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

Average Cost To Install Ductless AC (Mini-Split) Typical Range: $2,870 - $4,380
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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!

Average Cost To Install Ductless AC (Mini-Split) Typical Range: $2,870 - $4,380
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Why Choose a Ductless Mini Split System?

Ductless mini split heat pumps are heating and cooling systems that can be installed in a home without central ductwork. That is a huge advantage in terms of installation ease and cost.

They are a good choice if your home has hot water or radiant heat, or if you put an addition on your home and don’t want the expense of adding ductwork. They can also be used in areas where supplemental heating or cooling is needed – many homes have rooms far from the central air handler that always seem to be cool in winter and warm in summer. They’re ideal locations to be served by a mini split heat pump.

Cost of Ducted vs Ductless HVAC: If you want to add heating and air conditioning to a home without central ductwork, your options are to install a standard split HVAC system plus central ductwork or skip the hassle and expense and install a mini split system.

Installing ductwork plus the heat pump will cost between $9,000 and $20,000 in a typical 2,000 to 2,500 sq. ft. home. Prices for a ductless mini split are between $3,800 (for a large single zone unit) and up to $17,000 (for a large multi-zone unit).

The initial costs aren’t greatly different, but a ductless mini split has lower upfront costs and will be much more efficient than a central system, saving you money on energy bills every month. It is easy to see that ductless/mini split HVAC systems are the equipment of the future in most climates – even in those with cold winters.

How a Mini Split System Differs from a Standard Heat Pump

Mini splits differ from the regular air heat pumps in that standard split systems rely on central ductwork to circulate the warmed or cooled air through the home. A ductless mini split does not require any ductwork, of course.

Installation steps include holes about 2 inches in diameter drilled through exterior walls to accommodate the connections between the outside and inside units. These are the refrigerant line set, electrical power supply and drain line that drains away condensate accumulating during an air conditioning cycle.

Ductless Mini Split Options

Mini split heat pumps offer a wide range of options that allow you to tailor your system to fit the layout of your home or other area you want to heat and air condition.

In open areas, a single-zone system, or a two-zone system with one indoor air handler at each end of the space is ideal.

In areas divided into smaller rooms, a multi-zone system or multiple single-zone systems make more sense, depending on the size of the rooms/zones.

Here is an overview of your equipment choices.

Compressor/Condenser capacity: 1.0 ton to 5.0 tons, or 12,000 to 60,000 BTUs. In most systems, the largest size is 48,000 BTU.

Air Handler capacity: 9,000 to 30,000 BTUs per handler.

Efficiency – 18.0 SEER cooling efficiency and 9 HSPF heating efficiency to 42 SEER and 15 HSPF. The higher the rating, the more efficient the unit. In our opinion, the growing efficiency ratings of mini split and even standard air source heat pumps will continue to threaten the geothermal heat pump industry and cause prices of geothermal systems to become increasingly competitive.

Installed cost range: $3,800 (single zone) to $17,000 (multi-zone)

Average Cost: A four zone, 36,000 to 48,000 BTU system installed will cost $9,500 – $13,500.

Choosing and Configuring a Ductless Mini Split System

Before you choose a mini split system, you need to know the square footage of the entire space you need to cover and the square footage of each of the zones included. These measurements will give you direction on the total capacity required and the size of the air handlers for each zone.

Then you will decide on the design of the system, the number and size of air handlers, and where they should be placed in the home to provide the most efficient layout. The dealer or an HVAC contractor can guide you in configuring the best system.

Sometimes you can find a complete package that includes the condenser and the needed number of air handlers, but most often, you will purchase the compressor/condenser and air handlers separately.

This gives you the flexibility to choose the best condenser for your needs and the number, style, and BTU level of each air handler.

Note: The total BTU capacity of the air handlers should only slightly exceed the total BTU capacity of the condenser. For instance, with a 48,000 BTU condenser, ideal choices for air handlers would include four 12k air handlers (48,000 BTU total) or three 18k air handlers (54,000 BTU total).

Below are some common condenser and air handler configurations:

18,000 BTU Condenser: (9k + 9k) or (9k + 12k) air handlers

24,000 BTU Condenser: (12k + 12k) or (9k + 9k + 9k) air handlers

36,000 BTU Condenser: (12k + 12k+ 12k) or (18k + 9k + 9k) or (18k + 12k +9k) air handlers

48,000 and 60,000 BTU Condensers: Once you get into the high BTU levels, there are a range of combinations for air handler configurations depending on the number of zones you need to cover. With 48,000 BTUs you can cover 5 or 6 zones and with 60,000 BTUs can cover up to 8 zones.

Tip: You can place the higher BTU air handlers in rooms you need the most temperature control. Also, in very hot climates, you will need higher BTU air handlers to maintain comfort.

The indoor air handlers are available in a variety of installation options:

Wall Mounted – These work well in all room types. They are the most affordable and come in several styles.

Ceiling Mounted – Installed in the center of a room or zone for optimal coverage of the entire area, ceiling mounted units work well if you have limited wall space.

Ceiling Cassette – These are recessed into the ceiling and are the least conspicuous option.

Floor Mounted – These units are installed low on the wall near the floor and are a good option when wall space is limited, or you prefer the air handlers be less conspicuous. Floor units tend to have higher capacity too.

Concealed Duct – These are installed into existing ductwork just inside the air grate.

Top 10 Mini Split Heat Pump Systems

We’ve selected the best 3 single zone and 7 multi-zone mini split heat pump systems in various BTU levels for the list below. Following the list, you will find full reviews for these top 10 models including costs, features, pros and cons, ROI based on climate and more details.

  1. Carrier Infinity 38MPRA
  2. MRCOOL 3rd Generation DIY-18-C-230B
  3. Pioneer Inverter + WYSO30GMFI 7RL-16
  4. Daikin MXS 2MXS18NMVJUA
  5. Bosch Climate 5000 2.0 8733953121
  6. LG LMU36CHV Multi F
  7. Gree Multi 21 MULTI35HP230V1CO
  8. Fujitsu Halcyon HFI AOU45RLXFZ
  9. Senville SENA/48MO/Z
  10. Mitsubishi MXZ-8C6ONA2

Top Single Zone Mini Splits

A single zone mini split includes the outdoor condensing unit and one indoor air handler, aka evaporator.

Pros: The biggest advantage of single zone mini splits is that they are often more efficient than multi-zone systems. Single zone units are also easier to install as a DIY project than multi-zone systems.

DIY mini splits? Yes! A few manufacturers such including MRCOOL and Senville make pre-charged systems for DIY installation. Install the outdoor and indoor units, and then plug in the refrigerant line set to each unit along with the power cord and drain line, and you are good to go.

Cons: The disadvantage is that a single zone mini split will only cover a single zone. If you wish to cover the whole house using multiple single zone units, it may cost more than one multi-zone system. Plus, with just one indoor unit, you might find that areas distant from it don’t get the same level of heating and cooling as those near the evaporator.

Best choice: A single zone unit is a good choice for an area that needs supplemental climate control, or in a single space or room like a workshop, garage, small cabin, or a small home with an open floor plan. Tiny homes are an ideal location for a ductless system.

Carrier Infinity 38MPRA Single Zone 9,000 BTU

Carrier is a world leader in high-technology HVACR products and is known for quality and reliability.

Installed Cost: $4,500 – $6,000.

Efficiency: 42 SEER, 15 EER, 15 HSPF

BTUs/Coverage: 9,000 BTUs / 250 – 450 sq. ft.

Top Features: This single zone unit comes with a wall mounting air handler and a wireless remote. The unit is Energy Star certified and with a 42 SEER, it’s one of the most efficient mini splits on the market. Other features include a condenser base pan heater to prevent ice formation and allow drainage in cold temperatures, built-in safety monitoring, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Pros and Cons: This unit is reliable, full of features, and the efficiencies are excellent. Carrier is known for providing premium products with costs above average, but the high efficiency will help to offset the initial cost of this unit. The warranty is better than the norm with 10 years on all parts.

Best ROI: With an operational temperature range of -22° to 122°F, you’ll get a great return even in extreme climates. Carrier claims it offers 100% heating capacity and efficiency at the lowest outdoor temperatures.

Why It Made the List: Carrier has a solid track record for reliability, useful features, and ultra-efficient performance making this unit a good value. Note: This series also includes condensing units of 12K, 18K and 24K with corresponding evaporator/indoor units of 12K, 18K and 22K BTUs.

MRCOOL 3rd Generation DIY-18-HP-C-230B Single Zone 18,000 BTU

MRCOOL has gained popularity in the mini split arena with their truly do-it-yourself, 3rd Generation mini splits.

Installed Cost: $2,500 – $4,500 DIY, about $5,500 for pro installation.

Efficiency: 22 SEER and 10 HSPF (EER not provided)

BTUs/Coverage: 18,000 BTUs / 550 – 800 sq. ft.

Top Features: There is a lot to like in this single zone mini split including high efficiencies, its Energy Star certified, provides quiet operation, Wi-Fi capability for all devices, and has a Gold Fin corrosion resistant condenser. The unit comes with a wall mounted air handler.

Pros and Cons: The biggest pro with this unit is that it’s easy for the homeowner to install due to pre-charged refrigerant lines saving the cost of an HVAC contractor. Some reviews indicate that installation is not quite as easy as expected. MRCOOL offers a warranty that’s average for the industry with 5 years on parts and 7 years on the condenser.

Best ROI: This unit operates with an outdoor temperature range of 5°F to 122°F but you’ll get the best return in climates with warm summers and mild winters.

Why It Made the List: MRCOOL’s innovative installation technology, efficiencies, feature list, and price, make it a top choice

Pioneer Inverter+ WYS030GMFI17RL-16 Single Zone 30,000 BTU

Pioneer mini splits are known to provide good value at a fair price. They are popular with DIYers for their easy installation. This single zone unit can heat and cool a large space.

Installed Cost: $3,000 – $4,500.

Efficiency: 18 SEER, 11 EER, 9.6 HSPF

BTUs/Coverage: 30,000 BTUs / 900 to 1,200 sq. ft.

Top Features: This single zone unit comes with a wall mount, three-speed air handler, a wireless remote, complete installation kit, and the ability to heat and cool a large space.

Pros and Cons: Pioneer mini splits use a high efficiency DC inverter with variable speed heating providing precise temperature control keeping energy costs low. The 5-year parts and compressor warranty is a little below average.

Best ROI: You’ll get the best return by using in a large open space like a small home, large cabin, open workshop in an average climate.

Why It Made the List: Pioneer has been around for over 20 years and developed a reputation for providing the combination of quality and competitive prices.

Top Multi Zone Mini Splits

A multi-zone mini split includes the outdoor compressor/condenser and two or more indoor air handlers.

Pros: The advantages of a multi-zone system are that they can heat and cool the whole house. These systems allow you to customize the temperature in each room, so you won’t use energy where it isn’t needed. Running all the air handlers from one condenser provides convenience and less maintenance than using multiple single zone units throughout the home.

Cons: Some of the high BTU units are not as efficient as the lower BTU units and installing multiple air handlers adds to the installation cost.

Best choice: Use a multi-zone mini split system in a home with multiple areas that need customized temperature control. Choose higher BTU air handlers for rooms where you spend the most time or that need the most cooling like a bedroom, kitchen, or large room with a southern or western exposure.

Daikin MXS Series #2MXS18NMVJUA Dual Zone 24,000 BTU

Daikin often comes out on the top of the list in reviews for mini split systems and that’s due to their high quality, reliability, and many features. This dual zone 24,000 BTU model is no exception.

Installed Cost: $5,800 – $8,500.

Efficiency: 18.9 SEER, EER 12.5, 10.7 HSPF

BTUs/Coverage: 24,000 BTUs / 1,000 – 1,250 sq. ft.

Top Features: This Energy Star certified unit can be controlled by a smart device and includes an anti-corrosion treatment on the heat exchanger, a quick warming function, and automatic defrost to prevent ice on the condenser.

Pros and Cons: The Daikin MXS Series provides an operating range of -5°F to 115°F and a choice of 5 styles of air handlers. Daikin backs it with a 12-year warranty on parts, but the unit must be installed by an authorized contractor in order to maintain the warranty coverage.

Best ROI: You will get the best return in average climates without extreme high or low temperatures.

Why It Made the List: This is an efficient, well made, dependable unit at a fair cost.

Bosch Climate 5000 2.0 Max Performance Tri-Zone 36,000 BTU

Bosch, known for making premium appliances for the home, also makes high-quality mini split systems. This 36,000 BTU triple zone unit is one of the best on the market for cold climates.

Installed Cost: $8,800 – $12,000.

Efficiency: 21.5 SEER, 13.5 EER, 10.5 HSPF

BTUs/Coverage: 36,000 BTUs / 1,800 – 2,200 sq. ft.

Top Features: Features like the wireless remote and a 24-hour programmable timer make this unit convenient and easy to use. There are a number of function modes like silent mode and turbo speed. The condenser comes with a base pan heater. Air handlers are only available in ceiling cassette and wall mounted styles.

Pros and Cons: This unit features Bosch’s Max Performance which provides 100% heating capacity in temperatures as low as -5°F to 5°F depending on which evaporator is used. It’s an overall operating range from is -22°F to 122°F, but it won’t deliver maximum efficiency in extreme conditions. Energy Star certified. Bosch mini splits are priced in the higher range.

Best ROI: This is an efficient unit for any climate, but you will get the best return in areas with cold winters.

Why It Made the List: With Max Performance and high efficiencies, this unit provides excellent value in cold climates.

LG LMU36CHV Multi F Tri-Zone 36,000 BTU

No top mini split list would be complete without including LG. This unit may not be as popular or as simple to install as other brands, but it is a budget friendly option, and comes with some unique air handlers.

Installed Cost: $7,500 – $10,500.

Efficiency: 20.6 SEER, 12.2 EER, 9.3 HSPF

BTUs/Coverage: 36,000 BTUs / 1,100 – 1,700 sq. ft.

Top Features: LG offers some of the most interesting air handlers available. The Art Cool Gallery features 24” x 24” x 5” wall mounted air handlers which allow you to insert a print or photo making them look like a framed art piece. The Art Cool Mirror air handlers feature a sleek mirrored finish.

Pros and Cons: Inverter technology makes this unit efficient featuring a Gold Fin coating to prevent corrosion, a self-cleaning coil, and three customizable wireless remotes. Some reviews suggest that the outdoor unit is loud.

Best ROI: The unit provides an operating temperature of -4° F to 115°F, so the system works efficiently in extreme weather.

Reason It Made the List: This is a good quality, well priced unit, with air handlers that can hide behind artwork. This system can be configured from 18K to 48K BTUs.

GREE Multi 21+ # MULTI36HP230V1CO Quad Zone 36,000 BTU

Gree, the world’s largest air conditioning manufacturer, isn’t as well-known in North America as other brands, but this 36,000 BTU quad zone unit is dependable, efficient, and well-priced.

Installed Cost: $8,500 – $11,000.

Efficiency: 21 SEER, 12.5 EER, 11.5 HSPF

BTUs/Coverage: 36,000 BTUs / 1,100 – 1,700 sq. ft.

Top Features: This unit includes remote and wired control options, multiple fan speeds, a self-diagnosis function, washable air filters, and an operating range of -5°F to 118°F. Choose from 5 styles of air handlers.

Pros and Cons: Gree’s G 10 inverter technology provides enhanced system performance, low power consumption, low noise, and precise temperature control. Gree offers a 10-year warranty on parts and compressor if purchased and installed by a certified Gree Dealer, otherwise the warranty becomes 5 years on parts and compressor.

Best ROI: Gree is known for making dependable mini split heat pumps, and you will get the best return on this unit in a warm climate.

Why It Made the List: This is a quality, efficient unit representing a good value at a fair price.

Fujitsu Halcyon HFI # AOU45RLXFZ Five Zone 48,000 BTU

Fujitsu provides exceptional reliability and efficiencies in this five-zone 45,000 BTU system.

Installed Cost: $10,500 – $13,500.

Efficiency: 19.7 SEER, 10.5 EER, 10.3 HSPF

BTUs/Coverage: 45,000 BTU Cooling, 48,000 BTU heating / 1,800 – 2,350 sq. ft.

Top Features: This Wi-Fi enabled unit has a variety of useful features including weekly programming, economy mode, high ceiling mode, auto change from heat to cool, auto restart, and a built-in condensation pump. Air handlers are available in four styles: wall mount, cassette, floor mount and slim duct.

Pros and Cons: This unit offers high efficiencies and is Energy Star qualified. Fujitsu’s Halcyon series are exceptionally reliable with one of the best service records in the industry. The standard 5-year parts and 7-year compressor warranty can be extended to 10 year on under certain criteria. Fujitsu systems can be expensive to install.

Best ROI: This system can efficiently heat and cool in all but the coldest climates.

Note: If you live in a climate with extremely cold winters, look at the Halcyon XLTH for extra low-temperature heating to -15F.

Why It Made the List: This is a high quality, reliable unit with many features and decent efficiencies.

Senville SENA/48MO/Z Quad Zone 48,000 BTU

Senville is a newer brand but has quickly built an excellent reputation as a reliable, high efficiency manufacturer with competitive pricing.

Installed Cost: $9,500 – $12,500.

Efficiency: 22.4 SEER, 12.5 EER, 10.2 HSPF

BTUs/Coverage: 48,000 BTUs / 2,000 – 2,750 sq. ft.

Top Features: This unit is full of features including Turbo Mode for fast cooling, Self-Cleaning Mode, an Ionizing air filter, individual remotes with thermostats for temperature control in each zone, leak detection, and it is Energy Star certified. The “Follow Me” remote contains a temperature sensor for optimal comfort wherever you – and the remote – happen to be.

Pros and Cons: This unit comes with great efficiencies, features, and a 7-year parts and compressor warranty. Senville only offers a wall mount air handler.

Best ROI: This unit offers heating to -22 with up to 75% efficiency, so it is a good choice for any climate – especially recommended for warm, humid climates.

Why It Made the List: This is one of the ten best mini split heat pumps because it has an excellent dependability rating, efficient heating, and air conditioning, and it is priced right, making it an excellent value.

Mitsubishi MXZ-8C6ONA2 60,000 BTU 8 Zone 60,000 BTU

Mitsubishi has become a leading brand in the mini split market, and this 60,000 BTU mini split is one of the most efficient large units available.

Installed Cost: $13,000 – $17,000.

Efficiency: 19.5 SEER, 12 EER, 10.7 HSPF

BTUs/Coverage: 60,000 BTUs / 2,500 – 3,000 sq. ft.

Top Features: The inverter-driven compressor modulates – it runs at variable capacity to use only the energy needed for meet the thermostat set point for heating or cooling. Its zones can be individually controlled with a wireless remote for temperature customization. This system has five styles of air handlers available.

Pros and Cons: This unit offers some of the highest efficiencies available in large multi-zone systems and with Energy Star certification. The warranty isn’t as good as some at 5 years on parts and 7 years on the compressor. Most units run dependably for 12-15 years.

Best ROI: The unit will provide efficient heating and cooling performance in any climate and any home where a large, multi-zone system is required.

Why It Made the List: This premium system provides high efficiencies, excellent performance, and longevity, making it a great buy.

Note: This unit can also be configured for 2 to 7 zones.

Average Cost To Install Ductless AC (Mini-Split) Typical Range: $2,870 - $4,380
See costs in your area

Installation

The only mini split on the list that is specifically made to be installed by the homeowner is the MRCOOL model which comes with 16’ or 25’ of pre-charged line sets. Even though some of the other brands on the list may be fairly easy to install, they all recommend installation be done by an HVAC professional.

Following are a number of benefits to having your system professionally installed:

Keeping the Warranty Valid

Many manufacturers will only honor the warranty if the unit has been professionally installed. Read the warranty before you purchase the unit. You can find the warranty on the company’s website.

Refrigerant Handling

Most systems are not pre-charged with sufficient refrigerant, and refrigerant is not sold to the general public. A 608 refrigerant certification is required to purchase it.

Safety

Mini split installation requires working with electricity. A professional will have the experience to safely complete the job.

Performance

An HVAC pro will have the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to complete the job properly. An improperly installed mini split system will not function as efficiently as it should resulting in poor performance and higher energy costs.

Rebates and Tax Credits

Many of the included brands offer manufacturers rebates. You can find details on their websites. Many energy providers also offer rebates on the installation of Energy Star certified equipment. Check with your local energy company or search for rebates on the following websites:

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Average Cost To Install Ductless AC (Mini-Split) Typical Range: $2,870 - $4,380
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