It Costs $3,200 to $10,500 on average to install a 3-zone mini split air conditioner. This a round-off figure. The actual cost may vary from as little as $1,500 to as much as $15,000+. We’ll find out why shortly.
We must mention, though, that installation costs are closely tied to purchase costs. Very often, you’ll pay about half the purchase price for the installation.
For example, if your air conditioner costs $5,000, you’ll likely pay around $2,500 for installation. If it costs $10,000, you’ll likely pay $5,000.
General Mini Split Installation Costs
Before we delve into the factors affecting ductless mini-split AC installation costs, let’s list some of the general installation costs for popular split systems.
As you’d expect, single-zone mini-split systems are cheaper to install compared to their multi-zone counterparts. At the low end, a single-zone mini-split costs $1,950 to $2,900 to install. Higher-end models cost $5,000 to $7,000 to install.
Meanwhile, you can expect to part with at least $2,875 to install a multi-zone mini-split system. In most cases, only 2-zone split systems cost that much. For three-zone systems, prices tend to start at around $4,150.
At the higher end, multi-zone mini split installation can cost up to $15,000. High-capacity 2-zone models cost up to $7,500 to install while high-capacity 8-zone models can cost up to $15,000+ to install.
For 3-zone ductless mini-split systems specifically, installation costs vary from $3,200 to $10,000+. However, you’ll only pay $3,200 for low-capacity, low-efficiency units that don’t require a lot of work. On the other hand, if you want a perfect job, expect to pay from $6,500 onwards.
Factors Affecting AC Installation Costs
Numerous factors affect how much you’ll pay for mini split AC installation at the end of the day. However, the following three sets of factors often carry the most weight.
AC Specific Factors
These are factors specific to the design and functioning of the air conditioner. Common factors here include the size of the AC, AC type, and efficiency.
The type of AC is usually one of the main factors affecting the installation prices. Generally, window units are the cheapest to install because it’s a straightforward process. Through-the-wall units are also fairly cheap to install. However, mini-split systems and central air conditioners are costly to install because of the work involved.
Is it single or multi-zone?
Regarding mini-split systems specifically, multi-zone units are more expensive to install compared to single-zone designs. The average cost to install a single-zone mini-split is $1,800 to $6,000. Every additional zone for multi-split systems costs $500 to $2,000 to install. This means you could pay as much as $10,000 to install a 3-zone AC.
More efficient air conditioners cost more to install. But, it’s not because of the high-efficiency rate. Instead, it’s more to do with the level of efficiency you desire in your home. If you’re buying a higher efficiency system, it means you’re very energy-conscious. Therefore, the technician will charge you more to deliver on this need.
You’re probably wondering why the brand name would impact installation prices. It comes down to pedigree and familiarity. Standard brands such as GREE and Perfect Aire are more straightforward in design. Also, the technician has likely installed hundreds of them thus knows them inside out. It makes the installation process.
On the other hand, premium brands such as Friedrich are rare and more complex. As a result, the technician is obliged to handle them with greater care. The result? A higher installation cost.
Air handler type
The cost of installation also depends on the type of indoor air handler. The easiest type of air handler to install is a wall-mounted model. LG art cool gallery units are also reasonably cheap to install.
However, indoor ceiling cassettes, considered the most discrete option, are expensive to install just as they’re expensive to purchase. Ceiling suspended air handlers are also expensive to install.
These are factors unrelated to the air conditioner but which directly impact the cost of AC installation. They include;
The location of the installation point can significantly increase the cost of installation. For instance, second and third-floor installations are typically higher than first-floor installations.
Why? Because it’s riskier to install the outdoor unit and run the line set and electrical connections. Also, such installations consume more electrical wires, conduits, and refrigerant lines.
Installation costs are also higher if the technician must access hard-to-reach areas. It’s partly why ceiling cassette systems are the most expensive to install. The technician must hire handymen to drill holes in the ceiling. In some cases, they may even need to access the attic – a process that takes more time and involves more work.
AC installation costs are generally higher in hotter climates. You can guess the reason – higher demand! Since air conditioning is essentially a must in hotter areas, technicians can raise their fees without adverse consequences. It’s why AC installation costs a lot more in Texas compared to, say, Alaska. Meanwhile, heating installations cost more in cooler climates.
You’ll pay more for an AC installation job in the summer than spring and the cooler seasons. Whereas a typical 3-zone mini split AC installation costs about $7,000, the prices can shoot to over $10,000 for the same installation project in the summer.
Here too, demand is the leading cause. Technicians know that homeowners are desperate in the summer. They know that you’re calling them because you can’t last one more day in the scorching heat.
Three other factors that directly impact AC installation costs are accessories, cost to install complementary components, and permits and licenses.
Cost of accessories
Installation prices are higher, and rightly so, if the technician has to supply some of the required accessories. For instance, most AC kits don’t come with outdoor condenser brackets. Electrical wires and the required condenser stand/snow legs may also be missing. The technician will add these to the total cost.
Cost to install other components
Think about wired controllers/thermostats and wall thermostats. Also, think about the Wi-Fi control setup. While some technicians may forgive these extra processes, the majority will itemize them separately and charge extra costs.
Permits and licenses
Finally, it would help if you also were prepared to pay for the necessary licenses and permits. The exact costs vary by municipality. However, expect to part with $250 to $400 for an AC installation permit. The technician will inform you if you need other licenses.
So, How Much Does it Cost to Install a 3-Zone Mini Split in the End?
It costs anywhere between $3,200 and $10,500 to install a 3-zone ductless mini-split AC system, with the costs varying widely depending on numerous factors.
Generally, you should expect to pay more than $7,000 for premium brands. Standard brands cost slightly less. Also, expect to pay more if you live in a temperate climate. Other factors such as the season of the year and the number of accessories missing also greatly impact the installation costs.
Above all, remember that installation prices aren’t static. Just like the price of gas changes every few days, so does the cost of AC installations. So when the cost of living rises, HVAC technicians raise their prices to account for the changes.