There’s no off-the-shelf solution to installing mini splits, so the final price you pay will probably be different than anyone you know who has had them installed. Mini split systems are extremely customizable to your home’s needs, which is part of what makes them so appealing – but it can also feel like the options are endless! Single-zone or multi-zone? What brand should you get? And which contractor should you choose?
There are some key things that impact the final price tag of your mini split system. In this article, we break them down to help you understand what a mini split installation could cost you.
A mini split is a type of ductless air source heat pump.
Mini split installation can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $14,500, depending on multiple factors.
The best way to make your mini splits as cost-effective as possible is to power them with solar energy. Visit the EnergySage Marketplace to compare quotes from solar installers near you.
What’s in this article?
What is a mini split?
Mini splits are a type of air source heat pump that provides zoned heating and cooling without needing ductwork. They consist primarily of an outdoor unit, and one or more indoor units connected with tubing lines that make installation fairly hassle-free. This makes them an ideal alternative to more complicated HVAC systems that require ductwork to heat and cool your home.
Mini splits are an efficient alternative to other heating and cooling systems, and while they may cost more upfront, you’ll usually quickly see the benefits in decreased monthly utility bills. The pricing of mini splits can vary significantly, but it is possible to estimate costs by understanding the factors that go into the cost of installing a new mini split system. Learn more about mini splits in this article.
What impacts mini split costs?
There are a multitude of things that will factor into the final cost of your mini splits. Your heat pump contractor will assess your home and discuss your system needs with you to determine what will be the best fit. The following things will factor into the final amount you pay for your mini splits:
Unit size is determined by the size of the area in your home that you want to heat and cool. Properly sizing your mini split system is important because if it’s not the correct size fit for your home, it won’t operate efficiently and can potentially shorten the life of your mini splits. The square footage of the room you are heating and cooling with your mini splits determines the required British Thermal Unit (BTU) capacity of your mini splits. The most common size of mini split installed is a 12,000 BTU-capacity unit, which covers 400 – 650 square feet and averages about $3,000 in cost.
Number of Zones
Mini splits are installed in zones that cover certain areas of your home. The number of zones is the number of indoor units, or heads, you will need to install. Indoor units house the evaporator coils, air filter, and blower. A good way to estimate how many zones you will have is to look at the number of rooms you hope to heat and cool with your mini split system.
For example, if you want to install mini splits for the first floor of your home and it has four rooms, you will most likely have four zones in your system. An experienced installer will assess the size of those four rooms to make sure they are installing the correct number of heads. If one of the rooms on the first floor of your home is larger (like a living room), you may need to install two heads to adequately cover the amount of space in the room, which would then require five heads for your four zone system.
No matter how many zones you have in your mini split installation, you will have an outdoor unit, or condenser, that houses the condenser coils, compressor, outdoor fan, and expansion valve. It is connected to the indoor unit with lines that run refrigerant and electricity between the two (or more!) parts of your mini split system.
The number of zones and required number of indoor units needed to cover those zones all factor into the final cost. Single zones range from $1,200 to $8,800, and a four zone installation could cost as much as $18,000. If you are installing mini splits on multiple floors of your home, the number of zones and the cost of installation will increase.
Additionally, the installation kit, which has all of the required parts to install and run your mini split system, averages $200 to $500 depending on the brand.
The cost of your mini split system also depends on the brand you choose. As with most equipment, well-known, established brands will likely cost you more than brands that have recently been introduced to the market. Depending on the number of zones you need for your home, the brand options that you have to choose from could be more limited. A brand like Daikin offers cheaper models for single zones only, while Mitsubishi makes higher-end systems that work in colder temperatures and can accommodate up to eight zones. A few of the typical brands you are likely to come across and their cost ranges are below.
Mitsubishi: $1,200 to $8,650
Daikin: $1,000 to $1,700 (single-zone only)
Fujitsu: $1,100 to $8,300
LG: $1,400 to $4,850
Panasonic: $1,200 to $4,500
Learn more about air source heat pump manufacturers.
Labor and other installation costs
Mini split installation is not extremely labor intensive; it typically takes less than a day to complete, which makes labor a less significant cost factor than it may be in other HVAC projects. Depending on the contractor installing your mini split system and the size of the project, labor costs range from $300 to $1,500.
Your contractor may also need to obtain permits for the installation. Permitting costs are dependent upon your city or town, and sometimes are factored into the labor cost when you receive a quote.
Additional potential cost factors
In addition to what we’ve discussed so far, here a few other factors that might impact the cost of your mini-split installation:
SEER efficiency rating
SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) ratings indicate how efficiently the mini split system will operate. The upfront cost of a more highly rated system is likely to be higher. But, higher SEER ratings mean that the system will operate more efficiently, saving you money in the long run.
Rebates and tax credits may also be available depending on where you live. Check out our guide to Massachusetts heat pump rebates.
Removal of old system parts
If your contractor needs to remove an older system that you are replacing with mini splits, there will likely be additional labor costs factored into the total cost of installation. Some people opt to keep their previous system as a backup to their heat pumps, which can also save you money on removal costs.
Sometimes there are unforeseen obstacles when doing work on homes, especially older ones. Your heat pump installer may need to enlist the help of an electrician or other specialist if they run into issues getting your heat pumps up and running during the installation process.
Frequently asked questions about mini splits
What’s the difference between a mini split and an air conditioner?
There are several differences between mini splits and air conditioners. The main difference is that a mini split will heat and cool your home while an AC unit will only cool it. Also, air conditioners use ductwork to cool your home through one central unit, whereas mini splits provide zoned heating and cooling through a system that transfers air between an inside and outside unit. While an AC unit is usually less expensive to install (if you already have ductwork), mini splits are more efficient and thus more affordable to run.
How many indoor air handlers can you connect to one outdoor unit?
Most outdoor units are designed to work with between one and five zones; however, the largest ductless outdoor units may cover up to eight zones. Work with an experienced mini split contractor to determine your mini split system’s proper design and sizing.
Is a mini split an air source heat pump?
Yes, a mini split is one type of ductless air source heat pump. Another type of air source heat pumps is ducted, using ductwork to transfer air throughout your home. You could also have a short-run ducted system that includes partial ductwork and partially non-ducted heat pumps for the remainder of your home.
We answer more questions about air source heat pumps in this article.
Increase savings by powering your mini splits with solar
By installing solar panels, you can power your entire home with renewable energy – including your mini splits! Visit the EnergySage Marketplace today to receive quotes from local solar installers (including some who also install air source heat pumps and mini splits). Have some additional questions about going solar? When you receive quotes, we’ll connect you with an Energy Advisor who can answer your questions along the way (free of charge).
If you want to see how much you can save by going solar, check out our Solar Calculator for an instant estimate based on your unique property. If you’re a renter or you’re unable to install solar on your property, check out our Community Solar Marketplace – with community solar, you can still expect to save between 5 and 15 percent annually on electric bills.