Concealed Duct Mini Split Reviews: Price, Installation and Best Brands

Concealed Duct Mini Split Reviews: Price, Installation and Best Brands

In this article you will find the basic information to consider if a concealed duct mini split AC/heat pump system is in your future. Equipment costs, average installation costs, and other cost factors to consider in the total cost estimate.

You will also find information on the best brands and FAQs.

Terminology Tip – what is a concealed duct mini split?: “Concealed Duct” refers to the indoor component (the evaporator) which is connected to the outdoor component (the condenser) of a mini split ac/heat pump system. It is a rectangular, relatively thin metal cabinet which is installed in a horizontal, never vertical, position in an attic, crawl space, or other out-of-the-way location. Among some in the HVAC industry, it is humorously called a “pizza box” unit.

The concealed duct unit has its own supply plenum and return air plenum, which circulate conditioned or heated air to one to three rooms through ducts. While they might be the only type of indoor unit connected to a condenser, they are often used in combination with other types, such as wall mounted or ceiling mounted units, which might be cassettes or suspended units.

Concealed Duct Mini Split Price Breakdown

How much does a concealed duct mini split cost? The installed cost – with pro installation – is $2,100 for a small single-zone system to more than $24,000 for a 5 zone, large heat pump mini split system.

Equipment: Concealed duct mini split heat pump equipment prices average from around $925 for a single zone. The cost of the equipment for a 5 zone system can be as high as $12,500. Concealed duct heat pump system prices include a 25’ line set and wiring bundle.

Installation Labor: Hiring a pro to install your concealed duct mini split system will add $1,200 to almost $12,000 to the total cost. These costs will be based on the number of zones as well as many other concealed duct mini split installation cost factors that will be discussed below.

Concealed Duct Mini Split Cost for Common Systems

Typical equipment and labor costs: The table below shows concealed duct mini split cost for some of the common system sizes and configurations. There are many more ways you can configure your system by the capacity and efficiency of the outdoor unit, the number of zones and their individual capacities. Obviously, the size of the outdoor unit and the number and size of the indoor units will affect the total cost.

Single Zone:

Single Zone SizeEquipment CostLaborTotal Cost
9,000 BTU$925 – $3,050$1,200 – $3,800$2,125 – $6,850
12,000 BTU$1,290 – $3,550$1,200 – $3,800$2,490 – $7,350
18,000 BTU$1,400 – $4,425$1,200 – $3,800$2,600 – $8,225
24,000 BTU$1,550 – $4,800$1,200 – $3,800$2,750 – $8,600
36,000 BTU$3,365 – $5,850$1,200 – $3,800$4,565 – $9,650

Multi Zone:

Zone SizesEquipment CostLaborTotal Cost
Dual Zone Sizes18,000 BTU$3,900 – $4,750$1,900 – $5,800$6,550 – $11,775
Dual Zone Sizes24,000 BTU$4,650 – $5,975$1,900 – $5,800$6,550 – $11,775
Dual Zone Sizes36,000 BTU$5,775 – $6,950$1,900 – $5,800$7,675 – $12,750
3 Zone Sizes24,000 – 36,000 BTU$5,400 – $8,975$2,600 – $7,800$8,000 – $16,775
4 Zone Sizes36,000 – 42,000 BTU$7,500 – $10,650$3,300 – $9,800$10,800 – $20,450
5 Zone Sizes42,000 – 60,000 BTU$7,750 – $12,500$4,000 – $11,800$11,750 – $24,300

Note: This list consists primarily of heat pump mini splits, which will both cool and heat. AC-only mini split systems are also available, and on average, will cost between $300 to $500 less than those listed of the same brand, series and size. See the Cost Factors for additional information in this regard.

Equipment

What equipment makes up a complete concealed duct mini split system?

Outdoor Unit: This is also called the condenser unit. They run from 9,000 to 48,000 BTU, or ¾ to 4 tons of AC or heat pump capacity. A few larger 60,000 and 72,000 BTU systems are available, but not common. Typically, when a home requires more than 4 tons of heating and AC, two separate systems are installed.

Indoor Unit: This is the evaporator unit mentioned above, also referred to as the air handler. All the systems listed here include 1 to 5 indoor units, but some of the larger mini splits can handle up to 9.

Wall Control/Thermostat: Typically, a wall thermostat and control unit are included with this type system.

Remote: Depending on the manufacturer and model, this may be standard or available as an option. Some models have a “follow me” thermostat that senses the temperature wherever the remote has been placed. Keep the remote near you, and the system will ensure the air is comfortable where you are – not just near the indoor unit. A remote is needed for each indoor unit, so they can be controlled separately to set the indoor climate in each zone. For example, you might want living spaces warmer during winter days while lowering the temperature in bedrooms – only to reverse that at night.

Refrigerant Line Set: These are two insulated copper lines which connect the outdoor unit to the indoor unit(s). Their purpose is to transport the refrigerant back and forth. In cooling mode, the refrigerant carries heat out of the house; in the heating mode it carries heat into the house (if the outdoor unit is a heat pump).

Wiring Bundle: These connect the outdoor and indoor units and provide the main power and also power to control the system.

Drain: In the cooling mode, humidity is removed from inside the building. The drain line is connected to a pump inside the evaporator to push the condensed moisture back outdoors.

Drain Pan and Safety Switch: Because a concealed duct indoor unit is installed above a ceiling (drywall), a drain pan under the unit is usually recommended in case a leak occurs. A sensor in the pan will operate a switch to shut the system down until the problem is diagnosed and fixed.

Installation/Labor Costs

How much does a concealed mini split cost to install?

Installation Tip: The concealed duct type of indoor unit in a mini split system is by far the most labor intensive and will be reflected in the cost. Unless a person is very familiar working with tools in general, plus sheet metal, refrigerant lines and electrical connections, installing this type of system would be a serious challenge for the DIYer.

In addition, most manufacturers’ warranties are voided if a concealed duct mini split is not installed by a licensed HVAC installer or company.

Installation breakdown – price and installation cost

Installation costs have been included with equipment costs in the above chart. Since they can vary significantly, be sure to get a labor quote before signing a contract for installation.

When a contractor is hired to install your mini split system, the average cost estimates broken down by the components are as follows:

Outdoor Unit/Condensing Unit Installation: $400 – $800. This may be as much as doubled if a new electrical service and cut off box is needed.

First Indoor Unit: $800 – $3,000.

Each Additional Indoor Unit: Approximately $700 – $2,000 per unit. If more than one zone is run from an evaporator, additional hardware and labor costs will be incurred.

Quick Q: Why is a concealed duct mini split so expensive?

The reason a single zone concealed duct unit (indoor unit only) costs between $800 and $3,000 to install is because of the amount of labor involved. Whereas a wall mounted unit is simply hung on the wall after the line set and wire bundle is run through it, installing a concealed duct unit is much more complicated. Once the line set, aka line set, and wires are run through the exterior wall, the evaporator must be installed in the attic or crawlspace and line set and wires run to that location.

Then the supply and return plenum and ductwork must be custom made to fit each zone, refrigerant lines and wiring connected, and a drain line run to an appropriate outdoor location. Finally, the system may need to be charged (especially for multiple zones), then the system must be tested and checked for leaks.

Total Cost Factors

What are concealed duct mini split cost factors for price and installation cost?

The total cost of any mini split heat pump or AC system is determined by these individual aspects of the total job. They are a combination of both equipment and installation costs.

Total Capacity of the system: Higher capacity systems cost more than those of less capacity. A 24000 BTU single-zone system will cost more than an 18000 or 12000 BTU system of the same brand and series. A 4 Ton 2 zone system will cost more than a 3 Ton 2 zone system of the same brand and series.

Refrigerant line set length: Most brands offer these in lengths from 10 feet to 50 feet. The cost can range from around $175 to more than $400 for the line set.

Number of indoor zones: Ductless mini split systems can serve a single zone or as many as 9 zones! Especially with the concealed duct models, this can add to the total cost significantly. Each additional zone adds the cost of the indoor unit, refrigerant lines, electrical wires, drain line, condensate pan, as well as the labor to perform all the installation of this equipment inside the building.

Efficiency:  AC cooling efficiency is a rating called SEER, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. Mini splits today may have from around 16 SEER to 38 SEER. This large difference in efficiency is a reflection of the quality of the particular series of units produced by each manufacturer.

Brand: Mini split systems that are produced by different manufacturers represent several levels of quality. Fujitsu, Daikin and Mitsubishi will cost more than Senville and Cooper & Hunter, for example.

Installation difficulty: To install concealed duct units, especially in multi-zone systems, there will be a significant amount of labor involved as described above, and will correspondingly affect installation estimates.

Why Choose a Concealed Duct Mini Split?

There is no doubt that the most popular type of ductless mini split system is the wall mounted type, followed by the floor mounted type.

1 – One of the main reasons why some home or business owners lean toward the concealed duct mini split AC or heat pump is because the indoor unit is mostly above the ceiling hidden from view. Rather than having a fairly obvious acrylic “box” hanging up high or attached low on a wall, the only visible indications of a concealed duct mini split are diffuser grills that are much more aesthetically pleasing in today’s homes. This is why the concealed duct mini split might also be called a hidden mini split.

2 – Another reason why a ducted mini split might be considered is that they do not take up any space on the floor or walls of your room. Even though a floor mounted indoor unit presents a fairly low profile, it still requires a couple of square feet of floor space that might be better used for something else, especially in a room of relatively small proportions.

3 – Finally, a concealed duct indoor unit can accommodate more than one room with the use of additional ducts connected to its supply plenum. With this configuration, the conditioned air is split through separate ducts to flow to nearby adjacent rooms so you can cool and/or heat them with one indoor unit.

Tip for climate comfort and energy efficiency:  Any room where your ceilings are 10 feet or higher, you should use ceiling fans – and perhaps even with standard height ceilings as well. Fans pushing the air downward during the warm season and upward during the cold season will provide the occupants with the most comfortable climate.

Best Brands – Concealed Duct Mini Split AC and Heat Pumps

Here are the top brands that offer concealed duct indoor units for mini splits.

Fujitsu

Offering 5 models from 7K to 24K BTU, Fujitsu provides a great selection of concealed duct indoor units. With a height of less than 8”, these stand up to the name “slim duct”. Their Halcyon and Halcyon XLTH mini split condensers provide the cooling and heating energy to make these some of the best products in the industry.

Daikin

Daikin is a global leader in the HVAC industry. Their Aurora series of outdoor units offer premium performance and efficiency. They offer concealed duct indoor units for either single or multi zone applications from 9K to 24K BTU models.

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi produces two lines of concealed duct units which can operate with their quality outdoor units. The MLZ series comes in 9K to 15K BTU models, and the PEAD series is available in units from 9K to 42K BTU for longer duct runs and larger spaces. Most are Energy Star certified.

Carrier

Since 1902, Carrier has been leading the way in air conditioning. Today, they produce some of the top AC/heat pumps in the industry. Models in their premium Infinity series condenser have up to a 42 SEER, and when paired with their Performance Series 40MBDQ ducted indoor unit, it’s perfect for either a single or multi-zone mini split system.

FAQ

Does MrCool make a concealed duct mini split?

MrCool, aka Mr Cool, is known for their diy mini splits that are fairly easy to install, but their indoor units are only the wall mount type; they do not make the concealed duct type.

Is a concealed duct mini split more than central air?

It can be. The ducted mini split vs central air comparison shows that a single-zone mini split usually costs less than central air. On the other hand, a 4 zone or 5 zone ducted mini split system usually costs more than central air. When comparing ducted mini split vs central air prices, it is helpful to know what the cost of ductwork will be in addition to the number of indoor zones to be covered. It’s always best to get multiple estimates for central air and for a mini split system, so you can compare prices “apples to apples.”

Written by

Rene has worked 10 years in the HVAC field and now is the Senior Comfort Specialist for PICKHVAC. He holds an HVAC associate degree from Lone Star College and EPA & R-410A Certifications.
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