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Community and Q&A

The Price of Ductless Minisplits

Peter L | Posted in General Questions on

I was quoted $4,800 to purchase & install a Mitsubishi Mr. Slim 1-ton unit (MSZFE12NA).

That seems very high. Especially since it’s a new build and the 3″ hole is already in the wall.

How difficult are these units to install as a DIY?

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Replies

  1. yacpro13 | | #1

    Hi Peter,
    I'm in the middle of getting quotes myself for a similar unit. I was quoted $4200 CAD for the MSZ-FH12NA including installation.

  2. Anon3 | | #2

    If you go with the pre-charged lines, eg Mr. Cool from home depot, not very hard, no special tools required, checkout the garage forums. Installation should be no more than $500.

    For higher efficiency, Midea is up there and dirt cheap.

  3. Peter L | | #3

    I will look into the pre-charged lines since I don't have any AC equipment. I figured install should have been around $500 not the $2k + they are charging. One can buy the unit for around $2k so they are charging me over $2k to install it.

  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Peter,
    Here is a link to a previous Q&A thread on the topic: Dare to DIY a mini split install?

    If you pay for installation by a qualified contractor, you are paying for warranty service and future callbacks. You are also ensuring that Mitsubishi doesn't void the equipment warranty because of an installation error.

    -- Martin Holladay

  5. Ben Balcombe | | #5

    Like many I've been through these thoughts and discussions about how an $1800 unit can cost $4000 installed. Personally I work for a company that employs pushing 20,000 people so I have no experience in the costs of running a small business, but when you actually step back and think about all the costs that a small HVAC company has to incur you quickly get to big numbers:

    Wages (including taxes, social security etc..), real estate (workshop/warehouse etc...) vehicles (purchase and maintenance), equipment, insurance (liability and medical), training etc...All of that is included in the price, it's not that Bobby HVAC is pocketing $2K for a couple of hours work that you could do yourself.

    That's not to say that I wouldn't consider DIYing a mini split, but if I was working out my budget for a project I would look to do the 'easy stuff' myself (framing, painting, basic plumbing and electrical) and use what I save there to pay for a pro to install a mini-split.

  6. Tim Brown | | #6

    I have agree with the opinion that $2k is crazy expensive to install a unit. I run a small business and have a number of expenses that have to be amortized over "all" my customers: not just a few.
    I find (have found) that this new (to the HVAC community technology) is being viewed as a cash cow, much like PV solar is around here.
    I can get a standard furnace installed for cost plus an hourly rate that is to a degree negotiable.
    What I'm finding with the mini-splits (at least in NW Ont Canada) is there are new, exotic and well outside the comfort zone that most of the companies work in. The attitude is HEY, IF YOU REALLY WANT THAT FANCY NEW UNIT YOU GOTTA PAY WHAT EVER I ASK. It is particularly true when there are only a couple of companies that have ever touched a mini-split.
    I have to pull the trigger this summer on a mini-split and will install it myself before I pay what I consider a predatory rate to have a "pro" do it.
    I can buy two units: screw up the first one/throw it away and get another for the cost of one professionally installed unit.
    I believe that the energy conscious individual that is most likely to buy one of these units (after thoroughly air sealing, insulating and researching the requirements for their home) is also most likely to be money conscious and be looking for a reasonable deal. At least that is my view.
    Placing the exterior unit on a pad ...................1 hour
    Installing the interior unit on the wall ..............1 hour
    Running the line set, lets get extravagant........2 hours
    Evacuating, charging and testing the line set..2 hours
    Test, have coffee, talk to customer..................1 hour
    That's 7 hours..OK lets call it a day (8 hours) at $100/hr (that's reasonable) = $800 add shop fees tax and ??? $1000.
    Just throwing that out for discussion!

  7. Peter L | | #7

    Tim,

    I agree. I believe the mini split installers see this as a niche market and they are not making money on installing duct work so they have to "recoup" their costs somehow and so they are charging crazy install prices.

    I might go the route of the DIY mini split from Home Depot - Mr.Cool. I can get a 1 ton unit for $1,300 and install it myself since the refrigerant lines are pre-charged. The Mr. Cool unit (17 SEER) is not as efficient as the Mitsu (26 SEER) but at $1,300 for the 1 ton unit that cannot be beat. Even if it dumps out at 7 years of age, I got my moneys worth.

    What is the price difference in a 17 SEER vs 26 SEER unit for a years worth of electricity?

  8. Jimmy Black | | #8

    My equipment arrived yesterday and I'm helping the local installer, I also removed all of the old ducting, the old 4 ton unit, and prepped the electrical so the install is going to be as easy as possible. I'm getting a 3 ton 2 head ductless Midea system with 10 year parts and labor fully covered warranty for $7200. If I hadn't helped and done the prep work the cost would have been $8-$10k. I priced doing the system myself, but by the time you add up all of the ductwork (I have some custom pieces), lines, and time involved I was well into $4-5k. Not to mention simply troubleshooting any problems is going to cost you big bucks since you have to evac the whole lineset for many issues, expect $200-400 per service call.

    I'm spending the extra to make sure it's done correctly, but mostly to have a 24/7 no questions asked 10 year warranty. If you don't have an authorized installer do it, you still are covered under warranty for 1 year parts, 5 years compressor I believe it is, but you have to mail your unit back and wait for a new one to come, which is in the 2-3 week time span. In FL 2-3 weeks without AC is not an option. I also which to never again mess with maintenance after my renovation is done, I'm ready to relax!

    I would definitely not trust the install to any company. Luckily I found someone who is very interested in building the mini split idea, and they have taken off in expensive coast homes here the last few years, so he's done many installs.

    After researching the crap out of them and knowing more about them than most installers, I would suggest the following. If you have a small or simple system (1 condensor 1 head) do it yourself. If you want ductless, or a multi head system, find someone who has done many installs and will give you a decent price, a decent price is cost of all goods plus anywhere from 500-1000/day for their time, it's insane but that is the going rate. If you have a multi zones you can still do DIY, do several 1/1 units, that way if something goes wrong only the one head is offline, and it will be much easier to troubleshoot, and if all else fails simply replace the unit.

  9. Steve S | | #9

    Tim,
    You are spot on. Most of the installers dont know about mini splits and those that do charge big time. I just went through this effort 6 months ago. I had 5 different contractors look at our project a 1500 SF two bedroom cape cod, that I had just spray foam insulated, which I thought was a perfect candidate for a minisplit system and all of them talked about how it would be better to install traditional HVAC.

    I gave up on the mini splits.

  10. Expert Member
    Dana Dorsett | | #10

    First off, the FE12 is a 10 year old design that has been discontinued. The price for the older FE12 is secondary- you don't want it.

    The newer FH12 has a significant efficiency advantage over the FE12, which would only be sold by third party remainder and surplus houses these days, not standard Mitsubishi distributors, though you can still get repair parts for them.

    In my neighborhood the newer-better FH12 would run about $4K all-in (usually a bit less if put out to competitive bid during a less-busy season.) I'd only consider installing an FE12 if it came in under $3K.

    The HSPF of the FE12 is only 10.6 (=10,600 BTU/kwh)

    http://usa.mylinkdrive.com/uploads/documents/1642/document/MSZ-FE12NA-MUZ-FE12NA_Submittal.pdf

    The FH12 tests at HSPF 12.5, which it 18% more heat out for the same amount of power use.

    http://meus1.mylinkdrive.com/files/MSZ-FH12NA~MUZ-FH12NA_Submittal.pdf

    If you're using it primarily for AC, note that the FH tests a SEER 26+, whereas the FE is SEER 23, which is still a double-digit percentage difference, if not quite as much as the heating efficiency delta.

    Of course, unless you did an aggressive Manual-J well enough to have a real handle on the heating & cooling loads there's no way to know if either of those models is appropriate for your house/zone.

  11. Anon3 | | #11

    The Mr Cool DIY series comes with warranty for DIY. And btw mini split costs about $50usd to install in China. You can get in the US a Midea 24,000btu unit for $1300, 20 SEER. Oh Midea got a 40 SEER (yes, 40 SEER) unit coming out this year, should be dirt cheap too.

    More kids should get into the HVAC business instead of college. Easy money.

  12. David Leffingwell | | #12

    My experience: In early 2015, I had 2 Fujitsu minisplits installed for $4000 each. I got two other quotes that were slightly higher. Each unit also had $1250 of rebates (Massachusetts). The installer was a sole proprietor and he's had to come back twice so far.

  13. Tim O | | #13

    As a point of reference, I live in the DC/NOVA metro area and had a Mitsubishi 24K BTU two head heat pump unit installed for approximately $10K, but feel very lucky compared to you peasants who really work for a living outside the impermeable truth bubble of I-495 known as the beltway. BTW, there were no load calcs etc performed. The installer was very professional and provided an excellent installation, which is rare in this area. So far the system works great, but is it overpriced...heck yeah.

    One estimate for a high efficiency boiler and piping in a 3 BR 1955 Rambler ran as high as $45K......the company was unapologetic when wouldn't provide details when I asked the owner about the brands/manifolds/piping scheme etc. He also said that he doesn't do load calcs and that I should hire a professional to do that. Lastly when I asked about his costs he explained 'that it costs a lot living in the area'. He said, take it or leave it. I left it. Another company quoted a much more reasonable price, I signed the contract but that guy never showed up! Again, I feel so very lucky that I don't live where you guys live! The definition of a professional changes the closer you live to the center of the bubble. If you know of a professional who lives in this area and does good boiler work...send me a note.

    1. 1910duplex | | #19

      They say Foley, but I haven't been able to get an appointment scheduled...

      1. Tim O | | #20

        Yup, talked with him. Said he was backed up. What type of system are you looking to install?

        1. 1910duplex | | #21

          I wanted to talk to Foley about adjusting the knobs on my radiators to potentially balance my heat better from my natural gas boiler, but also was interested in learning about an air to water heat pump and whether that has any utility for cooling in our 4a (humid, humid!) climate. I also am considering doing a ducted minisplit arrangement for upstairs only. Two companies (Argent and Bonsby) have given me quotes for that. I need ducted because my largest bedroom is 189 sq ft and the other two are 158 sq ft and 109 sq ft. Was also looking to install bathroom fan for that upstairs bathroom at same time, b/c there is none now.

          Have you talked to Cohen Plumbing and heating? Not sure if they serve Virginia, though, I'm in D.C. I don't think they're the most expert, but they have decent customer service. (All I've had them do is service our old natural gas boiler and bleed radiators once).

  14. Bert Matter | | #14

    I bought a Midea 9000 btu mini split ,seer 40, hspf 14.5 for $2600 including tax, surge protector $87.00, lineset cover $30.00. comm wire $70.00
    A local hvac on craigslist installed it in 5 hours @ $ 90.00 / hour flat rate $450.00. All in cost about $3300.00. son in ln law did wiring

    Had 2 quotes for 120000 btu mitsubishi ,$5200+ tax , electrical extra 350 to $700.
    Quote 2 for12000btu. LG20 seer 10 hspf $5000 + tax electrical was extra.

    I got a quote to install the midea from another hvac company $1750.
    My installer said he could get mini splits for almost half the price that I could .
    So they make a lot of money reselling it to the customer too.
    I figure 90-100 dollars an hour reasonable for hvac, if you call a plumber or electrician or get your car repaired their rates are around $100 an hour .

  15. Deleted | | #15

    Deleted

  16. Canyon21 | | #16

    Wow, I've just received several quotes for two mini-splits in Denver, CO and they both came out to around 16K. One 12,000BTU and one 9,000BTU. This was for two upstairs bedrooms. I'm sure that this is overkill for the space and am in the process of trying to get a load calculation done so I know just what to system to get. A third quote was for 12K with only one system!!!!

    Anyone know of a reputable company in Denver that installs a lot of mini-splits?

    1. evantful | | #18

      Yeah thats absolutely insane pricing. I had a 12k and 9k Mitsu FH series minis installed for $6800 back in 2017 ($4800 after utility and manufacture rebates).

      Even then labor costs many hvac companies are tacking on is absolutely out of control. I own a small business I understand the overhead, but in many if not most cases these are cash cows. I look forward to market saturation in a number of years for prices to get sane again.

  17. Drew Baden | | #17

    I installed a perfect aire DIY unit myself within a few hours. I paid $1200 for it which came with a precharged line.

    1. mgee219 | | #22

      Drew - curious what size was the unit and for what application? Considering this for a 2 Bed ADU 25'x25' in CZ3 Oakland CA, at 9000 btus it seems to be the only DIY brand that offers a unit in that size. We are going " Pretty Good House" standards as the weather is pretty mild.

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