The best mini split AC system is one that is the right size for your space, delivers durable performance and, if you want to install it, is pre-charged with refrigerant and DIY-friendly.
The brands that make the best mini split AC systems are Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, Daikin, Greer, Carrier/Toshiba, and if you want to DIY, MrCool and Klimaire.
Quick Clarification: We get asked to explain a mini split AC vs mini split heat pump system.
Almost all mini split systems are heat pumps. They remove heat for AC, and they bring in heat from outside for heating.
Yes, there are a few AC-only mini split systems, but if you shop for AC-only models to the exclusion of heat pumps, you’re limiting your choice and possibly the quality of your options.
We do recommend, when they meet our quality standards, a few AC-only models. Most are heat pumps.
What’s On this Page
Use the Table of Contents to find sections that answer your mini split AC questions or jump down to our recommendations for the best mini split AC systems.
There are links to the top mini split AC models and sizes below, so if you’re ready to purchase a unit, we’ve selected the highest rated mini split systems for you to consider.
Mini Split Types
This section defines the common ductless system types for a better understanding of the type that will best serve your purposes. To do that, several mini split system types are compared with one another.
Terminology tip: Ductless = Mini split – Generally the terms ductless and mini split are synonymous. Yes, there’s a type of mini split indoor unit designed to be installed inside a duct, so it isn’t visible. But these systems are not ducted like standard split systems.
The terms are used synonymously here.
OK – here are common mini split types and differences to consider.
Mini Split AC vs Mini Split Heat Pump
This difference was covered above. ACs remove heat only, that is, they cool the air. Heat pumps have a reversing function that changes the flow of refrigerant, so that heat is gathered outside and dispersed indoors for heating.
DIY Mini Split vs Mini Split Requiring Pro Installation
The DIY pre-charged mini split vs installed by a professional system is an intriguing difference for handy homeowners.
MrCool and Klimaire are the top brands for DIY mini split systems. There are dozens of brands that require pro-installation.
What is a DIY mini split?
1). It is pre-charged with refrigerant, including the lines.
2). As a result, there’s no need for the services of an HVAC technician with a refrigerant license – which is required for charging AC and heat pump systems when necessary.
These facts mean that you can install a mini split AC or heat pump without hiring a pro – and you can save the installation labor cost of $750 to $2,000 or more.
Single Zone Mini Split vs Multi Zone Mini Split
It’s pretty much what it says. There’s an indoor unit for each zone.
Single-zone systems range from 6,000 to 36,000 BTU.
Multi zone (2 zone, 3 zone, 4 zone) aka multi-zone systems can be more than 60,000 BTU, but most top out at 48,000. There are a few 2-4 zone DIY mini splits available. But for 5-8 zones mini split, you need to ask a pro to install it due to more professional accessories(like branchbox) are needed.
Terminology tip: You’ll see these easy-to-understand terms when discussing multi zone mini split systems:
- Dual zone: 2 indoor units
- Tri zone or triple zone: 4 indoor units
- Quad zone: 4 indoor units
Buying tip: For spaces needing more than 48,000 BTU of AC power, we recommend, as do most HVAC technicians, that you install more than one outside unit.
If, for example, you need 60,000 BTU, consider a 36,000 BTU system for the living areas – or the first floor – and a 24,000 BTU system for the living areas or upper floor. A sharp mini split technician can help you design the “perfect” system for your home’s layout or other space you want to cool.
Get advice today from some of the top mini split contractors in your area. There is no obligation to hire them – just get answers to your questions.
Wall Mounted vs Floor Mounted vs Ceiling Cassette vs Hidden Ductless Mini Split
Those are your options for indoor units. Each has its pros and cons.
This is the most popular option. In fact, most systems make it your only option. This is especially true for DIY mini split systems.
The advantages are that wall mounted indoor units cost less than the other choices – both for the unit and for installation. And they do a decent job distributing air to the zone. Because cool air sinks, a wall mounted unit is better for AC than for heating.
The downside comes when you use a single wall mounted indoor unit to cool or heat a very large zone. Sure, the indoor unit might be rated for that size, but it also might not get treated air to the furthest reaches.
Buying tip: If you’ve got more than 600 square feet to cool or heat, consider a dual zone system with an indoor wall mounted unit at each side or end. Yes, it will cost more. But what’s the good of saving money on your mini split system if it doesn’t create the indoor climate you want?
These units are installed on the wall near the floor or onto the floor. They are similar to wall mounted units in design.
The advantages are that they are fairly affordable compared with ceiling cassettes, both for the unit and installation. And they are best for heating, since heat naturally rises.
The downside is taking up space that might be valuable within the room.
These units are located in the middle of a room, recessed into the ceiling usually between ceiling joists.
The key advantage of a ceiling cassette is that it is centrally located in the zone, so cooled or heated air is most evenly distributed.
They are low-profile too.
Higher cost is the main disadvantage. The units cost more because they are complex in design. And installation is more invasive than if you install a wall or floor unit against an outside wall. You’ll pay more for the labor too – and currently there are no DIY ceiling units.
Hidden in Duct
If you don’t want a large unit mounted high on your wall or near the floor, a concealed duct mini split is an option.
The indoor unit is installed inside existing ductwork, so they are ideal for existing homes.
The advantage is that you don’t see them.
The disadvantage of a concealed duct mini split system is that they don’t distribute the air as well as your other options. We recommend using a multi zone system for the space, so that you’ll have indoor units in at least two locations for better airflow.
Terminology tip: Indoor units are also called evaporator units. Within the coils inside them, refrigerant evaporates and collects heat in the process. The refrigerant can then carry it outside to disperse it. Less heat means cooler air indoors.
Also, concealed duct mini split indoor units are sometimes called ducted units because that is where they are located, not because they employ a ducted air distribution system.
Inverter vs Non-inverter Mini Split
All mini split systems employ inverter compressors.
Most standard split system ACs have non-inverter compressors, though units with inverter technology are becoming more popular.
Inverter: The compressor speed varies. The faster it runs, the more heat is removed and the cooler the air that is produced. The classic example is cruise control – set the speed you want to travel, and the engine will run faster (uphill, for example) or slower (level/downhill) to keep you going your preferred speed.
With an inverter mini split, set your thermostat where you want the temperature to remain. The compressor will run faster to “catch up” or when the outside temperature rises. It will slow down when not as much AC is needed to keep the air cool.
The result is a steady indoor temperature and optimized climate control. And inverter compressors use energy more efficiently, so SEER ratings are generally higher.
Non-inverter: Most of these compressors run at one or two speeds. Known as single-stage or 1-stage and two-stage or 2-stage, they have limited ability to adjust. As a result, indoor temperature fluctuates a little bit. And in AC mode, they don’t remove as much clammy humidity as an inverter-driven AC.
110v/120v vs 220v Mini Split
The difference, obviously, is about the voltage needed to run the system and the type of plug used.
Mini splits up to 12,000 BTU use a 110v/115v circuit and plug. Some use 120 volts, but the same circuit and plug can be used.
Mini splits with capacity of 18,000 BTU and larger require a 220v circuit and plug, aka outlet. Some have specific electrical requirements of 208 or 230 volts. The 220 and 230 volt setups are single-phase residential units, for the most part. A 208v requirement usually indicates a 3-phase commercial installation. They all use a 220/240v plug.
What Size Mini Split Do I Need?
This is an important consideration for reasons related to effective cooling (and heating, if you choose a heat pump) and the mechanical durability of the system you choose.
If you’re in a hurry and want an immediate answer to the question – what size mini split do I need? – then this chart is the “quick answer.”
It is followed by our exclusive BTU calculator and a chart showing recommended BTU needed for each common room type – bedroom, living room, kitchen, etc.
What size mini split do I need:
|Mini Split Tonnage Size||Mini Split Btu Size||Cooling Room Size (sq Ft)|
|0.75 Ton||9,000 Btu||450 Sq Ft|
|1 Ton||12,000 Btu||600 Sq Ft|
|1.5 Ton||18,000 Btu||900 Sq Ft|
|2 Ton||24,000 Btu||1,200 Sq Ft|
|2.5 Ton||30,000 Btu||1,500 Sq Ft|
|3 Ton||36,000 Btu||1,800 Sq Ft|
|3.5 Ton||42,000 Btu||2,100 Sq Ft|
|4 Ton||48,000 Btu||2,400 Sq Ft|
|5 Ton||60,000 Btu||3,000 Sq Ft|
For results that are even more precise, check out the highly accurate Mini Split BTU Calculator we developed for our readers.
Enter a few bits of key information about your climate and home, and the Mini Split Size Calculator will tell you the optimal size required for efficient and effective air conditioning and heating. Our calculator is precise and highly useful.
Mini Split BTU Size for Room Types
This table gives recommendations for what size mini split for basement use – or bathroom, kitchen, garage, grow room, sunroom, attic, etc. It is our AC BTU per square foot chart.
Btus per square foot for room types:
|Room Type||Btu Needed Per Square Foot|
|Bedroom||17 Btu per sq ft|
|Living Room||18 Btu per sq ft|
|Bathroom||20 Btu per sq ft|
|Basement||22 Btu per sq ft|
|Garage||23 Btu per sq ft|
|Kitchen||25 Btu per sq ft|
Small Room, Bedroom and Living Room: Pretty much the same AC needs. If the living room is often occupied by 3 or 4 people, think about 20-22 BTU per square foot.
Bathroom and basement: The main reason for more BTUs in these locations is humidity. A larger mini split will remove more humidity to make the air comfortable and hinder mold growth.
Garage and Kitchen: Garages tend to be poorly insulated, so they get very hot or cold depending on the season. So, more BTUs can help. And cooking in the kitchen raises both heat and humidity, so more AC BTU per square foot is welcomed.
Mobile Rooms and RVs: Compared with traditional RV air conditioner, mini split is a more efficient and quieter option.
What Seer (Energy Efficient Level) Should I Choose
Should you choose the highest SEER AC even if it costs more? Not always. In a cool climate, it might not be worth the extra cost of the equipment.
When is a high SEER AC a good investment? When you live in a warm climate and want to keep energy costs under control.
Annual Electricity Cost and Savings by SEER Table
The cost savings for high SEER ACs are based on average annual AC use of 1320 hours and the US average cost of electricity.
Annual electricity cost and savings by seer
|Energy Efficiency||Annual Electricity Cost||Cost Saving
(Compare With 16 Seer)
* Electricity cost is based on 1 Ton (12,000 Btu) Mini Split AC, Electric Rate: 13.85 ¢/kWh, Cooling Hours: 1320 hrs/yr. We highly recommend using our Mini Split SEER Savings Calcualtor to get a more accurate savings for your mini split.
Example 1: How much can I save with a 20 SEER AC?
You’ll save 20% compared to a 16 SEER AC. If your annual energy bill for air conditioning is $800, you’ll save about $160 with the high SEER unit.
Example 2: How much can I save with the highest SEER AC?
On our table, the highest SEER is 42, but there are few mini split units that efficient. Fujitsu Halcyon mini split air conditioners offer 38 SEER, which is the highest SEER from that brand.
Using the table, you’ll see that you can save around 60% on your energy costs using the highest SEER ACs.
Example 3: How much can I save using a 38 SEER vs 20 SEER unit?
While not exact, you can subtract 20% for the 20 SEER AC from 58% for the high SEER unit to get 38%.
Your potential savings with a high SEER mini split air conditioner are illustrated in this graph.
Best Mini Split AC Brands for DIY (Single Zone)
The best DIY real mini split AC brands are MrCool and Klimaire.
Now, here’s another bit of important information: The only DIY mini split brands are MrCool and Klimaire. There are no others. That’s likely to change, but for now, that’s the truth.
Is that really true? That’s not what other sites say!
We know you can find lists of the “Best DIY Mini Split ACs” other places that have brands like Pioneer, Daikin, Senville and others. Those sites are mistaken – or worse. Unsuspecting consumers buy a mini split off those sites only to find they need to hire a pro for installation – or send it back. What a hassle – or a huge expense! At Pick HVAC, that’s not how we treat our readers. All the DIY mini split AC and heat pump models we recommend are truly do-it-yourself.
The number of DIY mini split brands is sure to grow based on the success especially of MrCool.
MrCool vs Klimaire
Quality: Consumer ratings are slightly higher for MrCool, and we agree that this brand is a little better. Our ratings:
- MrCool: 9 out of 10
- Klimaire: 8.5 out of 10
Efficiency: MrCool ACs are a few SEER points higher. If you compare the 18,000 BTU ACs below, it is 20 SEER for MrCool vs Klimaire at 18 SEER, a difference of about 10%.
Cost: You’ll pay a bit less for a Klimaire model comparable to a MrCool model. Compare 12,000 BTU units and 36,000 BTU units below, for example.
Best DIY Mini Split AC Brands – MrCool
Here are the best mini split AC models from MrCool. They are all AC heat pumps, so you get heating with them too.
Instead of repeating these advantages and features for each MrCool DIY AC heat pump, here is one list that covers them all.
- True DIY installation with pre-charged 25-foot lines
- Energy Star efficiency in 12K, 18K and 24K BTU models. Note – to choose the 24K BTU MrCool, select the link under the 12,000 BTU option, and you’ll have a chance to pick the size you prefer.
- Follow Me remote – The AC will run until the air at the remote is the right temperature, not just the air right near the indoor unit.
- Smart Kit included – MrCool 3rd Generation DIY AC heat pumps work with Alexa and Google Assistant, and you can control them from anywhere using your Android or Apple device and the MrCool SmartHVAC app.
- Sleep Mode saves energy by adjusting the temperature a few degrees.
- Leak detection: The unit will shut down to protect the compressor if the refrigerant level drops, indicating a leak.
- Wall-mounted into units only – common for all DIY mini split AC heat pumps.
- Warranty: 7-year compressor warranty and 5-year warranty on all other functional parts.
MrCool 12,000 BTU 3rd Generation DIY 22 SEER AC Heat Pump
- 12,000 BTU heating and AC
- Covers 500 square feet
- 22 SEER AC efficiency
- 10 HSPF heating efficiency
- 120V circuit / plug
MrCool 18,000 BTU 3rd Generation DIY 20 SEER AC Heat Pump
- 18,000 BTU heating and AC
- Covers 750 square feet
- 20 SEER AC efficiency
- 10 HSPF heating efficiency
- 220V circuit / plug
MrCool 36,000 BTU 3rd Generation DIY 16 SEER AC Heat Pump
- 36,000 BTU heating and AC
- Covers 1,200-1,500 square feet
- 16 SEER AC efficiency
- 8.9 HSPF heating efficiency
- 220V circuit / plug
Best DIY Mini Split AC Brands – Klimaire
Here are features for the Klimaire mini split AC heat pump models. Again, there are a few specifics under each product.
- Easy DIY installation with 25-foot refrigerant lines that are pre-charged.
- WiFi – Monitor and control the unit with your smart device and the Klimaire app.
- Dry Mode – Dehumidifies the space without heating or cooling it, ideal for humid days with a comfortable temperature.
- Turbo Mode – Cools and heats quickly.
- I Feel remote – Like the Follow Me remote MrCool uses. The remote has a sensor, and you can turn it on to be sure the air near the sensor is comfortable.
- Wall mount indoor units
- Warranty: 7-year compressor and 5-year parts warranties, the same lengths as the MrCool warranties.
Klimaire DIY 12,000 BTU 20 SEER Mini Split AC Heat Pump
- 12,000 BTU heating and AC
- Covers about 500 square feet
- 20 SEER AC efficiency
- 10 HSPF heating efficiency
- 115V circuit / plug
Klimaire DIY 18,000 BTU 19 SEER Mini Split AC Heat Pump
- 18,000 BTU heating and AC
- Covers around 1,000 square feet
- 19 SEER AC efficiency
- 10 HSPF heating efficiency
- 208/230V circuit / plug
Klimaire DIY 24,000 BTU 18 SEER Mini Split AC Heat Pump
- 24,000 BTU heating and AC
- Covers 1,250-1,500 square feet
- 18 SEER AC efficiency
- 10 HSPF heating efficiency
- 208/230V circuit / plug
Choosing Klimaire vs MrCool
Klimaire is a slightly more affordable alternative to MrCool mini split ACs. Its models are heat pumps too, so you get heating and cooling.
The quality of MrCool AC heat pumps is slightly higher than Klimaire, but installation has a lot to do with how well a unit runs. Take your time with installation for either brand to be sure you get it right.
Quick recommendation, MrCool vs Klimaire: If you plan to live “forever” where you are going to install the mini split AC, then the advantage goes to MrCool.
When moving in 3-7 years is an option, then saving money with Klimaire can make sense.
Best Mini Split Brands For Installation By Pros
Here are mini split air conditioning and heat pump brands to consider when you plan to hire professional installation.
LG is a huge appliance manufacturer, but it doesn’t overlook its mini split products. SEER ratings from about 17 to 28 for its various models give you options.
Mini split systems: You’ve got lots of model and indoor unit options with LG mini split AC heat pumps. LG mini split systems are produced in single-zone and multizone systems up to 5 zones.
LG Multi F and Multi F Max are excellent systems for extreme weather.
Price: Prices for equipment start below $1,000 for a small, single-zone mini split. Most homeowners pay around $8,500 for a whole-house, multizone system, but top prices are above $14,000.
This brand has a proven track record of high quality. SEER ratings as high as 30+ give you excellent efficiency, and choose the model and indoor units you prefer for single-zone or multizone installations.
Mini split systems: The Mitsubishi MXZ Series is a top seller with a good SEER rating of 19 and 10 HSPF, about average. Systems for most Mitsubishi mini splits range from single-zone 9,000 BTU to multizone (up to 8 zones) systems and 48,000 to 60,000 BTU.
Prices: Installed cost ranges from $3,700 to $17,000, and sometimes a little more.
Daikin is credited with developing inverter compressor technology decades ago. Its mini split air conditioners and heat pumps boast good quality, lots of features, many configuration options and SEER ratings up to around 30.
Mini split systems: Daikin makes several top-selling mini split series, but the Aurora is the best of them all. Available in 1-4 zones, the Daikin Aurora offers about 22 SEER cooling and 12.5 HSPF heating. Choose from wall, floor, ceiling and concealed duct indoor units.
Prices: $3,900 to $12,000.
This brand, aka Fujitsu General, makes some of the most efficient mini split ACs available today with a top SEER in the mid-30s.
Mini split systems: If your climate is super cold, consider a Fujitsu Halcyon with XLTH technology. It heats in outdoor temperature as low as -15F. With 33 SEER, it is one of the most efficient mini split heat pumps too.
Cost: Single-zone systems installed start at about $4,100. Large, multizone mini split heat pump systems can cost $15,000. The average cost of an installed dual zone Fujitsu mini split system is around $7,000.
Gree makes efficient mini split AC heat pumps known to work in extreme weather conditions. For example, the Gree Sapphire has a 38 SEER rating, and it is 90% effective heating in outside temperatures below zero / 0-degrees F.
Mini split systems: Gree makes a nice range of systems in basic, better and best options. The Livo/Livo+ mini split systems are affordable with decent efficiency. Vireo/Vireo+ systems are midlevel systems with efficiency levels around 22 -23 SEER. Greer Crown and Sapphire are among the most efficient and effective single-zone and multizone heat pumps available.
Cost: You can get a basic Gree system installed for $2,700. A large 4-zone system costs around $10,000.
Other Notable Mini Split Brands
- Carrier/Bryant (Toshiba)
- Cooper And Hunter
Mini Split Installation Cost
Here are common mini split installation costs for the labor. Total cost of installation:
- Single-zone system: $2,900 – $3,700
- Dual zone system: $5,000 – $7,000
- 3 zone system: $7,000 – $11,000
- 4 zone system: $11,000 – $15,000
The installation cost include the electrical wiring and discounnect/breaker installation.
Cost per indoor unit tends to drop a little as the number of units rises. Wall mounted and floor mounted indoor units are the easiest to install, so labor costs for them are lower than for ceiling mounted and duct concealed units.
Mini Split Pros And Cons
There are good reasons that mini split AC and heat pump systems are the fastest-growing niche in the air conditioning and heating industry and are the preferred choice in much of the world.
Here are the reasons to consider a mini split and a few cautions.
- Most are more efficient than standard split systems
- Each indoor unit has its own thermostat, so you can independently control the climate in each zone
- They don’t require ductwork and it’s cost, so are ideal for additions and new construction
- A mini split is an excellent source of supplemental AC and heating in parts of a home or building not adequately served by a central system
- Cold climate heat pumps like those that can bring heat into your home in sub-freezing temperatures make a mini split a good choice in almost any climate
- Installation cost and total system cost will exceed the cost of conventional split system installation when you install 3, 4 or more indoor units
- While a few mini split systems are designed for sub-zero weather, most can’t effectively heat in extreme cold
- Wall mounted and floor mounted indoor units are visible and take up space
How many rooms can a mini split cool?
One room or zone per indoor unit is the standard way to configure a mini split system.
Who makes the best mini split system?
The best DIY mini split brand is MrCool. Klimaire is quite good too and a little more affordable.
The best mini split systems that require professional installation to charge them with refrigerant are Mitsubishi, Daikin, LG and Gree.
What is the difference between ductless and mini split?
Nothing. Mini split systems do not require ductwork, so they are also known as ductless systems. You might see the term ducted mini split, but this means that the inside unit is concealed inside ductwork that is already there. It’s an option for existing homes when you want to hide the indoor unit.
How long do mini split systems last?
When you choose a good brand and follow suggested maintenance, it will last 15-20 years and possibly longer.
What is the smallest mini split air conditioner?
You can find a few 6,000 BTU mini split ACs from Mitsubishi and others. For most brands, the smallest mini split air conditioner they make is 9,000 BTU, which is .75 tons.
What is a good seer rating for a mini split?
A good SEER rating for a mini split can be anywhere from 17 to 30 or higher. The best SEER rating is one that is right for your climate.
1-The higher the SEER rating, the more expensive the unit, in general
2-The higher cost is worth it in a very warm climate where you will be quickly “paid back” for the extra spent on the efficient mini split. Where the AC season is long and hot, 24 or higher SEER is a good SEER rating.
But in a mild or cool climate, where you don’t use AC every day, it doesn’t make sense to pay to get the highest SEER possible. A good SEER rating for a mini split in these climates is 17 to 22.
What is the highest seer mini split?
42 SEER is the highest SEER rating. You’ll find it on Carrier, Bryant and Payne, which are all Carrier brands. The equipment is produced by Toshiba.
What is a ducted mini split?
There are two answers.
A true ducted mini split includes an indoor unit installed in the attic with up to 3 ducts running off it – but only a short distance.
Concealed duct mini splits, where the indoor unit is installed inside existing ductwork to hide it are also often called ducted mini split systems.
What is better: mini split or central AC?
If you have ductwork, then standard central AC is the most cost-effective choice. And the efficiency ratings of central air conditioners is rising, so you have energy efficient options.
For new construction and additions or for supplemental AC and heating, it is very difficult to beat a mini split ductless AC. See the Pros and Cons of Mini Split Systems above for more reasons to consider a mini split.
Where can I buy a ductless air conditioner?
You have many options.
If you want a pro to size the system, help you choose the right components and install them, then get estimates from several local installers. For convenience, feel free to use the Free Local Quote tab or toll-free number on this page.
Ductless air conditioners requiring professional installation can also be bought online from a variety of sites. But we recommend working with a local installer before buying the unit. The HVAC pro can help you choose the system with the right configuration, size and efficiency for your purposes. You’ll be happier in the end – and for years to come when you get the buying decision right. And an experienced pro will help with that.
You can buy DIY mini split systems at the Home Depot and other home improvement stores, and they can be bought online on many sites including Amazon, Home Depot and HVAC Direct.
What size mini split for 24×24 garage?
That’s 576 square feet. Normally, a 12,000 or 15,000 BTU mini split would do the job.
However, the level of insulation in the garage is very important. If the garage is fully insulated, then a 15,000 BTU system might be sufficient. If the garage lacks full insulation, then you should consider an 18,000 BTU mini split system in mild climates and a 24,000 BTU mini split AC or heat pump where temperature gets extreme in summer or winter.
2 thoughts on “Best Mini Splits 2023 (Cost Breakdown of DIY and Pro-Install)”
Thank you so much for writing such a detailed guide to minisplit systems!!!! You answered every question I had!
Glad you like it and let me know if you have any other questions.