When it comes to mini-split ACs, one of the main concerns for shoppers is installation. These units aren’t the easiest to install. From drilling a home through your wall to laying the electrical wiring, it’s not light work.
It explains why professional installation costs over $3,000. In fact, there have been instances where the HVAC professional asked for at least $5,000 to install a mini-split.
This has often forced shoppers to consider DIY models that don’t require professional installation, with the prospect of saving up to $5,000 very luring.
But, is it worth it?
Would installing the mini-split on your own be a good idea? And, if so, how complicated is the task and how much exactly would you save?
These are just some of the questions we answer in this guide. First though, let’s review some of the best easy-to-install mini-splits designed specifically for DIY.
We always recommend professional installation for mini-splits. However, if you’re a DIY-enthusiast looking for an installation-friendly model, you wouldn’t go wrong with any of the options from this list;
What is a DIY Mini Split Heat Pump?
A Do-It-Yourself mini-split is a ductless AC that you can install on your own. These units are designed to be easier to install, thus can be installed by anyone with basic handyman skills.
Is a Do-It-Yourself mini-split a good idea?
Mini-splits, in general, are advantageous for many reasons. They are incredibly efficient and can even work as zoned units to cool multiple rooms with independent control. Additionally, the majority of mini-splits come with inbuilt heating and dehumidification functions, thus remain valuable round the year.
DIY-installed models are beneficial for the following reasons;
- They are easier to install
- Require no special tools
- Potential saving on installation costs
- Are pre-charged with refrigerant in the unit and line
- Don’t require professional meters or vacuum
- Don’t require additional refrigerant
How Much Does it Cost to Install a Ductless Mini Split?
First off, it’s important to understand that mini-splits come in multiple types and installation styles. The units are also available in various sizes. As such, installation costs vary. The following is a roundup of what you should expect to pay;
- National average: The average cost of installing a ductless mini-split is $6,000 for a 2,000 square foot home. The average range, meanwhile, is $3,000 to 14,000. 4-zone mini splits are the costliest to install, often costing upwards of $8,000 while single-zone models are the least expensive to install, with prices starting at around $1,300.
- Cost by type: There are at least six different types of mini-splits. Each type costs differently to install. Vertical air handlers are the costliest to install, with prices starting at around $3,500 and maxing out at around $9,000. Wall-mount models, meanwhile, are the least expensive to install, with costs starting at around $700 and maxing out at around $3,000. Dedicated DIY minis are located somewhere in between, with installation prices starting at around $1,500 and maxing out at about $7,500.
- Multi-zone models: A multi-zone mini-split has a single outdoor unit and multiple indoor air handlers. They are ideal for multi-level homes and can handle up to four different rooms. The average cost of installing a multi-zone mini is $7,000.
- Labor charges: The costs mentioned above include both materials and labor. Labor costs alone are typically lower and may vary by location. However, in all cases, the final price is determined by the size of the system, the number of indoor units, the placement of the system, and the difficulty of the installation. For single-zone models, expect to pay in the region of $800 to $2,300. Multi-zone models, meanwhile, cost between $1,600 and $5,000 in labor charges.
How Much can you Save with DIY Installation?
The truth is that you can save quite a bit. Depending on the circumstances, some people are able to save as much as $2,700, though most DIY-installers save in the range of $900 to $1,200.
The following considerations should help you determine your likely savings;
- What’s in the kit?
This is the first important point. Rarely do installation kits contain every item needed for the installation. For instance, a few screws might be missing or perhaps the wires might be substandard. A professional installer will usually add these to the total installation cost and the DIY installer should too. You must subtract those costs from your estimated savings.
- Who does the wiring?
Many DIY installers can handle several aspects of the installation process, but not the wiring. In fact, even manufacturers of DIY mini-splits recommend that you let a licensed electrician handle the wiring. Connecting the wires and installing or connecting circuits in the electrical panel costs in the region of $850 to $1,400. This, too, is a cost you must subtract from your estimated savings.
- What tasks are left for DIY?
After you’ve subtracted the costs of required installation materials and professional input, what’s left is the amount you’d save with DIY installation. Basically, you’d save on hanging the outside unit, hanging the inside unit, drilling a hole through the wall, connecting the two units via refrigerant lines, running a drain line out of the house, and testing/fine-tuning the mini-split system.
Often, doing these tasks on your own should save you at least $1,000, though depending on the size of the unit and your location, there’s potential to save up to $3,000.
Challenges of DIY Installing Mini Split Systems
Despite the potential for significant savings, installing a mini-split on your own comes with a few challenges, including;
- Not all mini-splits allow DIY installation: If you want to DIY-install your mini-split, you can’t just buy any AC – you need to buy a unit designed for DIY installation. Otherwise, a lot can go wrong.
- You could void the warranty: Even though the unit might be marketed as DIY-friendly, damage resulting from the DIY process can cost you the warranty. There’s a much lower chance of voiding the warranty with professional installation.
- Cost savings aren’t as high as you’d wish: As we’ve seen, you may still need professional assistance or may need to buy a few materials for the installation. These usually cut into potential savings.
- The installation process isn’t very easy: If you’ve never done something similar before, you’ll find the process a bit demanding. It’s usually a job that can easily consume the entire weekend.
Factors to Consider when Buying a DIY Mini Split Unit
Unfortunately, just because you’re shopping for a DIY mini-split doesn’t mean that any ductless AC accompanies by the word “DIY” on its label passes the test. You must still scrutinize the products and make an informed decision. The following are five key factors to prioritize;
Ease of installation
First things first – DIY mini-splits should be easy to install. An easy-to-install model will come with an easy-to-assemble wall bracket, easily bendable and pre-vacuumed refrigerant lines, and hooks for mounting the indoor air handlers. Ideally, it should also arrive with a few basic hand tools. An easy-to-follow manual is a must.
Never compromise on efficiency. Although the most efficient units cost more upfront, they can save you thousands down the line. Just upgrading from 9 SEER to 13 SEER, for instance, can save you 30% in energy costs yearly, which could be a few thousand dollars for the average family. So, pick the most efficient model you can afford.
Number and size of the room(s)
First off, if you’re looking to air condition multiple rooms, then you’ll need a multi-zone mini-split. The number of air handlers will depend on the number of rooms you intend to air condition. For three rooms, consider a 3-zone mini-split. Secondly, consider the size of each room. On average, you need about 20 BTU of cooling power per square foot of space i.e., 10,000 BTU for a standard 500 Sq. Ft. room. For single rooms, consider some of the smallest mini-split systems.
The majority of mini-splits double up as heaters. They simply work in reverse during the cold season to pump supplemental heat into the home. Some can also function as dehumidifiers to help remove excess humidity from your rooms. These are useful functions that make the units valuable all year round. If you can find an AC with both, that would be a big win.
Features will vary from one mini-split to the next. Some of the important ones to focus on are; a durable build (especially for the outdoor compressor), self-washing capabilities, programmable timers, and mobile control. A few modern models are also smart enough to be controlled via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. These features add so much convenience.
Mini-split warranties are typically divided into three parts – labor, parts, and compressor. Usually, you’ll get the same warranty period for labor and parts. Two years is the benchmark, but some manufacturers offer up to 5 years or more. The outdoor compressor tends to have a longer warranty, usually starting at around 5 years. But, you can get models with up to 10-year+ warranties.
Put together, factors 1-to-6 determine the price of the AC mini-split. Generally, a decent DIY model will set you back about $1,000 (without installation). But, some can cost up to $3,000 or more. The idea is to pick the best option within your budget.
How to Install a Mini-split
You’ll need the following tools;
- An adjustable wrench
- Hole saw
And, the following materials;
- The ductless mini-split system
- Condenser wall brackets ($50)
- Plastic condenser pad ($50)
- Plastic line set cover kit ($60)
Once you have all the tools and materials, proceed as follows;
- Mount the evaporator brackets: The evaporator is mounted inside the room on an exterior wall, away from direct sunlight. Make sure to choose a location that’s free from obstructions. Mark the stud locations and fasten the bracket to the location using screws.
- Drill the pilot hole: The pilot hole is drilled from inside the house outwards. Make sure that it slants slightly towards the outside so condensate from the evaporator can drain out with ease. Once you’re done on the inside go outside and make sure that there are no obstructions in or around the hole.
- Bore the full-size hole: This time, use a hole saw. Again, start from inside the house then finish by checking the outside to ensure that everything’s perfect.
- Run the line set: The line set is found at the back of the evaporator. Carefully uncoil it and, with the help of an assistant outside, feed it through the hole you just drilled. Make sure to pull it down until it reaches the desired condenser location. The plastic collar must remain visible. The drain line goes through last, below the other lines. When you’re done, add the drain extension and secure the joint with electrical tape.
- Install the evaporator: Since the brackets are already up, this process is as easy as hanging the evaporator unit to the bracket. Remember to wrap the foam sleeve around the section of the line set inside the hole. Also, replace any insulation in the wall (hole) that was disturbed. Then, go to the outside and insert the two-piece plastic trim into the hole. It helps to prevent any rough edges that may damage the line set.
- Install the outdoor condenser: Mount it on a wall bracket keeping in mind that the refrigerant lines should connect to it without “sagging.” There must also be enough clearance around the condenser.
- Connect the refrigerant lines: In many mini-splits, a locking lever presses the line connections together. Make sure that the line set stays tight to the building.
- Insulate the hole and cover the line set: The necessary sealant is usually supplied with the mini-split though you can also buy some separately. For the covering, use the plastic line set cover kit.
With that done, your DIY mini-split AC is ready. All that’s left is to plug it into an electrical power outlet and power it on.
Best DIY Mini Split Comparison Table
1. MRCOOL DIY Ductless Heat Pump Split System
The DIY-12-HP-115B is a 3rd Generation enhanced Do-It-Yourself ductless mini-split that also works as a heat pump. It comes with a 25-foot pre-charged line-set, making installation a breeze. You don’t need special tools, equipment, or training for the installation.
The unit has a low ambient cooling temperature of 5°F, making it the ideal AC system for any room in the home. It can also be used in greenhouses and server rooms. A Smart HVAC Controller Module and App allow you to control the AC via Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
The 12,000 BTU/hour cooling happens at 22.0 SEER while the 12,000 BTU/hour heating is at 10 HSPF. These values make the DIY-12-HP-115B ideal for a 500-Sq. Ft. room.
The minis-split works with the standard 115/120V electrical outlet and is backed by a 7-year compressor and 5-year parts warranty.
- Variable-speed DC inverter compressor
- Remote and Wi-Fi control
- Leakage detection
- Sleep Mode, Cool Mode, and Heat Mode
- 5-year parts warranty
- The user manual is not very detailed
2. Senville SENA-12HF/Z Energy Star Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump
- DC Inverter Technology for Ultra High Efficiency and Performance
- High Quality Design for an Attractive Appearance, Powerful Performance,and Dependable Durability
- Uses 208-230V, ETL Intertek Approved, Energy Star Certified, AHRI Certified
- Includes Easy Installation Kit with 16 Ft. Copper Line Set
- Whisper Technology for Quiet Operation, Great for Bedrooms, Additions,Living Rooms and Commercial Applications.
An AURA Series mini-split from Senville, the SENA-12HF/Z offers three things – quality, durability, and convenience. It is designed using industry-leading technology and heats at temperatures up to -22°F/-30°C.
The ambient cooling temperature is -5°F/-20°C. These values make it perfect for individual rooms, additions, commercial applications, and even garages.
Aside from the heat pump, the SENA also works as a dehumidifier and fan. It comes with a 16-foot installation kit, R410A pre-charged up to 25 feet. A Turbo Mode for accelerated performance and Quiet mode for noiseless operation are other noticeable features.
The unit cools at 25 SEER and heats at 12 HSPF4. It’s ideal for spaces between 450 and 700 sq. ft. and is backed by a 2-year (parts) and 7-year compressor warranty.
- Auto-switch mode
- Wi-Fi smart control
- Ideal for up to 700 square feet
- R410A pre-charged
- 25 SEER/12 HSPF4
- Energy Star Certified
- AHRI Certified
- Only 2-year parts warranty
- Requires 203-230V wiring
3. Pioneer Mini Split Heat Pump Minisplit Heatpump
- Save money all year-round with a highly efficient ductless mini split inverter+ heat pump system
- Ultra-silent and beautifully built: perfect for home or light commercial use
- Use for both cooling and heating 12000 BTU/hour with 19 SEER and 10 HSPF efficiency
- Comes with every needed component in the box including an easy-install 16ft copper piping kit
- Free tech support and a 5 year coverage on the parts and compressor
An all-in-one air conditioner + heater (reverse cycle heat pump) + dehumidifier + ventilator, this Pioneer mini-split is built with the latest technologies for superior comfort and performance.
A WYS Series model packs 12,000 BTU of cooling power and is very efficient at 19 SEER. The ambient temperature for cooling mode is 32 to 122°F. In general, it keeps indoor temperatures at 62-90°F.
The heating capacity is also 12,000 BTU/hour and happens at 9.5 to 10 HSPF. The heating mode ambient temperature is +5-86°F. The cooling and heating values make the WYS012-17 ideal for spaces between 350 and 450 square feet.
This mini-split uses standard 110/120V outlets through it also features wiring for 208-230V outlets. The outdoor condenser bracket and a decorative PVC line cover kit are included in the package. It’s backed by a 1-year (parts) and 3-year condenser warranty.
- Variable-speed compressor
- Remote control
- Wi-Fi smart control
- Quiet night mode
- Standard installation accessories included
- 1-year parts warranty is short
- 3-year compressor warranty is short
4. Daikin Wall-Mounted Ductless Mini-Split
This 17 Series Daikin is a single-zone inverter wall-mounted mini-split system that provides energy and comfort control at its best. The unit is streamlined and features a specially designed airflow pattern, including a wide-angle louver system, for ideal indoor climate control at an affordable, cost-saving rate.
Other features of the mini-split that stand out include the auto-swing louver system and inverter technology that maintains comfort settings. It operates at low, noise-free speeds, generating just 37dB. The outdoor unit, meanwhile, generates 51dB.
It’s also a sufficiently efficient unit at 17 SEER and 9 HSPF. However, the warranty is where it beats the rest. You get a 10-year parts warranty!
- Smart inverter technology
- Variable-speed compressor
- Very quiet at just 37 dB
- Blue Fin protection
- Titanium apatite photocatalytic filters
- Convenient remote and Wi-Fi control
- 10-year parts warranty
- Requires 230V wiring
5. Innovair Inverter Ductless Wall Mount Mini Split System Heat Pump
- High Efficiency AHRI certified Inverter technology Heat Pump ductless mini split system
- Multiple Modes: Turbo Cool, Sleep Mode, Dehumidifier, Hyper Heat
- Operates in either AC cooling or Heat Pump heating mode
- Ready to Install: 16FT Installation Kit Included, Pre-Charged up to 25FT
- Multiple Protections: Gold-Fin Outdoor, Multi-Layer Air Filter
Innovair mini-splits are some of the most popular. The manufacturer makes durable and functional units that pack lots of cooling (and heating) power. This particular model delivers 18,000 BTU of cooling power and doubles up as a 20,000 BTU supplemental heater.
It’s also very efficient at 17.6 SEER and 9.8 HSPF. These qualities make it ideal for spaces between 650 and 900 square feet.
Some standout features of the Innovair include LCD remote control (battery operated), multi-layer filters, and a 16-foot installation copper kit. Additional kits are available upon request. The package also comes with a 17-foot digital cable kit. A user manual is included.
The mini has a low ambient operation of -5°F and a high ambient operating temperature of 115°F. It’s Wi-Fi-ready and is backed by a 5-year (parts) and 7-year compressor warranty.
- Remote controlled
- Gold-fin protective condensers
- LED panel display (hidden)
- AC/Heater/Dehumidifier combo
- Pre-charged up to 25 feet
- AHRI and ETL Certified
- Requires 230V wiring
6. Klimaire Ductless Mini-Split Inverter Air Conditioner Heat Pump
KSIV DC Inverter Series mini-splits convert AC to DC then invert the DC back to AC for ultimate comfort performance. They, however, maintain a fixed frequency of 60Hz and works very efficiently. This particular model is rated 19-SEER.
For ease of installation, the package includes the indoor unit, outdoor compressor, wall-mounting bracket, remote control, 15-foot installation kit, and the installation manual.
A built-in base pan and compressor heater are included to increase efficiency and reliability. The compressor also uses an anti-corrosive golden fin for durability.
Some of the main features of the KSIV include auto-cleaning function, ultra-low-noise operation (at just 25dB), Turbo Mode, Sleep Mode, auto restart, follow-me remote control, and a “quick Hook” design. The mini-split is backed by a 5-year manufacturer warranty.
- Efficient 19 SEER cooling
- Pre-charged up to 25 feet
- Auto-cleaning evaporator
- Low-noise (25 dB) indoor unit
- Ideal for up to 550 square feet
- Installation instructions could be clearer
- The installation process is demanding
DIY mini splits are a great way to add air conditioning (and perhaps even heating) to your home at a fraction of the cost. They are easier to install than standard mini-splits and typically come with all the necessary installation materials.
Just remember that DIY installation may still require professional assistance, such as during electrical wiring. In the end, though, you’re guaranteed up to or even over $1,000 in installation savings.