The Best Ductless Mini Split AC Systems – 2018 Buyers Guide

Thinking about adding a room to your house, or wondering why the bonus room that used to be a garage is always freezing in the winter and hot in the summer? In either scenario, a mini-split air conditioner may be the answer to your heating and cooling needs.

Your existing air conditioning unit was selected for the square footage of your home and adding another duct to that system makes it less effective and efficient. This translates to a less-comfortable home and a bigger energy bill. A mini-split system is designed for scenarios where a specific space needs to be heated or cooled.

It’s actually one of the most efficient systems that can be installed in the home. We will take a look at the specifics of mini-split systems, whether one is right for you, and the pros and cons of some popular mini-splits on the market.

Quick Comparison Chart of the Best Mini-Split Air Conditioners

Product

Our Rating

Price

1. Pioneer WYS012-17

2. Senville SENL-24CD

3. Pioneer Inverter

4. DuctlessAire

5. MR Cool Mini Split

What Is a Mini-Split Air Conditioner System?

The main difference between a traditional air conditioning system and a mini-split is that traditional systems have ductwork and a mini-split does not.

A traditional system uses a blower to suck air from the house through the ductwork and into the main unit’s blower, and then pushes it through an evaporator, which removes the heat from the air. The system continues to push the cooled air out of the system, into more ductwork, and back through the vents in your home. So air from throughout your home is funneled into the main unit, cooled, and returned to the various rooms in your home via ductwork.

A mini-split still operates in the same way, except that it only has to push the air from one room through its evaporator. Instead of having to pump air through ducts that are in the basement, crawl space or attic, it is simply pulling air into the unit from the room it is physically located in, cooling the air, and blowing it right back into the same room. The air never leaves the room it is in.

You might be wondering how a mini-split differs from a window or through-the-wall unit often found in hotels. The obvious answer is that a mini-split unit can be mounted anywhere in a room while a window unit has to be in the window. This makes mini-splits the more secure and aesthetic option.

The most important difference in a mini-split compared to window or through-the-wall units is the location of the noisy compressor. Window units and through-the-wall units are completely self-contained. This means the noisiest part of any air conditioner, the compressor, is in your home when using a window or through-the-wall unit.

A mini-split is like a traditional split-system air conditioning unit because the compressor is in a separate unit outside. The only things connecting the two are the copper lines used to pump the heat transferring refrigerant between the two systems and wiring. A mini-split is much quieter than any of its competition because its fan is much smaller than a traditional units fan because there is no need to move air through ductwork.

In short, mini-splits are more efficient than traditional units because of the absence of ductwork. But they are designed for cooling and heating individual spaces, rather than entire homes. mini-splits are more efficient, versatile, and much quieter than window units and other self-contained options.

Quick Take: Best Mini-Split Air Conditioners

Here are the top mini-split air conditioners to keep your room cool:

  1. Pioneer WYS012-17 Air Conditioner Inverter+ Ductless Wall Mount
  2. DuctlessAire mini-split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump
  3. Senville SENL-24CD Mini-split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump

Keep reading below for more info about each model and other important things you should know before making a purchase.

Reviews of the Best mini-split Air Conditioners

Now that we have reviewed what a mini-split is and covered its pros and cons, let’s take a closer look at the specifics and what some popular models have to offer!

Considerable knowledge and skill will be required to install most of these units, and they will likely be much harder to install than many DIY homeowners will realize.

Pioneer WYS012-17

This 12,000 BTU, 17.2 SEER rated, ductless mini-split system from Pioneer is meant for a normal size room. It has the lowest BTU rating of the units we are reviewing but is cheaper than the other units on this list. The positive reviews of this product rave about how quiet it is, and the overall consensus is that the product is a great value. The high-voltage side of this system is rated at 115 VAC and uses R410A refrigerant.

PROS

  • The Pioneer WYS012-17 is unique because it operates on 115 VAC, 60 Hertz (standard household power). This makes things a little less scary for DIY homeowners attempting to install this unit who might not have much experience with 220 VAC.
  • It is one of the cheapest name-brand mini-splits on the market.
  • This system is equipped with a heat pump and can be used for heat.
  • Inverter compressors run at variable speeds based on required load to maintain desired temperature, making this unit incredibly efficient and quiet. As with most mini-splits, the inside unit is made to be incredibly quiet.
  • The unit comes pre-charged R410A refrigerant and has a 17.2 SEER rating, which a better SEER is rating than some of the more expensive units in its class.

CONS

  • 12,000 BTU’s is not suitable for large bonus room or spaces with high ceilings. This unit should only be used for normal sized bedrooms or comparable areas.

Senville SENL-24CD Mini-split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump

Senville offers this  24,000 BTU, 15 SEER rated, ductless mini-split system that has the capacity to cool or heat a very large room or a room with higher-than-normal ceilings. The Senville SENL-24CD mini-split has a respectable BTU rating. It is one of two units that fall in the midrange of the units we are reviewing. This unit has double the BTU’s of our cheapest unit but is only slightly more expensive. It operates on 220 VAC and uses R410A refrigerant.

PROS

  • This unit is the second-cheapest mini-split on our list but is tied with the second highest BTU Rating.
  • This system is equipped with a heat pump and can be used for heat.
  • Inverter compressors run at variable speeds based on required load to maintain the desired temperature, making this unit incredibly efficient and quiet. As with most mini-splits, the inside unit is made to be incredibly quiet.

CONS

  • This unit does not come pre-charged with refrigerant.

DuctlessAire mini-split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump

This is a 24,000 BTU, 20.5 SEER rated, ductless mini-split system from DuctlessAire. That makes it perfect to cool or heat a very large room or room with high ceilings. The DuctlessAire mini-split has a respectable BTU rating and the highest SEER rating of the units we review in this article. This unit operates on 220 VAC and uses R410A refrigerant.

PROS

  • This unit has a “follow me” technology remote that detects the ambient temperature wherever you are located in the room and maintains the temperature based on this reading. This nullifies the temperature differences associated with large windows and other specific characteristics that can make some parts of a room vary greatly from other parts of the room.
  • A 20.5 SEER rating makes it the top SEER-rated mini-split of the units reviewed in this article.
  • This system is equipped with a heat pump and can be used for heat.
  • Inverter compressors run at variable speeds based on required load to maintain the desired temperature. This makes the unit incredibly efficient and quiet. As with most mini-splits, the inside unit is made to be incredibly quiet.
  • The unit comes pre-charged with R410A refrigerant.

CONS

  • It is one of the more expensive mini-splits reviewed in this article.

MRCOOL DIY mini-split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump

MrCool makes this 36,000 BTU, 16 SEER-rated, ductless mini-split system that is great for huge rooms and large rooms with exceptionally high ceilings. The MrCool mini-split has the best BTU rating of the units we review in this article. This unit operates on 220 VAC and uses R410A refrigerant.

PROS

  • The biggest pro of this unit is the effort put into making this product truly DIY. According to the manufacturer website, all electrical connections and line set connections are made with special connectors so that special tools and skills are not necessary to install this unit. This is a very interesting concept. Give this company credit for truly attempting to make a system that can be installed by a mechanically-inclined homeowner.
  • It includes a Wi-Fi feature that allows the system can be controlled with an app on your mobile device.
  • This system is equipped with a heat pump and can be used for heat.
  • Inverter compressors run at variable speeds based on required load to maintain the desired temperature, making this unit incredibly efficient and quiet. As with most mini-splits, the inside unit is made to be incredibly quiet.
  • This unit comes pre-charged with R410A refrigerant.

CONS

  • This unit is already the most expensive mini-split reviewed in this article. The improved DIY yourself features are nice, but, if the homeowner does go with a professional installation, this unit will be very expensive indeed.

How to Choose and Install a Mini-split System

Configuring how many BTU’s you need per square foot is not very difficult with the resources of the internet and some basic math. But installation of a mini-split is more similar to a traditional central heating and air unit than a window unit you can purchase at the local box store. They require high voltage wiring, the ability to braze copper lines, a multitude of other specialized skills, proper licensing, and extensive knowledge of building codes.

It is a good idea to do as much research as possible about different models of mini-splits before making a decision. However, you will need a certified technician to install your mini-split unit and it is best to consult with the contractor you will be using for installation before purchasing a unit you are interested in.

Pros and Cons of mini-split Systems

As with nearly anything in life, mini-split systems have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at some of them.

PROS

Mini-splits are very efficient because no air is lost to small leaks in the ductwork, and the air does gain or lose heat traveling through ductwork. Whether you are looking to lower your energy bill or your carbon footprint – mini-splits do both.

This is an easy solution to additions to your home. Your home’s system was chosen based on the square footage and other specific dimensions. adding an additional room to your current system will make that system less effective and efficient.

We spend a lot of time worrying about the quality of the food we eat and the water we drink, but we often overlook the importance of the air quality inside our homes. Ductwork is one of the key contributors to poor indoor air quality. Mini-splits do not use ductwork and do not expose you to the air in your basement, crawl space, or attic.

Mini-splits are quicker to install, have small - easily hidden - outside units, and have minimum impact on the structure as less space is required for installation.

They are a safe and secure alternative to inefficient and outdated window units, space heaters, and electric baseboard heaters for heating individual rooms.

CONS

The initial cost of mini-splits is much higher than other heating and cooling solutions, per room. Each room has to have a separate indoor unit installed, while traditional units only have one indoor unit per floor. The initial cost of a mini-split is much higher than a window unit or self-contained unit designed for one-room use.

A mini-split’s heating mode utilizes heat pump technology. As with any heat pump, they may not be able to sufficiently heat homes in sub-zero conditions. A fuel-based furnace will likely be needed as a backup in these types of climates.

Mini-splits require frequent maintenance. Each unit’s filter has to be washed at least monthly because they are very sensitive to debris accumulation.

Conclusion

We have discussed the differences of mini-splits from other types of HVAC units and taken a look at the various specifications, pros and cons, and models of mini-splits that are available.

We hope you can use these comparisons to come to an informed decision about the mini-split you wish to purchase. Remember, it is always wise to consult with HVAC professionals before purchasing or attempting to install any air conditioning unit.

1 thought on “The Best Ductless Mini Split AC Systems – 2018 Buyers Guide

  1. I purchased a Fujitsu Mini-Split heat pump in the fall of 2016. In January of 2018 it ceased working and I have been without it now for 2 1/2 months during the coldest weather of the year and Fujitsu has shown no interest in repairing or replacing the unit. In fact, they have continuously lied to my dealer and myself about how long it would take to repair and now for weeks they have lied about shipping it back to me, saying it is shipped when it has not.

    This in no way reflects on my local dealer, Haynes Heating and Air. Haynes has gone out of their way to help me and is being misled just as I am.

    I should have been more careful. I thought that by doing business with a Japanese company that I was assured of doing business with people who are honorable and ethical. But when my unit broke I discovered that the ‘warranty’ only covers parts, not labor. I wish I had seen that before I bought, It would have frightened me off. Luckily, there has been lots of labor involved here and Haynes is eating all those charges, even though they do not have to do so.

    But Fujitsu has been of zero help, and they will tell Haynes whatever they have to just to get them off the phone. They have had the unit in their shop at Fujitsu for all this time because they could not figure out what to do to fix it in the field. And now they have been saying for three weeks that it is shipping when it isn’t. And they had the nerve to say that they were ‘backed up’ and that is the reason they took so long.

    Customer Service does not allow for this. Honor would demand that they replace the unit if they could not fix it in a reasonable amount of time. You just do not take a customer’s heat source from them in the middle of winter and act like it is unimportant to get it back to them.

    Mini-Splits are great. But choose your manufacturer very carefully. Make certain you do business with honest, honorable people who understand the value of a good reputation. I did not do that. I did business with Fujitsu and have lived to regret it. Don’t repeat my mistake.

    Fujitsu has just reported that my unit has once again ‘shipped’. We shall see. I will update this post with more details when and if the unit arrives and can be made to work. I am not optimistic.

Leave a Comment