Factors to Consider While Buying & Installing a Mini-Split DIY

Factors to Consider While Buying & Installing a Mini-Split DIY

As a homeowner, you might enjoy the idea of making home improvements on your own. Not only does it save money, but it also allows you to see the benefits of your own hard work. If you want to install a mini-split DIY, but aren't sure where to start, having a proven guide to follow makes a world of difference. 

Here we review the various factors to consider before you embark on a mini-split installation DIY project.

What is Mini-Split Installation DIY?

Mini-split installation DIY refers to the installation process of your own mini-split heating and cooling system. Also known as a ductless heat pump, many homeowners are interested in performing their own installation because there is no ductwork required. This means there is no need to knock out walls or ceilings and replace the drywall for your mini-split installation DIY project. 

These installations include setting up an outdoor condensing unit and an indoor air handler (or handlers, depending on the area of coverage and zones you need). Each indoor air handler is connected to the outdoor condenser by a small tube containing a refrigerant line and electrical wires for power. Although it is advisable to have a professional at least complete the final steps of cutting and charging the refrigerant line, some of the work can certainly be performed by an experienced DIYer.

Factors to Consider While Buying & Installing a Mini-Split DIY

There are many factors to consider for your mini-split installation DIY project, including:

Size of Mini-Split DIY

When installing any type of heating and cooling system, you need to make sure you install the right size. If not, your unit can either be too large - costing you more money to run it - or be too small so it isn’t able to heat and cool your home effectively. The size of your unit is based on the size of your space using British Thermal Unit (BTU) output as the measurement. 

You can calculate the right BTUs by first calculating the square footage of each room (multiplying the width by the length). You then multiply this number by 25 to get the required BTUs. In most cases, homeowners need either a T2 ton mini-split or F4 ton mini-split. You can then check the product manual of the unit to find its size.

Type of Mini-Split

There are three choices when it comes to your mini-split DIY:

  1. Single-zone ductless mini-splits. These are small, simple units consisting of a single indoor air handler connected to the outside condenser unit. If you only need to heat or cool a single space, this is the right choice for your needs.
  2. Dual-zone ductless mini-splits. As the name implies, these systems have two air handlers connected to a single outdoor condenser. You can use a dual-zone for smaller homes, such as by using one unit to heat and cool each floor in the home, or in two individual rooms or zones.  
  3. Multi-zone ductless mini-splits. These systems can manage up to eight air handlers. These are great for larger homes or office buildings with many coverage zones. 

Keep in mind you also have your choice of wall or ceiling-mounted air handlers to suit the space and configuration of your room.

Placement of Mini-Split

The placement of your indoor air handlers is very important. Choose an exterior wall and place the indoor handler where it isn’t blocked by objects such as furniture or hanging light fixtures. Consider how the room is used, and avoid placing the handler directly behind or above an area where people tend to sit or work. You should leave six feet between the bottom of the air handler and the floor if you choose a wall-mounted unit. 

Choose a spot away from direct sunlight and heat sources to ensure the handler can accurately monitor temperatures to optimize performance. The exterior wall also needs to be free of obstructions to allow for the refrigerant lines.

Energy Efficiency

Make sure you understand how to install your mini-split DIY to improve energy efficiency. Because you have complete control of the areas you choose to heat and cool, it’s important to choose the best areas to create your zones. Consider the rooms you occupy most often, the rooms that might be warmer or colder than the rest of the home due to their sun exposure or position above the garage or in the attic, or even rooms that are used most often and have specific temperature needs.

Remember you can also turn off the handlers in unoccupied rooms and adjust the temperature for each zone, providing exceptional energy efficiency. Having a logical plan outlining where you install each zone will help you see the most energy efficiency.

Mini-Split Cost

The cost of your mini-split depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The type of system and features you choose
  • How many indoor handlers you require
  • Whether you choose a smart controller feature
  • The size of your system

However, on average, a mini-split costs between $1500 to $2000 per ton of cooling capacity. You should arrange for a quote to get an accurate cost for your mini-split installation DIY project.

Mini-Split Installation Cost

As mentioned above, there are many factors impacting the cost of your mini-split. However, on average, a professional installation of a single indoor heating/cooling zone including the equipment, parts, expert installation services, and associated electrical work and permits is between $6,000 and $7,000.

Air Quality

Your ductless unit helps reduce the dust, allergens, dust mites, and other small particles found in ducted systems. The condensation in ducts can also build up toxins leading to symptoms such as dry, burning eyes, itchy skin, scratchy throat and an ongoing cough. You might consider installing an add-on air purifier to your system to capture even more airborne allergens, bacteria and germs.

Why You Need Expert Help With Your Mini Split Installation DIY

As mentioned, once you complete your mini-split DIY installation, you still need to have a professional mini-split installer complete the final steps. Known as 'firing the system off' this is an important step to make sure everything is safe and functioning properly. 

They also understand how to handle dry nitrogen and refrigerant, which can be quite dangerous to you and your family. They are licensed to power the unit and run the electrical line from your breaker panel to the disconnect switch, and from the switch to your unit safely.

As you can see, you can save some cost by installing your own mini-split DIY, but keep in mind that you will still need to have a professional ductless installer in Northwest Washington to get your system up and running. If you're ready to install a ductless mini-split, it might be a good idea to connect with a professional to ensure it's installed the right way for years to come.