Ductless Mini Split AC Line Sets: Which One Do I Need?

A Guide to HVAC Mini Split Line Sets
Image of mini split line set

We’ve written quite a bit about the various air conditioning systems available for purchase at Total Home Supply, including a guide to understanding BTU ratings, understanding energy efficiency and SEER/EER ratings, how to select the right multi-zone mini split system for your home, and a roundup of our favorite 2016 AC units. In addition to offering high-quality cooling products, we also carry a selection of air conditioner parts & accessories to aid in both installation and system repair. Some common questions we receive from customers have to do with AC line sets for ductless mini-splits; specifically, which line set do I need? And how do I choose the right one? The answer is easier than you think.

What is an AC line set?

A line set consists of two semi-flexible copper pipes that connect the outdoor air conditioner or heat pump to the indoor air handler. It is these pipes’ job to transport refrigerant throughout your cooling system, and considering that proper circulation of refrigerant is the whole reason your cooling system, well, cools, a line set’s job is a pretty important one.

Each line set includes one large pipe, called a suction line, and a smaller pipe, called the liquid line. The suction line transports refrigerant in its gaseous state, while the liquid line transports refrigerant in its liquid state. Both of these lines, when intended for mini-split HVAC units as opposed to traditional central air systems, are insulated and feature flare connections at each end to ensure a tight, pressure-resistant seal.

Why is it important to choose the right line set?

All HVAC copper line sets perform the same function, but for your line set to function as it should, you need to make sure you’ve chosen the right size. Pipes that are too large for your system will result in less pressure within the tubes, causing the slow-moving refrigerant to change states at the wrong time and not function at all. Pipes that are too small for your system will result in excess pressure within the tubes, causing the system to internally flood.

It goes without saying that you don’t want either of these things to happen. Line sets cannot be adjusted or resized in width, so choosing the right size AC line set at the time of purchase is crucial if you want your mini-split HVAC system to function properly.

Image of man attaching copper line set to an air conditioner tube.

This 100% copper line set uses a flare connection to attach to the indoor unit.

How to choose your line set

The size of a line set is determined by width (uninsulated) and length. Both of these factors are important to consider in determining exactly what size you need for your ductless mini-split system.

Line sets for mini-splits usually come in the following sizes, the first number indicating the uninsulated width of the liquid line and the second number indicating the uninsulated width of the suction line:

  • 1/4” and 3/8”
  • 1/4” and 1/2”
  • 1/4” and 5/8”
  • 3/8” and 5/8”
  • 3/8″ and 3/4″

Some specialty systems may feature slightly different sizes, but these are the options you can generally expect to find when shopping for a line set. Line set listings will also feature a third number, which is the insulation thickness on both the suction and liquid lines. 1/2” insulation is recommended for all systems using R410A refrigerant (which, by now, is the vast majority of all units, AC or otherwise, that require refrigerant). All mini-split line sets offered on our website feature 1/2” insulation.

The surest way to determine which size line set you need is to check with the manufacturer of your unit; they will always know exactly what size each individual AC unit requires. For all ductless mini-split air conditioners for sale at Total Home Supply, we include a list of appropriately sized line set options in the main product listing, so there is never any doubt as to whether you are choosing the correct one.

The reason line set size is unit-specific is because certain systems require more/less refrigerant than others, thus requiring larger/smaller lines. Generally, larger units require larger lines and smaller units, smaller lines, but the system’s engineering and efficiency is important to consider as well — a mini-split air conditioner with high BTU and SEER ratings will require a smaller line than a less-efficient unit, because high-efficiency ACs use less energy and thus require less refrigerant to operate.

Once you have determined the required width of your line set, you’ll need to figure out how long your lines need to be. The required length of a line set is unique to each individual installation and simply depends on how far apart the indoor and outdoor units are from one another. Line sets are usually offered in 15’, 25’ and 50’ lengths, but some systems can support lines up to 150′, so there should be no problem finding a length suitable to your own needs. Lines can be cut to fit specific installation requirements, so when in doubt, always choose a longer line set than you think you will need.

It is also important to note that line sets should be made of copper, and only copper. Aluminum line sets are a cheaper option, and you will find copper-aluminum (Co-AL) hybrid line sets for sale through some retailers, but we do not recommend them for use. Aluminum is less flexible and less resilient than copper, and so aluminum line sets are more difficult to install and could be prone to leakage. Aluminum line sets are also not suited for R410A refrigerant, which, as we’ve mentioned before, is the standard for all cooling products manufactured in recent years. When shopping for a line set, regardless of which size you need, choose all-copper pipes.

Installation

Installing a ductless mini-split HVAC system is an extremely complicated endeavor, and setting up the refrigerant is arguably the most difficult part. For that reason, we do not recommend you try to install line sets yourself. Installing a mini-split system requires extensive electrical knowledge, so for your own personal safety, as well as the safety of the unit, we strongly suggest you hire a professional who will be able to do the job correctly.


If you have any other questions regarding line sets or other ductless mini-split parts & accessories, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-877-847-0050 to speak with our qualified sales representatives.

In the market for a new ductless mini split? Check out our free Multi Zone Mini Splits Buying Guide!

Mickey Luongo

Mickey is the resident heating and air conditioning expert.

22 Comments

Josh Upton

about 1 year ago

Manufacturer sent larger line sets for recessed mini splits than required and the house is finished. Alot of sheetrock has to be removed to replace lines. Can I reduce part of the lines to keep from removing sheetrock,paint,insulation etc.

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Mickey Luongo

about 1 year ago

Reducing the fittings will not solve the problem. The system will not function correctly without the properly sized lines.

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Max

about 1 year ago

I am replacing my unit. Can I use the existing Line set? (The lines are 5 years old and they are the correct size for the new unit)

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Mickey Luongo

about 1 year ago

You can use it since it is the same size. I would recommend having your contractor clean the line. As always, make sure to pressure test the line prior to charging the system.

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Jhemin

about 12 months ago

I have an 18000 btu mini split ac, my problem is the suction line is not the same as the original 1/2 size..we already fixed a 5/8 suction line and 1/4 discharge line. My question is, is there any changes or problem in cooling?

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Mickey Luongo

about 12 months ago

Your system will not work correctly if you do not use the correctly sized lines. If you try to use larger or smaller lines, the unit will not get the correct amount of refrigerant.

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Josh Upton

about 12 months ago

A little less efficient on mine. Same exact problem wrong line set from manufacturer.

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Timothy Roderick

about 9 months ago

Line set length: Will a hyper-heat mini-split installed with a 15' long line set operate more efficiently then a unit installed with a 50' line set?_________________________________ Placement in a windy location: The closest outdoor location to my indoor module is exposed to strong NW winds during the winter months. Could I construct a wind break / shield to protect my mini-split from these winds?______________________________________ This location is well shaded during the entire year; so I believe it would be an ideal location during hot summer months. Is this important?_______________________

Reply

CINDY CRIDER

about 8 months ago

Can I Hook up 5 head units to one outside unit ?

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Mickey Luongo

about 8 months ago

Certain outdoor units support this. Checkout our guide on multi zone mini splits here: https://www.totalhomesupply.com/multi-zone-mini-split-buying-guide

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santiago

about 7 months ago

hi i want install a condencer unit with two head inside but i want put the outdoor in the roof and is like 75ft that is a probrem or i cant doin the way

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Mickey Luongo

about 7 months ago

It depends on the specs of your system. For example, the LG LMU18CHV can go a maximum distance of 82 feet per zone. Other systems will be less.

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Nikeisha

about 6 months ago

What size connection pipes does the Panasonic inverter 18000 btu use,we got 1\4 inch and 5\8 inches and the ac guy said its the wrong size

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Mickey Luongo

about 6 months ago

It depends on your specific model, but most Panasonic 18,000 BTU systems require 1/4 and 1/2 inch line sets.

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Jason

about 6 months ago

are all outdoor units male flare end the same size?

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Mickey Luongo

about 6 months ago

No, the sizes are different depending on the system.

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Jason

about 6 months ago

Ok Thank you

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john harris

about 4 months ago

I have a 1.5 ton cooling only mini split with 3/8 liquid line and1/2 suction line. The new inverter drive equipment is 1/4 liquid line and 1/2 suction. It would be very difficult to replace the piping. I know that the system is metered refrigerant feed from outdoor unit to the indoor. The outdoor unit is 20 feet above the indoor. Any comments?

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Mickey Luongo

about 4 months ago

You would need to replace the line set. Using the wrong size will cause the system to malfunction and void the warranty.

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Amerika McCann

about 2 months ago

Are the measurements for these line sets measuring the Inner or outer diameter? Thanks.

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Mickey Luongo

about 2 months ago

Refrigerant lines are measured by the outside diameter.

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Josh Upton

about 2 months ago

My recessed mini splits condensate on trims after running about 30 minutes any suggestions on what to do?

Reply

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