Ductless Air Conditioner Cost
By Ryan Mayes
When considering home additions, renovations, attic or garage conversions, or enhancing the comfort of a room challenging for central air conditioners, most HVAC experts suggest opting for a ductless mini split system. During this process, evaluating the ductless air conditioner cost for a new AC system becomes a primary concern.
We do not list prices on this website due to the wide variety of factors that influence ductless air conditioner installation cost. Typically, the exact ductless air conditioner cost with installation is determined by your local HVAC contractor.
HOW MUCH DOES A DUCTLESS MINI SPLIT COST?
Ductless AC unit cost fluctuates based on a number of factors, including the local market, condition of the home and area climate. It also depends upon the type of system. Carrier® ductless air conditioner systems, for example, offer a variety of energy efficiency or SEER2* ratings, various types of installation options, and even multi-room installations if you go with a multi-zone heat pump. That being stated, installed costs might range anywhere between $2,000 to $10,500** or more. That’s quite a range!
The good news is there are a number of ways to make ductless mini-split prices more manageable that benefit you in the long run. These include promotional rebates available during select times of year as well as utility company rebates, financing options through your dealer, lease-to-own options, and savings on energy costs over time. To find out more, check out our dedicated rebate and HVAC financing web pages. Additionally, explore the differences between mini split vs central air to make an informed decision.
Factors That Influence THE COST OF DUCTLESS MINI SPLITS
Because there is no ductwork to install, the average cost of ductless mini splits is typically less than installing a central HVAC system, even though both systems include both outdoor and indoor units. Also, most typical residential mini split units are single zone units designed to supply air conditioning to one area as opposed to multiple rooms.
For multiple room installations you’ll need to consider multi-zone systems, which are typically heat pumps, for year-round comfort.
Is Ductless Air Conditioning Expensive? It Depends
Factors that can affect your ductless air conditioner cost also include:
- Size of your room/home
- Energy efficiency & quality of ductless system
- Capacity of your outdoor condensing unit
- Accessibility of indoor unit mounting location
- Materials such as copper refrigerant tubing
Size of Your Home
One of the more important considerations for determining ductless air conditioner cost is the size of the room or home you are trying to cool. Ductless single zone air conditioners often have a cooling capacity that ranges from ¾-ton units up to 2-ton models.
While there are formulas available to help you estimate the right sized ductless AC unit for your space, the easiest and most accurate method is to rely on a Carrier® HVAC dealer. They’ll be able to provide an accurate assessment of the right-sized equipment for your home.
For cooling an entire home, you might consider a multi-zone ductless heat pump with one outdoor unit that can support 2-5 indoor units and supply up to 4 tons of heating and cooling capacity.
As you might expect, the single room options will vary a little in price based on cooling capacity, but the multi-zone system with multiple indoor units will cost quite a bit more due to the cost of the additional indoor units, additional wiring and copper tubing to install them, and the additional labor costs as well.
Energy Efficiency & Quality of Ductless System
As is the case with a traditional central AC system, ductless air conditioner costs can vary based on the efficiency rating, cooling capacity, and any additional comfort benefits. First, let’s define the energy efficiency ratings and cooling capacities, then we’ll talk about their influence on pricing.
SEER2 rating: SEER2 is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio 2 and is a measure of how much energy the system uses during the entire season to cool your home during that same time frame. Much like miles-per-gallon for your car represents fuel efficiency, the higher the SEER2 rating, the higher the energy efficiency and savings.
EER2 rating: EER2 is short for Energy Efficiency Ratio 2, and is another standard measure of an air conditioner’s efficiency. Instead of providing a picture of how efficient the system is over an entire cooling system, EER2 is the amount of cooling capacity delivered divided by the amount of energy (in watts) it takes to generate that amount of cooling.
SEER2 ratings are more commonly used to compare systems, but many manufacturers list EER2 ratings as well. In either case, the higher efficiency systems with higher SEER2 or EER2 ratings are typically higher priced and often include more comfort and convenience features than minimum efficiency models that tend to be more basic.
HSPF rating: HSPF is an acronym for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor and is a measure of the heating efficiency of a heat pump. The higher the HSPF number, the more efficiently the heat pump heats your home. While we have been mainly talking about ductless AC units, many of Carrier’s ductless systems work as a heat pump too.
BTUh: When comparing AC units, another measure to consider is their cooling output or capacity, as measured in British Thermal Units per hour, or BTUh. Because models that deliver higher cooling output tend to be bigger and require more materials, they also tend to cost a little more compared to similar models with lower BTUh capabilities. With BTUh, bigger isn’t necessarily better. It's more important to select the BTUh capacity based on the size and other factors of the space to be air conditioned.
Capacity of Outdoor Condenser
Ductless mini split air conditioning systems include an outdoor condenser unit and one or more indoor air handlers. A single-zone system provides comfort to one room or area, and includes one outdoor unit and one indoor unit. These systems are available at lower cooling capacities, between ¾-ton systems and up to 5-ton versions.
Multi-zone systems can provide separate comfort control in several areas. Carrier offers this capability with its multi-zone ductless heat pump that provides both heating and cooling and can be combined with 2 – 5 indoor units. This system offers a higher combined heating and cooling capacity, up to 4 tons, to support the additional indoor units and to deliver comfort to more square footage.
Accessibility of Installation Location
When you discuss ductless air conditioner prices with an HVAC contractor, be aware that the installation location and accessibility can impact the overall cost. Some examples include:
- High wall installation vs. in-ceiling: Installing a high wall indoor unit will likely cost a little less than an in-ceiling cassette unit that may require the contractor to create an opening in the ceiling during installation.
- Long refrigerant lines: One advantage of ductless systems is that there can be a longer distance between the indoor and outdoor units. One disadvantage is the longer the distance, the more material cost for copper tubing and most likely more labor costs as well. For example, installing an indoor unit on a 2nd or 3rd floor when the outdoor unit is at the ground level.
- New installation vs. replacement: New installations will often require the contractor to drill through walls or floors to run the copper refrigerant tubing and electrical wiring that connects the indoor and outdoor units. When replacing older equipment, some of this prep work is already done and can speed up the installation for a little money savings.
DUCTLESS MINI SPLIT INSTALLATION COST
Determining the ductless mini split installation cost involves various factors that impact the overall expense. Installation costs fluctuate based on regional market conditions, the size and layout of the home or space, and the specific type of system chosen. Factors such as the energy-efficiency of the mini split, the capacity of the outdoor condensing unit, and the accessibility of the installation location also play a crucial role in influencing costs. Additionally, whether it's a single-zone system for individual rooms or a multi-zone setup with multiple indoor units can significantly affect the final expense.
TIPS ON SAVING MONEY ON YOUR MINI SPLIT PURCHASE OR INSTALLATION
Installing a ductless AC system can be a significant expense. While the prospect of a DIY mini split installation might seem tempting, we strongly advise entrusting this task to your local expert. If you're working within a budget and looking to minimize costs for upgrading your home's cooling system, explore various strategies to reduce the expenses associated with a mini split installation.
- Choose the right time: Optimal installation times for your air conditioning system are during the spring or fall. During summer and winter, when temperatures can be extreme in both directions, HVAC technicians are often in high demand, potentially leading to higher service rates. Therefore, taking advantage of the two off-seasons is advisable for securing the best deals on your air conditioner installation.
- Credit and rebates: Explore rebates and credits for your mini split system. Certain systems may qualify for federal and state tax credits. If you're uncertain about the eligibility of your project, consider consulting with an accountant before submitting your tax return.
It's important to consult with a qualified HVAC professional to assess the unique requirements of the space, discuss comfort preferences, and receive a personalized quote, as every installation job is distinct and tailored to the homeowner's needs.
*SEER = Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, the industry standard measure of energy efficiency during cooling operation for AC units and heat pumps