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HVAC Education, Buying Tips, Pricing Guide, Ductless Systems

Ductless Air Conditioner Cost

When it’s time to add on to your home, renovate an existing space, convert an attic or garage into a useable living area, or add comfort to a room that your central air conditioner struggles with, most HVAC professionals would recommend a ductless air conditioner system. And when that time comes, determining the costs for a new ductless AC system will be one of your first priorities.

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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. The final price 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 SEER* 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. 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/or tax credits. To find out more, check out our dedicated rebate and HVAC financing web pages.

Factors that Influence Ductless Air Prices

Because there is no ductwork to install, the average cost to install a ductless air conditioner is typically less than installing central AC, 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. Factors that can affect your ductless air conditioner price 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 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 split-system 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.

SEER rating: SEER is an acronym for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and is a measure of how much energy the system uses during the entire season to provide cooling during that same time frame. Much like miles-per-gallon for your car represents fuel efficiency, the higher the SEER rating, the higher the energy efficiency and savings.

EER rating: EER is short for Energy Efficiency Ratio, 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 cooing system, EER is the amount of cooling capacity delivered divided by the amount of energy (in watts) it takes to generate that amount of cooling.

SEER ratings are more commonly used to compare systems, but many manufacturers list EER ratings as well. In either case, the higher efficiency systems with higher SEER or EER 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 are 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 system 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.

Contact a Carrier HVAC Dealer

When contacting a local HVAC dealer about ductless air conditioner installation costs, be wary of those who are willing to give a quick quote over the phone. Every home and every homeowner is different, so every job will have unique pricing based on the technician’s expertise. Carrier offers a nationwide network of highly qualified dealers who can assess your home’s requirements, discuss your comfort preferences and deliver options for ductless air conditioner prices. To contact a dealer near you, go to the Carrier HVAC Dealer page and click on the dealer locator link


*SEER = Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, the industry standard measure of energy efficiency during cooling operation for AC units and heat pumps

**Source: https://www.costimates.com/compare-costs/heating-air-conditioning/mini-split-ac/

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