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Community and Q&A

Minisplits are cheaper? Really?

David McNeely | Posted in General Questions on

Los Angeles rental. Installed an off-brand mini split years ago and now need to replace it. Over the last couple of weeks I have called 27 AC contractors, many recommended from the Fujitsu or Mitsubishi website. I am asking for a 15k Mitsubishi, Fujitsu, Daikin, or even an LG with at least 18 SEER, preferably 23 or greater. Outdoor unit is directly below indoor unit; 220 v. receptacle right there. 7′ exterior line drop.

Looking at the website distributors, seems the material cost is <= $2,000. Probably 4 hours for the installation. It’s L.A., so figure another two hours for traffic. Almost without exception, I have been told I had to schedule an appointment with a “comfort specialist” or “expert estimator” before I could get a quote. Often, scheduling for this first appointment was more than five weeks out. Providing them a floor plan, elevation drawings, and photos was apparently not adequate. When I asked how long before the installation, I was told the estimate had to come first—only then could they tell me. Others said I had to sign a contract before they would tell me when they could install! So far I have gotten four firm bids: $3700, two at $5,000, and one at $8700. $6,700 profit for half a day! I’ve decided it will be cheaper to ask my doctor to install the unit. At least then I will be covered by her malpractice insurance.

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  1. User avatar GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Prices for construction work are intensely local. In some areas of the country right now, contractors are quite busy, so they can set higher prices than when demand for contractors is low.

    If you are weighing different HVAC options, you have to take local prices into account. In your area, the price of installing a ductless minsiplit may well be higher than in some other parts of the country.

  2. User avatar
    Reid Baldwin | | #2

    Sounds like a business opportunity. What are the barriers to entry in the mini-split installer business?

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