Can I Install A Mini Split Myself? Benefits Vs. Risks
The popularity of ductless mini split systems has skyrocketed in recent years. They provide excellent comfort. Homeowners can customize their systems to provide the exact heating and cooling they need in every room of the house.
The only drawback? The upfront price. Getting a certified contractor to install one of these zone systems can cost twice as much as a forced-air furnace or AC.
But, when you look online, you’ll find mini split AC systems for much cheaper than what your local pro quotes you.
That makes it very tempting to buy them directly. Someone who’s handy and into DIY projects can save thousands of dollars!
You might do so in the short term. But, after that, there’s a good chance you’ll end up paying way more – and not being satisfied with the results.
If you’re asking, “can I install a ductless AC myself?” this article is for you. It outlines the risks of installing a mini split, or ductless AC, yourself.
Working for a major HVAC distributor (Pierce-Phelps) for years, I’ve seen what can go wrong with a DIY mini split installation. These systems are more complicated than they look!
And, just so you don’t think I’m completely biased, I’ll explain the benefits of a DIY install. I’ll even give you an idea of what you’ll need to do.
But, I still want to stress the value of paying more for a residential HVAC contractor. When you’re ready, you can use our dealer locator to set up a free consultation with a certified installer in your area.
Can A Homeowner Install a Mini Split?
Homeowners are tempted to save money on labor costs by installing a ductless mini split themselves. It’s possible, but the risks of losing money, property damage, personal industry, and diminished performance outweigh the benefits.
You must also consider your level of experience and expertise. This job requires an intermediate understanding of electrical systems, refrigerant lines, access to parts, knowing how to size indoor air-handling units and outdoor compressors, and more.
Benefits Of A DIY Mini Split System Installation
We’ll start with the benefits of a DIY mini split or ductless air conditioner install:
Yes, you can save thousands of dollars on professional labor costs and markups when you have access to the parts you need and have the know-how to do the job.
Customizing The Setup
You have the freedom to customize the setup to your specific needs. That includes the locations of the *indoor air-handling units, heat pump or *outdoor compressor, and any lines you need to run.
No Special Tools Required
Usually, you don’t need any special tools to install a mini split. So you won’t need to invest in expensive equipment.
Risks If You Install A Mini Split Yourself
While there are benefits to installing a mini split yourself, there are also several risks to consider. These risks include:
System Won’t Work Properly
Do you know how to do a proper load calculation for heating and air conditioning? There’s more than square footage to consider, especially for a multi-zone mini split. There’s room layout, insulation, and more.
As you’d imagine, an undersized system won’t provide enough heating and cooling. But neither will one that’s too powerful. That leads to more problems.
Breakdowns and Early Replacement
If you don’t install a mini split correctly, it will likely break down. An undersized system gets worn out, and an oversized system burns out from cycling on and off too often.
These issues lead to costly repairs and the system not lasting 20 or more years as it should.
Installing a mini split involves a lot of wiring. If you are not experienced with electrical work, you can cause a fire with loose or bad connections between the units and your breaker box.
Damage To Your Home
Property damage is a significant risk with DIY installs. Mold takes root when refrigerant lines are not properly sealed and leak behind the walls.
I’ve also seen units that fell off walls, taking big chunks of sheet rock and furniture with them.
An electrical fire is nothing to scoff at. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 430 deaths and 1,070 injuries from electrical fires between 2015 and 2019.
That’s not to mention the blunt force trauma of a 30-pound air handler hitting someone in the head on its way down.
Void The Warranty
If you install the mini split yourself, you may void the warranty on the system. This means that if something goes wrong with the system, you will not be able to get it repaired or replaced under warranty, which could be a costly mistake.
What Do You Need To Do To Install A Ductless Mini Split?
Here’s a quick overview if you’re still curious about installing mini split air conditioning. It’s a complicated process, and you’ll see why it’s risky and not recommended.
Choose The Right-Size System
Are you looking for a single-zone system for one room or a multi-zone setup for the whole house? Do you want just cooling or heating in the winter? You need to know the BTUs necessary based on the load calculation and your usage.
A system that’s too small will struggle to cool the room, while a system that’s too large will consume more energy than necessary.
Depending on the size of the room and the cooling capacity, you may need one or multiple indoor units. Make sure you choose enough indoor units to cool the room adequately – but not so many that you overwork the system.
Choose wall-mounted, floor, mounted, or recessed ceiling air handlers based on placement and airflow.
Install The Outdoor Unit
Mount the heat pump, or outside condenser, near the building. Make sure it’s level. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation.
Install The Indoor Units
Mount the air handler in the room and drill a hole in the wall to connect the electrical connections and refrigerant lines. Make sure to seal the hole properly to prevent air leakage.
Installing on an exterior wall makes the job much smoother.
Connect the refrigerant lines, suction tubing, power cables, and conduit between the indoor and outdoor units. Connect the refrigerant lines, suction tubing, power cables, and conduit between the indoor and outdoor units.
DIY Mini Split Installation FAQs
You can contact one of our certified mini split installers with more questions or schedule a free consultation. Or, keep reading.
Do You Need An Electrician To Install A Mini Split?
You may need an electrician to install a mini split if the home needs an upgrade to 220 service. Otherwise, certified HVAC professionals can do the wiring. It’s essential to have an insured professional handle electrical work in a home.
Are DIY Mini Splits Worth It?
DIY mini splits cost less than professional installations upfront. Homeowners save money on labor costs and markups. But, these systems often lose their value quickly due to incorrect sizing, poor performance, shorter lifespan, and a voided warranty.
How Much Should It Cost To Install A Mini Split?
A single-zone mini split installation usually starts around $3,500. Multi-zone systems can go up to $20,000. It depends on the number of indoor units and whether the system will provide enough heat in winter. Manufacturer rebates, tax breaks, and federal incentives can reduce the cost.
Do Mini Splits Come Pre-Charged?
A mini split will come pre-charged with the refrigerant necessary to transfer heat between the heat pump and air handlers. It is important to do a load calculation to ensure the system provides enough heat or cool air without overloading.
Let us help you find the best mini split installer in Cherry Hill, NJ or anywhere in New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, or Pennsylvania.