Mini-split systems have risen in demand as more property owners explore options for upgrading to high-efficiency HVAC systems. Mini-splits make it easy to zone your home, keeping the temperature consistent and increasing your system’s efficiency by only heating or cooling those areas that need it.
The national range for installing a mini-split system is anywhere from under $2,000 to over $20,000. Use this guide to learn about the factors that will determine how much you’ll pay to install a new mini-split system that’s appropriate for your home and how Cool Power LLC can provide top-notch installation and maintenance services.
Total Heat Transfer Capacity Needed
No matter what kind of HVAC equipment you’re installing, one of the biggest factors affecting its price is the total heating or cooling capacity. The capacity is generally measured in British Thermal Units (BTU) or tons. One ton equals 12,000 BTU.
Just like a central air conditioner or heat pump, you need to know the total area the unit is going to service. To calculate the total capacity needed, you simply add the square feet of all of the zones. Your installer will also consider factors like your home’s insulation, number of windows, the direction that your home faces, the number of household occupants, and heat-generating appliances. They’ll also consider external factors such as how much shade your home receives during the heat of the day.
Number and Capacity of Air Handlers
Next, you need to consider how many air handlers you’ll need throughout your home. Your installer will help determine where zones naturally occur based on your home’s layout.
Next, they look at the capacity each zone needs, much like the total capacity for your home. The larger the zone, the more capacity you’ll need for the air handler in that area. This means that an air handler in a bedroom or office likely won’t need as much capacity as the one in your kitchen or living room. Mini-split systems allow you to provide just the right heating and cooling capacity for each area of your home so that your entire home stays consistently comfortable. This also allows you to save money on the installation by getting the appropriate unit for each area.
Each air handler ranges from $700 to over $2,000 to purchase and install, depending on the capacity needed for the zone. When designing your system, you want enough air handlers to serve your home effectively without installing excessive indoor units. Indoor units can serve areas from 150 to about 1,500 square feet.
Type of Air Handler
The most common air handler installed with mini-split systems is the wall-mounted unit because it requires the least amount of modification to your home, also making it the least expensive to install. However, other options are available, depending on your particular tastes and needs.
If you don’t like the idea of the wall-mounted unit, there are also ceiling- and floor-mounted units available. Ceiling-mounted units are slightly more expensive than the standard wall-mounted option, while floor-mounted units are the most expensive, usually running about four times the cost of a wall-mounted unit. There’s also an aesthetically pleasing option with a recessed unit in the ceiling, which increases the cost anywhere from about 25% to as much as two times the cost of a wall-mounted unit. The cost greatly depends on whether you also need the skills of a carpenter in addition to your HVAC installer for recessed ceiling units.
Mini-split systems are naturally more efficient than central air handling systems because of their use of zones. However, within mini-split systems, the technology used can range from standard to high efficiency. Efficiency is rated using SEER, which stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The minimum rating available as of January 2023 is 15 SEER. However, the highest-efficiency systems may have a rating exceeding 40 SEER.
Most small to medium-sized homes only need a single outdoor compressor unit. However, if your home is more than 2,500 square feet, you may need more than one mini-split system. Keep in mind that it’s the initial outdoor unit that is the bulk of the expense, with an incremental increase for every air handler. Installing more than one outdoor unit will substantially increase your overall installation cost.
Opting for Geothermal
The average cost for installing a mini-split system assumes that you’re installing the common air-source exterior unit. However, if you want to increase your efficiency even further and provide more consistent winter performance, you may explore a geothermal system. The cost to install one of these systems can quickly exceed $30,000 depending on the excavation work needed.
Your home’s age and the status of your utility infrastructure may also play a role in the final cost of your system. Depending on the size of the air handler, you may need a dedicated 220-volt outlet. Not only do you have to run the wiring and install the outlet, but in older homes you may need to upgrade your electrical panel. This can add $3,000 or more to the total cost of your mini-split installation.
When It’s Installed
When you choose to install the mini-split can also affect the cost. Most HVAC companies and manufacturers have higher demand during the hottest parts of the summer and the coldest parts of the winter. Because of the demand, this is the most expensive time to install a new system. If you can plan for a spring or fall installation, you can often save on both the equipment cost and get extra benefits from the installer, such as a longer labor warranty or some seasonal maintenance as part of your installation package.
Rebates & Credits
You can significantly reduce the amount you pay for a mini-split heat pump thanks to a variety of rebates and tax credits. For instance, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 has several programs within one piece of legislation.
The Residential Clean Energy Credit offers a 30% credit when you install a geothermal system, while the Energy Efficiency Home Improvement Credit offers up to $2,000 when you install a heat pump, including mini-split systems. There’s also the Home Owner Managing Energy Savings (HOMES) rebate which offers up to 80% back to low- and moderate-income families that upgrade to energy-efficient appliances like a heat pump. The amount you get back with the HOMES rebate depends on how much you cut your energy consumption. Work with your HVAC installer and tax professional to explore all possible incentives you qualify for to reduce your mini-split costs.
For nearly 50 years, Cool Power LLC has been helping property owners around Ronkonkoma, New York and surrounding areas keep their homes comfortable. Our NATE-certified technicians proudly provide heating and air conditioning installation, maintenance, and repair. We also offer 24/7 emergency services. Competitive financing options are available as well. Contact Cool Power LLC to schedule an assessment by one of our mini-split experts to find the right solution for your home.