Only a few brands make DIY mini split ACs and heat pumps. That’s why the brands in the list are limited.
This is a 2-in-1 Buying Guide from Pick HVAC.
First, we list and review the 8 best ductless air conditioners for DIY installation.
Secondly, we present our complete guide to choosing the right ductless AC. Correctly sizing any air conditioner is very important, and we’ll make sure you know what size you need.
If you’re new to ductless / mini split air conditioners, our comprehensive Mini Split AC & Heat Pump Reviews and Guide is a good place to start. As one reader said, “This is an excellent piece of research and an incredible guide to understanding all there is to know [about] these units.” We appreciate that and think you’ll agree.
But now, the 8 best ductless air conditioners for DIY installation.
Top DIY Mini Split ACs – Overviews
Here are the overviews. They’re designed to give you a quick picture of what each offers. If you’re in a hurry, they give the most important features, so you can make a buying decision and get on with your busy schedule.
Full reviews follow.
All these models are Complete Kits with everything you need for installation.
MrCool 36K-BTU 208/230V
- Approx. 1100-1300s.f.
- 16 SEER/9 HSPF
Pioneer 30K-BTU 208/230V
- Approx. 900-1100s.f.
- 18 SEER/10 HSPF
MrCool 24K-BTU 208/230V
- Approx. 600-850s.f.
- 16 SEER/9 HSPF
Pioneer 18K-BTU 208/230V
- Approx. 400-650s.f.
- 19 SEER / 10 HSPF
Pioneer 12K-BTU 208/230V
- WiFi/Internet Control
- Approx. 200-350s.F.
- 17.5 SEER / 10 HSPF
Pioneer 9K BTU 208/230V
- Approx. 200-350s.f.
- 18 SEER / 9.5 HSPF
Pioneer 36K-BTU 208/230V
- Approx. 1100-1300s.F.
- 16 SEER/10 HSPF
Pioneer 12K BTU 110/120V
- Approx. 300-450s.F.
- 19 SEER/10 HSPF
Best DIY Mini Split ACs / Heat Pumps – Full Reviews
Our Best Mini Split ACs for DIY Installation Reviews give more details.
Model Analysis: These mini split AC/heat pumps are evaluated in key areas such as efficiency, how many square feet they’ll cool, features, user ratings, pros, cons and more.
Coverage Area: The square foot ratings are approx. To know for sure what size ductless air conditioner you need, ask to have a load calculation done, such as a Manual J and/or similar tests.
Pioneer has put together its own sizing calculator. The company makes great products, but this load calculation might not be comprehensive enough. Still, it will give you an idea of what is available.
This test and the importance of size are discussed in our Mini Split AC & Heat Pump Buying Guide.
What These Units have in Common:
1. Inverter style compressors that speed up and slow down in increments of 1% or less. The cycles are longer than those of a single-stage or two-stage compressor, but this is a good thing. Running at lower speeds, they are energy efficient and remove more humidity from the air during AC mode. Plus, the lower their speed, the quieter they run.
2. Complete installation Kits. This includes outdoor and indoor units, pre-charged refrigerant lines with screw-in connections and the wiring harness.
3. Wall-mounted Indoor Units. Wall-mounted indoor units are the most popular and affordable. Plus, they are the easiest to install.
4. Heat pump performance. These are all heat pumps that provide air conditioning and heating.
OK, here are the Best Ductless AC Reviews.
MrCool 36K BTU Ductless Heat Pump Split System
MrCool units are among the highest rated in the industry. This complete system is relatively easy to install, offers super quality but is on the pricey side compared with similar models from Pioneer.
Coverage: 1100-1300 square feet. Keep in mind that the warmer it is outside, the fewer square feet any AC unit can effectively cool. The amount of insulation in the space, the number of windows and other features affect cooling and heating coverage.
- Pre-charged with R410A refrigerant.
- Quick-connect lines.
- Auto-restart after an outage. The unit will turn on a resume the same settings as when power was lost.
- AC can function even when outside temperatures are as low as 5F – an ideal unit for server rooms, greenhouses and other space that must be cooled year-round.
- Louver-position memory that returns them to the position they were in when the unit was shut off.
- Low-coolant detection. If refrigerant leaks, the unit will detect it and shut off before the unit is harmed.
- Smart App and WiFi control for monitoring and changing settings from anywhere.
Ratings: More than 85% of the ratings on a range of review platforms are positive for this model. It is considered reliable and hardworking – and it can heat or cool when the temperature outside is as low as 5 degree Fahrenheit. When would you want to cool space in that weather? Think a server room, greenhouse or other area where heat might build up.
Modes: Air conditioning, Heat and Dry modes. Dry mode makes it a dehumidifier. It should just remove moisture and return the heat to the room, but many users say it will cool the room too – not as much cooling as in AC mode, but it isn’t “dry only.” It’s a bit of cooling too.
Pros: Quality materials. Dependable performance in AC, Heat or Dry mode. Excellent list of features. Unit is backed with a 7-year compressor warranty and 5-year general parts warranty.
Cons: A little more expensive than other units this size.
Sound Levels: 38.5 – 54.5 decibels.
If you’re willing to pay a little more to get a DIY 36,000 ductless AC heat pump with top quality, consider this unit.
Pioneer WYS030G-17 Inverter+ Mini Split Heat Pump
Best 30,000 BTU Model
This is the best-selling ductless DIY AC/heat pump in its size.
Pioneer mini split ductless AC heat pump units combine two huge features – they are easy to install, and their prices are very competitive.
This unit makes the list because it combines high quality and outstanding efficiency.
Coverage: 900-1100 square feet in climates that are warm to hot. The warmer it is (or colder when in winter heating mode), the lower on the range the unit will cover.
Efficiency: 18 SEER/9.6 HSPF
- This is a full-feature unit with plenty of features including:
- 24-hour Timer
- LED dimmable display
- Auto swing air louvers that can be controlled via the remote
- Permanent washable filters to clean air and remove odors
- Multispeed fan
- Highly rated Pioneer variable speed compressor.
- The Auto restart feature turns the unit back on after an outage and restores the same settings including thermostat set point as when the power failed.
- WiFi and the Android/iOS app give you smart home technology and control from anywhere.
- Remote control allows you to control all features without getting up or using WiFi.
Ratings: About 80% of homeowners and property managers that have installed this unit give it high marks for fast cooling and heating and reliable performance.
Modes: 4 modes – Cooling, Heating, Dehumidification and Ventilation. These modes give you better indoor climate control in all seasons. Dehumidifier mode removes moisture from the air without cooling the air. It is a useful setting for cool, damp days. An additional mode, Night Mode, saves energy while you sleep by, as Pioneer says, “automatically adopting [sic – adapting] the temperature settings to the naturally changing body temperature levels during the night.” This means it raises the thermostat setting during cooling, lowering it again near the end of the timer setting.
Pros: The 4 performance modes offer excellent climate control and indoor comfort. The unit is efficient and reliable. Pioneer DIY ductless ACs install pretty easily. Competitive cost.
Cons: A small percentage of units have vacuum leaks or similar when the are installed. This is rare, and poor installation is sometimes the issue.
Sound Levels: 44-52 decibels
If you’re looking for 30,000 BTUs of cooling and heating at a good value, this unit should be considered.
MrCool DIY-24-HP-230A Air Conditioner
Best 24,000 BTU Model
MrCool makes excellent mini split ductless air conditioners with heat pump functionality. This one costs a little more than comparable models from Pioneer, but one reason for it is quality.
This is the top-rated mini split AC and heat pump of its size based on homeowners and property managers that have installed it. Installation is quite easy – when you closely follow installation instructions. This is true with all DIY ductless ACs.
This MrCool heat pump AC is backed by a 7-year compressor and 5-year general parts warranty.
Coverage: 600-850 square feet. MrCool says this unit will cool up to 1,000 feet. That’s true, but only when the outdoor temperature is mild to warm. In very warm weather, 600-850 square feet is more likely.
Features: This unit is exactly like the MrCool at the top of the list but in a smaller size. It has all the same features, so check them out above.
Ratings: This unit tops the charts. Nearly 90% of users give it high marks for quality, ease of installation and dependable performance.
Modes: Air conditioning, Heat and Dry modes, just like the unit above.
Pros: Easy to install. Reliable cooling and heating in temperatures down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Highest ratings and quality. WiFi. It is extremely quiet.
Cons: Cost – this unit is more expensive than others of similar size. Also, a few users state that WiFi doesn’t connect very easily to their network. This is a common experience when trying to sync a number of smart appliances to a network.
Sound Levels: 33.0-45.5 decibels.
If you want a “sure thing” in a ductless AC heat pump, and it is the right size for your application, then you’ll likely be happy with this unit.
Pioneer WYS018G-19 Mini Split Heat Pump-208/230V
Best 18,000 BTU Model
This unit has a few unique features including a “Follow Me” sensor in the remote. Instead of the AC getting information from a built-in thermostat to determine when it has reached the right temperature, it uses the Follow Me sensor in the remote.
That means the AC won’t stop cooling or heating until the sensor in the remote is satisfied. Keep the remote near you, and the air near you will be comfortable.
This is a very efficient unit, so it will help control energy costs.
Coverage: 450-650 square feet depending on ambient air temperature, windows and doors in the zone, how much insulation is in the space and similar factors.
- The unit can raise temperature as much as 46F from start point.
- Follow Me sensor in the remote.
- Auto restart – When power comes back on after an outage, the unit will resume the same settings as when the power failed.
Ratings: This unit receives an 85% to 88% approval rating from various review sites.
Modes: 4 modes – Air conditioning, Heat pump, Ventilation/Fan and Dehumidify/Dry Mode. The last mode removes moisture without cooling the air. If the air temperature is comfortable, but the air is humid, removing the humidity gets rid of the “clammy” feeling.
Pros: Excellent efficiency, 4 useful modes, good quality at a competitive cost.
Cons: Improper installation can lead to leaks or other issues. This is true on any DIY ductless heat pump or air conditioner. Be sure to follow the installation guide. Watching online videos is a good idea too. See the Buying Guide for more installation tips.
Sound Levels: 30.5-43.0 decibels
If quiet operation is one of your top factors in a quality mini split system, this Pioneer DIY mini split AC and heat pump is a good choice.
Pioneer Mini Split Heat Pump – 208/230 V
Best 12,000 BTU Model
This very popularly sized unit is ideal for a bedroom, office, den, small addition or similar space.
It has the Follow Me remote – the remote has a thermostat, so the unit doesn’t stop cooling or heating until the thermostat in the remote is satisfied.
Keep the remote near you to ensure the air around you is comfortable – not just the air near the indoor unit.
Coverage: 300-450 square feet.
Efficiency: 17.5 SEER / 9.0 HSPF
- Follow Me remote.
- Full-feature remote.
- Dimmable LED display.
- Directional control of the louvers.
- Multispeed fan.
- 24-hour timer.
- Self-cleaning function.
- Washable filters for debris and odors.
Ratings: 85% to 90% of users rate it high and recommend it to others.
Modes: 4 Modes – AC, Heat, Dry, Ventilation. There’s a mode for every type of weather.
Pros: All the features you’d expect in a quality mini split system. Good efficiency. Easy installation.
Cons: If the unit isn’t properly sized, it might ice up. It is vital to choose the right unit for your situation. If you have concerns, consider opting for a standard ductless system and using our Free Local Quotes service to get advice and free estimates without obligation from licensed, prescreened pros in your area.
Sound Level: 55 decibels.
If you’ve got a large room or a single open-floorplan zone to cool and heat, this unit is an affordable, dependable option.
Pioneer Wall Mount Ductless Mini Split Heat Pump 208/230 V
Best 9,000 BTU Model
This unit is ideal for small to midsize rooms that aren’t sufficiently cooled or heated by the central HVAC system. It works well in small, insulated pole buildings, garages and cabins.
Coverage: 200-350 square feet.
- Follow Me remote – There is a thermostat in the remote. This means the unit will continue to cool or heat until the area around the remote is comfortable – not just the space near the indoor unit. Keep the remote near you, and stay comfortable!
- Refrigerant leak detection means that if the refrigerant charge isn’t high enough, the unit will shut down before damage to the compressor can occur.
- Anti-cold air function – This keeps the fan speed on low until the unit is creating sufficiently warm air during a heat cycle. This prevents cool/unheated air from blowing out of the unit at the start of a cycle.
- Multiple fan speeds match the speed of the fan with the rate the compressor is producing AC or heat.
Ratings: About 85% of homeowners would buy this unit again. Biggest concerns are with the unit not cooling enough space. This is a 9K BTU AC. Make sure you have a unit large enough for the square footage you want it to serve.
Modes: 4 Modes. Like the other Pioneer models, it offers AC, Heat, Dry and Ventilation modes.
Pros: As long as it is sized right, this unit delivers plenty of AC and heat.
Cons: The warranties on Pioneer ductless systems are just 5 years on the compressor and 2 years on general parts. The MrCool warranty is longer.
Sound Levels: 26.5-41.5 decibels – very quiet.
If you’re in the market for a small, quiet and affordable mini split AC with heat pump, consider this model.
Pioneer Ductless Inverter+ Mini Split Heat Pump, 36000 BTU-208/230 V
If you’ve been using the links to check prices on DIY AC heat pumps, then you know that Pioneer is very competitive.
This is a large unit that compares favorably on cost to MrCool and other brands.
This unit is a good fit for a small home, large zone in a home, cabin, guest apartment and similar-size areas.
Coverage: 1100-1300 square feet.
Efficiency: 16 SEER, 10 HSPF.
- WiFi with Android and iOS App.
- Sleep Mode for reducing energy consumption.
- 24-hour Timer.
- Self-cleaning mode.
- Full-feature remote.
- Attractive indoor unit panel.
- Dimmable LED display on the indoor unit.
- Multiple-speed indoor fan.
Ratings: Positive ratings for this unit are in the mid-80s.
Modes: 4 Modes – AC, Heat, Dehumidify and Ventilation.
Pros: Affordable with an excellent set of features.
Cons: This unit does not have the Follow Me remote. Compressor warranty is 5 years. Parts warranty is 2 years.
Sound Levels: 38.5-54.5
If you need a large mini split ductless AC with heat pump technology, and don’t want to break the bank, this Pioneer DIY mini split complete kit is a good choice.
Pioneer Air Conditioner WYS012A-19 12000 BTU-110/120V
Best 110/120 Volt Model
The value of this unit is that it runs on a standard 110/120V line and requires a single circuit.
In short, installation of the electrical wiring needed might be less – and therefore less expensive.
Coverage: 300-450 square feet.
Efficiency: 19 SEER/10 HSPF
Features: This unit has all the typical features listed in the Pioneer models above including wireless remote, WiFi and automatic restart at the same settings after a power outage.
Ratings: Homeowners appreciate the durability and performance of this model and give it positive ratings near 90%.
Modes: 4 modes – AC, Heat, Dehumidify and Ventilation. This gives you indoor climate control options for the entire year.
Pros: 110/120V, good features and energy efficiency.
Cons: The 5-year compressor warranty and 2-year parts warranty are not as long as MrCool’s warranties of 7 and 5 years.
Sound Levels: 25-38 decibels.
If you need a 110/120-volt DIY ductless AC heat pump, this unit should be on your short list of options.
DIY Ductless AC Heat Pump Kit Buying Guide
Our Ductless System Buying Guide has all the basic information required to understand these impressive systems and make a good choice for your home.
The information here relates specifically to DIY mini split or ductless systems.
Make Sure it is DIY Friendly
To be a DIY ductless AC heat pump, it must have these traits:
- Pre-charged refrigerant in the unit and line set.
- Not require professional meters or vacuum.
- Not require adding any refrigerant.
What the Kits Don’t Include
You’ll need the following that are not in the kit:
- A dedicated 208/220 circuit in your electrical panel (a few models are 110/120).
- Wiring to a junction box where the wiring will connect.
- An AC shut-off at the junction box.
If you can DIY these steps, then you’ll really save a lot of money
How Much Can You Save?
Total potential cost savings are up to $2,700, maybe a little more. Most homeowners save about $925 with DIY installation when they do a large portion of the labor. Here’s a breakdown of costs and how to save money.
Pro installation will include “what the kits don’t include.”
Some sites or product pages might suggest you can save the whole cost of installation. If you install yourself – if you DIY “what the kits don’t include,” then you can save all of it except the price of wiring, a junction box and the single (110V) or double (220V) circuit. The total cost of the materials is less than $75.
But if you hire an electrician to do the wiring and install or connect to circuits in the electrical panel, the price tag on these items is $850 – $1400 for most homes.
That means your total cost savings will be far less – more in the neighborhood of $450 to $1,100 with an average of $675. All you would be saving in this scenario is the cost of these steps:
- Hanging the outside unit
- Hanging the inside unit
- Cutting a hole in the exterior wall
- Connecting the two units with refrigerant line and electrical wiring
- Running a drain line out of the house
- Testing and fine-tuning the system
Still, with more than $1,000 in potential savings, a DIY ductless AC system is worth considering. This is especially true if you have good mechanical skills.
DIY Ductless AC Installation
One reader suggested this list of “skills” needed to successfully install a do-it-yourself mini split AC or heat pump:
- Common sense
- Mechanical aptitude and experience
- Knowledge of electrical codes
- Basic tools and reasonable skill in using them
Videos are also an indispensable help in explaining the negative nuances of certain brands. Here’s a video about a Pioneer DIY mini split system installation.
Pros and Cons of DIY Ductless AC Systems
Here’s a brief rundown of what’s to like and what’s not to dislike so much.
Ductless ACs have a long list of benefits including lower energy requirements, sub-zero operation where standard heat pumps would fail.
Lower potential cost with the biggest cost factor being how much of the work you are willing and able to do.
It must be installed correctly – or the system won’t do what it is intended to do.
Cost savings aren’t as high as you might expect if an electrician is hired to wire unit.