How Much Does A Ductless AC Cost?
How Much Does a Mini Split Air Conditioner Cost?
Since publishing “How Much Does a New AC Unit Cost?”, we’ve received a lot of inquiries from people asking “How much does a ductless ac cost?” and, “How much does a heat pump mini split cost?” I like to use the questions we get a lot as the subject matter of my blog posts, so…ask and you shall receive! The prices below are relevant to the Phoenix, AZ area. Prices may vary by $1,000 or more in your area.
Article updated: 3/23/2023 (prices adjusted annually to reflect current market conditions).
I’m going to get to ductless ac install price in a moment. I’ll also cover what these machines are, how they’re installed, and the many differences between all the different models on the market. Understanding the differences will aid you in choosing not only the right equipment, but also the right mini split installer.
However, first and foremost I want to share some information about some “How Much Does (insert product) Cost?” articles on the internet. We all know everything on the internet is true (LOL), but it’s important to know which articles you need to take with a grain of salt – and why the publisher is posting these articles in the first place.
Beware of “How Much Does ____ Cost?” Articles From Monetized Websites
Having owned Magic Touch Mechanical for over 1/4 century, I was around before most contractors even had a website. Those of us who didn’t grow up with the internet remember using the Yellow Pages when we needed to find a product or service. The Yellow Pages went the way of the dinosaur and the world wide web is our go to source for anything and everything now. Of course, people figured out a way to “monetize” their websites and sell ad space, write paid product endorsements, etc.
In recent years, many news and ‘lead generation’ websites have figured out how to use their high internet traffic to add additional revenue to their bottom line.
Example: The Forbes Home website posts many articles written by “contributors” about how much things cost (a common search term, easy to monetize).
Recently, I came across an article named, How Much Does it Cost to Install a Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner?
The article starts with the following, “Advertiser disclosure”
“We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Home. Commissions do not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.”
Interestingly, although I outlined this disclosure in bold red text, Forbes Home has it in almost transparent light gray.
Here’s where things get interesting!
The main “partner”, aka paid advertiser, is Angi (formerly Home Advisor and Angie’s List) a “lead generation” website that sells sales leads to contractors. The “editor” of this article Lexie, has a bio WAY at the bottom underneath about 30 paid advertisements (most link back to Angi) that states: Lexie is a Deputy Editor who is responsible for writing and editing articles over a wide variety of home-related topics. She has over five years of experience in the home improvement space and harnessed her expertise while working for companies like HomeAdvisor and Angi (formerly Angie’s List)*.
You read that right … the “editor” works for the “partner” advertiser who is paying for the article and clicks!
Here’s my point: The article titled, “How Much Does it Cost to Install a Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner?” states: Mini-split installation costs between $2,000 and $14,500, depending on the size of your home, the size and efficiency of the mini-split unit(s) and local labor rates. On average, homeowners will spend $3,000 for a mini-split installation, including materials and labor.
Not only will you not find a mini-split installation for $2,000 or even $3,000 – there’s a $12,500 spread in there! The only reason this article exists is to get you to click their paid advertisers ads who then sells your information to many local contractors. Worse yet, within hours you’re going to receive dozens of calls from contractors – all of whom will tell you there are no $2,000 or $3,000 mini split installs.
*FYI, both HomeAdvisor and Angi are the exact same company – Angie’s List acquired HomeAdvisor (formerly Service Magic) many years ago. All of these companies exist to get your contact information and sell it to multiple contractors. They don’t sell air conditioners, they don’t install mini splits, they don’t sell anything except your contact information. The “contributors” and “editors” are typically not journalists, contractors, or even business owners – they’re writers who write ad copy disguised as product reviews and well-researched articles.
Mini Split Heat Pumps and Air Conditioners Come in Many Styles and Sizes
Single Zone Mini Split = 1 Indoor Unit
A “single zone” ductless air conditioner aka “mini-split”, is the most common type of ductless system. Here in Phoenix, people typically install ductless units to cool a garage or Arizona Room (sun room). Installing a mini split is also common as supplemental air conditioning in one room of the home. These systems can provide AC only or, both air conditioning and heating via a ductless heat pump. Note: Heat Pumps provide electric heating utilizing a component called a reversing valve. A single zone mini split consists of a condenser (outdoor unit), and an air handler (indoor unit). The outdoor unit is connected by refrigerant pipes & electrical wiring to the air handler inside.
Price Range of Ductless Mini Split with One Indoor Unit Including Installation
The price of a single zone ductless AC including installation, refrigerant lines, warranty, maintenance plan, and tax typically starts at around $5,000 complete.* Replacements of existing mini split systems will typically be less when refrigerant lines & electrical circuits already exist.
*Prices vary based; brand, efficiency rating, type of air handler (discussed below), and the biggest variable; application. The application is what determines the amount of labor & materials needed.
Outside of the U.S., people are very familiar with ductless mini split air conditioners. They’re prevalent in most parts of the world for a reason. Many old-world homes and buildings were built long before air conditioning was invented. Therefore, they have no ductwork to accommodate a central ducted air conditioning and heating system.
Some ductless mini-split air conditioners have longer warranties**, are more efficient, quieter, and in general more reliable, than ducted AC. Which explains why they’re the quickest growing segment of new HVAC sales here in the US.
**Mitsubishi Ductless Heat Pumps & AC’s come with a 12-Year Parts and Compressor Warranty ONLY when installed by a certified Mitsubishi Diamond Dealer (like Magic Touch Mechanical). If installed by a non-certified contractor the warranty reverts to a standard 7-year warranty.
Types of Ductless AC Indoor Units
One reason people say they haven’t considered a mini split before is; they don’t want something hanging on the wall. Wall-mounted air handlers are called “high wall” units and are the most common and affordable. However, there are a number of other types of indoor units that can be connected to a mini-split condenser.
High Wall / Wall Mount
The most common of all ductless ac indoor units. “High-wall” or wall mount air handlers are also the most economical in most cases. This is mainly due to ease of installation in most homes and office applications. This is our most requested ductless option when our clients want to cool Arizona Rooms and garages. We install several mini splits per week in garages around the Phoenix Metro area.
Low Wall / Floor Mount
The latest indoor unit to hit the market, the “low wall”. The low wall mini split air handler is mounted like a modern day version of a heating radiator. Anyone who has ever lived in a big city like New York or Chicago knows what we mean! Of course they’re much more attractive than an old radiator, but similar in size (smaller in fact). A low wall air handler is mounted directly to the wall a few inches off of the floor. See photo for typical mounting location.
Ceiling Cassette / Recessed
The ceiling cassette aka recessed air handler is a client favorite in recent years. Several brands including Mitsubishi and Gree have models on the market that fit between most ceiling joints. This design means we can install mini split ceiling cassettes in applications where ductwork can’t be installed. More importantly, these new models can be completely serviced from below and don’t require attic access.
Ceiling Mount / Suspended
As the name suggests, this unit is mounted to the ceiling but is not flush with the ceiling. It hangs from the ceiling and is a great option for rooms with limited wall space & no attic above.
Hybrid Mini Splits Utilize Both Ducted & Ductless Indoor Units
Ducted Mini Split
I know this article is about ductless equipment but, for multi-zone systems which we are going to get into next, a growing trend is to mix both ducted and ductless air conditioners together into one system in order to “zone” the air conditioning and heat in every room of the home or building.
Concealed Mini Split
For spaces with enough attic space above there are also completely concealed air handlers (see picture below) that utilize small “high-velocity” ducts much smaller than traditional air ducts but deliver a significant amount of air due to the unique design of the air handler and how the air is distributed.
The typical price of a single-zone ductless AC with one of the ‘specialty’ air handlers described above will range between $5,000 and $7,000.* Replacements for existing mini split systems will typically be less when refrigerant lines & electrical circuits already exist.
Multi-Zone Ductless Mini-Split Systems
Mini-split ductless systems are not only meant for one room. In fact, we at Magic Touch Mechanical have installed residential ductless air conditioning and heating systems in homes as large as 8,000 square feet…with NO DUCTWORK anywhere in the home!
On the opposite end of the spectrum, just this year (I originally wrote this article in November 2016), we installed a five-zone heat pump system in a single-wide mobile home. Each room of the smaller home has its own air handler, all of which run independently of each other, so everyone gets to set their own temperature.
Your Electric Bill is What?
In the first example, consider the costs of cooling and heating an eight-thousand square foot home…okay, are you still breathing? Now think about how much of that home goes largely unused the majority of the time. The ductless system we installed in that home allows the owners to control every room in the house at a different temperature, and even completely shut off the units in some rooms while leaving others on. To take things a step further, on that particular system, the owners have the ability to be heating one room while cooling another.
In the second example, the mobile home was donated to a charity organization that provides homes for homeless pregnant teens. As a non-profit that relies on donations to keep doing the great work they do, obviously keeping utility costs to a minimum is extremely important. The ductless system not only allows them to individually control the temperature of each room, it is also extremely efficient in general, because ductless units have very high SEER Ratings (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and HSPF Ratings (Heating Season Performance Factor).
Price Range with Multiple Indoor Units Including Installation
The typical price of a multi-zone ductless heat pump system including installation starts at roughly $10,000 for 2-zones. As a “rule of thumb” budget around $5,000+ per zone for everything when considering the higher-end brands.* Replacements for existing mini split systems will typically be less when refrigerant lines & electrical circuits already exist.
There is nothing “typical” about one multi-zone ductless mini-split installation from one to the next. Each one is completely custom from the next because beyond just the equipment itself. The materials needed, labor needed, etc., etc., etc. are always completely different. This is the main reason it is impossible for a contractor to give a “ballpark price” over the phone without seeing the job first.
A good example of this are two, 6-zone Mitsubishi Ductless AC & Heating Systems that Magic Touch Mechanical installed last month. The total installed price of one of those systems was $18,100, while the other was $23,900. One took 2.5 days to complete and the other took 4 days to complete.
It Boils Down to the Application
The differences between these two jobs were many. Not only were each of the six air handlers different capacities (tonnages or BTU’s), they were also different models. Beyond the size and model differences, one home required drilling multiple holes through masonry walls, while the other was simply stucco (which meant multiple hours of difference in the labor needed). One required a total of 400′ of refrigerant lines be installed, while the other required only 250′. I could go on and on about the differences in the two jobs, but really am trying to make our readers understand that there is nothing “plug-and-play” about these installations. So trying to get a price, site-unseen, for multi-zone mini-split or even a single-zone mini split for that matter is the equivalent of asking “How much does a new car cost?” – are we talking about a Ford Focus or a Bugatti Chiron?
It hasn’t escaped me that you are probably curious how much the system in the 8,000 square foot home cost! Well, let’s just say it was north of $55,000 which was about $10,000 more than quotes they were getting for conventional ducted equipment, but also money they recovered in efficiency savings very quickly! The cost for the mobile-home? Well some very generous people got involved so it didn’t cost the charity anything but was valued at about $21,500.
Ductless Mini-Split Price
Whenever we receive an inquiry from someone looking for “ductless mini split price”, my first order of business is making sure they know what these units are. One of the biggest misconceptions about these systems is people compare them to a window AC. In reality these systems are nothing like a window air conditioner, in fact, they are significantly more technologically advanced than the majority of central air conditioning units on the market. There is nothing “advanced” about a window unit, or as we refer to them in the HVAC business; window shakers.
Not Your Fathers Window Unit!
Window units are really somewhat disposable as they typically only last a few seasons. They do serve a purpose as they’re inexpensive (as low as a few hundred bucks), but they’re loud and inefficient. Window units also pose a security risk since they’re easily “pushed through” giving burglars a convenient hole to climb through. (Ductless equipment does not require a big opening like a window unit. The total hole size for the electrical, refrigerant lines and drain lines is a 3” hole which then gets sealed).
Where most people go wrong when searching the internet for “ductless unit cost” is mistaking cheap Chinese knock-offs for the real deal. They see a cheap price and then think they’re all the same, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Even if they do come across the top of the line equipment for sale online (Mitsubishi Ductless for example), they fail to consider all of the other materials and labor that go into a properly installed “system”.
Mini Split Ductless Units Come with 10 to 12-Year Warranty
Most of the major manufacturers offer a 10 to 12 year parts warranty on their mini split ductless units. There are a few outliers that offer 5-7 years however most have increased to at least 10 in recent years. Typically, these warranties are only when installed by a manufacturer approved contractor.
For example, Mitsubishi gives units installed by a licensed HVAC Contractor a 7-year warranty. However, systems installed by a Mitsubishi Diamond Dealer like Magic Touch receive a 12-year warranty.
A 12-year warranty on an HVAC product is incredible to begin with. The reason Mitsubishi Ductless can do it is; they know these systems are extremely reliable when designed and installed properly. Mitsubishi Diamond Dealers are required to be certified by the manufacturer themselves. We fly our technicians to California to spend several days in a hands-on lab working on, repairing, and installing equipment. Technicians must also pass a difficult written test demonstrating competency to earn their certification.
Of course, our sales strategy is offering our clients, “options, not ultimatums” so, we don’t only install Mitsubishi mini-splits. Magic Touch Mechanical is proud to be a Gree Select contractor, as well as Fujitsu, Samsung and others.
Warning: Manufacturer May Void Warranty If Purchased Online
It’s easy for them to track this as every piece of equipment is serialized. Mitsubishi can see who purchased the unit! They know if it went through their distribution channels, and if it was purchased by a licensed contractor.
Don’t fall for online retailers that tell you, they warranty the unit. We’ve seen dozens and dozens of cases where people have purchased equipment online. When there’s a problem the excuses as to why “it’s not covered” begin. We’ve even seen cases where people received cheap knock-offs with the stickers of a recognized manufacturer on them!
For this reason, Magic Touch Mechanical, and most reputable HVAC Companies in Phoenix won’t even install equipment purchased online. It’s not worth it for you or us!
Want to see side-by-side comparisons of ductless air conditioners and ductless heat pump mini-splits? Search our blog!
If you live in Mesa, Phoenix, Peoria or surrounding AZ cities, Magic Touch Mechanical can provide a free estimate for ductless AC installation for you. From one room to a mansion, we can help customize the perfect mini-split system for you! Give us a call today or send us a message using the form below.
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