How Much Does Mini-Split AC Installation Cost?

Typical Range:

$2,000 - $14,500

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on research by HomeAdvisor.

Updated June 21, 2022

Reviewed by Cati O'Keefe, Expert Home Building & Sustainability Contributor.

Written by HomeAdvisor.

The total cost of a mini-split AC installation can range from $2,000 to $14,500 or more, but most homeowners can expect to pay around $3,000 for a 12,000 BTU system installation.

Average cost install a mini-split ductless AC system is $3,000 ranging from $2,000 to $14,500

A basic one-ton unit with a single outdoor and single indoor component at a 21 SEER rating can cost anywhere from $1,300 to $5,000, and labor for the most straightforward installation runs from about $300 to $1,500.

Ultimately, the cost of a ductless air conditioner installation can vary extensively depending on the type of unit, quality, size, and brand; the number of zones or heads; and the cost of hiring a local HVAC contractor. This guide will explore the fundamentals of a mini-split AC system and all the cost factors associated with installation.

Mini-Split Cost by Units or Zones or Heads

A mini-split air conditioning system is an alternative way to cool your home that doesn’t involve the complex ductwork of a central AC system. These systems allow you to cool individual rooms or zones at different temperatures rather than setting one temperature for the entire home. Mini-split systems can be much more efficient than central air.

A basic mini-split installation includes an outdoor unit and a single indoor unit, called a head. This is common when installing a mini-split system to cool an attic space or a single room, typically when the rest of the house is cooled by a central AC system.

The cost of a mini-split system installation—with one outdoor unit and one indoor unit (or head) cooling a single zone—typically runs between $2,000 and $8,800. The more heads you add to cool additional zones, the more you’ll pay for the mini-split unit AC installation.

ZonesTypical Installation Cost
1$2,000 – $8,800
2$2,700 – $11,100
3$3,400 – $13,400
4$4,100 – $15,700
5$4,800 – $18,000

If you want to cool multiple rooms or an entire house with a mini-split system, you will need to install multiple heads in various rooms of the house. While having a single indoor unit is more common, residential mini-splits can typically go up to five heads.

Installing multiple indoor units is more expensive and can include additional costs for hiring a carpenter or an electrician. 

Having multiple zones lets you cool different sections of your house to different temperatures. This could allow you to only cool bedrooms at night and save on electricity costs by turning off the AC in other rooms.

Mini-Split AC System Component Costs

Every mini-split system needs an outdoor condenser unit that moves hot air outside of the house and costs approximately $1,000 to $6,000. The local HVAC contractor you hire will need to install this on a concrete pad next to your house or affix it to the side of the house. 

The indoor air-handling units, or heads, that blow cool air into your home range from about $400 to $2,000. Your pro can run these heads along the floor, mount them to the wall or the ceiling, or install them in the ceiling like recessed lighting (called ceiling cassettes). 

Types of Heads

4 interior mini-split AC units compared by cost, with wall-mounted units ranging $400 to $1,000
Photo: Wattanaphob Kappago / EyeEm / Getty Images

Indoor wall-mounted units cost around $400 to $1,000 per head and are the most affordable (but most noticeable) option. You can also buy a ceiling-mounted indoor unit for around $700 to $2,000 or a floor-mounted indoor unit for $1,300 to $4,000.

Ceiling cassettes typically cost $500 to $2,000. While ceiling cassettes are the most aesthetically pleasing (they fit flush with the ceiling), the labor costs for installation are typically higher.

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Mini-Split Unit Costs by BTU

The cost of a mini-split system also depends on how many British thermal units (Btu) the system can handle. A 6,000 BTU system can range from about $450 to $1,600, while a60,000 BTU system can cost between $3,500 and $10,000. The most common size is a 12,000 BTU unit, which costs an average of $3,000.

Btu stands for British thermal unit and measures the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of a pound of water by a single degree Fahrenheit. The larger your room, the more Btu you will need.

Your contractor will calculate the number of Btu required based on the square footage of the room(s) you need to cool. The general standard is 1 ton of cooling (12,000 BTU) for every 500 to 600 square feet, assuming standard ceiling height (8 feet) and an average climate.

Ductless AC Prices by Brand

The total cost of a ductless air conditioner is pretty standard across brands for single-zone models. Some brands, like Mitsubishi, offer multi-zone options, which accounts for the higher prices.

Ductless AC Brand Costs
BrandCostFeatures
Mitsubishi$1,200 – $8,6501–8 zone options
Fujitsu and Rheem$1,100 – $8,300Single and multi-zones
Daikin$1,000 – $4,000Budget models
Single zone
Panasonic$1,700 – $2,800Single zone
Frigidaire$1,000 – $1,400Single zone

"The Mitsubishi MR SLIM, as an example, has a ceiling cassette that creates an airflow that gradually mixes conditioned air with the air below to avoid drafts. In addition, the product has eight sensors that calculate the number of people in the room and their locations to provide the right amount of air in targeted areas.”

Cati O'Keefe, Expert Home Building & Sustainability Contributor.

Many brands, including Amana, Bosch, Carrier, and LG, sell a mini-split heat pump unit that both cools and heats; these mini-split heat pumps are significantly cheaper than traditional heat pumps. Read our guide on ductless heat pump system costs for in-depth information—and find out the key differences between heat pumps versus air conditioners.

Labor Cost to Install a Mini-Split System

Professional HVAC installation costs $300 to $1,500. On average, you should expect to pay $500 in labor costs for your ductless air conditioning installation.

If your project includes multiple interior units, labor rates will be much higher. In general, you can expect to spend around $300 to $1,000 or more per additional unit.

Labor costs vary by location, so always get at least three quotes. The location and accessibility of the indoor units can affect labor times; it generally takes 5 to 10 hours to install a single- or double-zone system.

Depending on the complexity of your project, you may also need to hire a local electrician or carpenter near you—or both.

  • Average cost of an electrician: $50–$100 per hour. Hiring an electrician for a mini-split system installation generally costs between $200 and $500.

  • Average cost of a carpenter: $35–$100 per hour. Hiring a carpenter for a mini-split system installation generally costs between $140 and $600. You may need a carpenter if your project involves cutting siding that’s difficult to work with (like stucco), cement board, and logs. Your carpenter will have to cut and finish the 3-inch hole necessary for the line to pass through. If you need to drill through a brick wall, you might also need to hire a mason.

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Other Mini-Split Cost Factors

The final cost of a mini-split installation largely depends on size, brand, number of zones, and labor cost, but there are other cost factors to consider before starting your installation.

Installation Kit

You will need to purchase an accessory kit for about $300 to $500 for the installation. The kit includes a sleeve and box and drain tubes and wires. 

Refrigerant Lines

Every mini-split installation budget should account for refrigerant lines, which cost about $7 per foot. These lines connect the outdoor and indoor units; the more units you add, the more refrigerant lines you’ll need.

SEER

A unit’s seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) indicates how efficiently it will run. A higher number indicates a more efficient unit, which means lower energy bills. But models with a higher SEER will cost more.

The minimum standard SEER rating is 13, but most range from 13 to 25. If you live in a hotter climate or want to see significant savings on utility bills, aim for a high-efficiency unit with a high SEER rating (20 and above). For a mid-efficiency model that won’t add as much to your total price, look for a SEER rating between 15 and 17.

Ductless Air Conditioning vs. Central Air

Installing central air conditioning costs an average of $5,700 but can go from $3,800 to $7,600. If your home already has ducts installed, the price can be much lower. Mini-split systems can cost up to 50% less but are not always the right choice. 

Ductless

  • Flexible option for remodels, older homes without ducts, and single room cooling (like an attic)

  • Great at cooling targeted areas in conjunction with a central AC system

  • Models available with up to a 42 SEER rating.

  • Flexible placement options with different head types to suit your style

  • No major construction

  • No annual duct cleaning

  • Can be 20% to 60% more efficient.

Central Air

  • More economical if you already have ductwork installed

  • More efficient for larger homes

  • More even cooling throughout the home

  • Can add on whole-house humidifiers

  • Air filtration options

  • Invisible once installed

FAQs

Can I install a mini-split myself?

While it’s possible to install a mini-split ductless system yourself, it’s safer to hire an HVAC installer since this job involves working with electrical wiring and drilling through brick. 

Professionals can calculate the exact cooling needs of your home, which could ultimately save you money on the project. Even if you plan to install your own, talk to a mini-split dealer to get the exact sizing requirements.

How many square feet does a mini-split cool?

The coverage of your mini-split depends on the unit’s Btu. For a rough estimate, calculate about 42 to 50square feet per 1,000 Btu. A standard 12,000 Btu unit can typically cool a 500- to 600-square-foot room. An HVAC pro can conduct a heat-load calculation for a more accurate estimate.

What size mini-split do I need?

The HVAC contractor will calculate this for you, but to get a ballpark estimate, calculate the square footage you’re seeking to cool. As mentioned above, for every 42 to 50 square feet, you need roughly 1,000 Btu. The most common size that homeowners purchase is 12,000 Btu.

Is a mini-split cheaper than central air?

Mini-splits are generally cheaper to install than central air, but the more zones you need to cool, the more you’ll pay for the overall installation of a mini-split AC system. Central air may be more cost-effective if you want to cool an entire home. And if your home already has a network of ducts, central air could be even cheaper to install.

Can you use a mini-split for heating?

Some mini-splits can function like an air conditioner during the warmer months and like a heat pump during the cooler months. Make sure you purchase a unit that offers both functions, but keep in mind that the cost of a mini-split system that heats and cools will be higher.

Mini-split can be up to 60% more efficient than central air, which means lower monthly charges on your electric bill.

Do ductless mini-splits add value to a home?

Yes, ductless mini-splits add value to your home. They’re attractive to buyers because they require little maintenance and are efficient to run.

Do I need an electrician to install a mini-split?

At the very least, mini-split installation requires an HVAC contractor. You might also need to hire an electrician near you if you need to install a dedicated 110- or 200-volt box.

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