When it comes to heating and cooling your home, central air conditioners and furnaces aren’t the only two options. Ductless heating and cooling systems, also referred to as mini-split systems, offer superior performance with a smaller footprint. These HVAC systems come with a wall-mounted indoor unit and an outdoor unit consisting of a compressor.
Mini-splits are ideal for cooling or heating small spaces such as condos and home additions like attics, garages and finished basements. However, a multi-zone system consisting of 2-6 indoor units can quickly cool or heat multiple rooms in your home using a single compressor.
If you’re looking to replace your old and inefficient HVAC system with a new one, consult this guide to learn how to pick a perfect ductless heating and cooling system for your home and discover the best ductless brands. We also recommend speaking with local HVAC professional in your area to get further advice on sizing and installation.
What makes the best Ductless Heating and Cooling Systems?
With endless options available in the market, choosing the right ductless system that meets your budget and performance requirements can be a challenge. This section explains the factors that you should consider when comparing brands that offer mini-split heating and cooling systems.
The price of a ductless system is the factor you’re likely to consider first. Most split systems cost $800-$6,000, offering different levels of energy-efficiency and features. An energy-efficient model costs more but ultimately provides monthly savings on energy bills. Also, many mini-splits qualify homeowners for tax credits or utility rebates, providing additional savings.
Energy-efficiency and performance
Not all ductless systems ensure the same level of performance and energy-efficiency. These systems come in different capacities to cool or heat rooms of various sizes. Make sure to calculate the actual BTUs (British Thermal Units) needed to keep your room cold or warm.
Installing a large system wastes energy, while a less powerful unit must work continuously to maintain temperatures, leading to higher energy bills. As such, unit size matters when selecting a ductless system. Most brands display each unit’s cooling/heating capacity along with its size.
Each system has its own SEER (Seasonal Energy-Efficiency Ratio) and HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) ratings. The higher these ratings, the more energy-efficient the system will be. When buying a ductless system for your home, you should also look for units that are ENERGY STAR certified. This label ensures that the system offers energy savings without compromising performance and comfort.
The type of compressor that a ductless heating and cooling system uses also influences total energy savings. A split system makes use of either a rotary or variable-speed compressor. A rotary compressor turns on and off to maintain required temperatures, operating either at full or no power. On the other hand, variable-speed compressors, also known as inverter compressors, run at different speeds to maintain optimum temperatures inside the room. Variable-speed compressors help you save on energy bills while ensuring total comfort all year round.
Apart from basic cooling and heating functions, you might also want to consider advanced features in your split system. Advanced features include adjustable airflow, Wi-Fi-enabled remote monitoring and control, humidity control and programmable timers.
Most reputed brands list customer testimonials on their website. These reviews are a great way to verify the claims made by the company about its products. Specifically, look for reviews on installation, performance and customer support to get clarity before you invest in a ductless heating and cooling system.
Most well-known brands offer warranties ranging from 5-12 years on their split systems. Choosing a model with a better warranty period will ensure that you get reliable performance out of your heating and cooling system without worrying about part replacement costs.
Best Ductless Heating and Cooling Systems
Here’s a list of five top ductless heating and cooling systems.
Mitsubishi Electric MUZ-FH
Mitsubishi Electric offers some of the most energy-efficient and reliable ductless heating and cooling systems on the HVAC market. The MUZ-FH single-zone series models provide superior performance, boasting 33.1 SEER and 12.5 HSPF. These ENERGY STAR-certified split systems are available with multiple indoor unit options and human sensing technology to direct conditioned air at hot/cold spots in the room. These mini-split systems cost $980-$1,300, excluding the interior unit. The company offers a seven-year warranty on the compressor and five-year warranty on parts.
Daikin LV Series
Daikin is one of the largest HVAC brands in the world. The company offers a range of energy-efficient mini-split heating and cooling systems for residential applications. The LV series units combine excellent performance and efficiency, offering up to 24.5 SEER and 12.5 HSPF. These systems also earned the ENERGY STAR Most Energy-Efficient Mark in 2017.
The split system also comes with a host of features, including self-diagnostics and automatic defrost. LV series ductless heating and cooling systems have an average customer review rating of 4.8 on Daikin’s website. These units cost $1,300-$2,000 depending on the cooling/heating capacity you choose. Daikin offers a 12-year limited warranty on parts upon product registration.
Fujitsu Halcyon RLS3Y
Fujitsu is another reputed brand in the HVAC market that manufactures high-performance split systems for residential applications. The Halcyon RLS3Y series single-zone ductless systems offer exceptional energy-efficiency with a SEER of up to 33.0 and HSPF of up to 14.2.
The powerful outdoor unit can operate efficiently in heating mode even in temperatures as low as -5 degrees Fahrenheit. The ENERGY STAR-certified system also comes with an inverter compressor to provide additional savings on your energy bills while providing optimum comfort all year round. The RLS3Y series systems cost $1,600-$1,800. Customers get a seven-year warranty on the compressor and a five-year warranty on parts.
Gree is a well-known and trusted HVAC brand that offers several high-performance and energy-efficient ductless systems. The Sapphire is an ultra-high-efficiency smart ductless system from the brand that boasts an exceptional SEER of up to 38.0 and an HSPF of up to 15.0.
These units use variable-speed two-stage compressors and come with features such as intelligent defrost, intelligent preheating, self-diagnostics and remote control. These units offer reliable heating even when the temperatures drop as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit. Sapphire ductless systems cost $1,400 to $2,100 based on the unit size you choose. Gree offers a five-year warranty on all parts.
Pioneer sells affordable mini-split systems for residential applications. The WYS series wall mounted ductless system from Pioneer is widely popular among homeowners within the US.
Available in a variety of capacities, these energy-efficient systems use an inverter compressor and boast features such as an anti-cold air function and remote access. With an average customer rating of 4.8, the 12,000 BTU model is one of the best selling ductless systems from the WYS series, boasting a SEER of 19.5 and HSPF of 9.5. Prices for WYS systems vary from $698-$1,998 based on the cooling/heating capacity you choose. Pioneer offers a two-year warranty on parts and a five-year warranty on the compressor.