Informational Guide

Are Mini Splits Worth The Money?

One of the most common AC systems is the mini-split. These offer a lot of advantages but before you buy one you need to know if they’re worth the money.

by Ian Haynes

Air conditioning systems are essential for anyone who wants to have control over their home environment. Staying cool in summer and warm in winter is something you should never take for granted, and a good air conditioning unit will allow you to do this effortlessly.

There are many different AC systems out there, and one of the most common is a mini split. These offer a lot of advantages but before you go out and buy one you need to know if they’re worth the money.

This guide will take you through all the key considerations and help determine if it’s the right AC system for you.

Benefits
  • Clean– Mini split AC systems have a more direct route for your air supply without it having to travel through vents and pipes. This, and the filtration systems, helps keep the air in your home clean.
  • Efficient- there are no air ducts, so less energy is lost in transit
  • Compact- they don’t take up a lot of space in your home
  • Zoned heating and cooling– indoor units can be put into different rooms to provide air conditioning in different zones.
  • Simple installation-these are very simple and hassle-free to install with just a few holes in your wall.
Negatives
  • Expensive– Mini split AC systems can be 30-50% more expensive than alternative solutions.
  • Aesthetics- larger units can be a bit of an eyesore in a room
  • Location dependent- your mini split needs to be installed in an accurate location to work effectively. You might need professional help with this.
Air Conditioner AC Cool Cooling

Typical Cost Breakdown of Ductless AC Systems

Mini split AC systems are generally more expensive than alternative solutions. Here’s a quick breakdown of the different costs involved:

Price Range of Brand

The brand you choose will impact the price you pay. This is sometimes due to superior quality and sometimes just because of how well-known the brand is. Here’s an indicative price range for the best ductless AC system brands:

  • Mitsubishi mini split will cost you anywhere between $1,000 and $8,000 depending on the make and model.
  • Mr Cool devices are a bit more affordable, and you should expect to pay $600-$6000 depending on the exact specifications.
  • Pioneer are in the same ballpark and will generally cost between $800 and $7500.
  • Gree is a bit more expensive and will set you back between $1000 and $8500.
  • Senville is one of the most affordable mini split AC manufacturers and will cost between $800 and $4000.
  • Daikin – higher-priced and reliable brand

No matter the brand, the price you pay will be influenced by the different features and specifications you choose. Make sure you have a clear view of your budget before you start looking.

BTU rating

BTU is what is used to measure the heating or cooling capacity of an AC system. The higher the BTU, the better it will function in a larger area, but it will also cost you more:

BTUs Price Range ($)
12,000 750-3500
24,000 1000-6000
36,000 1500-8500
48,000 3500-10,500
60,000 4500-12,500
Single Vs. Multi-Zone

A ductless AC system can be used for a single zone, or it can be split across different areas. A single system can be divided into 8 different zones, but it will impact the price:

Zones Price Range ($)
1 750-9000
2-3 1750-9000
4-5 3000-12,500
6-8 5000-13,000
Installation Cost

When considering the cost of your AC system, you need to think about the materials themselves and the cost of labor involved to actually install it:

  • Unit & Parts – The unit cost itself will be influenced by the make, model, and size of the system you buy, and we’ve given a rough breakdown further up. On top of this, you should expect to spend up to $1000 on extra parts, materials, and tools to install it.
  • Cost of Labor – will be influenced by the location(s) of the AC system and how complicated the setup is to install. You should expect to spend between $500 and $2000 to have this done professionally, but prices will vary greatly, so it’s worth getting a few quotes.
Types of Indoor Heads

The cost of your mini split will be impacted by the type of head you install inside. You can usually choose from wall, ceiling, or floor units. The most common is the wall unit, and this is often the simplest and cheapest to install.

A ceiling unit is really effective to heat or cool a room, but it can be complicated and expensive. A floor unit is less effective but less visible. This can also be more complicated and expensive to fit.

Indoor Head Air Conditioner
Running Costs

The running costs of your AC mini split will vary depending on the BTUs of your system. However, AC units generally do use quite a bit of electricity, and it will cost between $0.06 and $0.75 an hour, depending on how large it is.

This means you can spend anywhere from $5-15 to $200-300 a month to run them. This could equate to a few thousand a year if you have a large AC system.

Every air conditioner has an energy efficiency rating, so you can better gauge how much it will cost. If you know you’ll be running the AC system a lot, then it’s worth taking the time to find an efficient system because the savings will really add up over time.

Repair & Maintenance

Mini split AC systems need a bit of maintenance to keep them running correctly. A good unit will last 10 years or more and you can expect to spend about $100-150 a year on an annual check-up, replacement parts, and maintenance. Of course, if you use the AC system more, then you are more likely to experience a major issue that costs more to replace.

Cleaning your device regularly can help maintain the unit and help maintain it for longer.

Are Ductless Mini Splits Worth the Cost?

We know that ductless mini splits are more expensive than other types of AC systems, but the real question is, are they worth the money? To answer this, we need to consider what homeowners want from an AC system.

Mini splits are really effective at heating and cooling a room, much more so than other solutions. They’re efficient, and while you do need to consider the electricity costs, they are more economical than other similar fixed AC units.

They’re pretty easy to install, and they don’t take very much maintenance, so from a user perspective, they’re less work than alternatives. They’re quiet, and they’re flexible so that you can use them in one or several rooms at once.

The downside with mini splits is their price. There’s no way around it, they are more expensive than alternatives, but you get a lot from them. In our opinion, they better meet homeowner needs than alternative AC systems, and they’re worth the extra outlay.

You also have to consider it as an investment. If you choose a solid unit and look after it, then you could get 20 years of use from it. Similarly, if you choose an energy efficient system, you can make savings on your electricity bills. All of this offsets the overall cost of a mini-split.

If you can afford a mini split, then the benefits outweigh the cost. The real value is finding the best mini split AC system for you, so you get the most from it in the long run.

Cost Comparison – Mini Split Vs. Central AC

We’ve talked a lot about the cost of a mini split and how it’s more expensive than alternatives. Central AC is probably the most logical alternative to a mini split, and we’ve provided a breakdown of the costs so you can see how they stack up side by side:

Upfront costs

The upfront cost for a single mini split AC is generally $1500-2500. This includes the price of the unit and the other costs associated with installation. It’s worth noting that a single unit is only designed for one zone and won’t regulate the air in your entire home.

Central AC relies on a series of ducts, vents, and pipes to allow air to travel in your home. This means there are much higher up-front overheads, and typically it will cost you $3500-$5000 for a small/medium-sized home. This price goes up if you have a larger home with more rooms.

Running costs

The running costs of the two are very different because they operate differently. A mini-split AC system works in specific zones and is therefore much more economical. You’re able to focus it on particular areas and turn individual indoor fans on and off as needed.

Central AC will cool your entire home, regardless of whether a room is in use or not. This means it’s a lot more wasteful, and it’s estimated that it will cost 30-40% more every month to run.

Maintenance costs

Repairing and maintaining a mini split AC system is much easier than Central AC. You’ll typically only need to clean it every few months and have it checked every year. Maintenance should cost you less than $150 annually.

Central AC is much more complicated because of the vents and channels. This makes it harder to clean and maintain, and if you do need to repair any element of it, you may have to remove bits of your wall and repaint, etc. Maintaining your central AC will cost you 4 or 5 times as much annually.

People Also Ask (FAQ)

Do mini split air conditioners add value to a home?

Yes. They give you environmental control of your home or a zone within your home and allow you to regulate the temperature effectively. Mini split air conditioners are growing in popularity and are now in more homes than ever because homeowners are seeing the value they bring.

How many square feet does a mini split cool?

A single mini split will cool 800-1000 square feet. The more zones and BTUs a mini split has, the greater the area it can cool.

How long do mini split ACs last?

If properly maintained, a mini split can last up to 20 years.

Do mini splits work well in cold weather?

Mini splits work best in moderate or hot climates. They will function in cold weather, but if it gets too cold, it may shut down. Some AC systems like these work better than others

What can I do to improve efficiency in my mini split?

Properly cleaning and maintaining your mini split AC system will help improve the efficiency of the system. You should also look to turn it off when it’s not in use to save power.

Conclusion

Mini split air conditioners are more expensive than other ACs, but they offer a great deal to homeowners. The truth is that they are one of the best solutions for heating and cooling your home effectively, and if you can afford one, then they’re an excellent addition to your home.

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand a bit more about mini splits and helped you determine if it’s right for your home.

Ian Haynes

Ian Haynes is an HVAC writer, and researcher. He has worked on hundreds of articles relating to home cooling, heating and air quality with a vast knowledge of the technical aspects of these types of appliances. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador. Learn more about the AC Lab team here.

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