Mini-Split Air Conditioner - Your Next Best Buy

If you've never seen a mini-split air conditioner before, you probably have questions. How do these systems work? Where can you use them? Are they all easy to install? What should I expect to pay for one of these things?

We have answers to all these questions and more. We think you'll come to see that these systems could become a real option for your home.

Mini-Split Air Conditioner Basics

A mini-split air conditioner is one of the best tools to cool your home that most Americans have never even heard of. Essentially, a mini-split unit consists of an interior air handler and an exterior condenser just like a conventional central air conditioner split system. Like that larger system, a mini-split's constituent components are connected via refrigerant lines and communicating wires.

The difference is simple. Mini-split air conditioners are much smaller than big central air units. A single mini-split air conditioner will cool one or two rooms. They are lightweight, compact, easy to install, and relatively inexpensive compared to whole-home conventional solutions.

Why Choose a Mini-Split Air Conditioner?

We feature mini-split units prominently across our site. Which makes people ask time and again, "What makes these better than a central air unit?"

The simple truth is that a mini-split air conditioner isn't better than a traditional a/c system. They are very different, since they're meant to do a different job. A mini-split will work best in the kind of place poorly serviced by central heating and air. This means historic homes, apartments, condominiums, cabins, garages, workshops, tool sheds, and any location with an open floor plan that gets hot in summer.

Plus, a mini-split is, all things considered, an easier system to install than a full-size central air unit. Mini-splits are relatively small. They are light weight. They can go just about anywhere. Most importantly, they can work without air ducts. For homes and spaces within homes that the ducts don't reach, it is much easier to install a mini-split air conditioner than extending your central air service. Often, it is far cheaper too.

How a Mini-Split Air Conditioner Works

A mini-split air conditioner uses the same basic refrigeration cycle that any air conditioner does.  There is an evaporator coil inside and a condenser coil outside. A compressor pushes a refrigerant gas through the lines and coils to capture heat and move it outside. That dehumidifies the interior and lowers the temperature. There is no real difference in how a mini-split air conditioner works and a full-size air conditioner works.

One is just bigger than the other, and that's basically it.

Mini-Split Air Conditioner Purchase Price and Installation Cost

Performance is great, but price is an important consideration. A mini-split air conditioner is smaller, but is it also cheaper to buy and install than regular air conditioners? For the most part, yes.

Typically, a conventional air conditioner installation can range from $3000 to $7000. A ductless mini-split air conditioner usually ranges between $2000 and $5000. But that's not including the cost to repair or extend duct work.

Let's say you add a new garage to your home or you decide you want to air condition your existing garage. You can extend your central air. However, that will require duct work, and that could mean you need to make significant structural changes. It could get even more expensive. Central air units are sized specifically for the space they're supposed to cool. Adding the square footage of your garage to the equation could mean that your central air unit is now under-sized. The air comfort of your whole home might suffer!

It is much, much, much easier to just buy a mini-split air conditioner. All you need is a flat wall to mount the air handler and enough space on the opposite side for a condenser. Both are very small, and can go virtually anywhere. You don't need to add new ducts, knock out walls, or resize your whole home.

Best Mini-Split Air Conditioner Brands

Here at IWAE, we carry three main brands of mini-split air conditioner units: Gree, Mitsubishi, and MrCool.


Do you want a name brand mini-split air conditioner? Then Mitsubishi is exactly what you are looking for. These systems are high quality, energy efficient, packed with features, and supported by a great warranty. They're also the most expensive mini-split we carry. But, if you want a top brand, this is what you need.

Check out Mitsubishi Mini-Splits


Trying to save money and do the installation yourself? We don't recommend that with a regular mini-split air conditioner. We DO recommend that with a MrCool DIY ductless unit. To our knowledge, these are the only ductless DIY units on the market. And their warranty specifically allows for amateur installation. So, DIYers, this one is, literally, made for you.

Check out MrCool Mini-Splits


Gree is a gigantic air conditioning manufacturer that sells product all across Asia. Which means of course that most Americans have never heard of them. Gree mini-split units are cost effective, good quality mini-split air conditioners. They don't have the Mitsubishi name or the MrCool niche, but they're definitely not bad. If you want a contractor-grade product for less than the Mitsubishi, then we recommend Gree.

Check out Gree Mini-Splits

Mini-Split Air Conditioners Are Only New to the U.S.

Many Americans look at a mini-split air conditioner and have no idea what they're seeing. For a lot of us, these are brand new systems. For the rest of the world, mini-split air conditioners are boringly normal. Travel anywhere in Asia or Europe and you will see lots and lots of mini-split air conditioners. The same is true for travel in South or Central America, the Middle East, and Africa.

So, don't worry about investing in some newfangled contraption. A mini-split air conditioner is a staple of the global industry, built to last, and can deliver air comfort just as good as any big central unit. And since you can get specific zone cooling easily installed, these units have a lot of advantages over traditional central air.

Of course, the only person that knows whether or not you need a mini-split air conditioner is you. So, do your homework and make the best decision for your home. As always, we're only a short phone call away if you need some expert advice.

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