Traditionally, air conditioners arrive with wall-mounted air handlers. There are several reasons why. For one, wall-mounted air handlers were the first type of air handlers to be developed. Additionally, wall-mounted air handlers are the easiest to install of all mini split indoor air units. Also, people are more accustomed to wall-mounted air handlers.
However, recently, we’ve seen new mini split air handler options emerge, from floor-mounted cassettes to ceiling-hanging units. However, a smart option today is the ceiling cassette.
Concealed, sleek, and generally very attractive, ceiling cassettes ensure a clean installation without compromising airflow. Ceiling cassettes offer better distribution because you can place the cassette at the center of the room.
So, should you consider a ceiling cassette mini split and, if so, what factors should you consider during shopping? We answer these and many other ceiling cassette mini split questions shortly. First, though, a review of some of the best mini-split ceiling cassettes.
What is a Ceiling Cassette?
Ceiling cassettes, also known as ceiling-mounted mini-split systems, are mini split air handlers mounted on the ceiling rather than installed on the floor or wall.
They are also different from ceiling-hung air handlers. Whereas the ceiling-hung air handler dangles from the ceiling, ceiling cassettes recess into the ceiling such that only the grille is visible. The rest of the unit is tucked away into the ceiling and remains invisible to the people below.
Ceiling cassettes discharge air from up to four sides of the cassette unit. This quality alone makes them a better option at air distribution than many other mini split air handlers, including wall-mounted air units. Also, you can install the cassette anywhere on the ceiling, though experts recommend centralized positioning for the best airflow.
Pros and Cons of Ceiling Cassettes
The following are several reasons to consider a ceiling cassette mini split for your next air conditioning project and a few limitations to keep in mind.
Ceiling Cassette Mini Split Pros
Ceiling cassettes aren’t yet as popular as wall-mounted air handlers. However, more people are opting for the cassette today.
Attractive recessed installation
This is arguably the biggest attraction of ceiling cassette mini-splits. About 90% of the air handler is tucked away inside the ceiling, with only the grille visible. It’s, by far, the most low-profile mini split installation option if you’re looking for a low-profile appearance. It’s also better for general indoor aesthetics.
Although wall and floor-mounted mini split air handlers are more space-saving than, say, portable air conditioners, they can still get in the wall. Wall-mounted air handlers, for instance, take up valuable space on the wall, meaning you have to find alternative wall space for your family photos and artwork. On the other hand, ceiling cassettes are entirely out of the way.
More power, less noise
Since the size of the air handler no longer matters because the bulk of it stays behind the ceiling anyway, you can have a more powerful fan inside the air handler without adverse consequences. What’s even better is that you can have a bigger fan without necessarily creating more noise as most of the sound remains behind the ceiling. This partly explains why ceiling cassettes are some of the quietest mini split systems.
Central positioning and 4-way airflow
A significant limitation of wall-mounted air handlers is that they can only install on one of the four walls. Now, imagine how much effort it takes to move cool (or warm) air from the air handler at one end of the room to the opposite wall! You may have a very weak airflow at the other end. Ceiling cassettes are centrally positioned and support 4-way airflow for better, more even air distribution.
Ceiling Cassette Mini Split Limitations
Despite the many advantages, ceiling cassette mini-split systems come with a few downsides that you need to keep in mind as you plan your shopping;
High price tags
Ceiling cassettes have the highest price tag of all mini-split air conditioners. A quick comparison shows that you’ll pay up to $500 more for the same single-zone mini-split if it comes with ceiling cassette air handlers.
More complex, expensive installation
Typically you need a licensed professional to install a ceiling cassette. We haven’t come across a manufacturer that allows DIY installation for ceiling cassettes. Additionally, the installation is usually more expensive because you need more wire and line set to run the AC to the center of the ceiling.
Factors to Consider When Shopping for a Ceiling Cassette Mini Split
Everyone has their preferences. However, a few considerations are critical when shopping for a ceiling cassette mini split air conditioner.
- Size of the AC in BTUs: The size of the mini-split and the capacity of each air handler (for multi-zone systems) determine how much space you can cool (or heat).
- Size of the ceiling cassette (in square inches): Ceiling cassettes vary in physical dimensions. Make sure to choose a size you’re comfortable with.
- Aesthetics: Since ceiling cassettes are mostly popular for their aesthetic qualities, make sure to choose a style and design that appeals to you. The finishing is critical.
- Energy efficiency: The energy efficiency of a mini-split is measured in SEER and EER values. Ideally, you want a unit rated 16 SEER or higher and 9.0 EER or higher.
- Noise level (in decibels): Ceiling cassettes are supposed to be quieter than other air handler types. You want air handlers rated 45 decibels at worst.
- Remote control: Unlike wall and floor-mounted air handlers, you can’t control the ceiling cassette from the onboard control panel. Therefore, the remote control is vital. Some models also have wired wall-mounted controls, while advanced models support smartphone control via apps and voice applications.
- Other features: A programmable timer, auto-restart, and 4-way airflow are some of the features to consider. Also, some consumers prefer heat pump mini-splits that provide supplemental heat during winter. The heat pump may even have a dehumidifier and a Fan-Only mode.
- Warranty: The good news is that most ceiling cassette mini-split systems have warranties. Nevertheless, it’s also nice to confirm the length of the warranty and its specifics. What does it cover and what isn’t covered?
Best Mini Split Ceiling Cassette
1. Pioneer CYB012GMFILCAD 12,000 BTU Ceiling Cassette Mini-split
Let’s kick off with this fantastic product from Pioneer, the Model CYB012GMFILCAD mini-split heat pump. The 12,000 BTU air conditioner is a single-zone mini-split system ideal for rooms up to 550 square feet.
The indoor air handler conveniently installs on the ceiling, leaving the entire wall and floor for other uses. The installation kit is included to make your work easier.
It’s a low-energy mini-split rated 21.5 SEER and 14.0 EER. Unfortunately, it’s not Energy Star certified. It also doubles as a heat pump, delivering up to 12,000 BTUs worth of heat output per hour. The heat pump has a Sensible Heat Ratio of 10.5. It operates between 62˚F and 86˚F in both cooling and heating mode
Other key features of the CYB012GMFILCAD mini spit include a powerful fan that moves up to 379 Cubic Feet per Minute and a dehumidifier mode. A Fan-Only mode is also available.
Auto-swing louvers ensure even cooling and heating while the low-noise operation makes it the ideal air conditioner for living areas. It also has a programmable timer and an auto-restart feature.
Although it lacks Wi-Fi smart control, the wireless remote compensates for this, allowing you to control the AC from the comfort of the sofa.
- Attractive, recessed ceiling cassette air handers
- Programmable timer with auto-restart
- Extremely quiet, down to 36 decibels
- Adjustable louvers for maximum airflow
- Line set included, pre-charged to 16-ft.
- No smart Wi-Fi control
- Not Energy Star certified
2. GREE 18,000 BTU 16 SEER Ceiling Cassette Mini Split AC/Heat Pump
Another excellent choice for a single-zone ceiling cassette mini split is the GREE model UMAT18HP230V1AC-S. It’s slightly bigger (capacity-wise) than the Pioneer above at 18,000 BTU.
However, it’s slightly less efficient at 16 SEER, which isn’t too bad, though. Any mini-split system from 16 SEER onwards is sufficiently energy-efficient.
The package includes an outdoor condenser, one indoor ceiling cassette, a grille for the ceiling cassette, and a handheld remote with remote lockout. In addition, an XK-60 wall-mount controller is available separately if you’d like convenient wall control in addition to the handheld remote. Unfortunately, the required 1/4” x ½” line set is sold separately. All other accessories are also sold separately.
The ceiling cassette is a multi-speed air handler with 4-way air discharge. It’s tethered to a wired controller and features swing louvers for better airflow. It also has an internal condensate drain pump and a power-failure recovery feature that allows it to resume operations in the previous settings following a power interruption. In addition, the concealed duct ensures a clean recessed installation.
This mini split is very quiet. The outdoor unit is rated 56 decibels, while the ceiling cassette can be as quiet as 37 decibels.
- Powerful at 18,000 BTU (cooling and heating)
- Ideal for spaces up to 1,000 square feet
- Convenient IR remote control
- Power failure recovery
- Wall controller sold separately
- Required line set also sold separately
3. LG LC128HV4 12,000 BTU 19 SEER Ceiling Cassette Ductless Mini Split
If you prefer to rest knowing that your ceiling cassette mini split is Energy Star certified, you should go for this product from LG. It’s another single-zone air conditioner rated 12,000 BTUs.
However, the built-in heat pump is rated slightly higher at 14,000 BTUs. It operates even in the coldest winters, down to -4˚F in heating mode and 0˚F in cooling mode. However, you can achieve cooling down to -4˚F with the optional wind baffle.
The Jet Cool feature operates the AC at high speed for up to 30 minutes to quickly cool down the room to 64˚F before standard cooling is resumed. The unit also boasts a Swirl Wind function that combines the four-way controlled louver and fan speed controls to create a stronger, wider airflow while reducing temperature stratification.
The LC128HV4 is highly energy-efficient at 19.4 SEER and 12.6 EER. Meanwhile, the heat pump is rated 10.4 HSPF. A Dehumidifier Mode to dry out the area when it gets too humid accurately senses room temperatures and can shut down the compressor to prevent overcooling.
The only downside to this ceiling cassette mini split is that professional installation is a must. DIY installation instantly voids the warranty. Also, it doesn’t include a labor warranty.
- Doubles as a 12,000 BTU heat pump
- Includes a drying dehumidifier mode
- Highly energy efficient at 19.4 SEER
- Energy Star certified
- DIY voids the warranty
- No smartphone/Wi-Fi control
4. Cooper and Hunter Dual Zone Ductless Mini Split Ceiling Cassette
Now, let’s look at a few multi-zone ceiling cassette mini-splits. The first one we recommend is this unit from Cooper and Hunter. The 18,000 BTU mini-split arrives with two ceiling cassette air handlers, one rated 9,000 BTUs and the other 12,000 BTUs. The two, combined, can serve an area up to 1,000 square feet when outside temperatures are as low as -13˚F.
The powerful mini-split is an all-season appliance that cools the home during the summer, adds supplementary heat during winter, and functions as a dehumidifier whenever you need it.
It’s also tranquil and is made from the highest quality materials for long appliance life. It’s rated 21.3 SEER, which should tell you everything about its energy efficiency.
There’s plenty more to love about this ceiling cassette mini-split. Each air handler is independently controlled. Indeed, each arrives with an independently wired thermostat and handheld IR remote. Other key features include the Turbo Mode for accelerated cooling and heating, a Sleep Mode for ultra-quiet night operation, and an Auto Clean setting.
It also has an auto-reset setting for power interruptions and a 24-hour timer with a last-setting memory. Horizontal auto-swing louvers ensure even airflow distribution.
- Powerful at 18,000 BTUs
- Very efficient at 21.3 SEER
- Pre-charged line set included
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- 7/5-year compressor/parts warranty
- Requires professional installation
- No smart voice control
5. KINGERSONS Air-Con Dual-Zone Mini Split Ceiling Cassette Heat Pump
Another hugely promising dual-zone ceiling cassette mini split is this unit from KINGERSONS. This AC runs on a GREE/Mitsubishi inverter compressor and, at 30,000 BTUs, is larger than the Cooper & Hunter air conditioner mentioned above.
The two indoor ceiling cassette air handlers are rated 12,000 BTUs and 18,000 BTUs. The 12,000 BTU cassette is ideal for areas up to 500 square feet, while the 18,000 BTU cassette is best suited for rooms up to 700 square feet.
Known as Model A16EC4H4R18, it’s a reasonably energy-efficient air conditioner at 21 SEER. It’s also Energy Star certified for your peace of mind. The Energy Star certification is a vital mark of quality as it assures you that the appliance has been tested and proven at the highest levels to be energy efficient. In addition, this AC is also AHRI certified.
The ceiling cassettes come in an attractive design and cleanly recess into the ceiling for a low-profile appearance. Both cassettes are white to match the color of most ceilings.
They offer four-way airflow and can be installed anywhere on the ceiling. An auto-restart function means that the AC resumes operation at the previous setting following a power interruption.
This air conditioner is backed by a 7-year compressor warranty and a 5-year parts warranty. The manufacturer also offers technical customer support.
- Powerful at 30,000 BTUs
- Independent dual-zone cooling/heating
- Auto-restart for power interruptions
- Independent remotes included
- 7-year compressor warranty
- No smartphone/Wi-Fi control
6. GREE MULTI42CCAS407 42,000 BTU Multi21+ Quad-Zone Ceiling Cassette
Finally, let’s look at a 4-zone mini-split system that you may consider for whole-home air conditioning – the GREE MULTI42CCAS407. It’s a 42,000 BTU mini-split, making it the highest-capacity air conditioner on this list. In addition, each indoor ceiling cassette is rated 12,000 BTUs, meaning each can serve rooms up to 550 square feet.
The great news is that your choices are limited to the four 12,000 BTU cassettes. Two other ceiling cassette sizes are available, i.e., 14,400 BTUs and 22,800 BTUs. Whereas the 12,000 BTU air handlers are rated 353 CFM and can only remove 3.0 pints/hour in the dehumidifier mode, the larger cassettes are slightly more powerful.
For instance, the 14,400 BTU cassettes remove up to 3.8 pints/hour while the 22,800 BTU cassette removes up to 5.3 pints/hour. The 22,800 BTU ceiling cassettes also feature more powerful fans rated up to 694 CFM. Handheld remote controllers and wired controllers are included for each air handler regardless of size. However, other installation accessories are sold separately.
This air conditioner is rated 21 SEER and 10.4 EER and guarantees 4-way air discharge and even airflow thanks to the swing louver system. It also boasts a power failure recovery feature and an internal condensate drain pump.
The AC runs on the GREE G10 inverter technology compressor that boosts energy efficiency while lowing noise output.
- Powerful at 42,000 BTUs
- Remote control lockout
- Power failure recovery
- Backed by a 5-year parts warranty
- Expensive at over $3,000
- No smartphone/app control
Ceiling cassette mini-split systems are some of the most discrete mini split air handler systems. They are also attractive for the low noise ratings and powerful airflow. If you’re in the market for a mini-split system, you should strongly consider getting one.