Are you interested in buying a ductless mini split air conditioning system for your home but want to know the total ductless air conditioner cost before setting it up?
If you want to add air conditioning to your home without the expense of installing ductwork, a mini split air conditioner is a cost-effective solution that has many benefits over other low-cost options, such as a window AC or wall unit.
In this guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at several ductless mini split cost variables, including:
- Purchase price
- Installation costs
- Monthly mini split electric bill costs
It’s important to note that you should consider the total mini split cost breakdown before deciding on a particular brand or size for the system, since there are many factors that can affect the ultimate price you pay.
Ductless Mini Split Buying Guide
If after reading this article, you find that you do want to invest in a ductless mini split air conditioner, we encourage you to check out our best ductless mini split buyer’s guide.
That page goes over everything you need to know to make the right purchase for your needs.
How Much Does a Ductless Air Conditioner Cost?
The first question we need to answer is, “how much does ductless air conditioning cost to purchase?”
And this boils down to two things:
- The number of indoor units you have (i.e. a single or multi-zone system)
- The BTU number of those units (i.e. cooling capacity)
Single or Multi-Zone Systems
One of the joys of ductless air conditioning is that you can order a system that meets your exact needs.
A single-zone mini split air conditioner includes one indoor unit (called an evaporator) and it’s designed to cool down one room or area in your home.
A multi-zone mini split air conditioner system can include up to six indoor units and is designed to cool down multiple rooms and areas of your home.
Also with a multi-zone system, you can control each indoor evaporator separately so that individualized cooling is achieved.
BTU Cooling Capacity
One of the biggest factors affecting the purchase price of a ductless air conditioning system is its cooling capacity.
A unit’s cooling capacity can be determined by looking at the device’s British Thermal Unit (BTU) number.
The BTU will give you an indication of the size of the space that the unit can effectively cool down. The higher the BTU number, the more expensive the system will be.
To get an idea of how the BTU number relates to the cooling capacity of a mini split air conditioner in terms of room size in square feet, here’s a sample chart:
- 6,000 BTU (150-250 sq. ft.)
- 8,000 BTU (300-350 sq. ft.)
- 10,000 BTU (400-450 sq. ft.)
- 12,000 BTU (450-550 sq. ft.)
- 14,000 BTU (550-700 sq. ft.)
- 18,000 BTU (700-1,0o00 sq. ft.)
- 21,000 BTU (1,000-1,200 sq. ft.)
- 23,000 BTU (1,200-1,400 sq. ft.)
- 24,000 BTU (1,400-1,500 sq. ft.)
Another factor affecting ductless mini split cost is its energy efficiency.
To determine a system’s energy efficiency, you should look for its Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) as well as the ENERGY STAR label.
SEER is a well-known energy efficiency rating for air conditioners developed by theU.S. Department of Energy.
Earning the ENERGY STAR label also means the AC unit meets the energy efficiency guidelines as set out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Initial Cost for a Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner
Depending on the system’s cooling capacity, energy efficiency, features, and brand, you can expect to pay around these amounts:
- $700 to $1,200 for a single-zone ductless mini split unit
- $1,100 to $1,700 for a dual-zone system
- $1,500 to $2,700 for a tri-zone system
- $2,500 to $4,500 for a quad-zone system
- $4,000 to $5,000 for a five-zone system
- $5,000 to $8,000 for a six-zone system
What is the Average Cost to Install Mini Split System?
Before we get to the exact numbers, realize that there are several variables that go into the ductless air conditioner cost of installation:
- The complexity of the installation — Typically, your hired contractor will need to prepare an area for the outdoor unit, cut a small hole in your exterior wall, run the electrical and refrigeration lines, and affix the indoor unit to your wall or ceiling. These are standard tasks. But, other factors such as the difficulty of the unit placement, how far away the condenser box is from the indoor evaporator, and the need to remove an already existing cooling system, can affect the labor expense, and thus increase your mini split cost of installation.
- The number of units needing installation — The total cost of a ductless air conditioner installation will largely depend on the number of individual ductless AC units you need installed. Multi-zone systems are also generally more expensive to install than single zone systems.
- The supplies that are needed — Extensive tubing and insulation, as well as the number and types of brackets being used can all add to the installation cost.
- Where you live — The ductless mini split cost of installation will vary depending on the state or region you live in.
With all of that being said, what is the average cost to install mini split system?
Depending on the amount of time it takes to install the unit and the number of evaporators being installed with it, labor can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,500, with the average cost being around $500.
Systems with complex installations and multiple zoning units can cost you more than $2,000.
If you require any extra materials, such as electrical components, tubing and insulation then expect to spend at least another $40 to $50.
To give you a point of reference, the average cost for a ductless air conditioning system installation for a 2,000 square foot home would be approximately $3,000 to $7,000.
Calculating the Monthly Mini Split Cost to Run
How high your mini split electric bill will be each month depends on the size of your home, the number of evaporators you install, the energy efficiency of your ductless AC units, and how often you use them.
To figure out how much each indoor ductless air conditioner evaporator will cost you to operate, you’ll need two things:
- The wattage for each indoor ductless evaporator
- Your local kilowatt-per-hour (kWH) price for electricity (found on your electric bill)
Once you have those things in hand, you can use online calculators to figure out how much it will cost you per hour to run each indoor evaporator unit.
Determining the Watts
Some mini split air conditioners include the wattage on their technical specifications.
If you can find it, great, move onto the next step.
If not, here’s how to convert the BTU number into watts.
- Using this BTU to Watts calculator, type in the BTU number for the indoor evaporator and click the convert button to find the equivalent wattage.
- If you’re considering a multi-zone unit, perform the previous step for each size evaporator.
Converting Watts to Cost Per Hour
After you have the wattage number for each evaporator, you need to find out what you’re paying per kilowatt hour for electricity (you can find this number on your electric bill).
Using this online calculator, type in the wattage number and kWh number into the appropriate fields. Change the “Hours Used Per Day” field to 1. Click “calculate” and you’ll see the average cost per hour displayed for operating the ductless evaporator.
To make things easy for you, we’ve performed some of these calculations for you below.
BTU to Average Cost Per Hour Chart
Note: This chart is based on the national average of 0.13 cents per kWh. Your local area electricity charges may differ. SEER is not taken into consideration here. Mini split units with higher SEER values will be cheaper to operate.
|Evaporator BTU||Wattage||kWH Price||Cost Per Hour|
|6,000 BTU||1,758 W||0.13||$0.23|
|8,000 BTU||2,344 W||0.13||$0.30|
|10,000 BTU||2,930 W||0.13||$0.31|
|12,000 BTU||3,516 W||0.13||$0.46|
|14,000 BTU||4,102 W||0.13||$0.53|
|18,000 BTU||5,725 W||0.13||$0.74|
|21,000 BTU||6,154 W||0.13||$0.80|
|23,000 BTU||6,740 W||0.13||$0.88|
|24,000 BTU||7,033 W||0.13||$0.91|
You can lower the cost of running a mini split air conditioner even more by improving your home’s insulation, sealing leaky doors and windows, and adding a low-emissivity film to your window panes.
Simple upgrades like those can conserve energy and allow your ductless air conditioner to work less to cool your house. The result will be a lower electric bill.
Multi-Zone Mini Split Costs
Keep in mind when you buy a multi-zone ductless system, it will come with a total BTU number, like 43,000. But, each individual unit will have a separate, smaller BTU number.
For example, three indoor evaporators on a 43,000 BTU system could include 9,000, 10,000 and 24,000 BTUs respectively.
You shouldn’t do the calculation for 43,000 BTUs and the wattage because all three units won’t be running at the same time each day.
The total average cost per month should be calculated for each separate unit depending on average hours used and then added together.
Summary for Ductless Mini Split Cost
As you discovered, there are a number of ductless air conditioner cost considerations that can affect how much you pay for this type of system.
Those include things like the initial purchase price, the cost of installation, and the monthly cost to operate the indoor units.
In general, the total ductless mini split cost is going to be higher than other systems like a window air conditioner, but a lot less than a central air conditioning system.
Now that you’re aware of the major mini split cost factors, be sure to check out our best ductless mini split buyer’s guide. That page goes over everything you should consider before making a purchase and offers recommendations on single and multi-zone units.
We hope this guide helped answer your questions about mini split air conditioner costs.