Top 10 Ductless Mini Split Heat Pumps in 2021: Costs, Pros & Cons

The 10 best ductless mini split heat pumps in single zone and multi-zone categories are listed below to provide you with the information to make the right buying decision. We won’t steer you wrong with our expert picks – these are outstanding systems you can customize to perfectly fit your requirements.

What else is here?

This mini split buying guide includes costs, features, pros and cons, and the installation/use that will give you the best return on investment (ROI) for each model.

First, we’ll give you some information on mini split heat pump systems. If you’re good to go on the what’s and why’s, then jump down to our top 10 ductless mini split system list and reviews. On the other hand, if you’re thinking through ductless mini split vs. standard split system heat pumps, the upfront information will be of use.

What is a Ductless Mini Split Heat Pump System?

A ductless mini split HVAC system includes two main component types. The first is the outdoor unit called a condensing unit. It contains the compressor which cycles refrigerant through the system to move heat from one location to another – either into or out of your living space.

The second type of equipment is one or more indoor air handlers. The air handlers are connected to the outdoor condenser by refrigerant lines, a power cable and a condensation drain line.

Mini Split Sizes: Outdoor condensing units are available in 9k to 60k BTUs. The one you choose will depend primarily on the amount of space you need to heat and cool but also the layout of your home, how well your home is insulated and your climate.

Single vs Multi-zone Systems: A single zone system, meaning it has one air handler, can be used in a single room, apartment, small home with an open floor plan, or a converted attic or garage. They are ideal for cottages and cabins too.

A multi-zone system, a system supporting two to eight air handlers, can be used to heat and cool an entire home or other building with clearly defined rooms/zones.

Did you know? Air handlers, the indoor units, are available in 9k to 30k BTUs.

Each indoor air handler is installed in a specific area or room, referred to as zones, and all handlers are connected to the outdoor unit. Each air handler can be independently controlled with a thermostat or remote. Your HVAC contractor can help you decide where to place the air handlers to provide the most effective and energy-efficient layout.

Can the total capacity of the air handlers/indoor units exceed the capacity of the condensing unit? Yes, it can, but it should not exceed it by more than about 15%. For example, if you need a 36,000 BTU condensing unit for a three-zone installation, the easiest choice would be three 12,000 BTU air handlers for a total of 36,000 BTU.

But if one of the zones is larger, installing a 15,000 BTU air handler (9% over capacity) or 18,000 BTU (16% over capacity) air handler in that zone would be acceptable. Just keep in mind that you’ll still only get 36,000 BTU of heating and cooling across the multiple zones.

This is where the thermostats for each zone come in very handy. Reduce the heating/cooling in a zone not being used, so you have sufficiently warm or air-conditioned air in occupied areas.

How a Ductless Mini Split System Works

A mini split provides heat, air conditioning, dehumidification, and the flow of fresh, filtered air.

When the mini split is in air conditioning mode, the air handler pulls the warm air from inside your home over cold evaporator coils where heat is absorbed by the refrigerant. The heated refrigerant is pumped outside where it disperses the heat. The cooled air is sent back into the living space.

When the system is in heating mode, the refrigerant absorbs heat from outside and brings it inside where it is released in the coil in the air handler. It is then blown into the room. Due to the thermodynamic properties of refrigerant, heat can be absorbed from the air in outside temperatures as low as 20 F below zero.

However, as the outside temperature sinks, your mini split heat pump will lose efficiency and effectiveness. Still, the physics of refrigerants are very impressive!

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2021 Ductless Heating & Cooling Cost: Mini-Split Prices, Pros & Cons

The limits are off for ductless heating and cooling systems, as double-digit growth in installations for six years running demonstrates.

ductless mini-split heating and cooling system

Mini split HVAC systems are no longer just for additions, rooms far from central heating that are too hot or too cold, or locations where installing or extending ductwork is impossible.

Indoor and outdoor-ductless mini-split system

New technology and competitive costs are behind the growing number of applications including new construction.

This comprehensive ductless heating and cooling guide covers costs, system types, options, features, efficiency, pros and cons, and more.

Did you know?

Ductless mini split outdoor units are now being produced for cold climates. For example, the Fujitsu Halcyon XLTH Extra Low Temp system is an impressive 33 SEER ductless system that provides heating in temperatures as low as -5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Trane’s low-temperature 4MXW38 system offers 38 SEER/15 HSPF efficiency and 100% heating performance to -20F.

Haier America, Samsung, Friedrich, and several other brands have introduced cold climate ductless heat pumps. A base pan heater in these outdoor units allows condensate to drain without freezing.

How Much Does It Cost?

Mini split heat pumps cost higher than standard split systems, but significantly less than geothermal system costs.

Small, single-zone systems with complete installation start as low as $3,500. Large, complex systems can cost as much as $17,500 installed. Here are the average installed costs for three common system sizes. There’s more detail in various sections below.

  • Single zone systems: 1 indoor unit (6,000-36,000 BTU): $3,500 to $7,500
  • Average multi-zone systems: 2-4 indoor units (18,000-36,000 BTU total): $6,600-$12,500
  • Large multi-zone systems: 4+ indoor units (up to 60,000 BTU total): $9,250-$17,500

Here’s a quick breakdown of mini split HVAC costs for equipment and installation:

  • Outdoor unit cost: $950 to $5,900 (9K to 60K BTU)
  • Indoor unit cost: $200 to $2,000 (6K to 36K BTU)
  • Accessory package: $250-$1,950
  • Ductless HVAC system installation (warrantied labor) cost: $1,000 to $5,000

The accessory package may include a line set, drain tubing, wiring, thermostat, remote control, additional refrigerant when indoor units are distant from the outdoor unit, condensate pan heater for cold climates and other equipment required for installation.

Did you know?

Knowing the technical terms will assist you when researching your options, shopping and discussing the project with an installer. In technical terms, outdoor units are also called condensers.

A condenser contains the compressor that circulates refrigerant and the condensing coil that disperses heat during an AC mode and collects heat in heating mode.

Indoor units are also called air handlers and evaporators, and there are several types (explained in the section of Indoor Unit Types below).

Pro Tip: You’ll spend less on equipment and installation when you choose one large outdoor unit that supports multiple indoor zones rather than several separate single-zone ductless systems. In a multi-zone system, the climate of each room or zone can be independently controlled for customized comfort.

Mini Split System Cost Factors

Ductless mini split system costs vary widely based on:

  • Whether it is AC-only ($-$$$) or a heat pump ($$-$$$)
  • Cost rises as energy efficiency goes up.
  • Cost rises with the size of the outdoor unit, though again, one outdoor unit costs less than two outdoor units with the same cumulative capacity (one 48,000 BTU unit vs. two 24,000 BTU units, for example).
  • The number, capacity and type of indoor units (single zone vs. multi-zone)
  • Indoor units with variable-speed fans for better climate control cost 15% to 25% more.
  • The complexity of the installation

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How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Leaky Roof?

A strategically placed bucket to catch drips may be an effective leaking roof repair for the short term, but the damage could soon shift from a simple repair to requiring a total replacement.

It doesn’t take a home improvement expert to know that a leaking roof is a problem and the steadfast approach of “do nothing and everything will take care of itself”, unfortunately doesn’t apply in this situation. 😉

When water is dripping through your ceiling it means that the protective barrier of your roof has been compromised. This usually results from shingles that have blown off in extreme winds, worn-out or failed roof flashing that has allowed rainwater to seep behind, or a roof membrane puncture (or roof seams becoming unglued / coming apart) that is opening an unwanted access point to rainwater.

When water has made its way to your ceiling however, it means it has already passed the plywood sheathing under the roof, the insulation in your attic, the sheetrock on your walls, etc. Nobody wants to pay for a roof repair – but it sure is less expensive than sheathing, insulation, drywall, and flooring replacement! 😉

As you can probably imagine, many homeowners despise paying for a new roof because it offers little enjoyable value as a project. Well, besides avoiding getting wet, not having the wood in your house rot, fending off mold and mildew growth, providing energy efficiency, etc.

Did you know? Many homeowners don’t perceive their roofs as something that can offer a quality of living upgrade, like a new hot tub or a big screen TV would. This is why so many re-roofing projects get put off until the very last minute! 😉

Replacement procrastination is one thing; however, repairs should be addressed immediately. If you know your roof is nearing the end of its life cycle, you can budget for a new one – but repairs might strike when least expected. Here is a cost guide on repairs, what they consist of, and what you can expect to pay to get back ‘in the dry’.

Average Roof Repair Costs

The national average cost most consumers reported paying for a minor roof repair was between $350 to $1,100, or about $750 on average for a minor roof repair project.

Major repairs, however, can easily cost $3,000 or more.

As expected, some repairs can cost a bit lower than the average, requiring only a simple application of caulk or roof cement to seal the source of a leak.

On the other hand, some roofs can be so badly damaged by storm winds or hail that they require a complete replacement, which could cost as much as $9,000 – $15,000 or more, depending on the size and type of roof, local real estate values, and other variables.

The size of the total roof area to be repaired/replaced will dictate how much the repair will cost. Other variables include roof accessibility and pitch, the choice of replacement material, and the amount of labor required based on the scope of the problem.

  • Roof Size – As long as problems are limited to a small area, roof size doesn’t necessarily affect repair costs. If wind, rot, and other issues attack a whole side of the roof however the higher the prices.
  • Roof Pitch – Roof access will increase the costs of the labor required to repair the roof. Quite simply put, work goes slower on a high, steep roof and requires harnesses, the rental of special equipment, and often times, a larger workforce to lessen the points between crew on the roof, middlemen, ground workers, etc. Some roofing crews will bid up to double their hourly rate ($50-$100 per hour normally) for very steep and difficult roofs, almost as a way to ‘hope’ not to get the job.
  • Materials and Labor – Professional labor and materials are going to be your two major cost points in a roof repair (with the possibility of building permits (up to $400), disposal fees ($200 min for 60ft3), and a few other miscellaneous line items). Just as material costs will dictate how much a new roof installation is going to cost, the same logic applies to repairs, with repairs generally costing more on a per square foot basis. If you need to purchase replacement materials, it can cost: asphalt ($100-$250 per square), metal ($250-$650 per square), wood ($350-$450 per square), tile ($300 to $850 per square depending on concrete or clay), slate ($550-$1,100+ per square).
  • Scope of Work – You’ll also need to know the scope of the work if it involves simply replacing a few shingles and applying caulk or replacing rotted plywood sheathing ($25-$50 per sheet) and other repairs.

Types of Commonly Occurring Roofing Problems

Finding your leak is one thing, determining what has caused the leak and evaluating for the proper solution is another. Some of the problems that can occur across different roofing material types include:

  • Asphalt Shingles – as asphalt shingles wear over the years of weather exposure, the granules start to erode, and the edges of the pieces start to curl. High winds can also rip asphalt shingles from the substrate, especially if they were fastened too high above the nailing strip. When an asphalt roof fails due to age and wear, there are generally no repair options besides a complete replacement. When sections of the loose or damages shingles blow off or become badly damaged due to storm winds or hail, replacement costs about $450 to $800 per square or more, depending on the size of the area (the smaller the area the higher the costs per square foot will be).
  • Metal Roofs – the biggest problem befalling corrugated and ribbed metal roofs with exposed fasteners, is the fasteners working themselves loose after years of expansion and contraction. This is generally an easy solution requiring the attachment of a new fastener and some caulking (labor). Metal flashing around chimneys, end-walls such as dormers, skylights, and level changes, can also often become an issue if the job wasn’t done carefully. The ribs of the metal panels can also become dented and damaged if hit by an object such as a falling satellite dish or trees. Replacing sheet metal panels is rarely done because of the difficulty in matching colors of new with UV exposed products.
  • Wood – cedar shakes and other wood roofing types are very apt to deterioration and breakdown from mold buildup, mainly in areas of the home that are heavily shaded. A lack of sealing and other required maintenance may also leave some wood roofs prone to insect infestation. Replacement is generally the best repair costing about $750 to $1,450 per square.
  • Tiles – tiles, especially clay, are most often damaged by foot traffic when accessing the roof. Although they are durable against normal weather, the tiles are also very brittle against collisions and impact. Tiles can also become damaged when freezing after becoming wet or can simply slide away from the roof if not fastened properly. Repairs are very difficult because of the fragility of walking on the tiles, possibly causing more damage than initially sent to repair. Damaged tiles will need to be replaced at $1,200-$1,800 per square or more.
  • Slate – some slate types (Buckingham) have a life expectancy of up to 100 years, but others (Ribbon) can be as low as 20 years. It’s important to know what type of slate is installed on your roof before you determine that it is a ‘lifetime material’. Slate tiles become soft and soggy as they are nearing their end of life. Slate can become cracked or de-laminate which will require a replacement as will pieces that slide after becoming disconnected from a nail. Costs will vary greatly depending on finding a matching material type.
  • Flat Roofs – another roof type needing frequent repair is a rubber or membrane surface. These are generally installed on flat roofing surfaces, so even the slightest of issues, such as seams becoming unglued and coming apart due to freeze and thaw cycles can cause leaks. Most small tears and holes can be fixed with a roofing cement as can corners that lift. A substrate that sags will collect water and leave the different roofing types more apt to rot from mildew growth. Patching and the application of a new seal will cost a varying amount in material in labor costs.

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