The national average cost to install a ductless air conditioning system is around $4,500, including the unit, materials, and labor. However, the cost can range from $3,000 to $9,500, depending on the size and type of system you choose.
Factors such as the size of your home, the number of zones you need to cool, BTU rating, and brand all impact the total cost of your project. On the high end, you could pay up to $16,500 for a large-scale system with multiple zones and higher BTU ratings. On the other hand, a small single-room ductless AC system can cost as little as $2,000 in total.
Ductless air conditioning systems are an HVAC option that doesn’t need ducts. An outdoor unit is connected to one or more indoor air handlers, allowing refrigerant to flow between them and providing conditioned air in each room.
On this page:
- Average Costs
- Cost Estimator by Size
- Other Factors That Affect Cost
- Related Services
- Pro Cost vs. DIY Cost
- Ductless AC vs. Central AC Cost
- Cost by Location
Average Ductless AC Installation Costs
|National Average Cost||$4,500|
|Typical Price Range||$3,000 – $9,500|
|Extreme Low-End Cost||$2,000|
|Extreme High-End Cost||$16,500|
The cost of a basic ductless air conditioning system with an approximate BTU of 24,000 typically ranges from $3,000 to $9,500, including installation. This is more expensive than other types of AC units but offers greater efficiency and flexibility for homes without existing ductwork.
On average, professional installation of a ductless air conditioning system costs approximately $4,500 nationwide. This includes the cost of the outside condenser unit, the indoor air-handling units, and installation. Additional fees may include permits or other materials needed for installation.
The average price of purchasing and installing a ductless air conditioning unit can range from as low as $2,000 for a single-zone system to up to $16,500 for a multi-zone system with five air handlers. Installation of ductless systems usually takes one day, but multiple-zone systems may require additional time.
Ductless AC System Cost Estimator by Size
The size of the system you choose will significantly impact the total cost. Smaller systems designed to heat and cool an individual room or space will cost less than larger units that can handle multiple rooms.
For example, a system with 1 ton of capacity can heat and cool approximately 400 to 550 square feet of space. A 1-ton unit with a BTU rating* of 12,000 typically costs between $800 and $3,000 only for the unit itself, not including installation.
Meanwhile, a 3-ton ductless AC system with a 36,000 BTU rating will cost between $1,800 and $6,000 just for the unit. Such a system would be able to cover an area of about 1,900 to 2,500 square feet. With installation costs added in, it could cost up to several thousand more, depending on the contractor and where you live.
Here is a general price range guide for ductless air conditioning systems based on size and BTU output:
|Ductless AC System Size (Capacity in Tons)||BTU Rating||Area Covered (Square Footage)||Average Cost (System Only)|
|1 Ton||12,000 BTUs||450 – 550 sq. ft.||$800 – $3,000|
|1.5 Tons||18,000 BTUs||600 – 1,000 sq. ft.||$1,000 – $4,000|
|2 Tons||24,000 BTUs||1,200 – 1,600 sq. ft.||$1,200 – $5,000|
|2.5 Tons||30,000 BTUs||1,600 – 1,900 sq. ft.||$1,400 – $5,500|
|3 Tons||36,000 BTUs||1,900 – 2,500 sq. ft.||$1,800 – $6,000|
|3.5 Tons||42,000 BTUs||2,500 – 3,000 sq. ft.||$3,500 – $8,000|
|4-5 Tons||48,000 BTUs||> 3,000 sq. ft.||$4,000 – $10,000|
*Note: BTU stands for British Thermal Units, a measurement of an HVAC system’s heating or cooling capacity. The higher the BTU rating, the more powerful the system is. (1 ton of capacity = 12,000 BTU/hour)
Other Factors That Affect Cost
On average, a homeowner can expect to pay between $3,000 and $9,500 for a ductless air conditioning system, including labor costs for installation. However, several factors can affect the total cost of your HVAC system. Some of these include:
- Single Mini-Split vs. Multi-Zone Installation
- Ductless AC System Type
- Ductless AC Components Cost
Single Mini-Split vs. Multi-Zone Installation Cost
A single mini-split system will typically cost less than a multi-zone system due to its smaller size and ease of installation. A single unit ranges from $2,000 to $6,100, whereas multi-zone systems are typically priced between $4,500 and $7,000 in total. The choice between single and multi-zone systems depends on the size of the space you’re trying to cool.
|Zones||Average Cost (Installed)|
|Single-Zone||$2,000 – $6,100|
|2 Zones||$3,500 – $8,700|
|3 Zones||$4,500 – $11,200|
|4 Zones||$5,100 – 12,000|
|5 Zones||$6,500 – $16,500|
|Additional Mini-Split AC Zone||$700 – $2,000/ Zone|
A mini-split system is a good option for those who need to keep a single area cool, like a bedroom or living room. This system has one indoor unit and one outdoor condenser connected via refrigerant piping. This system offers more control over cooling than a window air conditioner and is also generally easier to install.
Multi-zone mini-split systems are a great choice for larger homes that need to cool multiple rooms. They consist of a single outdoor compressor connected to multiple indoor units, which allows you to customize temperatures in different areas of your home. Up to eight separate indoor units can be connected to the same outdoor compressor.
Ductless AC System Cost by Type
There are several different types of ductless air conditioners, often referred to as mini-split air conditioners, and each type has its own cost range. The following table shows the average cost of each type of ductless air conditioner system.
Wall-mounted units are one popular type of ductless air conditioner. They are typically mounted on the wall and do not require extensive installation. Wall-mounted systems usually come with two components: an outdoor unit and an indoor one.
The cost of a wall-mounted ductless AC system can vary depending on how powerful the unit is, how much space you need it to cover, and any extra features you might desire, like zoning capability or intelligent controls. On average, though, the cost of wall-mounted ductless AC systems range from $650 to $2,700 for a standard-size system.
Indoor Ceiling Cassette
The ceiling cassette is generally one of the more expensive ductless systems. The average cost of this system is around $1,200 to $5,000 only for the unit itself, so be sure to factor that into your overall budget when making your decision.
A ceiling cassette is a high-efficiency system and features an indoor unit that is installed into your ceiling, providing maximum airflow throughout the area and a discreet look. Since this type of ductless AC also tends to be quieter, it’s a popular choice for larger rooms and open spaces, such as living rooms and kitchens.
Ceiling-suspended units are a good option for those looking for a more centralized cooling system for larger homes. These systems generally have greater airflow capacity than wall-mounted models, making them better suited for use in large spaces.
The installation of ceiling-suspended ductless AC systems requires more work, as the ceiling must be cut open to fit the unit, hence installation costs are higher. Depending on the specifics of your situation, a ceiling-suspended ductless air conditioner can cost from $1,800 to $4,500 before installation.
A floor-mounted ductless AC system is an excellent option if you’re looking for a simple installation. You won’t have to worry about having wall space available or any major infrastructure considerations. Plus, the entire AC system is typically installed in less than a day.
When it comes to cost, a floor-mounted AC system typically runs from $1,400 to $3,700 but can be more in certain cases.
Concealed Duct Mini-Split
A concealed duct mini-split air conditioning system is the most expensive of all ductless systems and usually costs between $2,300 and $6,750 for a standard-size unit. This system is mounted in the ceiling or wall and is not visible, making it ideal for keeping a home’s interior aesthetics intact while still providing powerful air conditioning.
Vertical Air Handler
A vertical air handler is a type of air conditioner that is designed to work with mini-split heat pumps or an AC condenser. It works similarly to central air conditioning, but instead of cooling the entire house, it cools only the individual room in which it is installed. Usually, vertical air handlers are portable and easy to install.
The main components of a vertical air handler include the condenser, evaporator coil, blower motor, compressor, and drain pan. Generally, the cost of a vertical air handler can range from $1,400 to $4,100 each.
Ductless AC Components Cost
The cost of a ductless AC system is affected by the cost of its components. The most common type used in homes is a single-zone system, which generally comprises three parts: an outdoor compressor, one or more indoor air handlers, and refrigerant lines.
|Ductless AC Component||Average Cost (Materials Only)|
|Outdoor Unit||$800 – $5,500|
|Indoor Unit(s)||$350 – $1,800|
|Indoor Wall Mount Unit||$350 – $1,150|
|Indoor Ceiling Mount Unit||$700 – $1,700|
|Refrigerant Lines||$5 – $7/ Linear Foot|
|Installation Accessory Kit (Lines, Wires, Sleeves, and Drain Tubes)||$300 – $700|
Each component of the unit will add to the total cost. You can buy them independently or opt for a pre-existing combination. Typically, a single outdoor unit can be connected to up to four indoor air handlers, and the cost for each component increases with the number of air handlers.
On average, an outdoor unit ranges from $800 to $5,500, while indoor units typically range in cost from $350 to $1,800 each.
Ductless AC Costs by Brand
When selecting a brand of ductless AC, consider factors such as energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness, reliability, noise levels, and other features. Look also at the brand’s warranty coverage and customer reviews.
The cost of ductless AC systems can vary greatly depending on the brand. Generally, you can expect to pay from $800 to $16,500 for a complete system. In the following table, you will see an overview of the cost range for different brands:
|Brand||Average Cost (System Only)|
|Mitsubishi / Trane||$1,500 – $16,500|
|Fujitsu / Rheem||$1,100 – $8,000|
|Daikin||$1,000 – $7,500|
|LG||$1,000 – $7,500|
|Panasonic||$900 – $6,000|
|Frigidaire||$800 – $3,500|
Ductless air conditioning systems can be pricey, and labor costs are certainly a contributing factor. This price range can vary greatly depending on the job’s complexity, but generally speaking, you’re looking at spending between $350 to $1,800 for a single-zone installation. Installing a multi-zone system can easily increase that price to around $1,000 to $4,000 or more for labor alone.
Often, electricians and carpenters are necessary for installations, as well. Electricians can run you an extra $50 to $100 per hour, and carpenters usually charge around $30 to $75 hourly for any necessary wall work.
If you’re considering installing a ductless air conditioner, keep in mind the cost of permits. Most municipalities will require permits and inspections by local code officials before installation can occur. The cost of permits depends on how big your unit is and where you’re located. Typically, you can expect to pay around $200 to $450 for a permit for ductless AC installation.
There are a few other related services to consider when purchasing a ductless air conditioning system that could add to the cost. From energy audits to insulation to help reduce energy costs, you’ll likely need to factor a few of these services into the overall budget.
If your home needs an upgrade in cooling, it would be wise to conduct a professional energy audit to determine if a ductless air conditioning system is the best option for your needs.
During an energy audit, a professional will conduct tests to check your home’s insulation and windows. They will also measure temperature differentials, airflow, and humidity levels. On average, a professional energy audit will take about an hour and cost between $200 and $600 per project.
Old HVAC System Removal Cost
Generally speaking, removing an older unit may cost between $80 and $200. This cost typically includes labor to disconnect the unit from its power source, remove the unit itself, and dispose of it properly. In some cases, demolition and cleanup may be necessary to properly eliminate the old HVAC system, which can add to the overall cost.
Home Insulation Cost
Properly insulated homes can help keep energy costs low. Adding insulation to your home is a great way to help maintain the temperature throughout your house and save you money on utility bills. The average price of home insulation is between $2,000 and $7,500 in total. The exact cost depends on the type of insulation you choose and the size of your home.
Installing a ductless air conditioning system requires the cost of purchasing the unit itself and any associated materials. Thermostats are a key component of the system, and they can range in price from $120 to $330, without installation fees included. Your final cost depends on the type of thermostat and its features.
Smart thermostats are an increasingly popular option, allowing for remote programming from a smartphone. Smart thermostats are typically more expensive but can save money in the long run, as they help keep your home comfortable while also conserving energy.
HVAC System Maintenance and Repair
Though a ductless air conditioning system requires very little maintenance, it is still important to perform regular checks on the various components of your unit. On average, HVAC maintenance costs between $85 and $170 per visit, depending on the system’s complexity. To save money, you can perform some simple maintenance tasks on your own by following this HVAC maintenance checklist.
If your HVAC system needs repair, costs can vary widely depending on what work is needed. Generally, AC repairs cost from $150 to $620 for parts and labor.
Pro Cost vs. DIY Cost
Installing a ductless air conditioning system requires professional expertise and skill, so it is recommended to hire a licensed HVAC contractor to do the job.
If you choose to install your ductless AC system yourself, your costs will be lower but can still range from $1,200 to $5,000 for a single-zone mini-split AC DIY kit and supplies. Remember that some manufacturers may not honor warranties for DIY installs, so you should double-check with them before proceeding.
Additionally, while a single-zone mini-split ductless AC system is the simplest type to DIY, a multi-zone installation will require more advanced knowledge and experience, and the cost could increase significantly.
Here is a breakdown of the typical costs associated with DIY installation:
|Tools & Materials||Average Cost|
|Adjustable Wrench||$20 – $50|
|Drill||$50 – $150|
|Hole Saw||$40 – $100|
|Condenser Wall Brackets||$40 – $110|
|Wall-Mounted Ductless Mini-Split System||$650 – $2,700|
|Plastic Condenser Pad||$50 – $150|
|Installation Accessory Kit||$300–$700|
Professional installation comes with the benefit of a warranty and peace of mind that the job will be done correctly. In the long run, it may cost less to hire a contractor if something goes wrong. On average, you can expect to pay around $2,000 to $6,100 for professional installation of a single-zone ductless air conditioner, including the cost of the unit, materials, and labor.
So, while there are cost savings associated with a DIY installation, the potential risks and costs of repairing or replacing an improperly installed unit should be considered.
Ductless AC vs. Central AC Cost
Ductless air conditioning systems are typically more expensive to buy and install than central systems. The average cost of a professionally installed mini-split system is between $3,000 and $9,500 for a multiple-zone system, while the average cost of installing a central air conditioning system is around $5,000 to $8,500.
If you need to install new ductwork for a central AC system, the ductwork installation cost can add $2,000 to $5,000 to the overall cost.
Ductless air conditioning systems are generally more efficient than central AC systems and can lead to long-term cost savings. Without the need for ducts, mini-splits eliminate energy losses that are commonly associated with central forced-air systems. This is why ductless air conditioners can be an excellent solution for many people looking to reduce their energy bills.
Additionally, a ductless mini-split air conditioner is an ideal choice for homes that need supplemental cooling but cannot accommodate ductwork installation. On the other hand, central air conditioning systems can provide more uniform cooling and heating throughout a home and may be a better option for larger homes with multiple floors.
Ductless AC Installation Cost by Location
The cost of installing a ductless air conditioning system can vary significantly depending on where you live. As with any home improvement project, prices will be higher in larger cities and metropolitan areas, while costs may be lower in rural or suburban regions.
Mini-split AC systems may not be suitable for all climates, as some models don’t have a heat pump system and can’t provide heating. Those with a heat pump, also known as ductless heat pumps, are able to provide both cooling and heating and may be a better option in colder climates. The non-heat pump models are typically on the lower end of the cost spectrum and may be a more cost-effective solution in milder climates.
Energy Efficiency Rebates
Ductless air conditioning is known for its energy efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that ductless systems can save up to 30% on energy bills compared to traditional systems. As a result, you may qualify for energy-efficiency rebates or incentives from local and federal governments.
It is essential to research the available rebates and incentives in your area, as they can significantly reduce the overall cost of installing a ductless air conditioning system.
FAQ About Ductless Air Conditioners
DIY installation of a ductless air conditioning system is not recommended, as it may result in improper installation and expensive repairs down the line. However, there are some DIY models available on the market that may be easier to install.
Most modern ductless air conditioners are designed to operate quietly, with sound levels no louder than a standard conversation. However, the noise level can vary depending on the size and model of the system. Ask your HVAC contractor about the sound levels of any air conditioner you consider purchasing.
Ductless air conditioners are energy efficient and can provide long-term cost savings. They also require minimal installation and do not need ductwork, which can save time and money.
Additionally, ductless systems can provide supplemental cooling to rooms or areas of your home that a centralized system may not serve.
Ductless air conditioners usually last between 10 and 25 years. The system’s lifespan may be affected by usage, climate, and maintenance factors. Regular maintenance and filter changes are essential for extending the life of your ductless air conditioner.
The cost per hour of running a ductless air conditioner is typically between $0.13 and 0.45, with monthly costs ranging from $35 to $125. These systems generally offer greater energy savings than traditional air conditioners.
Ductless air conditioning systems are an energy-efficient and cost-effective solution for both new construction and existing homes. On average, a ductless air conditioner can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $9,500 for installation and equipment.
However, this is just a rough estimate, and the actual cost can vary significantly depending on the size of the system and any additional components or accessories that may be needed. HVAC Gnome makes it easy to connect with local HVAC contractors to get an accurate quote for your specific needs.
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