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How to Install a Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner: A DIY Guide

CEO Khai Intela
Installing an air conditioning system may seem like a job reserved for professionals. However, with the right tools and some guidance, even non-experts can successfully complete a ductless mini split air conditioner installation in just...

Installing an air conditioning system may seem like a job reserved for professionals. However, with the right tools and some guidance, even non-experts can successfully complete a ductless mini split air conditioner installation in just one day. In this article, we will walk you through the process, highlighting the simplicity and convenience of using a special line set. So, let's get started!

How Do Ductless Air Conditioners Work?

A ductless mini split system consists of two main components: an indoor evaporator and an outdoor condenser. The evaporator cools the air, while the condenser dissipates heat. These components are connected by a line set, which is tubing that passes through a small hole in the wall. The line set carries hot refrigerant outside and cold refrigerant in. Additionally, it includes a cable to power the evaporator and a drain line to remove condensation. It's a simple yet effective setup.

How Do Ductless Air Conditioners Work Diagram Image Source: Family Handyman

Choosing the Right System

Finding DIY mini-split systems in physical stores can be challenging, so online shopping is usually the best option. Fortunately, there are numerous online suppliers available. When selecting a system, pay attention to the BTU (British thermal units) rating, as it indicates the cooling capacity. Make sure to calculate the heat loss of the room to choose the right size. Several websites offer simplified calculations to assist you. Remember, an undersized system won't be sufficient, while an oversized one will cycle more frequently, potentially shortening its lifespan. For our installation, we chose a heating and cooling system that cost about $900, with additional materials totaling around $275.

Providing Power

Apart from basic DIY tasks like measuring and drilling, running power to the system is often the biggest challenge during ductless air conditioner installation. If you have a small system, you may be able to draw power from an underloaded 20-amp circuit nearby. However, most cases require a dedicated circuit for the mini-split. Running cable from the main panel to the unit can be a minor or major project, depending on accessibility.

In our case, we cut three small holes in the drywall to route the cable from the basement, up through the garage wall, through the attic, and finally down and out the exterior wall into a disconnect box. This disconnect box provides a convenient way to turn off power when servicing the unit. The power then runs from the disconnect to the condenser, while the cable alongside the line set powers the evaporator. We spent around $160 on electrical supplies, and a local electrician estimated the labor cost at approximately $500. If you're unsure about electrical work, consult your local electrical inspector for guidance and to ensure compliance with code requirements.

Other Essential Materials

Aside from the main components, you will need a few additional materials for a successful ductless air conditioner installation. To ensure stability, the condenser must rest on a level surface. While pouring a concrete pad is an option, a plastic condenser pad (available for $50 and up online) provides an instant and easy solution. Additionally, consider using condenser wall brackets (priced at $45 online) for added support.

It's worth noting that the fabric sleeve covering the line set is neither aesthetically pleasing nor easy to clean. To address this, we recommend investing in a plastic line set cover kit, which costs approximately $55 online. This cover kit not only improves the appearance of the installation but also helps to protect the line set.

Remote Control and Convenience

To adjust the room temperature, a handheld controller is provided with most ductless mini-split systems. Some even offer advanced features such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth control, enabling you to conveniently manage your air conditioner from anywhere within your home.

Now that we have covered the essential steps and materials for installing a ductless mini split air conditioner, you can confidently embark on this DIY project. Remember, while it may seem daunting at first, the process is straightforward and achievable for non-professionals. By following the guidelines and utilizing the right tools, you can enjoy the comfort of a properly installed ductless air conditioning system in no time.

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