Is it Easy to Install a Ductless Air Conditioner Yourself?
Have you seen the fantastic do-it-yourself claims by companies selling DIY ductless mini split systems to homeowners? They say it is “so easy you can do it in 4 hours!”
Are these DIY systems really as easy to install as the companies claim? Or will you end up with problems that will cost you more money in the long run?
At Tiger Heating & Air, our team provides the heating and cooling needs for Corpus Christi. You can call on Tiger for any kind of AC installation, including a ductless air conditioning system. Hybrid heating and cooling systems have become popular in America in recent years, and for good reason. Ductless mini splits are excellent home comfort AC systems that provide the heating and cooling a space needs without invasive ductwork. They often are a perfect opportunity to get the comfort you need in an area that doesn’t have proper temperature control, like a renovated attic that can’t ever get cool enough during the hottest months of our Texas summers.
COMMON PROBLEMS INSTALLING A DIY MINI SPLIT
Installing a DIY ductless mini split air conditioner involves complicated tasks including electrical work. Some work may be challenging to do without another person or a HVAC technician or electrician to help.
How difficult of work this is depends on the skill and capabilities of the person installing the mini split system. People who have tried installing one themselves have had mixed reactions.
Some problems you might run into:
- If you make a mistake in installing the refrigerant line, you will need a licensed HVAC technician to reset it
- You may find required parts were missing in the kit you received
- Getting an instruction manual that isn’t for the model you purchased
- Untwisting the lineset was difficult for some people
- The instructions on how to match the electrical wires are unclear
- You may be surprised at the cost of additional items that aren’t provided in the kit, such as electrical wires.
CAN I INSTALL A DIY DUCTLESS MINI SPLIT MYSELF?
You may be quite handy but installing a ductless HVAC system is more complicated than many other DIY home projects.
Ask yourself these questions before purchasing a DIY kit:
- Do you have experience doing electrical work?
- Do you know how to pour a concrete pad?
- Do you know how to find out precisely what size of a system is needed for your space? Do you know what SEER or BTU the area requires?
YOUTUBE DIY VIDEOS VS. REALITY
If you Google for information on how easy it is to install a DIY ductless mini split system yourself, you will find videos from people who have installed these systems. You may see people putting these systems together and ending the day with a space now heated or cooled by their new system.
However, many of these people are not your average homeowner. Some are even professional techs. Many have helpers with their install, including professional HVAC technicians or electricians.
Also, you will find some of these online videos and blogs are sponsored by MRCOOL DIY.
DIY MINI SPLITS VS. TRADITIONAL DUCTLESS SYSTEMS
When it comes to purchasing a ductless mini split to install yourself, there’s one first thing you need to know. Just because it’s a ductless system does not mean it’s a DIY one.
There are different kinds of DIY ductless mini split units available today, but not all are designed to be installed by a non-professional, not even a handy one.
For example, MrCool DIY Ductless is designed differently than the ductless systems Tiger (and most other professional HVAC companies) install. A DIY version comes with a pre-charged line set which should eliminate having to deal with refrigerant. Working with refrigerants is something a person who is not trained and licensed in HVAC systems and installation should never do themselves.
Traditional ductless system installation requires soldering work and specific tools. These systems have more complicated wiring and controls than refrigerators do. If you purchase a DIY mini split that was not sold as a DIY version, you will probably face work you are not capable of nor have the tools to handle.
CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE A DIY DUCTLESS INSTALLATION
You need to know the size of the system your space needs before purchasing a DIY mini split kit. This is not about determining the unit’s actual size but knowing the BTU amount necessary for the space you are trying to heat and cool.
Determining the correct size depends on factors including:
- Climate range you live in
- Square footage of the room or space
- Amount of sun exposure to the area
- Level of insulation
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN DIY DUCTLESS MINI SPLIT KITS?
While most DIY systems come with the components you need for installation, there are some things you will need that are not included, including:
- A dedicated 208/220 circuit in your electrical panel
- Wiring to a junction box
- An AC shut-off switch at the junction box
In addition, if electrical work is not something you are not able to handle yourself, you will have to pay for an electrician to help with some of the ductless installation.
The cost for professional electrical work needed likely ranges from about $500 – $1000. But prices vary from area to area and also can increase depending on what issues or complications they run into in the job.
Your DIY system may not be under warranty. Be aware that many DIY Ductless systems come with a warranty that is only good if a licensed HVAC technician installed it. That means if you installed it yourself, it would not be under warranty.
COST FOR INSTALLING A DIY DUCTLESS MINI SPLIT SYSTEM
Costs of the system itself vary from brand to brand and from type to type. Depending on the size you get, including various specifics like SEER rating, you can find several options costing between $1,000.00 to $3,000.00.
The other cost is your time. These systems are advertised to take about 3-4 hours of work, not including the shopping time to purchase additional electrical components. And if you need help in installing it (like most do), will you have to pay someone for that?
It will not save you money if you cannot install it yourself. You are not going to save on the cost of an HVAC professional if you have to end up calling one out to finish the job.
If you cannot install it yourself, you will likely need to call on experienced HVAC technicians like those here at Tiger Heating & Air. We have been called to help a homeowner who has run into problems beyond their ability to install a ductless mini split.
MONEY SAVING TIP: Do NOT buy a DIY ductless system with the intention of hiring a professional company to install it. This will not save you money. You may even discover the HVAC company will not install a ductless system that you purchased.
WHEN IS A DUCTLESS MINI SPLIT NOT THE BEST CHOICE?
Ductless Mini Splits are excellent heating and cooling systems. However, they are not always the right solution to a room’s temperature needs. There are a variety of other HVAC options that may solve the problem you are having.
There may be a cheaper solution than a ductless mini split. Trust an experienced HVAC company to help you find out precisely the right solution to your home’s comfort needs.
TRUST TOMMY TO SOLVE YOUR HEATING & COOLING NEEDS
Please check with us or whatever HVAC company you plan to hire BEFORE purchasing any system. A good local company will give you a free estimate of the temperature solution your space needs. Contact Tiger today for a free installation quote.
Tommy Cool Air has handled thousands of quality HVAC installations across the Corpus Christi area. We can provide your home with exactly the right cooling system your home needs at about or even below the cost you will pay for a DIY version.
Call Tiger Heating and Air Conditioning at 361-371-7541 in Corpus Christi, TX.