Can I Afford Ductless Air Conditioning?
Ductless air conditioning has become a new standard for many states in the western portion of the country. These systems allow homeowners to easily enjoy cooling and heating throughout the year via one system. Determining whether or not ductless air conditioning can fit within your budget starts with knowing how much these ductless systems cost to install.
What Are Ductless Systems?
Ductless air conditioners also referred to as mini-split systems, are individual wall units that set zone temperature controls for the main rooms of your home. Instead of having ductwork and vents, the cooled air is blown directly out of the wall unit into the room. Each mini-split unit is remotely controlled, and they all connect to a larger outdoor condenser unit via copper piping.
The Many Benefits of Having Ductless Mini-Splits Installed in Your Home
Ductless mini-split systems have arisen as an alternative to traditional centralized air conditioning systems that require ventilation ducting. Since ductless units only require a small three-inch diameter hole to be drilled in the exterior wall to run piping to the outdoor unit, they require minimal installation time and physical labor. These mini-split units are perfect for older homes that lack any existing ductwork to connect to a centralized heating or cooling system.
Another great benefit of ductless systems is that each wall unit can be controlled freely from the next. This means that you have the luxury of zone cooling and heating throughout all the rooms of your home that have mini-split units installed in them. Additionally, mini-split units are extremely energy efficient. They can save you a bundle on energy costs and ensure that you’re not wasting any of your hard-earned money on losing some of your cooled air throughout the leaks in your ducting.
How Much Do Ductless Systems Cost?
In reality, the cost of installing ductless systems in your home is going to vary depending on a number of factors. These systems can range anywhere from $5,000 to $28,000 or more. One of the biggest determining factors of price is the number of mini-split units that must be installed inside of your home. Obviously, the more rooms that you want to have cooled, the more costly your entire system is going to be.
Most outdoor condenser units can handle up to eight indoor mini-split units. However, if your indoor units are too far apart, you may need to have more than one outdoor condenser unit. Only a professional will be able to assess your desired mini-split setup to determine if you need one or more outdoor condenser units.
Another factor that will need to be taken into consideration is the size of the rooms that you want to have cooled. The larger the square footage of a room, the bigger the unit will need to be. For example, a 500-square-foot room will need a mini-split that produces 12,000 BTUs. A room that is 1100 square feet would need a mini-split unit that produces 24,000 BTUs. Choosing the right size unit for each room of your home relies on the room’s square footage, your climate, the number of people living in your home, the amount of existing insulation, and the number of doors and windows throughout the room.
A Note on SEER Ratings
Apart from the main factors that we just discussed, another important factor that will alter the purchase price of your ductless system is its SEER rating. This is a number given to each mini-split system that recognizes how energy-efficient the system is.
SEER stands for season energy efficiency ratio. It’s determined by taking the total cooling output of a mini-split unit and dividing that by its total energy consumption. The higher the SEER rating of the ductless mini-split unit, the costlier the system will be. It’s important to weigh the pros of a higher upfront cost for a high SEER unit compared to the total energy savings you’ll enjoy over its lifetime.
Contractor Labor Costs
After determining an estimated cost for the actual ductless mini-split equipment, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of contractor labor to have it installed. Your contractor will have to install all your interior units as well as the outdoor condenser unit. They will need to drill holes in each exterior wall that will have a wall-mounted mini-split unit.
Additionally, they’ll need to run electrical wires to power the unit as well as refrigerant lines to connect with the outdoor condenser unit. A typical single or dual system installation will take the average contractor about 5 to 10 hours to complete. The more indoor units you have installed, the longer it’s going to take for your contractor to do their installation job.
Additional Equipment Installation
Apart from installing your mini-split and condenser units, an HVAC technician will need to install a plethora of additional equipment for your system to work correctly. To start, they will need to have copper refrigerant lines that connect each interior unit with the condenser unit outside. These lines are typically run from the inside unit, through the exterior wall, and down to the condenser unit. To protect these refrigerant lines, your technician will also install a plastic conduit cover. This works to provide a clean-looking finish.
Wiring is another necessary piece of equipment that will be factored into your total installation price. Technicians will need to run power from your electrical box to your exterior unit. Then, they’ll run wiring in the conduit from your condenser unit to each interior mini-split unit. If you don’t have the right sized breakers to handle the capacity that your mini-split cooling system requires, you may need to pay an electrician to update your panel box. That will tack on more fees to your overall installation process.
Depending on where you live in the country, you may have to obtain a permit to have your mini-split unit installed. Checking with a local HVAC contractor can reveal whether or not you’re required to pull permits. If you need them, you’ll have to pay a fee out of pocket to obtain the permit.
Professional Installation is a Must
As with many household tasks, there are always people who want to DIY their projects. While updating your bathroom can be a great DIY project, installing a ductless cooling system isn’t. This type of system is very complex and must be installed up to code standards for everyone’s safety. It’s important that you contact a licensed HVAC contractor to perform your system’s installation.
A licensed contractor will have adequate knowledge to ensure that you’re getting a complete system that is capable of effectively cooling your entire home. Additionally, many HVAC contractors are certified by specific mini-split brands for professional installation. You’ll find that many ductless mini-split manufacturers require that their system be installed by a certified professional in order for the system warranty to be activated. Any DIY installation can void the system’s warranty and leave you susceptible to replacing any parts that are faulty in the future.
Expert HVAC Services
Crystal Blue Plumbing Heating & Air offers expert HVAC service to residents throughout the Sacramento, CA, region. We can also assist with all of your plumbing, ducting, air filtration, commercial, whole-house fan, indoor air quality, and attic fan needs. Simply contact our office to schedule your next service appointment!