So, you’re in the market for an air conditioning system and have decided to go for a mini-split system. Perhaps you’ve read about the many qualities of a mini-split air conditioner and feel it’s the right solution as you seek to lower your monthly cooling (and heating) bills.
Or, perhaps you’re replacing the old central air system, and the contractor has recommended a mini-split air conditioner.
However, you’ve just realized that mini-split systems come in various styles, making selection a little difficult. Although you’ve managed to narrow down your options to ceiling cassettes vs. wall-mounted systems, you still can’t make the final decision.
Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve purposely designed this guide to help shoppers and everyone else interested understand the two mini-split systems better to make an informed choice.
Mini Split Ceiling Cassette VS Wall Mount – Which is Better?
- Choose a ceiling cassette unit if you’re working in a tight space or looking for style and elegance, and budget isn’t a problem.
- Choose wall-mounted air handlers if you’re looking for a basic air conditioning system on a moderate budget.
Understanding the Different Mini Split Indoor Air Handler Types
Although mini split outdoor units are pretty much the same, there are at least five different types of mini split air handlers;
Wall-Mounted Air Handlers
Wall-mounted air handlers are installed on the wall above the window height to guard against the loss of conditioned air. They are typically installed on an exterior wall.
It’s the most popular indoor air handler style because wall-mounted systems are the most affordable and easiest to install. The average cost to install a wall-mounted mini-split system is $850 to $3,000.
Ceiling Cassette Mini Splits
Ceiling cassette units are much smaller than wall-mounted air handlers. They are installed in the ceiling. However, they don’t merely “hang” onto the ceiling as wall-mounted systems do on the wall. Instead, a mini-split ceiling cassette is installed into the ceiling.
Of course, they are also more expensive to purchase. For example, it costs $2,900 to $7,500 to install an average-size ceiling cassette duct mini-split system.
Concealed Duct Mini Splits
Concealed duct systems are unique air handler systems hidden in the ceiling. They use concealed ducts to provide cooling, typically connecting to existing ducts or field-designed ducts.
The main advantage of these duct systems is that they make it easy to split your home or rooms into zones.
Unfortunately, concealed duct air handlers are the most expensive to purchase and install. The average cost to install a concealed duct unit is $1,500 to $7,200.
Similar to wall-mounted mini-split systems, floor-mounted models are also mounted on the wall. However, the main difference is that floor-mounted models are installed at the bottom, just a few inches off the floor.
Floor-mounted mini splits are an ideal choice if you have a short ceiling, slanted walls, large windows that may draw out all the conditioned air. The average cost to install a floor-mounted mini-split system is $1,300 to $4,000.
Ceiling Suspended Air Handlers
Sometimes referred to as ceiling-suspended air-con units, ceiling suspended air handlers dangle from the room, supported by wires or other structures – similar to suspended lighting fixtures.
They aren’t as common as other air handler types, typically found in industrial applications, such as server rooms and IT networking rooms.
These units are exceptionally quiet. They are also easy to install. It costs $2,500 to $4,500 to install a ceiling suspended mini-split system. Unfortunately, they aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing in residential settings.
Other common air handler types include floor-standing systems that rest on the floor and drop-down cassettes.
Ceiling Cassettes vs. Wall-Mounted Air Handlers
Let’s now try to understand the two main options – ceiling cassette units versus wall-mounted air handler systems.
What’s a Mini Split Cassette?
A ceiling cassette unit is a mini-split air handler type that installs behind the ceiling such that only the grille is visible from the room below.
The grille typically extends only about an inch or two below the ceiling, allowing conditioned air to exit the air handler easily. Air can exit via one, two, three, or all four sides of the cassette.
How Mini-Split Cassettes Work?
A ceiling cassette unit works the same way as any other air conditioner. The indoor air handler draws hot air from your rooms passes it over cold refrigerant lines in the air handler, where heat is extracted and releases the air outside the house while the now-cold air returns into your home.
The main difference from wall-mounted air handlers is the design and positioning. Whereas the wall-mounted unit is a large unit that installs on the wall above the window line, the ceiling cassette is a smaller unit that installs behind the ceiling, with only the grille visible from below.
Pros and Cons of Cassettes
Mini Split Ceiling Cassette Pros
- Wider airflow: The biggest advantage of ceiling cassette units is that they offer a wider and more powerful airflow than other indoor air handler types. This is especially true for units that release air on all four sides. Moreover, ceiling-mounted cassettes are installed in the center of the ceiling, ensuring uniform cooling (and heating) with few cold/hot spots.
- Low-profile, space-saving design: Another key advantage of ceiling-mounted cassettes is that they don’t take up any space on the floor or the wall. This allows you to decorate the walls as you wish. They rarely protrude more than an inch below the ceiling, maintaining a uniquely low profile.
- Quiet design: Ceiling cassette air handlers are characterized by large-diameter fans that lower the noise level by pushing a larger volume of air in one sweep but slower. Many units are as silent as 38dBA, which is exceptional.
- Greater comfort control: Ceiling cassettes are typically equipped with return air sensors that monitor the room’s conditions and automatically adjust air conditioning settings for the ultimate indoor comfort.
Mini Split Ceiling Cassette Cons
- Costly to buy and install: The most significant downside of ceiling cassette air handlers is cost. On average, you can expect to spend $1,500 to $7,200 to install a ceiling cassette system. The installation costs are even higher if the distance between the outdoor unit and the cassette up in the ceiling is long, such as in large rooms.
- You need enough space in the ceiling: First, you need plenty of room in the ceiling to house the bulk of the cassette. Additionally, you need even more room for maneuver during installation and maintenance.
- Maintenance is a big challenge: The repair technician must get onto the ceiling every time the ceiling cassette mini split has an issue. This is both difficult and expensive.
What’s a Mini-Split Wall-Mounted Air Handler?
Wall-mounted air handlers are units installed on the wall, typically the exterior wall, above the window height. You first screw a bracket system onto the wall, then slide the AC unit into the bracket and secure it with more screws. They’re easily noticeable and are typically white.
How Wall-Mounted Air Handlers Work?
Wall-mounted air handlers work the same way as other mini-split systems; they lower indoor temperatures by gradually extracting heat through refrigerant cycling.
The main difference here is also the design and positioning. Wall-mounted air handlers are larger than other air handler systems installed on the wall, just below the ceiling.
Pros and Cons of Wall-Mounted Air Handlers
Wall-mounted Air Handler Pros
- Cheaper to buy and install: The main advantage of wall-mounted air handlers over other air handler types is that they are cheaper to buy and install. The average cost to install a wall-mounted mini-split system is $850 to $3,000.
- You can DIY-install it: You’ve probably heard about DIY-installed mini-split systems. Wall-mounted systems are the easiest to DIY-install. Manufacturers rarely allow DIY on other air handler types.
- Easy to maintain/repair: You can easily reach the wall-mounted air handler to wipe it down or change the filter. Even diagnosis and repairs are much easier because the unit is easily accessible.
Wall-Mounted Mini Split Cons
- Low aesthetic value: Interior air handlers’ wall-mounted mini-splits score the lowest points for aesthetic beauty. You can still find a few beautiful ones. But only if you’re willing to pay a premium.
Mini Split Cassettes vs. Wall-Mounted Air Handlers; A Comparison
Which is the better option between the two? The following head-to-head comparison should help you make the right decision.
- Design: Ceiling cassettes are sleek, compact systems installed such that only the grille is visible. Meanwhile, wall-mounted systems are larger units wholly visible from the room.
- Placement: Ceiling cassettes are installed on the ceiling, behind the ceiling board itself. Only the grille is visible from the room below. Meanwhile, wall-mounted air handlers are installed on an exterior wall below the ceiling line.
- Comfort: Both ceiling cassettes and wall-mounted ai handlers guarantee reliable comfort. However, ceiling cassettes move air more uniformly throughout the room, thus even greater comfort.
- Air quality: There’s little to pick between ceiling cassettes and wall-mounted air handlers regarding air quality. Both use filters to trap dust, pollen, and other airborne particles for clean and healthy indoor air.
- Control: There’s not much difference in controls between ceiling cassettes and wall-mounted air handlers. You can look forward to exceptional convenience in both cases as long as you get a modern mini-split system.
- Ease of installation: Wall-mounted systems are easier/cheaper to install compared to ceiling cassette models. They are also easier/cheaper to repair because of easier accessibility.
- Prices: Wall-mounted air conditioners are cheaper to purchase compared to ceiling cassettes. Therefore, they’re an excellent option if you’re on a budget.
Mini Split Ceiling Cassette VS Wall Mount FAQs
Are Ceiling Cassette Mini Split Systems Good?
Yes, ceiling cassettes are an excellent choice, especially premium space. A ceiling cassette doesn’t take any space on the floor or wall. Ceiling cassettes are also very beautiful.
Can Mini Split be Ceiling Mounted?
Yes, certain types of mini splits are ceiling mounted. These units are known as ceiling cassettes. The bulk of the cassette stays behind the ceiling such that only the grille is visible from below.
How does a Ceiling Mini Split Work?
Ceiling mini splits work the same way as other mini-split systems. They draw warm indoor air into the air handler, pass it over cold refrigerant lines where the heat is removed, and send the now-cool air back into your rooms. Meanwhile, the heat is transported to the outdoor unit via the refrigerant and disposed of to the outside air.
Can Air Handlers be Moved?
Yes, you can move air handlers from one location to another. However, never attempt to do it yourself as it’s too dangerous and the risks are too high. Instead, speak to your HVAC technician about it.
Are AC Air Handlers Cheap?
No. Unfortunately, air handlers aren’t cheap. You should expect to pay between $500 for a basic model and $3,500 for a premium unit.
Both ceiling cassettes and wall-mounted air handlers are great. Both work excellently when installed properly. So, you need to pick the right choice for your application.
- When to Choose Cassettes: Choose a ceiling cassette system if you’re working in a tight space or looking for style and elegance, and budget isn’t a problem.
- When to Choose Wall-Mounter Air Handlers: Choose wall-mounted air handlers if you’re looking for a basic air conditioning system on a moderate budget.