Maybe you’re trying to find the perfect heating or cooling supplement for your home or a single room. Maybe you’re examining alternative options to a ducted heating system. Or maybe you’re just curious about the different types of mini split heat pumps, and you’ve noticed that they seem to cost more to install than some other home system. Why is this the case? And with such a high installation cost, is the investment actually worth it?
We’ve broken down the cost efficiency and whether or not mini splits are actually worth the savings. Depending on the usage and the expectations, mini splits can actually be a highly beneficial system that performs as desired and brings the comfort you need.
What Makes a Mini Split Cost More?
The cost of a mini split goes beyond just purchase price. The split system itself can cost anywhere from $700-$7,000, which is a very wide range so there are options for different situations and budgets. The installation of the system typically costs around $800-$1,500 per zone, and with proper sizing and installation, the system will add around $50-$100 per month to your electric bill. We breakdown each of the costs below.
Such a simple unit can seem expensive, and then when you factor in installation fees, the total price can seem steep. However, there are a few reasons that mini splits initially seem more expensive than their duct-system heating counterparts and here’s a few:
- Installation Costs: Proper installation is important when it comes to any home heating upgrades, and this is especially true for mini splits. While it might be tempting to DIY your mini split installation, keep in mind that you will most likely void your warranty. While portions of the installation can be completed by an avid do-it-yourselfer, final installation requires a professional with the right tools, know how, and licenses. The most common cause of problems with mini splits is installation error. Let the professionals help you out and it will be well worth it.That being said, there are some mini split systems that are specifically designed for DIY installation. Our DIY mini splits can be easily installed yourself. Each system includes all the necessary parts and accessories, and all you need are basic tools to install it.. This is a cost-effective option for the handy homeowner; by eliminating the need for an HVAC specialist, you can reap some pretty significant savings.
- Advanced Technology: While mini splits might seem simple, they are really on the cutting edge of heating and cooling. Traditional forced air systems have not changed much over the years but mini split technology is constantly advancing. Energy efficiency ratings have been going up year after year as has heat pump performance. This combination of factors has allowed mini split units to become the least expensive form of heating and cooling over time even with its higher upfront costs.
- Improper Installation: Having your mini split unit installed in the ideal location in your home is important as well, and this often involves having an HVAC certified professional install it. Improper installation can lead to an issue known as “short-cycling” — the system turns on and off rapidly, which prevents it from being able to run its full cooling or heating cycle. This leads to unnecessary wear and tear on your unit, as well as higher energy costs. Short-cycling can also occur when the unit is too large for its space, so making sure you have the correct-sized heat pump for your needs is important as well, and these are all things that a certified professional can assist with.
Mini Split Cost Breakdown
- Purchasing: When researching mini splits, seeing units that cost upwards of $7k can make your head spin and your palms start to sweat, but purchasing a quality unit will go a long way towards cost-efficiency in the long run. There are some decent units that start anywhere from $700-$800, but don’t be tempted to buy the cheapest unit merely for that reason. You’ll want to buy from a major mini split heat pump manufacturer, like Daikin, LG, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, or Fujitsu, as there’s a greater chance the system will function as it should and that parts and warranty service will be available down the line. While that might seem more expensive initially, over the long term it will save you money.Total Home Supply is a certified parts distributor for LG as well as being certified to provide warranty parts for LG, Daikin, and Panasonic.
- How much does it cost to install a mini split system? The minimum average cost to install a single zone mini split system is estimated at about $1000-1500, but the overall cost will vary case to case, depending on the size of the unit and the labor required to install, as well as the materials needed. Multi-zone system installation can vary in price. Most installers will charge an hourly labor rate ranging from $100-$180 per hour depending on the region. Multi-zone installations on average take 1-4 working days to install meaning that installation prices can vary from $1000-$5000+. As mentioned above, it may be tempting to conduct a DIY installation, but it’s wise to have your mini split installed by someone who’s HVAC certified to ensure proper placement of your unit, as well proper connections to be made between the condenser and the evaporators. Calling around and getting estimates from several different companies is a good idea before settling on a certified installer.
- How much does a mini split cost to run? Generally, once it’s all set-up and ready for use, a mini split heat pump that’s been properly sized and installed for its location will only add about $50-$100 per month to your power bill. The efficiency rate of a heat pump — as opposed to traditional resistive heat like space or baseboard heaters — is higher because the electricity consumed only powers two fans, the compressor, and the pump to concentrate the heat. Using a mini split heat pump for heat is about the equivalent of heating your home with $1.44 worth of oil, using 48% less. That’s not bad!
Are Mini Splits Worth the Cost?
Mini splits are very much worth the investment over central air and heat options. They allow greater freedom and ease of use than a typical whole-house heating system. It’s important to remember that the cost to power efficiency is going to be influenced by the proper unit size for the area, placement, and a professional installation. If these guidelines are all followed, your new system should be worth the upfront cost.
Many models even offer settings to customize to your preference, such as sleep cycles and timers. Remote control options are great too, as this allows control of the unit from anywhere in the room.
Keep in Mind
- When it comes to choosing a mini split heat pump system, size is important. Keep in mind your BTUs per square foot, room size, and general expectations for your unit when purchasing so that you can get the most efficient model for your space. This will matter most when it comes to selecting a mini split for energy efficiency.
- Proper installation. Poor insulation during the process could lead to heat loss, while improper connection between condenser and evaporator could bring future issues.
- To prolong the life of your mini split, clean the air filters on your units every 3-4 months and take advantage of the sleep cycles and timed settings. If you’ve got your unit timed to kick on only while you’re using the space rather than cycling all day in an empty house, this will help with power costs.
All of the above will make a large difference in saving money, using less energy, and adequately heating or cooling your home with a mini split heat pump. Total Home Supply carries a great selection of mini splits and can help you find the correct model to improve your home heating and A/C system. If you need help deciding, here are a few of our favorites:
The LG LA120HYV1 12000 BTU Class 25.5 SEER Art Cool Premier Single Zone Heat Pump Mini Split features a low ambient heating option that heats down to -13 degrees Fahrenheit for superior performance. Price: $1,429
The LG LMU300HHV 30,000 BTU Configurable Quad-Zone Multi F Mini-Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump is an Energy Star qualified mini split that can handle up to four indoor units. Price: $3,192 (for outdoor unit only)
The Daikin FTX12NMVJU / RXL12QMVJU 12000 BTU Class Aurora Series Heat/Cool Single Zone Mini Split System is a bundled mini split system that delivers 10,900 BTUs of air conditioning and 13,600 of heating power. Price: $1,539