Air conditioning without air ducts? How does that work?! Mystery solved with illustrations and other frequent questions answered here.Read More
Ductless mini-split systems are a fantastic addition to any home. They give us the benefit of whole-house AC systems, complete with multi-zone control, all without much noise or hassle.
But how long can it take to install a mini-split system? Well, it varies.
Installing a Ductless Mini Split system may only take a good contractor a few hours. This can vary, extending to 1 or 2 days maximum for complicated systems. Installing the mini split mainly consists of drilling the ductless access hole, feeding through the wires, and mounting the brackets.
How Long Does a Standard Installation Take?
Installing a ductless mini-split system doesn’t take longer than any other type of system. It’s much quicker than anything involving central AC’s which need large ducts installed and maintained.
That said, you do want a qualified contractor to do the job for you. These are permanent installations, so you want them to be done right!
It’s not quite as fast to install than a quiet window air conditioner, but there’s good reason for that. A mini split is a much more efficient, permanent system than even the best window ac.
The actual installation work is relatively simple. You only need to drill the access hole (around 3”), install the indoor and outdoor brackets, then mount the units.
You can expect a good contractor to have this done for one unit within a few hours.
Of course, multiple units will take a lot more time – simply multiply things up. Allowing a half-day for each unit is a good rule of thumb.
What About Complications?
Like with any major appliance, complications can arise.
While these can’t always be prevented, they can be prepared for. Have a think through this following list, and try to predict whether any of these might be an issue. If they are, it’s best to pre-warn your contractor (and maybe expect some extra installation time):
- Complex electrics. With an old home, or one with a complicated layout, running the right electricity and breakers to connect the system may be a challenge.
- Complex logistics. Trying to squeeze the unit into a corner, or needing to redirect the cables on the exterior may take some extra time.
- Large areas. A multi-unit install over a large home can take some time. Not just to get around the home, but to do repeated tests and checks on all systems.
- Previous ductwork. If you have old ducts, you may not need to remove them but it’s a good idea to seal these off and prevent build up of dust/mold (or worse, living things!)
- Upper floors. For units above the ground floor – particularly in apartments – these are a level of complexity about the installation that can be done with two feet on the ground.
If you’re getting a multi-zone system, this can take a little longer to set up and test. (And believe me, it’s always worth testing things fully while you have the contractor there).
How Much Will Installation Cost?
The cost of installing a mini split system depends on a lot of factors. Generally, a basic installation can be anywhere between $300 to $1,000 depending on any logistics issues and the number of units you need installed.
Another factor is whether you’re using a single or multi-zone system. The latter being more complex to set up (and longer to test).
Installation costs can also extend to other parts of the system, too. If you’re installing the exterior unit onto the ground, you’ll probably want a concrete pad installed to hold and protect it. This can cost around $75-$150 per pad.
Further, you may need new electric circuits to accommodate the air conditioners. Professionally these can cost between $100-$200 if you don’t have anything already set up.
Finally, and this is a bit extreme, but if you’re in a very old house your electric panel might not be up to scratch. In the worst case this can need a complete overhaul, costing $1,000 or more. The good news is this is extremely rare, and can be figured out over one phone call.
Do I Need A Licence Or Permit To Install A Mini Split AC?
The good news is you probably won’t need a permit or licence to install a ductless system.
The bad news? You’re likely going to need one for the electrical installation work! If you do it yourself, you’ll still need an electrician to check and sign a certificate to prove you’ve done it well.
Sure, you could do it yourself and not tell anyone. But if you ever sell your home, things could get very complicated when questions get asked!
Are Mini Split Air Conditioners Worth It?
Mini split air conditioners look great, but are they worth the cost?
Of course this depends on who you ask! For myself, and most other mini-split owners, these ductless systems are absolutely worth it. Some of my favorite benefits are:
- Clean, cool, easy airflow. These systems work extremely well, and are very quiet.
- No complicated ducts that can cause problems and always need maintained. No more worrying about mold or rodents within the ducts!
- Multi-zone control can keep everyone happy. No more fighting over the thermostat.
To be honest, the most daunting part of these systems is that they can be unfamiliar. Although the system is the same (using the same evaporator, condenser, etc) – they can feel very different to a normal system. And it’s hard to trust something we find weird.
But try not to think like that. These systems are skyrocketing in their popularity, and for good reason. They take up minimal space, are quiet, work great, and need very little maintenance. Especially compared to central air conditioning systems.
Plus, it’s easy to get a contractor to get everything set up perfectly for you.
Do be aware that mini split systems can cost slightly more to run than central air. These are reportedly up to 30% more.
Mini Split Systems Compared to Central AC
If you’re considering a mini-split system, you might be mentally comparing it to a traditional central air conditioning system. And for good reason – they both have their benefits.
To help, I’ve put together this quick pros and cons table to compare the two. Sometimes looking at things from a top-down view is the best way to realize what would suit you better.
|Mini-Split Air Conditioners|
Can control cooling per room
Doesn't bring in fresh air
Better/cheaper if retrofitting without ductwork
More expensive than ducted systems (if you have ductwork)
Easier to install. Doesn't weigh much.
Visible inside the home.
Multiple options - wall mounted, ceiling recessed, etc.
May need multiple to cover whole home.
Often comes with heater element for winter.
20-30% more efficient than central AC.
Quieter than central AC.
|Central Air Conditioners|
Can add value to a home
Needs regular maintenance
Can be cheaper up-front cost
Less efficient; higher energy bills
Zone control possible
Zone control needs high-end parts
Brings in fresh air
Ducts can build-up pollen, mold, dust, etc.
Hidden from view
Central unit is noisier than ductless.
Installation can be complex/lengthy.
Mini-split systems are still fresh and are getting installed in households across the country.
However, these new systems leave a lot of questions. A main one being how long they take to install.
I hope this quick guide has helped boost your confidence about getting one of these newer systems. I personally love them, and can’t see myself ever dealing with the hassle of a central air system again.
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