Mini Split Watt Usage – Explained For Reducing Energy Bills

Josh Mitchell

Written By

Josh Mitchell

Expert Reviewed By

Holly Curell

Last Updated On

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Key Takeaways

  • Mini Splits can use anywhere between 500W - 2000W of power. The average consumption is between 800W-1500W.
  • Wattage consumption depends upon the BTU rating, climate conditions, outdoor temperature, SEER rating, and how often you clean your unit.
  • You can find the wattage from the AC's spec sheet or by using simple formulas.

The first step in lowering electricity bills is knowing how much energy your appliances use.

Heating and cooling systems can use lots of power, but understanding your HVAC systems can save you a fortune.

In this guide, I'll answer the question, 'How many watts does a mini split use?' and show you how to find the most cost-effective indoor units for your home.

How Much Electricity Does a Mini Split Air Conditioner Use?

The average mini split will draw 800-1500 watts of electricity, but it can be anywhere from 500-2000 watts.[1]

Some efficient single-zone mini-splits are 500-1000 watts, while multizone mini-splits (with several indoor air handlers) can be 1500-2000 watts.

You can install mini splits with one or more air handlers, depending on how much cooling you need.

Each mini-split indoor unit will typically draw 500-1000 watts, so if you add more, electricity usage will rise.

Each mini-split system will have a different electricity consumption depending on many factors (more on this further down).

Still, there are two key differentials in how much energy they use:

  • Output (in BTUs)
    If your mini-split has a higher cooling capacity (BTU rating) and the heat pumps can provide cool air over a larger area, it will typically use more electricity.
  • Energy Efficiency
    if you have an energy-efficient ductless mini split system, it will limit how much energy it draws. Generally, the more modern the indoor/outdoor unit, the more efficient it will be.

TL;DR: Mini splits draw anywhere between 500-2000 watts of power. The exact amount depends upon its cooling capacity in BTU and its energy efficiency rating.

Finding The Exact Energy Consumption of Your Mini-split

Checking the specifications in the user manual is the best way to find the exact wattage of your mini-split.

You can also check the manufacturer's website.

You can work out roughly how much energy it will draw using the BTU and EER ratings. More on that in a minute.

TL;DR: You can use spec sheet to find wattage. If that is not available, you can use simple math formulas.

Mini Split vs Other Air Conditioning Systems

Ductless mini-splits are more efficient than most other residential AC systems. They offer great coverage with minimal energy draw.

I recommend modern mini splits for homeowners who want to keep their electricity bills down.

Here is how the power draw compares to other popular systems:

  • Central air conditioning systems - 3,500 - 6,000 Watts:
    Central air conditioning units are effective across a large home but can be inefficient and require more watts. The long ductwork connected to the central air conditioner can account for a 20-30% loss in cooling efficiency, leading to greater electricity consumption.[2]

I recommend using a ductless mini-split system rather than a central air system if you need multizone cooling.

  • Window air conditioner - 700-1,500 watts:
    Window air conditioners draw about the same power as ductless mini-split heat pumps, but far less than central air conditioning systems. They can be useful in a single room but lack the coverage of mini split air conditioners.
  • Portable air conditioner - 1,000 - 1,600 watts:
    Portable air conditioners are typically smaller units designed to provide cool air in a small space. They draw less than some ductless mini-split systems but generally have a limited coverage area and provide less cooling.

Mini Split BTU

Wattage

US Average per kWh

Cost Per Hour

6,000

1,758 W

13.19c

Costs $0.23 per hour

8,000

2,344 W

13.19c

Costs$0.30 per hour

10,000

2,930 W

13.19c

Costs $0.31 per hour

12,000

3,516 W

13.19c

Costs $0.46 per hour

14,000

4,102 W

13.19c

Costs $0.53 per hour

18,000

5,725 W

13.19c

Costs $0.74 per hour

21,000

6,154 W

13.19c

Costs $0.80 per hour

23,000

6,740 W

13.19c

Costs $0.88 per hour

24,000

7,033 W

13.19c

Costs $0.91 per hour

TL;DR: Mini Splits are often considered more energy efficient and consume less power as compared to other types of ACs.

What is EER / SEER Rating and How Does It Affect Power Consumption?

EER (energy efficiency ratio) and SEER (seasonal efficiency ratio) are a measure of how mini-split air conditioners convert electric power (Watts) into cooling power (BTUs).[3]

EER or SEER ratings range from 8 to 30, but most residential mini-splits are between 14 and 22.

The higher the number, the more efficient your mini-split is. I never install equipment with a rating below 12.

Useful Tip:

The higher the EER or SEER, the lower your electricity usage and bills.

If you know your BTUs and wattage, you can calculate your EER using this equation:

BTUs per hour/watts needed per hour

If your mini split system produces 18000 BTU and uses 1000 Watts, the EER rating is 18 (18,000/1000).

Modern mini-split systems clearly show the EER and SEER ratings, so you don't have to work it out for yourself.

You will pay more for higher EER-rated mini-split systems because they typically use higher quality components that improve efficiency (usually the inverter compressor and heat exchanger).

However, the lower running costs can provide significant savings in the long run (especially in Summer when your mini-split use rises).

TL;DR: Look for Mini Splits with the highest EER or SEER to reduce running costs. However, the more energy efficient a unit is, the higher would be its upfront cost.

How to Calculate Your Mini Split AC’s Wattage Using EER

You can calculate the wattage of mini split air conditioners using the Energy Efficiency Ratio and British Thermal Units (BTUs).

The BTUs are the cooling capacity of your mini split per hour.[4]

The mini split capacity is usually 10,000 - 24,000 BTU, depending on whether you install a single room or multizone system.

For this example, let's assume it is an 18,000 BTU system.

The EER is the cooling output per watt, basically how efficient the mini split air conditioner is.

Most mini-splits have an EER of 14-22, so let’s assume it’s 18 for this example.

BTU / EER = Wattage (how much energy it needs)

18,000 BTUs / 18 EER = 1,000 Watts

So, the mini split air conditioner in this example will use 1,000 Watts or 1 kilowatt per hour.

If you run it for 8 hours each day, that equates to 8,000 watts (8 kilowatts) per day to run your indoor units.

Cost of Running a Mini Split Air Conditioner

The cost of running a mini split varies, but you should budget $4-$8 a week and $20-$40 a month if you use it regularly.

A medium-sized, 12,000 BTU mini split will cost $0.12 an hour. Based on 7-hour mini-split use a day, that’s $0.84 a day, $5.88 a week, and $24 a month.

Useful Tip:

Most ACs have their wattage rating in the spec sheet.

If you can’t find the wattage rating, just multiply the amperage by the voltage (Amps x Volts = Watts).

You can work out the running costs yourself using the following information and equation:

  • Kilowatts per hour
  • Cost of electricity per kWh (it should be on your energy bills and does vary per region)
  • Average run time

Kilowatts x cost of electricity per kWh = cost per hour

For the example below, let’s assume your mini split uses 800 watts (0.8 kilowatts), costs $0.14 per kWh, and runs for 8 hours a day.

0.8 x 0.14 = $0.11 per hour

Running for 8 hours a day = $0.88 daily (you multiply the $0.11 by 8).

The table below shows the average running costs for different wattage mini splits based on an average kWh cost of $0.14.

Mini-split wattage

Cost per hour

Cost per day (8-hour run-time)

Cost per month

Cost per year

800

$0.11

$0.88

$24

$288

1000

$0.14

$1.12

$33.60

$403

1200

$0.17

$1.34

$40.32

$483

1400

$0.20

$1.60

$48

$576

1600

$0.22

$1.79

$53.76

$645

1800

$0.25

$2.00

$60

$720

2000

$0.28

$2.24

$67.20

$806

TL;DR: You can use simple data like the BTU, EER, Volts, and Amps to figure out the wattage and the running cost of your mini split AC.


Factors That Affect Electricity Consumption

Unit Size - the BTU of the Mini Split Air System

Larger mini splits with a greater cooling capacity typically draw more power than smaller models.

Heating and Cooling Load – The Size of The Space

The larger the space, the longer and harder your mini-split will need to work to cool it, increasing the energy draw.

If you are cooling multiple zones, you need larger BTU equipment that demands more electricity.

Outdoor or Ambient Temperature

Hotter outdoor temperatures force the mini split to work harder to move heat against a smaller indoor-outdoor differential, causing the variable capacity compressor to run at higher speeds and electrical input to increase to achieve the right cooling level.

Indoor Temperature

The hotter your home, the longer your mini-split has to run to lower the temperature - increasing energy consumption.

The Number of AC Units In a Given Space

Multiple HVAC systems/air conditioners will cool the room more efficiently, meaning your ductless mini-split uses less energy per hour.

Airflow Restrictions and Windows

The better the airflow, the quicker the mini-split can remove heat and cool the space - lowering the run time and electricity costs of your ductless mini-split.

TL;DR: There are several factors, many that can be remedied easily, that impact the electricity consumption of mini split ACs. 


Tips for Saving Money When Using Mini-Splits

Understand SEER and EER Rating

The ductless mini-split system energy efficiency rating (EER) massively impacts the electricity draw.

A higher energy efficiency rating can save you a lot on your bills. I recommend spending a little more on an efficiency model.

The table below shows just how much a higher SEER rating mini-split can save you each month:

BTUs

EER Rating

Wattage

Cost per hour (based on $0.14 per kWh)

Cost per day
(8-hour run time)

Cost per month

12,000

14

855

$0.12

$0.96

$28.80

12,000

16

750

$0.10

$0.80

$24.00

12,000

18

665

$0.09

$0.72

$21.60

12,000

20

600

$0.08

$0.64

$19.20

12,000

22

545

$0.07

$0.56

$16.80

Check for Energy Star Certification

An Energy Star rating means that your mini-split has met the standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.[5]

These certified mini splits use less energy and prevent energy loss to maximize efficiency.

Clean and Maintain Your AC Regularly

Regular cleaning and maintenance of your mini-split will keep it functioning optimally.

At a minimum, I recommend:

  • Cleaning the air filters and vents every 2-3 weeks
  • Performing a deep clean and inspection once a month
  • Having an HVAC professional check the unit annually

Adjust the Thermostat and Use Eco Modes

Adjusting the mini-split thermostat temperature by just 1-2°F can significantly reduce your running costs (up to 20%) without impacting your comfort.

I also recommend using eco-mode or energy-efficient settings that many modern mini-splits now have.

TL;DR: From getting more efficient ACs to adjusting the thermostat settings and cleaning the AC regularly, all can help reduce electricity bills. 


FAQ

Can I Run a Mini-Split System All The Time?

Technically, yes, a mini-split system can run continuously.

However, this can lead to indoor humidity issues and damage to the equipment, and the mini-split power consumption will make it expensive.

Do Mini Splits Use Less Electricity Than Window ACs?

Mini-split systems typically use slightly less electricity than window ACs.

They are also a far more energy-efficient way of managing the temperatures in your home - using 30-50% less electricity to cool the same area.

Can I Run a Mini Split on Solar?

Yes. Mini-splits can be connected and powered by solar panels, and this is often the most efficient way to power them.

References: 

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352484722008083
  2. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/minimizing-energy-losses-ducts
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/energy-efficiency-ratio
  4. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/units-and-calculators/british-thermal-units.php
  5. https://www.energystar.gov/
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Josh Mitchell

Founder

Josh Mitchell
My name is Josh and I am obsessed with home appliances. From portable AC units to heaters and air purifiers, I enjoy testing, learning and using these devices to improve the air quality inside my family home.

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Midea U Shaped Window Air Conditioner

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