Photo of ductless mini split air conditioner on wallAre you considering a ductless air conditioner but not sure which one to get?

Do you like the idea of a mini split AC system and want to know what types are actually available?

If so, you’ve landed on the right page.

In this free guide, we’ll not only show you what the best ductless air conditioner is for every size house, but we’ll also help you find the best mini split AC unit that meets your needs and budget.

These days, ductless air conditioners are the next best thing to central air conditioning, which is the number one reason why they’re so popular.

So, if you’re searching for the best ductless AC for your home, you’ll find everything you need here.

We’ll first answer some common questions about these systems, then move onto a list of the best mini split air conditioner models for you to compare.


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What is a Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner?

Although ductless mini split air conditioners have been around since the 1970s, the truth is that many people still don’t know what these systems do.

In short, a ductless air conditioner is an appliance that delivers cold air without the need for ductwork.

The way the device operates is by drawing hot air inside the unit, chilling that air, and then pumping the cold air back into the room. The appliance works similar to a window air conditioner but doesn’t any windows for ventilation.

Ductless air conditioners were developed to provide spot cooling inside a home where a whole-house system couldn’t be installed.

A common example of this are houses built before the 1960s where structural restraints prevent the installation of ductwork. The same thing is true for many business buildings that exist today.

Ductless AC vs Central AC

How does a ductless air conditioner differ from a traditional central air conditioning system?

The answer boils down to the use of ductwork.

A central air conditioner is a whole-house system that sucks air in through a large vent, cools the air, and pushes it back out to each room through a series of “ducts” (or pathways) that are hidden behind the walls.

The only part of a central AC system you see indoors are the vents on the ceiling (or floor) that blow cold air.

As we mentioned previously, ductless AC units don’t use ducts to deliver air. They work by pulling air directly from the room that they’re located in, cooling it down, and pumping it back out into the same space for you to enjoy.

With a ductless mini split air conditioner, you can choose to cool down a single room or multiple rooms at once. Central AC is an “all or nothing” type of system. You can’t spot cool rooms as a mini split AC system can.

What Does “Mini Split” Mean?

Photo of evaporator and compressorThe concept of how a ductless air conditioner works is simple enough, but what does the term “mini split” in the name mean?

Ductless air conditioners are also called “mini split AC systems” because they’re made up of two parts:

  • Evaporator, which is installed inside.
  • Compressor, which is installed outside.

Central air conditioners are also split systems that have the same two parts; however, the size of the evaporator and compressor in a ductless mini split air conditioner are much smaller.

Hence the word, “mini” in “ductless mini split AC system”.

The indoor evaporator on a mini split air conditioner is connected to the outdoor compressor through a line set of copper tubing. When installing, only a 3-inch hole in an exterior wall is needed for the tubing to go through.

How to Choose the Right Size Ductless Air Conditioner

Even the best ductless mini splits are not created equal.

To get the right air conditioner system for your home, you’ll need to consider three things:

  1. Number of zones you need
  2. BTU of the unit(s)
  3. If you want AC only or a heat pump included

Deciding on those things will help you get the most value out of your purchase. We’ll go more in-depth about them next.

1. Number of Zones

Ductless mini split air conditioners come in two types:

  • Single-zone unit
  • Multi-zone system

As the names suggest, a single-zone unit is designed to cool just one room while a multi-zone system is made to cool multiple rooms or even an entire house.

Depending on the manufacturer, a multi-zone mini split system can handle between 2 to 6 zones on one compressor. That means you can install up to six separate evaporators and have them all powered by one outdoor unit.

If you want to install more than six evaporators in your house, then you’ll need to invest in a second compressor and system.

The major benefit of multi-zone mini splits is that each indoor unit operates independently of the others, providing you with personalized comfort in each room.

2. BTUs

BTU is short for British Thermal Unit, which is a measurement that indicates the cooling power of a ductless AC unit.

BTUs correlate with square footage.

The higher the BTU number, the more square footage the mini split AC unit can handle.

When you’re deciding on which ductless mini split air conditioner to buy, it’s best to measure the square footage of the room (or rooms) that you’re going to use it in.

Then, you can match the total square footage with the appropriate BTU number to get the right system for your needs.

Here’s how to do just that:

Finding Square Footage

Single Room:

Measure the length and width in feet, and multiply those two numbers together. If a room is an odd length, like 13′ feet 4″ inches, just round the number up.

For example, a 15′ 7″ x 20′ room would be 320 square feet (sq. ft.)

  • 16 x 20 = 320 sq. ft.

Multiple Rooms:

If you’re buying a multi-zone mini split AC system, then you would add together the square footage totals for each room you plan to cool.

For example, if you had three rooms with these square footage numbers below, then together they would add up to 640 total square feet.

  • 320 + 120 + 200 = 640 sq. ft.

Square Footage to BTU Chart

Once you have your total square footage for a single room or multiple rooms added together, you can find the correct BTU rating for a ductless air conditioner system.

The chart below will help make the process of finding the best ductless AC for your needs easier.

Area To Be Cooled (Square Feet)BTU Needed
Up to 250 sq. ft.6,000 BTU
300 to 350 sq. ft.8,000 BTU
350 to 400 sq. ft.9,000 BTU
400 to 450 sq. ft.10,000 BTU
450 to 550 sq. ft.12,000 BTU
550 to 700 sq. ft.14,000 BTU
700 to 1,000 sq. ft.18,000 BTU
1,000 to 1,200 sq. ft.21,000 BTU
1,200 to 1,400 sq. ft.23,000 BTU
1,400 to 1,500 sq. ft.24,000 BTU
Up to 2,700 sq. ft.36,000 BTU

3. AC Only or Heat Pump Included

This section is fairly straight forward.

Some mini split units provide air conditioning only while others include a heat pump to produce hot air as well.

If you’re going to invest in a ductless mini split unit or system, we suggest that you get one with a heat pump. The cost difference is not that much and it offers you substantial savings on energy in the long run.

The Best Ductless Air Conditioners

Now that you know you to choose the right size and number of zones for a ductless air conditioner, we can move onto our list of the best ductless AC systems.

To make things easy for you, we’ve started with a review of single zone mini splits and then worked our way up to six zone mini split AC systems.

You’ll find that there’s something for everybody here.

Every combination of square footage and the number of zones is represented on this list to match your individual needs and budget.

Disclosure: At Home Air Quality Guides, we believe in an education-first philosophy. We never make product recommendations until after we educate our readers on what to look for in the top-performing devices and then only suggest items that meet those specific criteria. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made through the links below. If you buy a qualifying product, you’re not charged a penny more, but we’ll get a small commission that supports our work. We hope you enjoy this free guide and find the best product for your needs through these recommendations.

Single Zone Ductless Air Conditioners

PIONEER WYS 19 Series1. PIONEER WYS 19 Series Mini Split

BTU Options: 9,000; 12,000; 18,000; 24,000; 36,000
Square Footage: 400 to 2,700 sq. ft.
Heat Pump: Yes

If you’re looking for the best ductless air conditioner for a single room, this is going to be your top choice.

PIONEER gives you the option of fine-tuning this mini split AC unit to meet your exact needs for space. Not only does this save you money on the initial purchase, but it also guarantees you won’t spend more on your electricity bill each month than you have to.

Another advantage of this appliance is that it’s an all-in-one air conditioning and heating system. You get perfect comfort all year long.

It includes an LED display of the desired temperature on the front panel, has a remote control, and automatic swinging louvers (air vents) to spread the conditioned air around more evenly.

Something else you may like is that there’s also a version with ceiling cassettes.

Ceiling cassettes are cooling evaporators that are mounted on the ceiling, not on the wall. If that appeals to you, then it may be worth the extra cost. If not, this wall-mounted version will do just fine.

See Amazon.com Reviews

MRCOOL DIY2. MRCOOL DIY Wi-Fi Mini Split

BTU Options: 12,000; 18,000; 24,0o00; 36,000
Square Footage: 550 to 2,700 sq. ft.
Heat Pump:
Yes

Perhaps you’re looking for the best mini split AC unit that’s easy to install and comes with Wi-Fi smart controls.

If that’s the case, then you’ll be more than happy with this product right here.

The MRCOOL DIY ductless system was designed with do-it-yourselfers in mind. No special tools, equipment, or training is required to get it up and running.

Just follow the included instructions and you’ll have personalized air conditioning and heat in just a few hours.

For smartphone users, the SmartHVAC app allows you to control the unit from any Apple or Android device. It’s also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice-activated control.

What more could you want in a single zone mini split AC system?

See Amazon.com Reviews

Multi-Zone Ductless Air Conditioners

PIONEER Dual Zone3. PIONEER 2 Zone Mini Split (18,000 to 24,000 BTU)

BTU Options: Mix and match 9,000 to 12,000
Square Footage: 800 to 1,1100 sq. ft.
Heat Pump:
Yes

If you liked the looks of our #1 best ductless mini split review above, then you’ll be happy to know that it also comes in a dual zone system.

What’s also great about this brand is that you can choose the combination for each indoor evaporator, including:

  • 9k + 9k
  • 9k + 12k
  • 12k + 12k

Those combinations give you the ability to chill two 400 sq. ft. rooms, two 550 sq. ft. rooms, or a variation between the two.

If this sounds like the ductless air conditioner you’ve been looking for, then you’ll just need to message the Amazon seller (HighSEER) after purchasing to select the BTU for each evaporator.

Using that special tip will you’ll get the best deal on this system.

See Amazon.com Reviews

Senville Tri Zone4. Senville 3 Zone Mini Split (36,000 BTU)

BTU Options: 12k + 12k + 12k
Square Footage: 550 sq. ft. per evaporator (or 1,650 sq. ft. in total)
Heat Pump:
 Yes

Do you have three larger rooms—or areas of the home—that you need to cool and heat?

If so, then this is the best mini split air conditioner system for you.

Each evaporator unit will cool or heat up to 550 sq. ft of space. That’s more than enough to cover most applications.

Senville also made this a very easy system to install. An experienced HVAC technician should be able to have it up and running in under three hours.

The LED temperature setting is easy to see on the front panel and individual remote controls allow you to personalize the cooling and heating comfort in each room.

The most attractive benefit, however, is the 7-year warranty on the outdoor compressor and 2-year warranty on parts.

See Amazon.com Reviews

Cooper and Hunter Tri Zone5. Cooper and Hunter 3 Zone Mini Split

BTU Options: Mix and match 9k to 24k
Square Footage: Varies, 400 sq. ft. minimum per evaporator (1,200 sq. ft. in total)
Heat Pump:
 Yes

If you want a three zone system but have rooms of varying sizes, then Cooper and Hunter make the best mini split AC system for you.

With this brand, you can mix and match the indoor evaporator units to meet each room size perfectly.

The number of options for each evaporator would be too many to list, but some examples include:

  • 9k + 9k + 9k
  • 9k + 12k + 18k
  • 12k + 12k + 18K
  • 18k + 18k + 24k
  • and more

If you want a comfortable home no matter what the outside temperature is, Cooper and Hunter is a great choice.

This system also has a better warranty than the previous Senville model—7 years on the compressor and 5 years on parts.

See Combinations & Reviews

Senville Quad Zone6. Senville 4 Zone Mini Split (36,000 BTU)

BTU Options: 9k + 9k + 9k + 9k
Square Footage: 400 sq. ft. per evaporator (1,600 sq. ft. in total)
Heat Pump: Yes

The best ductless AC system that comes in a four zone system for medium to large size rooms is this package right here.

It offers all of the same perks as our #4 review but gives you one extra room of coverage.

The BTU for each evaporator unit is a bit smaller at 9,000 BTUs; however, 400 sq. ft. of coverage per head is still a lot of space.

If convenience and affordability are what you’re after, then this Senville system is an excellent choice.

It’s also super quiet and you can barely hear it when it’s running unless you listen close.

See Amazon.com Reviews

Cooper and Hunter Quad Zone7. Cooper and Hunter 4 Zone Mini Split

BTU Options: Mix and match 9k to 24k
Square Footage: Varies, 400 sq. ft. minimum per evaporator (1,200 sq. ft. in total)
Heat Pump:
 Yes

Similar to our #5 review, Cooper and Hunter is the best brand that gives you the most flexible options for each evaporator unit.

If you want a four zone mini split AC system and need to mix and match the BTUs on the evaporators, this is the system you’ll want.

The combination of each unit is endless.

You can do 4 x 9K, 4 x 24k, or any other variation in between. This system can truly meet the needs for any size room: small to large.

Cooper and Hunter is also a name you can trust to keep you perfectly cool and warm during each season of the year.

See Combinations & Reviews

YMGI Five Zone8. YMGI 5 Zone Mini Split

BTU Options: Mix and match 9k to 24k for each evaporator
Square Footage: Varies, 400 sq. ft. minimum per evaporator (2,000 sq. ft. in total)
Heat Pump: Yes

Although YMGI may not be the most well-known brand among consumers, we assure you that the products they produce are of the highest quality.

In fact, this ductless AC system here comes with a Mitsubishi compressor which is one of the top-of-the-line components you can have.

What’s also nice about this system is that you can mix and match the indoor evaporator sizes to any combination you want.

Got 2 small rooms, 1 medium size room, and 2 larger areas to cover?

No problem.

YMGI has 9k to 24k evaporators that can cover anywhere between 400 to 1,500 sq. ft. each. Plus, if you want to go the extra step and install ceiling cassettes instead of the standard wall mount units, you can do that too.

As for comfort features, this package gives you:

  • Automatic swinging louvers (air vents)
  • Wide-angle air distribution
  • Automatic restart during power outages
  • Super quiet operation
  • 5 individual remotes
  • and more

If you need a large ductless air conditioning system that can generate the right amount of cooling and heating for an entire house, this is it.

See Combinations & Reviews

PIONEER WYS 19 Series9. Daikin 6 Zone Mini Split

BTU Options: Mix and match 7k to 24k for each evaporator
Square Footage: Varies, 300 sq. ft. minimum per evaporator (1,800 sq. ft. in total)
Heat Pump:
Yes

Six zones are the maximum number of units you can run off of one mini split AC compressor.

If you want to keep costs affordable and spread the air conditioning and heating around to many rooms of your home, then a six zone system like this is going to be your best bet.

It’s much better than buying two 3 zone systems or combing separate 2 zone and 4 zone packages just to get the coverage you need.

With this Daikin 6 zone deal, you get more than 1,000 evaporator combinations along with options for wall mount units, slim duct units, and ceiling cassettes.

The choice is yours on how you want to set up this ductless system, but what makes this the best mini split air conditioner you can buy today is the fact that it comes with a 12-year warranty on parts. No other brand can compete with that.

See Combinations & Reviews


Additional Information

Advantages of a Ductless Mini Split AC Unit

Now that you know what a ductless mini split air conditioner is and how it works, here are the main benefits to buying one of these systems:

  • Quick to install. Only takes about 3 to 10 hours for installation depending on the number of evaporators you use.
  • Can be a DIY project. While a licensed and qualified HVAC technician is always recommended for installation, some people who have electrical and carpentry knowledge have been successful in installing their own units.
  • Most efficient AC system. In a typical house, 20 to 30% of cooling and heating is lost through the ductwork. No loss occurs in a ductless mini split system, which lowers your energy consumption and electric bill.
  • Easy to upgrade. If you have a multi-zone system, an additional evaporator can be installed in another room at any time. Most units can handle up to six cooling evaporators.
  • Doubles as a heater. Some ductless air conditioners also include a heat pump. This allows the unit to double as a heater for keeping your warm during the winter.
  • Filtered air. Ductless air conditioners use an air filter to keep the internal parts from getting dirty. This also creates cleaner air for you to breathe. As indoor air is recycled, the fresher the air becomes.
  • Unobtrusive. Alternative air conditioning solutions, like window units and portable AC units, take up window and floor space. The best ductless AC systems can be installed on any wall or ceiling which keeps them of your way.
  • Quiet. Ductless AC units are much quieter than the competition because the compressor is located outside and there’s no need to push air through ductwork.
  • Best alternative to central AC. Compared to any other type of air conditioning system, mini split air conditioners are the closest thing to matching the conveniences of a central air conditioning system.

Ceiling Cassettes vs Wall Mount Evaporators

You have two options when it comes to installing your mini split air conditioner evaporator: as a wall-mounted unit or a ceiling cassette.

The standard method is to use a wall mount for the indoor cooling evaporator because it’s the easiest to install. All you do is hang the unit with a supporting bracket and you’re done. The only disadvantage here is that the unit takes up wall space and you can easily see it.

The other method is to use a ceiling cassette where the cooling evaporator is mounted on the ceiling. This is a more time-consuming installation process because you need to cut a hole in the ceiling for the unit to be placed in. The upside here is that the unit doesn’t take up wall space and is positioned out of sight.

Common Applications for Mini Spit Air Conditioners

Ductless mini split systems are installed and used for a variety of reasons. Here are the most common:

  • Older houses that don’t have central air conditioning or the physical space to add in the ductwork.
  • Homes where central air conditioning is expensive to run and supplemental AC and heat are needed to offset high energy costs.
  • Homes where the current heating system is costly to run (e.g. baseboard, wall heaters, electric radiant) and a more economical system is desired.
  • Additions or external buildings (e.g. sheds, barns, workshops, garages) where adding a central HVAC system, window air conditioner, or portable AC unit is not possible.
  • Spot cooling and heating specific rooms of the house (e.g. sunroom, den, bedroom, basement).

Energy Rebates

Some local utility companies will give you a monetary rebate for installing a mini split system in your home. You can earn up to $1,000 per system, depending on what type of current air conditioning system is being replaced.

The reason you may be rewarded for having a ductless air conditioner installed is that these systems can reduce energy use by 30% for cooling and 60% for heating when compared to conventional systems.

Best Mini Split Air Conditioner Brands

Buying a high-quality ductless mini split air conditioner is always important. Especially when you’re making a large investment of money and time to have it installed.

To ensure you get the most value out of your new air conditioner, here’s a list of the best ductless mini split brands you can trust:

Cooper and Hunter

This brand has been around for more than 20 years and is a leading player in the air conditioning and ventilation market. Cooper and Hunter export products to more than 30 countries and regions around the world. We consider this to be one of the best mini split brands for three and four zone systems.

Friedrich

This company has been producing air conditioning equipment for more than 130 years. In fact, you won’t find their name on any other type of product. Air conditioners are the sole focus of this company. They don’t manufacture toasters, lightbulbs, televisions, or other household appliances. So, you can trust that any mini split air conditioner you buy from them is superb quality.

Mitsubishi Electric

For more than 30 years, the Cooling & Heating Division of Mitsubishi Electric has been developing advanced climate control systems for customers worldwide. This company prides itself on delivering ductless AC systems that provide personalized comfort while also conserving energy and promoting environmental sustainability.

MRCOOL

This brand is only a few years old but they’re making a serious impact on the ductless mini split market. Their products are cutting edge and modern. Plus, there one of the only companies that produce an easy-to-install DIY ductless AC system that includes smart Wi-Fi capabilities. We consider them to be the best ductless air conditioner brand for do-it-yourselfers.

Pioneer

This brand is managed by Parker Davis HVAC Systems, Inc., which is one of the world’s most renowned manufacturers and suppliers of environmental control apparatuses. What makes this company’s products so affordable is that they offer direct factory level pricing to the general public. You can’t get much better than that, which is why we recommend Pioneer as the best mini split air conditioner for single and dual zone systems.

Senville

This company is another leading manufacturer of mini split AC systems. You can’t buy them directly, but only through a distributor. While ductless AC is their main passion, this company also sells a few portable air conditioner models. If you want to go with one of the best mini split brands that offer convenience and easy installation, this is a good choice.

YMGI

Your Modern Green Idea (YMGI) has been manufacturing HVAC technologies for more than 15 years. Their mission is to deliver high-quality products that create harmony between people and their indoor environments. With YMGI, you get top-notch components on your ductless mini split system, including a Mitsubishi compressor. We consider this to be the best ductless air conditioner brand for a five zone system.

Enjoy Your New Ductless Mini Split AC

We hope you found this guide on how to find the best ductless mini split AC system for your home useful.

When it comes to choosing the best mini split AC unit for your needs, it really just comes down to the number of zones you need to cover and the square footage of each room.

Once you figure those two things out, you easily shop for a ductless AC package that meets your needs and budget.

Hopefully, the information on this page answered all of your questions about these special air conditioning devices.