BEST DUCTLESS AIR CONDITIONER RESEARCH

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Over the last decade, you may have noticed the euphoria of ductless air conditioning systems gather steam. Many product shows have been characterized by original equipment manufacturers (OEM) marketing “newer and better” sources of indoor comfort. Such tactics and the warm reception from the public would make the majority of homeowners think that central air conditioners are living on borrowed time. Ductless systems, also called mini-split systems are based on a new concept that offers consistent performance and higher energy efficiency. Of course, they have their cons, but their advantages have many property owners talking. Kim Dionne, who is a homeowner in Manchester, Connecticut, points out one of the benefits of this technology as, “There is more temperature control because each room has an individual remote, so I can set it to the temperature I want.”

Being used to conventional solutions would undoubtedly make it difficult for some people to decide to switch to newer technology. That’s why we were not surprised to many people wondering whether mini-split systems are any better than central air conditioners. Although we opine that they are better, we will let you make that verdict. For now, we invite you to read on for our discovery of some of the best ductless air conditioners in the market today according to our extensive analysis. We have summarized our choices for Best Overall, Best for the Money/Most Value, The Budget Pick and Most Energy Efficient, but we believe the entire read will be exciting and helpful.

SUMMARY OF OUR BEST PICKS

Best OverallPIONEER Air Conditioner Pioneer Mini Split Heat Pump Minisplit Heatpump 12000 BTU-208/230 V

  • Chosen for power, cooling and heating application, good control, user-friendliness and wide range of application

Best for the Money, Most Value–  Mitsubishi 12,000 Btu 23.1 Seer Single Zone Ductless Mini Split Heat Pump System (AC and Heat)

  • While affordable, this product is highly energy efficient, long-lasting and low maintenance

The Budget PickInnova 12,000 BTU Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner

  • Very affordable in comparison to other options, yet offers good efficiency (SEER 16), comes pre-charged, does both heating and cooling, and has some latest features.

Most Energy Efficient–  Senville 24000 BTU SENA-24HF/Z Energy Star Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump, White

  • Efficiency of up to 25 SEER is rare to find. Energy Star certified to cement this capability.

QUESTIONS THAT THIS ARTICLE WILL COVER

  1. What are the different options for space/room cooling?
  2. What is a mini-split air conditioner? How does it work?
  3. When does a ductless air conditioner make sense?
  4. Which one is better: Buying or renting?
  5. What are the important considerations before installing the air conditioner?
  6. What factors should I consider when picking the top-rated ductless air conditioner?
  7. What are the leading best ductless air conditioner brands/products under different categories?

Types of Air Conditioners

In our scrutiny of the best ductless mini split air conditioner & heat pumps, we find it worthwhile to mention other space cooling options. Portable Air Conditioners, through the wall air conditioner, Window Air Conditioners and Central Air Conditioning Systems are other home cooling solutions. A portable air conditioner is mobile and can be moved from one space to another. It can be placed on the floor, but will often need a vent kit for disposal of moisture and hot air. Window air conditioners are placed on the window frame so they can drip water outside. They are small-sized and simple to install. Different advancement in these types means the quality of service offered may vary greatly. For instance, some are capable of cycling on and off, while others need user-control. Central air conditioning systems are the most common in homes. A number of components characterize the central a/c system, but the system can be divided into the outdoor part and the indoor part. The most distinctive of the components compared to other types of air conditioners is the ductwork, whose work is to distribute air to each room.

What is a mini-split system?

All ductless air systems contain indoor and outdoor components as the basic features. Starting the process of air conditioning from the outdoor apparatus, the condensing unit compresses the refrigerant and forces it through the connecting lines towards the indoor unit. The indoor unit carries the evaporator coils, air handlers, and blowers. For efficient energy consumption, the air-handling units will be located strategically across the home. The noisier condensing unit is placed outside to maintain quiet inside the rooms. Typically, what we refer to as a mini-split system is that small unit fixed on the wall or ceiling that carries a pair of refrigeration lines for heat transfer from the home.

Fig 1: Ductless Air Conditioner

Fig 1: Ductless Air Conditioner
Fig 1: Ductless Air Conditioner

The terms “Ductless” and “Mini-split” are regularly used interchangeably in air conditioning. The system we are analyzing is ductless because it does not have any network of pipes and boxes that characterize some of the options we mentioned. A ductless system can render all these bulky components unnecessary.

NB: about a third of all energy consumed by central air conditioning systems is lost through ductwork, especially if these components are in the attic or similarly uncontrolled space.

Split” is a term used to depict that the system comprises of separate but interconnected parts. The major components of the unit are an evaporator unit (air handler) and a compressor unit. The noisier compressor is located outdoors while the evaporator is placed indoors. Window-type air conditioners are normally noisy because these components are within a single unit and are placed indoors. For the mini-split system, the compressor unit is placed away from the occupants, thus guaranteeing a quiet environment.

Ductless air conditioners are “Mini”, meaning that they are often small-sized. Our experience with these gadgets suggests that even with their small sizes, they are better than conventional systems in many areas- versatility, energy efficiency, operating costs, installation costs, etc. You will find instances where “multi” is used instead of “mini”, which simply means that there are several indoor components involved.

The outdoor and indoor units of this system are connected using wires and pipes that go through a small hole in the wall. Three inches are enough for these components. Wiring is needed for powering the unit while the tubing harbors the refrigerant.

Categories of Ductless Air Conditioning Systems

In categorizing a mini-split system, we are simply talking about the different configurations possible for different home conditions and system workings. We chose to adopt these three categorizations:

Single-Zone Ductless System: If you are interested in target cooling, this system is ideal. It mostly suits attics, garages, basements, small building and such places.

Dual Zone Ductless System: This arrangement allows you to manage the comfort level of two zones/rooms.

Multi-Zone Ductless System: If the ductless A/C technology has impressed you and you want to use it in the entire home or office, it is still possible. All you need are several air handlers for the different sections/rooms, but the compressor remains as one. Modern mini-split systems are capable of serving as many as eight units. Individual rooms are able to generate their own environment using a thermostat. That means no more arguments among occupants! It may also be referred to as a multi-split ductless air conditioning system.

OUR PICKS FOR THE BEST DUCTLESS AIR CONDITIONER BRANDS 

As you enter the best ductless mini split air conditioner & heat pump market, we can assure you that you will find a crowded market. A disclaimer before we proceed: There are countless options on ductless air conditioners alone, to the point that it is a herculean task to cover everything in a single article. What we have here are some of the most popular and our most-liked hinged on factors such as price, design, energy efficiency and aesthetics.

Some of the best ductless air conditioner brands are listed below:

  1. Mitsubishi
  2. LG
  3. Friedrich
  4. Senville
  5. Pioneer
  6. Classic America
  7. COOPER AND HUNTER
  8. Daikin
  9. Honeywell
  10. DuctlessAire
  11. Whynter

Next up is our top ten choices for ductless air conditioners, and we have categorized them as Single Zone, Dual Zone and Multi-Zone (More than two) systems:

SINGLE ZONE DUCTLESS MINI-SPLIT SYSTEMS

  1. Senville 24000 BTU SENA-24HF/Z Energy Star Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump, White

Energy efficiency is my area of interest, so it is not surprising that this is my first pick for this category. Powerful and loaded with advanced features, the Senville 24000 BTU SENA has furthered the grip of the manufacturer in the mini-split a/c industry. You will immediately fall in love with this product that is AHRI Certified, ETL Intertek Approved and Energy Star Certified. The certifications are the kind of assurances that buyers need for longevity and quality.

With a maximum of 25 SEER, this product is a choice for many buyers because of its efficient operation. It is also among the most powerful ones on this list, offering some good 24000 BTU from a 208-230V power outlet. Reliability is boosted by the high design quality and power. The unit features DC Inverter Technology that promotes excellent performance and energy efficiency. This technology alongside other intricacies is the reason this machine has an impressive SEER rating.

The key selling point of this product may be energy efficiency, but we are highly impressed by the quiet operation despite the power. The manufacturer has referred to this as “Whisper Technology”, and we completely concur. Enjoy this incomparable experience in the living room, bedroom, addition, or even the office.

To make installation flawless, Senville have included Easy Installation Kit containing a 16 Ft. Copper Line Set. Despite this fact, we recommend professional installation if you do not have experience for this type of work because there is an indoor and outdoor unit. This is also necessary to safeguard the product warranty, which is 1 year on parts and 5 Years on compressors.

Like the rest of the systems from this manufacturer, the Senville 24000 BTU SENA-24HF/Z Energy Star Mini Split Air Conditioner also comes pre-filled with R410A refrigerant up to 25 Ft.

A section of reviewers has complained about the price, but we feel that this product offers good value for money. The very high rating (4.4 out of 5 stars) is a testament to the fact that buyers are overly happy with the product.

What impressed us

  • Energy efficient
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Attractive and sturdy design
  • Simple installation

What did not impress

  • Relatively expensive
  1. PIONEER Air Conditioner Pioneer Mini Split Heat Pump Minisplit Heatpump 12000 BTU-208/230 V

When looking for the best ductless air conditioner, three crucial factors should feature- HSPF, BTU and SEER. Simply said, you want to focus on the efficiency of the equipment. Higher HSPF and SEER are always preferable. For BTU, anything from 10,000 to 36,000 is acceptable. This PIONEER Air Conditioner Pioneer Mini Split comes with 17.5-SEER efficiency, which is above the lowest acceptable value. Combining this with 12000-BTU cooling capacity makes a very reliable product that not only provides sufficient cooling but also saves bucks in the process. It is one of the best 12000 BTU mini splits available today.

One thing we cannot ignore about this unit is the presence of the heating element, so you can use either option depending on your preference or season. Its heating capacity is 11, 800 BTU/H alongside an efficiency of 9.0 HSPF. Cooling offers an efficiency of 17.5 SEER. The availability of these two options translates into a lot of comforts and without the need for a thermostat.

It is evident that the WYS012GMFI17RL was built with user convenience as a priority. One of the notable features towards this direction is the LCD Screen Wireless Remote. Its multifunction capability and backlit display definitely raise the standards.

If you thought power, versatility, and ease of use were the only hallmarks of this product, you have not looked at its general design. The ductless indoor unit has an exciting front panel that features a dimmable LED display. Its air discharge louvers swing automatically.

What impressed us

  • Eco-friendly
  • Attractive design
  • Simple to install
  • Quiet performance

What did not impress

  • Can be cumbersome
  • Efficiency could be better
  1. Innova 12,000 BTU Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner – Inverter SEER 16 – Cooling & Heating – Dehumidifier – 115v/60hz – Pre Charged Condenser – Ultra Quiet – 16 Feet Line Set + Accessories

Probably your home does not have a 220-volt socket and there are no plans to fix one soon. You do not even have a voltage converter around. Under this circumstance, the only option is to find a ductless air conditioner with a lower voltage rating, a good example being the 115v/60hz Innova 12,000 BTU Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner.

With a sound level of 19 dB(A), this air conditioner is definitely one of the quietest around. Whether you use it in the office or home, you will proceed with your activities peacefully. The 54 dB(A) for the outdoor unit is also relatively manageable, even if the unit were to be next to a wall.

The Innova 12,000 BTU Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioner has three-in-one capabilities; it can dehumidify, cool and heat. You would expect the installation of such a gadget to cause problems, but our survey showed that users are quite okay. With the guide, most users are able to use the product within minutes of receiving it. On top of the guide, the manufacturer provides all the necessary accessories such as hanging bracket, control cable and drain pipe.

The cooling capability of 12,000 BTUs is ideal for 500-square feet spaces. Performance for such living spaces is still good, despite the 9 EER, which is slightly below the recommended 9.7 EER. Many competitors have worse performance, so we still believe this machine is a good buy, more so considering that the SEER rating is 16.

You can never go wrong with a ductless air conditioner that offers an excellent user- convenience to add to the ever-reliant customer support. Some of the features that we like in this regard are LED Wireless Remote Control and operational timer. Everyone seems to love the Silent Mode because it helps keep the noise output at a minimum.

What impressed us

  • Affordable
  • Quiet

What did not impress

  • Some users find the manual a bit confusing
  1. Mitsubishi 12,000 Btu 23.1 Seer Single Zone Ductless Mini Split Heat Pump System (AC and Heat)

Many people will argue against the high cost of mini-split systems, but they must remember that good things rarely come cheaply. In 2018, I read somewhere of an Australian who installed a multi-zoned Mitsubishi ductless air conditioner for a cost of $3,000. This may seem high, but similar ducted systems may cost higher. Despite the high price, Mitsubishi never disappoints on quality. You will be pleased to note that they have a combination of affordability and top quality in this 12,000 Btu 23.1 Seer Single Zone Ductless Mini Split Heat Pump System.

We find quiet performance to be the biggest asset of this product, as has been the case with this brand anyway. Alongside this smooth operation, we must mention that the product offers a good level of user control for superior comfort through modern features such as fan speed selection, auto restart, and wireless remote.

Mitsubishi ductless systems are famed for their environmental and user-friendliness. This particular product uses the safe R410A refrigerant and comprises of components that require minimal maintenance. It comes with a 24 x 36 Polyolefin Condenser Pad, which provides extra protection for the outdoor unit. The total shipping weight of the product is 103 pounds, so the indoor unit should weigh less than 20 pounds from our experience. This means minimal strain on the wall or any feature that will support it.

You want to consider a budget-friendly product that rivals much higher priced ones in terms of user convenience, energy savings, and environmental friendliness.

What Impressed us

  • Energy efficient
  • Highly portable
  • Low maintenance

DUAL ZONE DUCTLESS SYSTEMS

  1. Senville SENA-18MO-209 18000 BTU Dual Zone Split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump, Mini

The Senville SENA-18MO-209 18000 BTU Dual Zone Split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump is the ideal answer to an efficient, user-friendly, versatile and powerful unit for the bedroom or anywhere else where peace is a priority. It is an 18000 BTU machine because of the two sleek 9000 BTU indoor units. The set is enough to cool two rooms of 500 square.

The DC Inverter Technology is our favorite feature and the reason behind the famed super-efficiency of this product. The dependable performance is sure to leave more money in your pocket, thanks to this feature that alongside others has earned the machine Energy Star Certification, ETL Intertek Approval and AHRI Certification.

There is no limit as to where you can use this sleek setup. Power is on point, the aesthetics are top-notch, and control via the modern remote smooth, but the Whisper Technology crowns everything. Use the remote to control different settings including temperature, the timer, and fan speed. We can confirm that this technology is as good as it sounds. You may even be tempted to recheck the system because the sound is barely detectable. As a wall-mount design, the indoor unit can serve the living room, bedroom and any other space of your liking.

What impressed us

  • Sturdy construction
  • Highly efficient
  • User-friendly
  • Lengthy compressor warranty

What did not impress

  • Bulky
  1. 2 Zone Mini Split – 12000 + 24000 Ductless Air Conditioner – Pre-Charged Dual Zone Mini Split – Premium Quality – USA Parts & Awesome Support

For 10+ years, AirCon International Inc. has maintained a high level of air conditioning products and services to its fast-growing customer base. We have followed closely as the brand continues to release world-beaters in Ductless Mini Split Heat Pump & AC Systems, such as this 12000 + 24000 dual zone ductless air conditioner.

With maximum cooling and heating capacity of 34,000 BTU and 36,000 BTU respectively, this product is ideal for large spaces of up to 2,100 square feet. It will keep the room comfy regardless of the conditions outside. The double-zone unit relies on the most recent inverter technology that promotes optimization of compressor power and efficiency for a pre-set output.  The result is a high efficiency of 21 SEER (11.5 HSPF). It is from the same technology that the product makes no more than a purring sound, thus giving peace of mind to the users.

As you enjoy the peaceful climate control, you can be sure you are making many savings in the process. Our interaction with this brand has revealed that their products actually use minimal power compared to competitors. The secret is that it does not start and stop haphazardly. Savings of up to 60% are possible.

When it comes to control and efficiency, this product demonstrates monumental energy technology that comprises of sleep mode, turbo mode auto reset among others. It comes with a modern remote control to manage the 18,000-BTU cooling and 19,000-BTU heating capability.  We also loved the Auto Clean feature, which helps keep mildew at bay for the peace of sensitive users. Other cool features are 24-hour timer, auto clean, louver motion and of course, Wi-Fi technology.

While AirCon are masters in creating products that beat the odds, you can use this product peacefully, knowing that you can take it back to the manufacturer if it doesn’t impress in 30 days.

What impressed us

  • User-friendly, quiet, simple to use
  • Remote thermostat
  • Wi-Fi
  • Auto-clean
  • Intelligent defrosting

What did not impress

  • A few complaints about defective units
  1. PIONEER Air Conditioner WYS020GMHI22M2 Multi-Split Heat Pump, Dual (2 Zone)

Our second choice in this category is yet another world-beater product from Pioneer. Since 1995, the Pioneer ductless air conditioner brand has been building inexpensive but competitive cooling and heating solutions. Our strong conviction that they always produce high-level devices was furthered when we got hold of this dual zone equipment that has a cooling capacity of 3,600 BTU/hr. Heating power stands at an impressive 950 BTU/hr.

With this level of power, this unit can comfortably handle a sizeable household and keep the indoor conditions comfy regardless of the conditions outside. It relies on the most recent technologies, such as inverter technology, which promotes optimization of compressor power and efficiency for a pre-set output. The result is a rare efficiency for such a big unit of 21.3 SEER for cooling and 10.0 hspf for heating. It’s a quiet performer too, so it will suit even the bedroom.

We liked the user control aspect of this product, especially the LCD screen wireless remotes for the two indoor units. You do not have to have the lights to change various settings, as the multi-function component with its wireless infrared capability makes the process simple.

Other notable features of this unit are galvanized metal construction, LED display (dimmable), multi-speed fan motor and lifelong washable air filters.

What impressed us

  • Value for money
  • Attractive indoor units
  • Efficient

What did not impress

  • Some complaints about faulty units

MULTI-ZONE DUCTLESS SYSTEMS

  1. Senville 36000 BTU Quad Zone Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump SENA-36HF/Q

You will see a couple of Senville products in this article, a reiteration of the quality and consistency that has become part of this globally renowned manufacturer. In the Senville 36000 BTU Quad Zone Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump, we were not surprised to find high-end features that surpass many offered in the market. They are Follow Me Function, Ionizing Air Filter, Turbo Mode and Dehumidification capability, to name just a few.

There is no doubt that the product has outdone many competitors with its efficiency rating of 22.5 SEER. We attribute this excellent performance to Inverter Technology, which enhances energy savings to the tune of 30%.  It is important to note that the efficiency of this system depends on how effective the installation is. Heating efficiency may be affected by your geographic location. With this in mind, it is important to sacrifice the installation cost to take full advantage of this multi-zone system.

Once installed properly, the device is enjoyable not just for the energy and maintenance cost savings, but also for the quiet performance.  The unit has been designed with the most advanced technology to become one of the quietest in the a/c market. For as long as you hire a certified technician for installing and adhere to all the other warranty conditions, the manufacturer can commit to a 7-year warranty for the compressor and 2 years for other parts.

For its energy efficiency and user comfort levels among several other positives, we highly recommend this product for your home or commercial application.

What impressed us

  • High efficiency
  • User-friendly
  1. COOPER AND HUNTER Five 5 Zone Mini Split Ductless Air Conditioner Heat Pump 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 Multi

COOPER AND HUNTER has been in this game for over two decades now and their quality products have been unrivaled. One of their most exciting releases for the HVAC market is this Five 5-Zone Mini Split Ductless Air Conditioner whose Wi-Fi connectivity has the market talking. Convenience is written all over this ductless air conditioner that also doubles as a heat pump with a capacity of 53,980 BTU (max). It can achieve an equally impressive cooling capacity of 53,500 BTU.

One thing with Wi-Fi connected HVAC systems is that they allow you to have comfort at the palm of your hands. This COOPER AND HUNTER Five 5 Zone Mini Split device belongs to a class of new home products that connect to the home Wi-Fi through a smart device such that you can adjust settings from anywhere.  For this feature, you can achieve a lot of cost savings and enhanced comfort.

The COOPER AND HUNTER air conditioner comes with a highly reliable inverter technology with a SEER of 21.5 and HSPF of 10.4. It is capable of maintaining your pre-set temperature without the conventional starts and stops, thus saving as much as 60% of energy. In other words, the a/c, thanks to the inverter, maintain comfort levels for longer hours but uses minimal energy.

Even if you have not used any product from this manufacturer before, we are sure you will gain confidence when you handle it or look at the design. They have used some of the most reliable materials available, with the sleek but sturdy surfaces suggesting longevity.  Even if anything were to happen, you can fall back on the 7/5 year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee.

Other features that make this a/c among the best are turbo mode, sleep mode, daylong timer, auto swing louvers and auto clean for mildew prevention.

What impressed us

  • Long lasting
  • Attractive warranty
  • Wi-Fi
  1. PIONEER Air Conditioner Pioneer Multi Split Heat Pump, Quad (4 Zone)

When you are looking for a super-efficiency system that can serve several rooms, then you cannot help but admire what PIONEER Air Conditioner have in this multi-zoned system that also carries a heat pump. It is a combination of finesse in user comfort, superior performance, and unmatched efficiency.

The device may be unique in all these manners, but it will connect to the standard power outlet, thus smoothening the way even for new users, as long as they have the proficiency to install a high voltage system. The manufacturer would prefer for the installation to be done by a professional using proper tools though.

Installation issues aside; what we like the most about this multi-zone system is the fact that it has a wide range of cooling and heating capacities, thus it could suit both commercial and residential purposes. Each of the zones can run independently depending on temperature preferences, but cooling mode and heating mode cannot operate concurrently.

We were surprised to discover that many customers actually consider the installation of Pioneer units difficult. Our previous experience with this brand has been nothing less than exciting, with the installation manual and all the other documents available online. No need to worry if the process seems complicated; multi-zone systems are the most complex.  A certified HVAC technician will come in handy.

That the WYS040GMHI22M4 costs a little over $ 3,400 is actually surprising, given the premium features it offers. Remember we are talking about a system that also provides a 10.3 hspf heat pump, variable speed DC inverter compressor, ETL approved safety and environmentally friendly R410a refrigerant.

Buy it today and your family or office will never have to worry about cooling and heating again!

What impressed us

  • Excellent efficiency
  • Quiet
  • User-friendly
  • Sleek design 

Reasons to Consider a Ductless Air Conditioner

There are many aspects of making a home comfortable, but temperature management ranks up there. Unless you have no problem with discomfort during summer, you want to cool your space properly. Homeowners in cold climate regions tend to focus on heating, forgetting that sweltering heat has its own downsides. This explains the predicament for many users because quality indoor air quality (IAQ) has links to improved concentration, better sleep and generally, a better life. An answer to this dilemma might be the installation of the ductless air conditioner.

Mini-split systems are often ideal alternatives to conventional central air systems in places where ductwork is inexistent. Ordinarily, this happens for older homes of the era when standard ductwork had not entered the construction world. Ductwork installation can demand up to $10,000, so installing ductless systems instead comes as a perfect option for the same or even better indoor convenience.

That is not to say that homes carrying ducted systems cannot present the benefits of ductless systems. Indeed, there are cases where you may be prompted to use a ductless system in your modern property. We have seen homeowners opt for a mini-split system after learning about possible energy savings or better temperature control. Sometimes, ducts that are five or six decades old will start to leak, leaving the owner with no choice but to seek options for improved performance and efficiency. Ductless air conditioners come in handy in such scenarios.

Central air systems have their benefits, but they come short in one area- customization, yet a good quality ductless mini split air conditioner & heat pump scores the most points here. Some of the options presented by mini-split systems and that could allow customization for homeowners is wall unit for temperature adjustments, ceiling cassette, and multi-zone/single-zone units.

Below is a little more coverage of the benefits.

Quiet Performance: since the compressor is outside the house, only the fan produces a little noise. If there is any noise, maybe it will be something akin to a whisper. You may even be prompted to check the system controls to be sure everything is fine. This feature enhances user comfort.

Ductwork Absent: these systems do not need ductwork; hence, there is no worry about inefficiencies caused by cracks and leaks. Users of these systems can breathe count themselves safe from allergens and asthma-causing conditions associated with central air conditioners.

Simple Installation: the hardest part of installing most mini-split systems is probably drilling a hole in the wall to accommodate the refrigerant line. Some manufacturers have even eliminated that challenge by making lines that can go the entire length of the house. While the task is simpler than in central systems, please note that most manufacturers recommend that professional installers do the installation for you.

Zoning:  Cool only rooms or sections of the home that need cooling. Ductless air conditioning systems do not waste energy as they allow you to choose the spaces you want to serve.

Secure: The best ductless air conditioners of today are designed and built with reliability in mind. They are not only built to last, but also have automatic self-diagnostic capabilities. Some will even self-lock in case of unauthorized access.

User Control: The advancement of mini-split systems has seen the rise of products of smart solutions. For instance, Wi-Fi enabled systems have brought user control to a level never seen before, whereby you can do a lot-set temperature, diagnose the system, turn off, etc. – via a phone app. As long as you have a smart device with the particular app installed, you can control the system from anywhere in the world.

Environmental Friendliness:  The best mini-split air conditioners use the safest refrigerants available. These refrigerants are made from recyclable components and are non-ozone-depleting. This is a marked departure from older technology, which used dangerous refrigerants, a perfect example being Freon (HCFC-22/ R-22). This refrigerant must be phased out of production before January 2020, according to EPA guidelines.

Handling Extreme Temperatures:

Mini-split air conditioners are designed using the most advanced technology. They are capable of handling extreme heat, such as a heat wave. They often present superior performance compared to older systems, thus providing excellent comfort regardless of conditions.

Indoor air quality (IAQ): These units come with some of the most refined air filter technologies. Alongside removing 99.9 percent of contaminants from the air, the filters are capable of deodorizing the air for ultimate satisfaction of users. Improving IAQ is the biggest benefit from this solution, but there is also the aspect of enhanced system reliability. Filters keep harmful objects from the unit, hence promoting the performance of components. The filters are usually easily accessible for maintenance and replacements. Our research has also shown that these filters tend to last more than conventional ones do.

Renting Vs. Buying a Ductless Air Conditioner

Buying and renting are both possible ways of enjoying the services of the ductless air conditioner of your choice. Many users have deemed renting a smooth experience, but others opt to buy the product and keep it to avoid ownership-related problems. When all is said and done, you make this important decision. If you are finding it hard to do so, the following breadth of view can be helpful. For renting, you want to deal with a reputable company, one that is swift to replace parts and provide tune-ups as and when required. Other important factors are number of years of operation, types of services offered and number of customers it serves from time to time.

If you opt to rent the unit, monthly rent may be the only cost to give you headaches. Some providers give you the option of buying the product at any instance as well. Since the renting company wants the product to last long, they will have a high-quality one and will subject it to the best maintenance possible. Be careful not to be locked into an unfriendly lengthy contract though.

Though there are upfront and maintenance costs to consider, we think that buying makes sense from the perspective of owning the asset. It means that even when you decide to sell your property, the system will be part of the value addition. Moreover, governments are nowadays offering friendly rebates that make buying hassle-free. Individual sellers can also provide manageable financial plans that reduce upfront costs significantly.

What You Must Do Before Picking a Mini-Split Air Conditioner

Getting the advice of an HVAC professional is usually the best way to establish if you need a ductless air conditioner. The size and type of space you have are just some of the important considerations. It is not always a definite decision, but we believe these suggested stages can help:

HVAC Expert Visit:  The purpose of inviting the professional to your property is to have a thorough residential load calculation done. Cooling and heating processes have their own complexities, but the expert can bring all these to the table. Some aspects that may interest you are sunlight direction, the color of the roof, insulation level and so forth. The resulting report should reveal the required BTU/hr. for every room. This information is crucial as it helps determine the best ductless heating and cooling systems.

Room/Space Size: Even as the HVAC expert performs these analyses, it is advisable for the homeowner to carry out own measurements of mini split BTU per square foot. It may not be the final data used to pick the products, but it provides a rough estimate of the expected investment.

Installation spot: By now, you know that the indoor unit of a ductless air conditioner installs on the wall or roof. It may even be fixed on the floor, depending on the accommodation of the house. We know that homeowners sometimes have preferred location for the unit, say a certain corner. If you have an idea about the size of the unit, please go ahead and measure the space to ascertain that your idea can work.

Budget: For the air conditioner installation project that you are planning to undertake, you must have a budget in mind. The budget normally covers equipment cost and installation works- we insist that it is better to have an HVAC professional perform the job rather than the DIY approach.  If your budget is strained, you can still use this solution, albeit for limited sections such as the living room or bedroom alone.

What are the important considerations before installing the air conditioner?

A mini-split a/c setup may carry one or several indoor air handlers, each located in an individual room. Consider the following installation guidelines:

  • The wall carrying the unit should be sturdy enough to offer support for many years
  • Remove any obstructions to the unit, examples being chairs and wall units
  • Position the air conditioner away from sources of heat such as ovens and unobstructed sunlight
  • To ward off electrical noise, place the unit at least 3ft. away from modems, mobile gadgets and electrical wires

What Factors Should I Consider When Buying The Best Ductless Air Conditioner?

You will realize that the many options available present a broad range of sizes, prices, features and power and so forth. A well-structured choosing criterion can help pinpoint the best product. Here are some points to help.

  1. Number Of Rooms/zones

We get this question all the time: How many zones can the best ductless air conditioner handle? One fact to remember is that ductless air conditioners are either single-zone or multi-zone (multi-split) in design. A single-zone setting comes with one outdoor unit and one indoor unit. If you are looking to cool two or more rooms, get a multiple zone unit that has one condenser and several indoor units, depending on your requirements. Under normal circumstances, one unit will cool one zone/room. The total square footage of the home will determine the number of BTUs you need to apply. More about BTU is in the next point.

  1. BTU/Power

Most manufacturers put the initials BTU on their units. Often, there will be a number before these letters. That’s where the focus should be. BTU simply means British Thermal Power, a reference to the amount of heat required to add 1°F one pound of water. We can safely say that the number of BTU on a ductless air conditioner is directly proportional to the size of space the a/c can cool down. Target the correct mini split BTU per square foot for your space by sizing the equipment. Generally, room sizes and BTUs relate according to the following table:

BTUsSpace Size (square feet)
5,000150
7,000300
9,000400
11,000500
13,000625
14,000700
18,0001000

Table 1: Recommended BTU against Room Size (Source: https://learn.compactappliance.com/best-ductless-air-conditioners/ )

  1. Unique Features

A mini-split air conditioner that does more than just cool the home is a good thing to have. Manufacturers know this secret, so they will add some extras that improve user experience and even save costs. Get an a/c with a programmable timer and you may never have to worry about unnecessary temperatures in the home even when you are away. For extra convenience, insist on remote-controlled equipment too, as it will help you adjust temperatures from the comfort of your couch. For remote control of the ductless air conditioner, Wi-Fi is a winner for me. Armed with an app and a smartphone, I am able to control my a/c system as long as it is within the network. I am looking to enable remote access by using cloud-based technology in the near future. This way I will be able to control the equipment via the internet. Some other interesting features that you may like include reusable air filters, temperature sensors, and allergen filters.

  1. Noise

We can all agree that air conditioners are generally noisy devices. By the time the equipment hits ten years, you have become accustomed to a wide range of noises- chatters, clicks, bangs, rattles, etc. It can actually become crazy. Many of us just get used to it and live with it. However, the truth of the matter is that a smoothly running ductless air conditioner shouldn’t make distracting noises. Its characteristic sound is understandable, but excessive noises should not be the order of the day. Sound is not controllable, but you can definitely do something about noise. Noise can affect comfort, so you want to look at this when buying. In some cases, perpetual noise may be harmful to health. Better ventilation systems and compressor technology are the main reasons most modern air conditioners are significantly quieter compared to those of yesteryears. If you are planning to get the ideal replacement for your buzzing old equipment, you must know how to tell if the new product is quiet enough.

Sound in these units is measured in decibels (dB) on a special scale. The lower the score on the scale, the quieter the product is. Our observation so far is that many buyers have problems figuring out the meaning of decibels. Manufacturers seem to have observed the same, as most of them use descriptions such as whisper-quiet, rustling, etc. I don’t think we can ever achieve 0 decibels. The best air conditioner I ever handled so far is 10 dB, and to be honest, it was unbelievably quiet.

  1. Aesthetics

Ductless air conditioners come in a wide range of indoor unit styles for different user preferences. Wall mounts, ceiling recessed and floor mount are some of the common ones. If you ask me, the recessed version is most attractive, but the basic ones not as much.  While these products offer quite some challenge to interior designers, there are many ways to maneuver around the problem. Recessing is one of the strategies, whereby the distance of the unit from the wall is minimized. False beams and recessed holes come in handy. Of course, you need to have some liberty of architectural space to use this method.

If space is tight, you can place the indoor unit above the window, possibly the only no man’s land available in a room. Just remember that areas around the window tend to be the most energy-inefficient. Far away from the window is always preferable for a mini-split system.

Fig 2: Indoor Unit Placed Above Window

Indoor Unit Placed Above Window
Indoor Unit Placed Above Window

Painting the wall to match the unit is my favorite way of concealing the ductless air conditioner. Not only does the method conceal the gadget completely and swiftly, but it also simple. Make it even more enjoyable by buying a unit with one of your liked colors. Most models come in a variety of colors, so you should not scratch your head a lot here.

Other locations that impressed us are over the bed, over the doorway, over the bookcase, and inside the entertainment unit. What other ideas do you have?

  1. Energy Efficiency

Does the escalating energy bill give you goosebumps? Yes, no trick in the book is remaining for you, or so you believe. Save the resentment against the government and the power firm. There is one area that you probably have not tried yet- the air conditioner. Your 20-year old air conditioner could still be running smoothly, but it could be your thorn in the flesh.

Now, what do you do if the equipment is old? Very simple. Discard it.

One fact remains. Energy efficiency in air conditioners is not debatable. When you are selecting the best ductless air conditioners, I do not think you can afford to trade efficiency for any other aspect. Energy efficiency is all about the device using the least possible energy when cooling your space.

Heating and cooling devices are the biggest energy consumers in most homes. This simply means that the energy consumption of your ductless air conditioner can affect heavily on your total energy bills. You now realize how crucial it is to take your time in choosing the most energy efficient product.

Three ratings that feature prominently in air conditioners in regards to energy efficiency are:

  • Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF)

HSPF = Seasonal Heating Output (BTU) / Total Energy Usage (watt-hours)

  • Energy Efficiency Ratio/Rating (EER)

EER = Cooling Output/ Total Energy Usage (watts)

  • Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio/Rating (SEER)

SEER = Cooling Output / Total Energy Consumption (in a particular season)

We consider the SEER the best way to determine the efficiency of a ductless air conditioner, where a minimum of 13.0 SEER is recommended in the United States.

  1. Price

The price of a typical ductless air conditioner is usually higher compared to conventional that of solutions, simply because this is still a new technology. You could compare it to solar modules and light emitting diodes (LEDs). The inverter technology in most of the current units is probably the reason the upfront cost tends to be high. However, the high cost is nothing compared to the savings made once the unit is installed.

The fact that ductless air conditioners lack ducts is alone a source of money savings in installation, compared to central air systems. Energy savings are also possible because the air travels less distance for the same reason. Getting the device from the store will set you back in the range of $1,800. That is just for one unit. Installation should not last more than two hours, with the cost for an hour being about $30. Taking the total labor cost to be about $100, the entire cost for the system should not go beyond $4,000 for a home with four zones. This is a far better deal compared to central air conditioner installations, whose minimum cost is $5,000 in most areas.

  1. Longevity

One of the most abiding questions for buyers of air conditioning equipment is, How many years will it last. According to experts in this field, a wide range of factors determines the longevity of a system. Proximity to pollutants, daily run-time, maintenance level, and repairs are some of those factors. Don’t forget that your usage behavior can have a considerable effect on the lifespan of your unit. For instance, constantly changing the thermostat has serious ramifications on the integrity of the unit. Other contributors you need to take care of include personal care products, air fresheners, and some laundry items, as they volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to the atmosphere. You also need to be extra vigilant if you are living near the coastline.

I will tell you this; even the most experienced contractor may be unable to give the exact longevity of a ductless air conditioner. To complicate the matter, customer expectations tend to different, especially depending on generations. For instance, older users believe that the product should last longer, say up to 20 years. Younger ones are used to replacing items regularly, so they will not mind a unit lasting10 years. Installers must balance these kinds of expectations.

Who knows the truth then? The manufacturer often has expectations that are more clear-cut. We consider the warranties offered by reputable manufacturers including Mitsubishi Electric and LG to be quite impressive. All you need is to hire a certified contractor and some of the components will be warranted for over a decade.

Wrapping Up

That’s it – the buying guide for the best quality ductless air conditioner including best mini split ac reviews in one place. We believe you are now ready to pick the product that suits your needs and preferences.  Before we sign off, we would like to reiterate the need to compute the room/space size, because not doing so could mean going in the wrong direction. Once you have settled that little matter, the rest should be smooth sailing. We have tried to provide a mix for all BTU requirements, conveniences and budgets, so we hold the unwavering view that your home or property will provide a safe haven the next time harsh weather conditions come calling.

Resources

https://www.brisbanepowerelectricians.com.au

https://www.wfsb.com/news/expert-says-more-homeowners-turning-to-ductless-air-systems/article_294e6f6c-7e34-11e9-b87f-d782658df849.html

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