Most homeowners struggle to control their homes’ temperatures, while some rooms remain unused for long periods. Fortunately, you can now cool or heat your room while saving energy by controlling the temperature independently using multi-zone mini-splits.
Here are 2021’s best multi-zone mini splits worth buying today. But first, what’s a multi-zone mini split?
What’s a Multi-Zone Mini Split Air Conditioner?
A multi-zone mini-split is an efficient air conditioning system that can heat and cool your home using a single outdoor unit. The system features two or more independent indoor units in each room, with a maximum of eight heads for every outdoor unit.
For instance, a 48K outdoor unit might support four 12K units, four 9K units with a sing 12K unit, or any configuration that ranges between 44K to 50K. The number doesn’t need to be the exact BTU output total, but it must be close.
Multi-zone systems support individual climate control in every room, making it perfect for temperature control, depending on your needs. Here are the six best multi-zone splits you can buy for efficient energy control around your home in 2021.
How Do Ductless Multi-Zone Mini-Split Systems Work?
Ductless multi-zone mini splits offer zone-specific heating and cooling by using designated thermostats installed in each zone. That means you can easily alter each thermostat setting using a remote controller to change an individual room’s temperature without affecting the others.
Ductless multi-zone mini splits also use inverter technology for better efficiency and comfort. The technology helps the system monitor each room’s temperature and adjust the cooling and heating output accordingly instead of using a single consistent speed such as a rotary compressor.
How Many Zones Can A Mini-Split Have?
As earlier mentioned, a multi-zone mini-split is an air conditioner that supports two or more indoor units connected to a single outdoor unit.
These systems can support a maximum of eight indoor units connected to the outdoor compressor, but the ductless system you’ll choose depends on several factors. Nonetheless, multi-zone mini splits remain the better options for most homes than single zone mini splits for several reasons.
Single Zone Vs. Multi-Zone Mini-Split System
Unlike a multi-zone mini-split, a single-zone mini-split features a single indoor unit paired with one outdoor system. However, both the single-zone and the multi-zone mini-split systems give you the option of zone cooling and heating.
Zone temperature control is the capability of an air conditioning system to cool or heat a zone individually and set different temperatures for your house’s rooms.
That means you can adjust each indoor air handler temperature while other units installed operate at different temperatures. For instance, you can make the living room warmer than the bedroom or the study room.
Why Choose A Single-Zone Mini-Split?
While a multi-zone mini split might the best option for most families, there are several reasons why you might be inclined to buy a single-zone system. That includes:
- Easy Installation – Most ductless mini splits are generally easier to install than traditional HVAC systems. You only need a 3-inch hole to connect the exterior and the interior unit without going through the more invasive process of running refrigerant lines.
- Cost – Since the installation process is simpler than installing a multi-zone mini split, adding a single-zone mini split to your space is less expensive. Some homeowners can also install the systems without the help of a professional HVAC technician.
Why Homeowners Choose Multi-Zone Mini Splits
Most homeowners choose multi-zone split systems for several reasons, including:
- Fewer Outdoor Units – The main benefit of installing a multi-zone mini split instead of several single-zone mini-split units is that you only need a single compressor to operate several indoor systems. Instead of installing an outdoor compressor for each zone that you want to cool or heat, you can use a single outdoor unit for a maximum of eight systems.
- Improved Exterior Appearance of Your Home – Installing several bulky outdoor compressors can negatively impact your home’s exterior appearance. Fortunately, you can avoid that, as multi-zone mini splits can use a single outdoor unit to support up to eight indoor units. That helps to create an aesthetically pleasing home exterior appearance.
Pros and Cons Of Multi-Zone Mini Split
- They are small and flexible enough to cool and heat individual rooms.
- The units can be zoned, with each indoor unit coming with its thermostat to allow you to condition only the room you’re using, saving energy and money.
- Great for conditioning the basement and other rooms with limited access.
- Since multi-zone mini splits don’t need any ductwork, there’s less energy loss related to forced air systems.
- Most multi-zone mini splits come with an auto-clean feature that reduces moisture and keeps the air clean.
- Compared to other add-on systems, multi-zone mini splits are more flexible in the interior design options as you can suspend them from a ceiling or hung them on your wall.
- Multi-zone mini-splits cost almost 30% higher than single-zone mini splits and traditional forced-air equipment.
- A reliable contractor is needed to install most units for the warranty to hold.
- The design of the indoor components might not work for everyone.
How Much Does It Cost to Install A Multi-Zone Mini Split?
Multi-zone systems comprise three main components (an outdoor condenser, refrigerant coolant lines, and an indoor unit), which can be bought separately. You can buy these components individually as required or as a kit.
The indoor unit can range anywhere between $400 to $1800, while the outdoor system costs between $1000 and $5500. The refrigerant lines are very affordable, ranging at $5 per square, but you can expect everything to range at $300 to $500, including the wires, lines, drain tubes, and sleeves. However, the system’s size will highly influence the installation cost.
For professional installation, an HVAC technician can charge anything between $300 to $1500 for single-zone systems. However, complex installations of multi-zone mini splits can cost between $500 and, depending on your location.
An electrician might also come in handy for the installation, especially if your home doesn’t have a dedicated 110/200-volt box. That will cost about $50-$100 per hour, but you can also hire a carpenter at $25-$50 hourly to drill holes for the refrigerant lines to connect each indoor unit.
On average, the total labor cost of using a professional HVAC technician to install a multi-zone mini split is between $600 to $6000. However, the cost can change depending on the number of zones, installation complexity, system size, and brand.
How To Install A Multi-Zone Mini-Split System
With lots of DIY multi-zone systems on the market, homeowners can handle the installation process in a few steps. However, it’s advisable to hire a professional HVAC technician if you don’t have the basic construction skills required to handle the project.
Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Setup the outside condenser at the best location.
- Using the mounting bracket, setup the indoor wall units. You’ll need to cut a hole through the wall behind to run the line-set.
- Run a line-set carrying the refrigerant between the outdoor condenser and the indoor units.
- Run electrical lines to the outdoor condenser, usually about 240 volts.
- Connect the outdoor condenser with the indoor units using control wires.
- Test the whole system for pressure and use a vacuum pump to set a vacuum.
- After testing the system for leaks and ensuring it holds a vacuum, release the refrigerant and the system is ready to use.
Best Multi Zone Mini Split
1. Senville 36000 BTU Tri Zone Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump SENA-36HF/T
When looking for a comprehensive heating and cooling system, the Senville 36K BTU Tri Zone mini-split comes in handy for home and office use.
This ductless air conditioning system can deliver year-round comfort for up to four rooms, with multiple energy-saving features and operating modes. That makes it the perfect choice for the average household looking for an efficient heating and cooling solution in different rooms.
Besides being powerful, the Senville Sena-36HT/F tri-zone mini-split an energy-efficient unit with an impressive 22.5 SEER rating to deliver an energy-conscious performance. Even better, this Senvile mini-split comes with two unique operating modes, automatic and sleep mode.
The Senville SENA-36HF/T tri-zone air conditioner features three 12K indoor air handlers perfect for bedrooms, living room, and other spaces to keep your home comfortable from season to season.
Its unique inverter design ensures that the compressor is quieter than other options. Additionally, the setup is simple, thanks to the 16-foot installation kit included.
- Three powerful 12K BTU ductless air conditioners
- Energy-conscious p0erformance with 22.5 SEER rating
- Unique inverter design for a quiet performance
- Faster cooling thanks to multiple fan speeds
- 3-year limited warranty on parts and a 5-year warranty on the compressor
- The warranty doesn’t include labor costs
- Requires a professional to install
2. PIONEER Air Conditioner WYS030GMHI22M3 Multi Split System
The Pioneer WYS03GMI22 M3 is another tri-zone mini-split designed with an attractive LED display, permanent washable water fillers, and an automatic air discharge unit.
Its design is solid, with a large LCD backlit display that works great when paired with its multi-function infrared remote controller available for every indoor unit.
The outdoor heat pump section boasts of a variable speed high-efficiency inverter with a durable galvanized metal construction. Even better, the Pioneer WYS03GMI122 offers a quiet operation with a point single power entry.
Additionally, Pioneer’s multi-zone mini split comes with low ambient heaters that work well for up to -5-degree Fahrenheit.
While the 16″ installation kit makes the setup process straightforward, you’ll need a professional to help you install the system. Nonetheless, this 22-SEER multi-split system is worth all the trouble, considering that it’s both powerful and efficient. Additionally, all the units in the system are ETL tested and approved for safety.
- Superior efficiency, performance, and comfort
- Attractive flat front panel with LED display
- Permanent washable air filters with lots of enhanced options
- Durable galvanized metal construction
- Installing this multi-split system can be complex and requires an HVAC professional
- Troubleshooting the system might be a nightmare
3. Klimaire 3-Zone Multi-Split Heat Pump
While multi-zone mini splits can be bulky and unattractive, the Klimaire 3-zone air conditioner presents a simple and elegant design with lots of high-tech features.
The temperature sensor shifts to the wall unit’s remote control by activating the Follow Function and directs the system to adjust the temperature based on the surrounding environment.
With the Klimaire 3-Zone multi Split unit, you’ll enjoy 12 fan speeds, including cooling, heating, dedicated dehumidification, and sleep mode. You can also seamlessly clean and dry the evaporator using the auto-clean function to maintain healthy indoor air quality. Even better, the home away freeze protection function maintains a comfortable temperature for your house, even while you’re away.
You can use the remote control for manual operation of the system, with its quick-hook design allowing you to hang it on your wall faster and easier. The outdoor unit comes with a high-performance rotary compressor that delivers excellent durability and keeps the operational noise low.
Besides its specially-designed ultra-quiet operation, this air conditioner from Klimaire features a small footprint that fits in most yards.
- Great design with a small footprint
- The compressor adjusts automatically to maintain a steady temperature level
- 3D airflow technology that evenly distributes air
- Fast cooling and heating with the turbo mode
- The warranty only covers the compressor
- Will require a professional HVAC expert to install
4. Innovair Air Conditioner Tri Zone Mini Split
If you’re looking for a multi-zone that delivers the best value with high-quality features, the Innovair Tri-Zone mini-split won’t disappoint. This energy-efficient mini-split comes with a 21 SEER rating, with a configuration that includes two 12K BTU indoor units and a single 9K BTU system connected to a single outdoor compressor.
The indoor unit is sleek, with a hidden LED display panel controlled with a wireless remote. You can also control the Innovair Tri-Zone system using your smart home systems or smartphone as it supports Wi-Fi connectivity. Additionally, the outdoor unit comes pre-charged up to 25ft, measuring 30.25 x 11.75 x 21.75 inches.
Innovair also gives multiple running modes, including dehumidifying and turbo cooling. The system also promises a quiet operation, making the units ideal for offices, bedrooms, and other rooms ranging between 450-600 square feet. More importantly, its HD air purifier gives you cleaner and better air quality than other competitors.
- Wi-Fi ready tri-zone mini split
- Easy to clean HD air purifying filter
- Eco-conscious refrigerant
- High ambient cooling
- Small installation kit
- No heat-pump
5. COOPER AND HUNTER Dual Zone Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump
A premium pick for small and medium homes, The Cooper & Hunter Dual-Zone mini-split offers dual coverage with a total of 24K BTU.
This ductless mini-split is energy star certified, with an excellent 21.3 SEER rating. The inbuilt heat pump gives you the option to cool and heat in two different zones, whether it’s at home or in your office.
This Cooper & Hunter Dual-Zone air conditioner features whisper-quiet technology, giving you a peaceful night’s sleep. It also features an ambient cooling option that works with up to 13 degrees Fahrenheit to help you heat your rooms with ease.
Every indoor unit comes with a remote controller to allow you to adjust the room temperature and change the settings to your preferred mode.
Even better, the Cooper & Hunter Dual-Zone mini-split is Wi-Fi ready to support smartphone control and integration with smart home systems. You also get an installation kit in the package, although the system might feel a bit bulky to some users.
- Energy-star certified
- Installation kit included in the package
- Wi-Fi ready system
- Built-in heat pump and turbo cooling
- Remote control only works within a short range from the unit
- Warranty is only valid if installed by a professional HVAC technician
6. MRCOOL 27K Multi-Zone Mini Split
The MRCOOL 27K Multi-Zone mini-split is an air conditioning system that combines efficient cooling and heating with various smart features to allow app control and Wi-Fi connectivity. These 22-SEER rated ductless unit features two indoor units, at 12K and 9K BTU for cooling and heating.
MRCOOL has included a simple yet sophisticated indoor air conditioner that uses a wireless remote controller with a big LCD. You can also download the SmartHVAC application to control the system anywhere, whether you need to view the current temperature or change the settings. This application is also compatible with Google Home Assistant and Amazon Alexa, allowing you to use voice commands.
For highly sensitive spaces like the server room, MRCOOL offers low ambient cooling to keep the temperature as low as five degrees Fahrenheit.
Even better, this mini split unit will alert you when the refrigerant starts to run low, ensuring that no damage occurs to the compressor. Unlike other models, this multi-zone mini-split is DIY-friendly and doesn’t need specialized training, special equipment, or tools.
- Compatible with Google Home Assistant and Alexa for voice control
- Supports DIY installation
- Operates quietly
- Features a low-refrigerant alert
- Low-quality expansion bolts
- Installation requires at least two people
- The app doesn’t work very smoothly
Things To Consider When Choosing A Multi-Zone Mini Split
When buying a mini-split system to cool and heat your home, you can either install a single system or a multi-zone unit. Choosing a multi-zone ductless air conditioner is advantageous because you can heat different rooms in your house and control the temperatures individually.
However, understanding how ductless multi-zone mini splits work is essential before choosing any system.
A multi-zone system is the most energy-efficient way to heat and cool different rooms in your home. Buying an Energy Star certified mini-split could save you up to 30% on the energy bills.
You’ll also want a multi-zone mini split that features an inbuilt heat pump as it’s an efficient way to keep your home warm and comfortable. That’s because these systems can work well without drawing lots of electrical energy from the power source.
Compared to central air conditioners that maintain a constant temperature level throughout all the rooms, multi-zone systems give you better control of each room.
With most multi-zone systems, you can use a wireless controller to set your preferred temperature, set a timer, and adjust the modes. However, the control options depending on the brand, but it includes basic functions like temperature adjustments.
The higher the BTU, the more power that a mini-split system has. Of course, the amount of power you need depends on the room’s size and the insulation level available. Fortunately, multi-zone mini splits feature different configurations that will serve rooms with different square footage.
Number of Zones
Considering the number of zones you want to benefit from, the mini-split allows you to choose the right system. For instance, if you have four rooms in your house, you might need a system with four indoor units to serve every room. Fortunately, each unit comes with its thermostat.
The best multi-zone mini splits come with an installation kit mainly composed of electrical wiring, copper wires, draining tubes, and wall sleeves. The components may vary, but they’re very useful for mounting your indoor unit on the wall or the ceiling. However, installing multi-zone systems might be a bit complex, and you might need a professional HVAC professional to help you out.
When looking for an energy-efficient way to cool and heat your home, a multi-zone mini split comes as the best solution for you. A multi-zone system also comes in handy for controlling the temperatures of different areas individually, whether it’s your bedroom, the library, or the living room.
Moreover, multi-zone systems are aesthetically pleasing as they allow you to reduce the number of outdoor compressors in your home.