How Much Does Ductless Heating and Cooling Cost?
Written By: Alexis Bennett
Edited by: Andrew Dunn
Looking for accurate cost information for ductless heating and cooling?
Perfect you’re in the right spot. In this guide you’ll learn:
- Should I hire someone or can I DIY a ductless heating and cooling system install?
- Will it be better to repair or replace my existing ductless heating and cooling system?
- If I have a warranty, how much will it cost to repair a ductless heating and cooling system?
- …and answers to all your ductless heating and cooling cost questions.
Ideally, you want your indoor air to be comfortable throughout the year, without paying a huge expense to get that comfort. As a homeowner who is considering a ductless air conditioning and heating system, you want to understand the costs you can expect from either a new installation or repair of your system.
You are looking for better efficiency and ultimately a lower cost with your energy bills. The good news is that a new ductless mini-split heating and AC system should cost you several thousand dollars less than a standard central air and heating system, and save money through energy-efficiency over time.
But what can you expect to pay out for a ductless system? Let’s take a closer look.
What's In This Guide?
Average Cost To Install Ductless Heating and Cooling?
The cost of a ductless heating and air conditioning system can vary widely, from under $2,000 to over $7,000 according to our research. That’s a pretty wide price range. What goes into that range, and how can you narrow it down to get a better idea of what you will be paying in your unique situation? There are a number of factors to consider when looking at overall system costs, like the following:
- Total area the system needs to serve – Will this be a single-zone system or multi-zone system? Installing a unit in an individual room is going to be a much different scenario than the systems cost for heating and cooling, say, a 2,000 square foot home. You’ll need to install an outdoor compressor/condenser as well as air handlers in every area you want to have heating and air conditioning.
- Your location – The amount of money you will pay for labor on installing a mini-split heat pump and air handlers depends on where you live. The Northeastern US will probably have higher installation costs than Southeastern or Central US states.
- System manufacturer – Like any other durable goods, there are a lot of options out there in terms of brand names, like Daikin, Mitsubishi, Frigidaire, or Rheem. You’ll pay more for some than others. You’ll want to look for brands with high customer satisfaction and efficiency ratings.
- Features – What features are important to you? Ductless air conditioner and heating wall units tend to be higher tech than window units or even central ducted heat and AC units. Remote controls are standard, but do you want it wifi enabled so you can adjust temperatures, airflow, and other settings with a smart device? Will you use all wall units, or ceiling cassettes, or a combination?
- Energy-efficient – Energy costs and energy savings are on everyone’s mind as they consider their heating and cooling system options. One of the immediate advantages is you won’t lose efficiency in any ductwork like you would in a conventional HVAC system. Ductless mini-splits use special algorithms, well-designed heat exchangers, and inverter-driven compressors that all work to make the systems more energy efficient. In terms of ratings to consider, the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER rating) is one number to look for in terms of energy efficiency. The higher the number, the better the energy efficiency. You’ll also want to look at the BTU heat rating, and HSPF ratings to get the best efficiency for the money.
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Repair vs Replacement of Ductless Heating and Cooling?
Does it make sense to repair your ductless AC and heating units if at all possible? The short answer is, absolutely!
A repair of a mini-split system can cost an average of $700 to $900, so that’s great when a full replacement can cost anywhere from $2,000 to over $7,000. That is some big savings.
A note of caution, though. You don’t want to keep throwing good money after bad, though, so it is important to get the recommendation of a trusted HVAC technician. If they think it is worth fixing, and it falls under that $1,000 range – go for it!
If you have an older unit or several older units, it may be time to retire them and put in a whole new system. But if a repair is possible, that is good news for you and your bank account.
What’s The Cost To Repair Ductless Heating and Cooling If You Have A Warranty?
If you already have a ductless heating and cooling system installed in your home, that’s great. But what happens when something goes wrong with it? In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to shell out close to a grand to get your HVAC system working. That’s where a warranty can come in handy.
If you have a newer unit or have installed a number of new ductless heating and cooling units in your home recently, the manufacturer’s warranty could come in handy. If something goes wrong and it’s a matter of poor installation or a problem with the manufacturing, your warranty may cover this. So if the vents are not opening to allow airflow out in one of your air handlers, or if the fan on the heat pump outside is not running, contact the manufacturer about your warranty options.
Make sure you understand the limitations; some warranties cover parts but not labor, so you might still be on the hook for the labor of the HVAC tech that works on the unit. But overall, having a manufacturer’s warranty can be a big help if repairs are needed.
If you are beyond the manufacturer’s warranty, consider a home warranty for your ductless heating and cooling system. With repair or replacement in the high hundreds to thousands of dollars, it makes sense to have this protection. For the upfront cost of a plan (usually around $400 – $600 per year) plus a service call fee of $75-$100, your HVAC units can be protected, and you’ll have protection on dozens of other systems and appliances in your home.
The life expectancy of a central or ductless unit is around 15 years, so if your system is 15 years or older, that’s a good time to think about a home warranty.
Make sure you get a home warranty that will cover ductless mini-split units. For instance, American Home Shield does offer this protection in either its System Plan or Combo Plan. Shop around for the best deal for your overall needs, because pricing can vary depending on the incentives (like a month or sometimes even two months free) the warranty company is offering.
DIY vs Hiring A Professional To Install/Replace Ductless Heating and Cooling?
What is involved in a ductless mini-split installation? You’ll need a condenser outdoor unit (which can accommodate up to eight air handlers), and as many indoor unit air handlers as are required to keep warm and cool air flowing in the rooms you want to have heated and conditioned. It will also require refrigerant lines to connect the units, and electrical wiring to power the units.
If that sounds like a project you are able to complete, that is great. It will involve some carpentry skills as well, to attach units and repair any finish trim or paint.
Questions to consider: will existing ductwork need to be removed in the process? Will you need to remove an old furnace or standard heat pump? Will new wiring need to be run? If you can handle all of that, fantastic.
You will save the labor costs of your installation if you can complete it as a DIY project. And if you do decide to go the DIY route, here is a helpful introduction to DIY installation of a ductless system:
Unless you have skills as an electrician, it would probably be a better bet to hire someone to install or replace your ductless mini-split system.
Be sure to find a local, licensed professional to do the installation on your ductless HVAC system. There are best practices to follow, and it might involve removing old ductwork and the removal of an old central HVAC system.
An HVAC contractor should have expertise in running refrigerant lines, electrical work, as well as just rough and fine carpentry skills. And if problems arise in a newer system, a warranty will hold up better when you can point to a professional installation.
Final Thoughts on Ductless Heating and Cooling Costs
If you are considering ductless heating and cooling, you are not alone. It is becoming a more and more popular option for people. With a ductless system, you can regulate the temperature in each room separately. The cost relative to a central HVAC is less expensive to install, and more energy-efficient and so less expensive to pay for heating and cooling over time.