$3,500 if you do it yourself), depending on the size of your house and number of temperature zones you want to have.
PRO TIP: To get a more accurate estimate of Mini Split AC costs for single-zone or multi-room installation, use our Ductless AC calculator
How Much Does Ductless AC Cost?
On average, you can expect to spend between $3,400- $4,500 on a ductless air conditioning system with ONE heating / cooling zone (room or area in your home).
A multi-zone mini split used to cool a large home (over 2,000 sq.ft. or more) can be as much as $7,000-8,000 plus.
You can have up to 4 indoor units (evaporators or air-handlers) running connected to a single outside compressor. So if you want to from 1 to 4 zones, you should add and additional $4,000-$5,000 to your initial installation charge of a single unit mini split.
There are also residential mini-split systems that can support up-to 8 zones, such as Fujitsu Flex Mini-Split. This system has a 48000 BTU (4 ton) cooling capacity and 54000 BTU (4.5 ton) heating capacity.
However because you will only need to condition the occupied spaces, this truly amazing system is capable of heating and cooling your entire house!
Combined ductless and heating cooling systems cost 30-40% more than an AC mini split of the same capacity.
Typically there is also a separate charge for various remote control options. A nonprogrammable wall mounted thermostat is around $15-75, a programmable one with basic features is $25-125 and a remote wi-fi thermostat is $100-335, from brands like Nest Ecobee, and Honeywell.
PRO TIP: You can install a ductless mini-split system yourself, and save an average of $2200 off a single zone system, and as much as $4000-$5000 off a multi-zone systems. In most states, you won’t even need a building permit for this!
There are some limitations, and you may need to get an electrician involved, to provide 240V power for the unit, and an HVAC contractor to connect line-set, and fill the refrigerant. But these items would cost under $500!
Our DIY Ductless Heat Pump installation guide, walks you through entire procedure, and lists best equipment and tools that you will need.
Cost To Install Ductless Air Conditioning
$2950 - $4150
Average labor charges to install a single zone mini split range from $600-800. The cost to install a multi-zone system with more than one outdoor condenser will be at least double, starting at $1,500+
Overall, your total price will depend on the time it takes to do the job, as well as the number of evaporating and condensing units. On average, this project can be completed in about 10 hours.
The bulk of labor is in the running of electric and refrigerant lines from the condenser outside to the air handler units inside the house. Any difficulties in cutting into the walls and accessibility can significantly increase the cost of labor. For example, having stucco siding makes it harder to cut in and run these lines, than if you have other types of siding, such as vinyl.
You may also need to upgrade your electric panel to 200 amps to accommodate the system. In this case, you should add about $800-1,200, if no complications arise.
Mini Split AC Unit And Heat Pump Prices
Typically, average quality single zone AC only unit with one evaporator costs $900-1,200. However, there are low budget brands, where this unit can be as little as $500, or premium brands, where the price would be $3,000+
An AC unit that has multiple evaporators and will cool multiple house zones will be about 20% more expensive.
The average is $1,300-2,000. Low-end pricing starts at $750-800, and high-end multi-zone units cost as much as $2,500-5,000+. As a rule of thumb, the more indoor air handler units you want, the more expensive the system will be.
If you want to add heat as well, you will need to install a mini split heat pump. These units are significantly more expensive, and you can expect to spend 30-45% more, compared to an AC only mini split.
Pricing for single zone heat pumps with one evaporator starts at around $950 and can go up to $5,500-6,000 for premium brands. Multi-zone unit prices are $1,150 on the low end and $6,500-7,500 on the high end.
Keep in mind the cost of any unit will also depend on its heating/cooling capacity, as measured in BTUs. Ductless air conditioning and heating capacities range from 9,000 to 42,000 BTU.
Best Ductless Air Conditioner
In the world of mini splits, there are many brands and options that fit a wide range of needs. Higher end units offer more functionality, are better able to handle drastic outside temperature variations, are more energy efficient, tend to be more quiet when operating, and often have better warranties.
More expensive units also offer more consistent heating and cooling inside the home, reach the desirable temperature level much faster than standard models and do a better job of eliminating hot and cold spots throughout the house. This is possible because they have inverter compressors, which are not present in lower-end models.
However, often you are also paying a premium for the brand’s wide spread recognition and top notch reputation.
Mitsubishi ductless mini split is a perfect example. The company is so famous that most homeowners automatically consider their products to be the best and only option.
Here are our pics:
Our HVAC installers prefer to work with premium brands that offer the most reliable, long term service and the best level of comfort. These are LG, Fujitsu, Daikin, Friedrich, Trane, and Mitsubishi.
AC and heat pump models by LG are usually most economical, Daikin, Friedrich are in the middle of the price spectrum and Fujitsu together with Mitsubishi are most expensive.
For example, an LG mini split AC (12,000 BTU and 4 evaporators) costs about $4,030. The same size Mitsubishi mini split AC unit costs $1,200 more, or about $5,230
The same size and capacity LG ductless heat pump costs $5,140, compared to $6,460 for a Mitsubishi heat pump.
Standard quality brands are Pioneer, Air Con, Classic America, Blueridge and Gree. These units cost 20-40% less than their premium quality counterparts.
Cost Of Ductless AC vs. Central Air
One major benefit often cited by proponents of ductless air conditioning systems is that it is significantly cheaper than central air.
However, this is often not the case. In fact, multi-zone ductless mini split systems can cost just as much as central AC.
Primarily, you can save money on ductless air if you only need one or two zones. However, the bigger your house, the more expensive it will be to install a multi-zone mini split. In larger homes, over 2,500 square feet, they can cost as much as $7,500-10,000, which is about the same as central AC.
Moreover, consider that the cost of a new ductwork system can also vary greatly. It depends on the size of your home, accessibility, and the number of rooms you want to cool or heat.
If you have a small home, and there are no complications, new ducts can cost you $1,000-1,5000. However, for bigger homes and more challenging installation, new ductwork can cost $3,000-4,500
If you are on a tight budget, you have to be careful when comparing the cost of both systems. The best way is to get an estimate for each one from a professional AC installer.
Bottom line: don’t just assume that ductless will cost you less than central air. The difference for your particular home may turn out to be minimal, so you will have to make your decision based on other considerations.
$2950 - $4150