Best Mini Split Air Conditioners in 2020

Mini split air conditioners, also known as ductless mini split A/Cs, are wall-mounted cooling systems that don’t require any ducts. They work great as supplemental cooling (and heating) systems, or standalone systems for single rooms or areas like garages, or standalone systems for multiple rooms/zones in your home. Keep reading to see which mini split A/C is the best for you among our favorites.

What Is a Mini Split?

A mini split a/c is referred to as “split” because there’s an indoor unit (evaporator) and an outdoor unit (the condenser). You can get single ducted systems (for 1 room) or multi-zone ducted systems (for 2-8 rooms) depending on how many rooms you need to cool. A multi-zone mini split system will have more indoor units accordingly, with a larger outdoor compressor. You can control the indoor units according to each room’s needs, which gives you a lot more control than a central AC would.

Why Choose a Mini Split?

Mini splits are great for rooms that don’t have any existing ductwork. Mini splits are the preferred unit when it comes to cooling because ductwork can take a few days or up to a week to install, while a mini split can be installed in one or two days. Duct installation is also a headache when compared to the few drills and small hole a mini split requires. They work well for garages and workshops that don’t have windows in which to install a window AC. They’re also better than window units because they’re quieter, do heating and cooling, and are more energy efficient, as the Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) will show.

How to Choose a Mini Split AC

You probably already know whether you want a single-zone mini split or a multi-zone mini split. Now you just need to figure out how many BTUs you need to efficiently cool your space. A BTU, or British Thermal Unit, is simply a measure of energy. You’ll need to first find the area of your room in square footage; simply measure (in feet) the length and width of the room and multiply the two numbers.  Follow the guide below to see how many BTUs you need for your unit:

Area of Room in Square FeetCapacity Needed (BTUs/Hour)
100 – 150 ft5,000
150 – 250 ft6,000
250 – 300 ft7,000
300 – 350 ft8,000
350 – 400 ft9,000
400 – 450 ft10,000
450 – 550 ft12,000
550 – 700 ft14,000
700 – 1,000 ft18,000
1,000 – 1,200 ft21,000
1,200 – 1,400 ft23,000
1,400 – 1,500 ft24,000
1,500 – 2,000 ft30,000
2,000 – 2,500 ft34,000

You can be rest assured that these numbers are energy efficient because they’re sourced from Energy Star. 

Adjustments for Room Activity

Although the table above is clear-cut about what capacity you’ll need for your window AC, you’ll need to make some Energy Star-suggested adjustments before you buy:

  • If the room is sunny, then increase capacity by 10%.
  • If the room is dark or in the shade, then reduce capacity by 10%.
  • If there are regularly more than 2 people in the room, then for each additional person, add 600 BTUs.
  • If the AC is being used in the kitchen, add 4,000 BTU.

Once you’ve adjusted your BTU value for the items above, take a look at the table and round down to the nearest thousand. For example, if you have a requirement of 4,478 BTUs, then round down to 4,000 BTUs.

Why Should I Estimate Lower for BTUs?

You might be thinking that more BTUs equals more efficiency, but that’s not the case. You want to round down because an oversized unit will not remove humidity efficiently, leading to a too-humid room.

Example BTU Calculation

Suppose you have a living room which is 16 feet x 22 feet. That’s 352 square feet. According to the table above, you would need 9,000 BTUs. But remember the adjustments we need to make? Since the room is facing east, it’s quite sunny which means you can add 10% to the BTU calculation. There are regularly three people in the room, so you want to add 600 BTU for that extra person. Overall, your total BTU capacity requirement is 10,500. We’ll round down to and our final number is 10,000 BTUs.

Other Features to Look for in Mini Split Air Conditioners

Mini splits are an investment, so look out for these other features that will make the life of your unit more useful to you. We’re talking about energy efficiency, heating capability, remote controls and their features, access through Wi-Fi and devices, and more.

Energy Efficiency

If you’re all about reducing your electricity bill, be sure to check the EER rating on the unit you purchase. EER stands for energy efficiency rating and is a number that divides the BTU measurement by power consumption. You want to choose an AC with a higher EER rating because this will increase efficiency. If you see a SEER rating, you also want to go with a higher number. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating and a SEER of 17 is common, but some units with a SEER of 19 are on the market as well.

Heating Capability

Mini split units are also capable of heating a room. If you want one unit for both heating and cooling, get a mini split with a heat pump, as it’s a good investment. However, if you live in a perpetually warm climate, you can definitely skip the heat pump and save on costs.  

Remote Control Features

Most, if not all mini splits come with wireless remote controls so you can easily control the temperature in the room. Some remotes come with a Follow Me function which puts the thermostat in the remote itself, which means the unit will sense the temperature closest to your remote, resulting in precise temperatures and more comfort for you.

Wi-Fi and Device Access

Modern units have Wi-Fi connectivity and connect with apps on your phone or tablet. Determine whether this is useful to you—with this ease of access, you might be able to program your unit to turn on 30 minutes before you arrive home, leaving your room the perfect temperature.

Other Features

Most mini splits are whisper quiet, but some come with additional features that reduce the decibel (dB) output even further. Also look out for auto restart and timer functionalities. Some units come with refrigerant, which reduces the hassle of buying and adding it yourself, or hiring a technician to do it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do you recommend installing a mini split AC by myself?

A: No. It’s best to get a professional to install a mini split AC. You’ll have to drill through a wall, hook up a heavy unit with screws, and install the outdoor condenser. A professional will make sure to set up the electric wires correctly. An HVAC technician can use their tools to ensure there are no refrigerant leaks as well. Also, some mini splits will need to be charged with refrigerant—you can do this yourself or make it easier and have your technician do it for you.

Q: Do I need a permit to install a mini split?

A: You will need to check with your city. We have seen that some cities require permits before beginning since it requires you to drill a hole in the wall.

Reviews of the Best Single-Zone Mini Split Air Conditioners

If you want to cool only one room or zone with your mini split, you’re in the right place. A single-zone mini split AC will have one indoor unit and one outdoor unit. The cooling capacity on these units are meant for rooms between 100 to a little over 1,000 square feet.

If you’re looking to cool more than one room, scroll down to see our reviews of the best multi-zone mini split ACs. 

For reference, here’s a quick list of the single-zone mini split ACs we’ve reviewed for you, with our favorite on top:

Senville Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump

BTU Options: 9,000 BTU, 12,000 BTU, 18,000 BTU, 24,000 BTU, 30,000 BTU

This Senville single-zone mini split AC comes with a heat pump, making it a double investment into cooling and heating. You can get a unit with a 110/115-volt outlet connection or a 208/230-volt outlet connection. The 110/115-volt outlet connection will make installation without a HVAC technician easier. It’s on the higher end of energy efficiency with a SEER of 19. Here are some of its features:

Pros:

  • Heating with a heat pump
  • Built-in dehumidifier
  • Very quiet with Whisper Technology
  • Digital display and multi-functional remote control
  • Includes 16 ft. copper line set and wiring harness
  • Turbo function to heat or cool rooms quickly

Cons:

  • Does not heat rooms that are below 5°F
  • Senville states that it requires professional installation. However, many people who bought this have installed it by themselves with help from online videos.

Pioneer Mini Split Heat Pump Air Conditioner

BTU Options: 9,000 BTU, 12,000 BTU, 18,000 BTU, 30,000 BTU, 36,000 BTU

The Pioneer Mini Split Heat Pump Air Conditioner can heat and cool your room. Only the 12,000 BTU unit is available with a 110/120-volt outlet connection, and the rest are 208/230-volt. This may require you to get help from a HVAC technician. The SEER is between 16 – 19.5, depending on the BTUs. Here are some of its key features:

Pros:

  • Heating with a heat pump
  • Built-in dehumidifier
  • Whisper quiet operation
  • Digital display and multi-functional infrared remote control
  • Includes all required installation equipment (including a 16 ft. copper piping kit)
  • Free technical support for installation, use, troubleshooting and parts issues
  • 5-year compressor warranty
  • Timer function lets you preset start or stop times
  • Night mode and auto restart functions

Cons:

  • A few customers state that this unit leaks refrigerant

Daikin Wall-Mounted Ductless Mini-Split A/C Heat Pump System

BTU Options: 9,000 BTU, 12,000 BTU, 18,000 BTU, 24,000 BTU

This Daikin Wall-Mounted Mini-Split A/C comes with a heat pump, making it a double investment. All units require 208/230-volt connection. It has a SEER of 17, which is fair. Here are some of its features:

Pros:

  • Heating with a heat pump
  • Built-in dehumidifier
  • Very quiet—the indoor sound levels go down to 37 dB while the outdoor sound levels go down to 51 dB
  • Has an additional quiet operation setting to reduce sound levels by 2-3 dB
  • Multi-functional remote control
  • Includes installation kit
  • Turbo function to heat or cool your room quickly
  • Technical support from in-house experts
  • Ten-year warranty on parts
  • People say it is very easy to install

Cons:

  • No digital display on the unit itself
  • All units require a 208/230-volt connection, none are 110/115-volt

MrCool Advantage Ductless Heat Pump Split System 3rd Generation

BTU Options: 9,000 BTU, 12,000 BTU, 18,000 BTU, 24,000 BTU

The MrCool Advantage single-zone ductless split AC comes with a heat pump, making it a double investment into cooling and heating. All units require 208/230-volt outlet connection. It’s on the higher end of energy efficiency with 19 SEER. Here are some of its key features:

Pros:

  • Heating with a heat pump
  • Very quiet
  • Remote control with Follow Me feature to ensure the best temperature
  • SmartHVAC Wi-Fi control feature for an easier setup process, improved functionality
  • Has a smartphone app which connects to both Apple and Android devices
  • Compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant
  • Comes with an installation kit
  • Sleep mode which saves money
  • Auto restart feature

Cons:

  • No digital display on unit
  • All units require a 208/230-volt connection, none are 110/115-volt
  • MrCool states that it requires professional installation by a HVAC technician (for example, to charge the refrigerant)

Our Favorite Single-Zone Mini Split Air Conditioner

We’ve reviewed the best single-zone mini splits above, all of which are great for both heating and cooling. We hope that this article has helped you come to a winner, but if not, check out our favorite: the Senville Mini Split Air Conditioner. It has 19 SEER and you can choose the 110/115-volt unit if that’s easier for you to install. Many people have purchased the Senville Mini Split and have been very satisfied with the results.

Reviews of the Best Multi-Zone Mini Split Air Conditioners

If you want to cool more than one room or zone with your mini split, this section is for you. A multi-zone mini split AC will have multiple indoor units and one outdoor unit. Here’s a list for reference of the multi-zone mini split ACs we’ve reviewed, with our favorite on top:

Senville Multi-Zone Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump

Zone Options: Two, Three

The Senville Multi-Zone Mini Split AC does both heating and cooling. It’s available for two-zones and three-zones. The two-zone comes with 2 12,000 BTU air handlers/indoor units and the three-zone comes with 3 9,000 BTU air handlers/indoor units. They both require 208/230-volt setup and are Energy Star Certified. Another plus is the ETL Intertek Approved and AHRI Certified status. Its SEER is 23, which is very high. Here are some of its key features:

Pros:

  • Heating with heat pump
  • Built-in dehumidifier
  • Whisper Technology for quiet operation
  • Includes an installation kit
  • Digital display
  • Remote controls with Follow Me function
  • Timer Function
  • Turbo Mode
  • Ionizing air filter
  • Three-year warranty on parts
  • Seven-year warranty on the compressor
  • Very quiet
  • Great customer service

Cons:

  • Senville states that these require professional installation
  • Possibly lose the warranty if it’s installed without a licensed HVAC technician

Pioneer Multi Split Air Conditioner

Zone Options: Two, Three, Five

The Pioneer Multi Mini Split AC does both heating and cooling. It’s available for two-zones, three-zones, or five-zones. They all require 208/230-volt setup. Another plus is the ETL Intertek Approved and AHRI Certified status. Its SEER is high and is between 21.3 – 22.0, depending on which of the three zone options you buy. Here are some of its key features:

Pros:

  • Heating with heat pump
  • Built-in dehumidifier
  • Quiet operation
  • Includes complete installation kits
  • Digital display
  • Remote controls with LCD backlit displays for each indoor unit
  • Wireless Internet remote access
  • Support hotline for installation, use, troubleshooting, warrant and parts issues

Cons:

  • Senville states that these require professional installation
  • Some people have had issues with the motherboard

Our Favorite Multi-Zone Mini Split Air Conditioner

We hope this review section for multi-zone mini split ACs helped you narrow down your options. If you’re still on the fence, check out our favorite and clear winner: the Senville Multi-Zone Mini Split Air Conditioner with Heat Pump. It has many functions which make it easy to use, like the Follow Me function in the remote control, timer, turbo mode, and the whisper quiet operation. It’s very efficient due to its SEER of 23 and it also has Energy Star certification.

To Finish Off

It’s a lot of work picking the right mini split AC, and if you need a multi-zone mini split, then it gets even more complicated. We hope this guide helped you navigate the market better and narrow down your choices. If you haven’t decided yet, keep these favorites of ours in mind:

For single-zone mini split, try the Senville Mini Split Air Conditioner.
Or for multi-zone mini split, try the Senville Multi-Zone Mini Split Air Conditioner with Heat Pump.

For further reading, check out our other cooling articles:

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