Ductless Mini Split Installation Costs: What to Expect

You want a new ductless mini-split heat pump, but you know the price tag isn't the whole story. What kind of ductless mini split installation costs should you expect? Is $500 too high or too low? $1000? Without experience in the HVAC industry it can be difficult to even start estimating what might be a fair price. Fortunately, we can help you get a handle on ductless mini split installation costs that might otherwise be really confusing for regular folks.

Ductless Mini Split Installation Costs Across America

As you might expect, ductless mini split installation costs can vary widely depending on where you live. For example, it will typically be more expensive to get a mini split installed in New York City than a small town in rural North Carolina. Higher cost of living affects everything from apples to oranges.

National Average

The average cost to install a ductless mini split is approximately $2,500. This is a good starting point to begin the discussion. However, this amount can go up or down quite a bit depending on where you live and the kind of system you're getting. Plus, this figure includes the equipment cost and the installation cost.

Professional Know-How

HVAC contractors are trained professionals who know what they're doing. As you might have guessed, they don't work for free. Labor is a major factor when figuring ductless mini split installation costs.

Many websites will tell you that labor can cost between $300 and $1000 for a ductless mini-split. Only the simplest, easiest mini-split installations are going to hit that $300 mark. Most professional contractors are going to charge way more. Your ductless mini split installation costs are much more likely to be closer to the $1000 mark than the $300 one. So assuming an average cost of $500 is a lot more reasonable.

Because, time is money, and even a straightforward installation requires time to properly vacuum the lines and charge the system. Then you'll need to figure in the cost for concrete (or wall mount) and electrical. Does the ductless require a disconnect box? Most do. That can be an extra $200 by itself. Older homes that need to have their electrical upgraded to accommodate the new unit can push that cost over $1000.

Single Zone or Multi-Zone Ductless Mini Split Installation Costs

Putting in a single indoor air handler connected to one outside condenser is usually a simple job. Cut a hole in the wall, mount the air handler, set the condenser, connect all the lines, and wire the unit. Most pros can get this done in about a day.

Add a second indoor air handler and stuff just got a lot more complicated. Now you have to start figuring the optimum location for the condenser to service both air handlers. You are going to have to add more refrigerant lines. Which will probably require more brazing and fitting and vacuuming. All that takes effort and time.

But what about a 3-zone unit? Again, our situation just got a lot messier. And the contractor has a lot more questions that they have to answer before they can finish the install. More time, more effort, and more complexity means even more of an increase to your ductless mini split installation costs.

Let us revisit our $500 average ductless mini split installation costs. The difficulty of a multi-zone means that you're more likely to pay $2000 than $500.

Government Fees

The federal government doesn't particularly care about your new mini-split. Your local municipal government is another matter entirely. Which brings us to the topic of fees and permits. Do you have to get one for your mini split? Depending on your local codes you might.

You can ask your installer what is required. They might already have taken care of it and rolled the permit costs into your bill. Or they might not have. They might not know. If they don't know, definitely check. The last thing you want is an annoyed city inspector showing up at your house asking why you don't have a permit for your brand new air conditioner.

In a worse case scenario, the city inspection office might force you to remove the new equipment at your own expense before you can get a permit to have it installed. Yes, that is a thing that can happen.

Better Safe than Sorry

Chances are that the contractor you hire has the problem well in hand. They've probably already taken care of it. But you should absolutely make sure that they actually have done so. If permits aren't properly handled (e.g. - paid), you're going to be the one suffering for it.

How to Save on Ductless Mini Split Installation Costs

When it comes to ductless mini split installation costs the obvious question is, "How do I save money?"

Get Multiple Quotes

The first thing we would recommend is not to take the first quote you get. Or the second. Get at least three different job quotes from three different contractors. They might not break out all the ductless installation costs the same way. However, three independent quotes should give you a good range of options.

And you shouldn't necessarily pick the cheapest quote. Especially if it is much, much cheaper than the other two. Cut rate pricing usually means somebody is cutting corners. You get what you pay for, as they say. Whatever you would save on an install today will come back to bite you tomorrow with expensive repair bills.

Off Season Installation

When you go on vacation during peak tourist season you're going to pay more. HVAC installation is exactly the same way. Your ductless mini split installation costs will be higher in July than they will be in February. Can you wait a few months to get the job done in the slow season? You might save a bundle.

Choose an Easy Location

Your contractor will have some recommendations on where to put the interior and exterior units. Ultimately they will defer to what you (think) you want. To save money, make sure that what you want isn't the most difficult place to do the install in your entire home. The harder in which the space is to work, the more your ductless mini split installation costs are going to increase.

Do Some of the Installation Yourself

You don't have to install a unit like the MRCOOL DIY to save money on ductless mini split installation costs. There are plenty of basic things you can do to save time and labor on a conventional job.

Electrical

Will the job require expensive electrical work that your contractor can't provide? Many might sub-contract that out. However, you could arrange the work yourself for a potentially lower price. As with the ductless mini split installation, get three different electrical job estimates and hire accordingly.

Concrete

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to build a concrete base pad for the outside condenser. Let your installer pick the best spot to put the condenser. Then you can build the pad yourself before they start the job. Your labor is much cheaper than your contractor's.

Saws and Screws

Some portions of ductless mini split installation are not that complicated. There will have to be a hole cut in the wall to accommodate the lines and wires between the condenser and air handler. The interior air handler is going to need a mounting bracket to hang from. Those are fairly simple jobs in the grand scheme of things.

Talk to your installer. Ask them what basic tasks they would be comfortable with you performing to save them time and you money. Some contractors will balk at this. They will not want you to do anything. However, many contractors will be fine with it. Get their input. They can help you better understand what you can do to make their job a lot faster and easier. Which means that when it comes to the stuff you can't do, like charging refrigerant and vacuuming lines, they can get rolling right away.

Have More Questions About Ductless Mini Split Installation Costs?

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