Ductless mini-split systems are sweeping the nation and are quickly becoming one of the top options for heating and cooling a home. They’re renowned for their energy efficiency, cheap operation, and easy installation. If you’re thinking about choosing a mini-split system for your home, you must know which brand is the best of the best.
There are many different mini-split brands to choose from. While many of them get made by the same parent company, some use better components than others. Before you can decide which brand is best for you, you should know what your options are and what different brands specialize in.
This article will look at the top names in ductless mini-split heat pumps. Regardless of your budget or the size of your home, there’s a mini-split option out there for you, and we’ll help you find it.
What is a Mini Split Heat Pump System?
A mini-split heat pump is an HVAC system capable of producing heat during the winter and cooling during the summer. It eliminates the need for a furnace, which is usually necessary to produce heat, while the air conditioner takes care of the cooling on a traditional system.
Mini-split heat pumps also operate without a system of ductwork, which further reduces the installation difficulty and cost. This type of system consists of a wall-mounted indoor unit and an outside condenser, similar to an air conditioner. The two units get connected by a refrigeration line containing refrigerant that either heats or cools the air in the inside unit, which then disperses it through built-in vents.
While the overall operation is much more complicated, this gives you a general idea of how mini-split heat pumps operate.
What to Look for in a Mini-Split System
Before you can decide which mini-split system to choose, you need to know what to look for.
One of the top reasons people prefer mini-splits to other heating and cooling systems is how efficient they are. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating and refers to how much cooling power a system can produce with as little electricity as possible. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the mini-split system is. You should look for a system with a rating of 20 or higher.
Single vs. Multi-Zone System
A single-zone mini-split system is when you have a single outdoor unit powering one indoor unit. However, certain mini-split brands specialize in multi-zone systems where a single outdoor unit powers multiple indoor units. If you plan to condition your entire home with mini-splits, you can save money using a multi-zone system.
A multi-zone system means that, rather than needing an outdoor condenser for every single indoor (head) unit, you can operate multiple head units with a single condenser. Not all mini-split brands offer this option, so choose your brand wisely.
How Well They Heat in Cold Weather
While mini-splits do great in warm or moderate climates, they have a reputation for struggling to produce heat in extremely cold weather. If you live in a northern climate with harsh winters but have your heart set on a mini-split, choose a brand that tailors its units to cold climates.
One of the downsides of mini-split systems is that you’ll always have an indoor unit mounted high on your interior wall to ensure proper air dispersal. These units are typical around three feet wide, one foot tall, and stick eight to twelve inches off the wall. Because the indoor unit will be a permanent fixture in your home, it’s important that you like the way it looks.
While there are only so many ways to make an indoor unit look good, certain brands emphasize appearance more than others.
The Difficulty of Installation and Maintenance
One of the biggest differences between various mini-split heat pump brands is their mechanical construction. Some systems are extremely easy to install, while others take two or three times as long. The harder your system is to install and maintain, the more likely it is that something will go wrong during the installation.
As with all things in life, your budget will likely play a significant role in your final decision. Mini-splits have a broad cost differential, with prices ranging from $750 to $1,500 up to between $4,000 and $6,000 for a single unit. Multi-zone systems will cost double or triple this amount.
The more your system costs, the better it will operate and the longer it will last. However, not everyone can afford the best of the best, and you’ll likely have other projects around your home that require financing.
When it comes to mini-splits, Mitsubishi is considered by many to be the best brand in the business. They’re a Japanese company and the first to develop mini-split systems, which they did in 1959. Ever since, Mitsubishi has been the industry leader in innovation, new technology, and efficiency.
Mitsubishi offers every type of mini-split system, including single-zone or multi-zone units, the MXZ series. Their multi-zone units operate as high as 60,000 BTU, which is enough power to operate between two and eight indoor units depending on their size. Their SEER ratings are at the top of the list, with ratings as high as 30+ for single units and 20 for multi-zone units.
- A company with a long history of high-quality mini-splits
- Offer various kinds of mini-splits with multiple installation options
- Select models do well in colder weather
- Extremely high-efficiency with SEER ratings of 20+
- One of the most expensive options with a price range of $3,000 to $15,000
Many people think of Fujitsu as Mitsubishi’s top competitor in the realm of mini-splits. They produce similar products but get made by a completely different company, Fujitsu General. Like Mitsubishi, Fujitsu offers excellent products with a reputation for resilience and dependability. They’re also very efficient, with SEER ratings typically in the mid-thirties for single-zone units.
Fujitsu also produces one of the best mini-splits for cold weather environments, the Fujitsu Halycon. It can produce heat in temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit and with decent efficiency. They offer both single-zone units and multi-zone systems that can handle up to eight indoor units on a single outdoor unit.
While they are typically one step behind Mitsubishi’s innovation, Fujitsu gives them a run for their money. Additionally, Fujitsu has a partnership with Rheem, one of the top brands in the HVAC industry. The two companies work together to produce their mini-split systems as Fujitsu makes the outdoor units and Rheem makes the indoor units.
- Extremely high-efficiency ratings ranging from 20 for multi-zone systems to 35 for singles
- One of the most dependable names in the business
- Offer a limited five-year warranty on their products
- Partnership with Rheem gives them an advantage
- Slightly less expensive than Mitsubishi but still very pricy, ranging between $3,500 and $15,000
LG is extremely well-known in appliances for its refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, and other kitchen appliances. However, they also produce many excellent mini-split heat pump systems. Their company’s sheer size and resources give them a competitive advantage over smaller manufacturers despite not having been in the mini-split game for as long.
LG also puts more stress on aesthetics than other companies and offers a line of sleek and nondescript indoor units. They also have an app for their mini-split systems allowing you to control everything from your phone. In terms of efficiency, most LG mini-splits have a SEER rating between 17 and 28, which puts them in the middle of the pack for efficiency.
Depending on which LG mini-split you purchase, your warranty is for anywhere from five to twelve years, slightly longer than many competitors. All in all, LG is one of the top mini-split brands globally, and they even produce two models designed specifically for cold weather, the Multi F and the Multi F Max.
- Dependable and reliable mini-split brand
- Slightly more affordable than Mitsubishi and Fujitsu
- Select models do excellent in cold weather
- More aesthetically-pleasing designs than many competitors
- Their efficiency and SEER ratings are good but not great.
Daikin has long been one of the top air conditioning and furnace brands in the world. It goes without saying, then, that their mini-splits are also top-of-the-line. They’re the company credited with inventing inverter compressor technology which has revolutionized the heating and cooling world.
In addition to their brand, Daikin also owns various other air conditioning companies, the two most notable of which are Amana and Goodman. Like many other top mini-split companies, Daikin has its headquarters in Japan, and many experts consider them one of the top five mini-split companies in the world.
Daikin offers perhaps the widest range of inventory and options for mini-splits. Regardless of how many zones or how large you want your mini-split to be, Daikin has an option. They also produce the smallest indoor unit on the market, which measures just 16″ x 16″ x 8″. Like other top brands, however, the price tag on Daikin mini-splits reflects their value.
- Offer a very wide range of products
- Very high efficiency with SEER ratings between 20 and 30
- Warranties of up to 12 years in length
- Right up there with Mitsubishi in terms of technology and innovation
- Very pricy
- Don’t do as well in cold weather climates
Pioneer is a smaller company that’s relatively new to the mini-split world. However, they’ve quickly made a name for themselves as one of the best mid-level mini-split companies in the country. They’re an American brand made by the Parker Davis Company, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.
While their mini-splits aren’t as flashy, fancy, or innovative as Mitsubishi or LG, Pioneer is a brand valued for its affordability and reliability. Their mini-splits are also easier to install and maintain than some of the higher-tech brands, which makes them preferable for HVAC professionals who are inexperienced with mini-splits.
Like all the other brands on this list, Pioneer makes single-zone and multi-zone systems. They also have the widest variety of products from any American company that manufactures mini-splits. Regardless of what you’re looking for, there’s a good chance that Pioneer makes it.
- Very affordable purchase and installation cost
- Easy brand to install, and you can potentially DIY
- While they’re affordable, they’re very dependable and long-lasting
- Not the most efficient systems with average SEER ratings between 16 and 25
While Gree isn’t as well-known as other mini-split brands, it’s the top air conditioner manufacturer in the world. Gree is based in China and is known for producing solid products at an affordable price. They’re similar in style and price point to Pioneer and target the same type of people.
While Gree mini-splits certainly aren’t as grand as Mitsubishi or Fujitsu products, they’re an excellent option if you’re on a budget. They’re also fairly easy to install and maintain, which gives them a boost in the eyes of HVAC installers.
Gree mini-splits also have a split reputation when operating in cold climates. Most of their models cease working when the temperatures drop below zero. However, when the temperature is between zero and 40, they tend to be more efficient than other mini-split brands.
- While they’re in the middle of the pack in terms of efficiency, the Gree Saphire has a SEER rating of 38
- Very affordable and easy to install
- Offer a wide variety of products ranging from single zone to multi-zone
- They aren’t as high-quality as the top mini-split brands.
Like LG, Bosch is another company better known for its kitchen appliances than they are for mini-splits and HVAC equipment. However, like most others, Bosch got caught up in the mini-split craze and started producing their own line in recent years. They’re also one of the only western-European producers of mini-splits.
While they offer a wide range of products, the 5000 Ductless Mini Split Heat Pump System is one of their best. It combines a decent SEER rating of 22 with the ability to operate in temperatures down to -13 degrees Farhenheit.
Bosch doesn’t have as wide a range of products that many of its competitors do. Rather, they specialize in single or multi-zone systems ranging from 18,000 to 48,000 BTUs, which is neither on the large nor small side of mini-split options. However, they’re a very affordable and reliable brand with a history of producing quality appliances.
- Very affordable mini-split systems ranging in price from $1,000 to $10,000
- Readily available at many retail stores
- Offers a silent mode feature where the indoor unit is extremely quiet
- Don’t have as wide a variety of products that other brands do
- Not as long-lasting or efficient as other top brands
Lennox is perhaps the top overall American brand for mini-splits and HVAC equipment in terms of popularity. Lennox was founded in the Heartland in Iowa, and they’ve been making top-notch products for over 100 years. As they’re a company from the Midwest, it only seems right that they produce some of the best cold weather mini-splits available.
Lennox tends to put more stress on durability and longevity than they do on efficiency. Most of their mini-splits top out inefficiency at around 24 or 25 SEER. However, their systems are always dependable and operate smoothly. Their MLA Cold Climate model maintains 100% efficiency down to zero degrees and can produce heat up to -22 degrees.
- One of the best cold-weather mini-split brands in the world
- Renowned for their reliability and durability
- Their units operate smoothly and quietly
- Offer a wide variety of single and multi-zone systems
- They’re at the low end of the spectrum in terms of efficiency
- Carry a fairly steep price tag despite their inefficiencies
Carrier is another brand that’s better-known for their traditional air conditioners and furnaces than their mini-splits. However, thanks to the craze in recent years, Carrier has focused on developing high-efficiency and reliable mini-splits. As a result, they’ve become one of the top American brands in the world.
Carrier produces several great mini-splits, but their 9,000 BTU single-zone system with a SEER rating of 42 might be their best. It offers the highest SEER rating of any mini-split made in North America and is one of the highest in the world. Their vast inventory and innovative technology are partly due to their partnership with Toshiba, another top mini-split brand.
In addition to their high-efficiency models, Carrier also produces a multi-zone unit capable of powering up to five indoor head units. They also have a variety of installation types for their indoor units, ranging from wall-mounted to ceiling-mounted to floor-mounted. Carrier is an excellent middle-of-the-pack option for mini-splits in quality and price.
- Affordable pricing compared to other top mini-split brands
- Tend to focus on efficiency above all else
- American-made and produces brand
- Offer several outdoor and indoor installation options
- Don’t do as well in cold temperatures as other top brands
- While efficient, they aren’t as reliable or long-lasting as other makers
10. Mr. Cool
Mr. Cool might be the best and most popular mini-split brand you’ve never heard of. It certainly has a great name for an HVAC brand! While Mr. Cool doesn’t carry the branding power or the weight of Mitsubishi, LG, or even Pioneer, they’re taking the mini-split world by storm for one specific reason.
Mr. Cool produces one of the only DIY mini-split units globally that anyone and everyone can easily install. Their mini-splits come with all the components necessary for total installation, from electrical materials to refrigerant lines and everything in between. Remember that you may have to rent a few tools to get the job done.
However, the low price tag attached to Mr. Cool mini-splits and the allure of saving money on the installation has led to its extreme popularity. While their units aren’t as durable or techy as other top brands and don’t perform as well in extreme conditions, Mr. Cool is revolutionizing the world of mini-splits.
If you’re looking for something more complicated with higher efficiency ratings and that works better in cold temperatures, they offer several non-DIY mini-split options.
- Make one of the best and only DIY mini-splits in the world
- Very affordable regardless of which product you choose
- Offer several products outside of their popular DIY options
- They tend to be on the lower end of the efficiency scale, with SEER ratings no higher than 23
- Not as reliable or durable as top mini-split brands
Which Brand is Right for Me?
Aside from these 10 top brands, there are countless more out there. Rheem, Trane, Ruud, and many other notable HVAC companies produce quality mini-splits. The best way to choose the right brand is to look at your budget, desires, climate, and the type of system you require and see which company fits the bill.
One of the most important things with choosing a mini-split brand is to look at efficiency and reliability. The main reason people opt for mini-splits over traditional heating and cooling systems is efficiency. You also don’t want to fix or replace your mini-split every couple of years, so reliability is crucial.
Which ductless mini-split system is best?
Mitsubishi often gets heralded as the best overall mini-split company in the world. They make more mini-splits than anyone else, and they’ve been doing it longer.
What is a good SEER rating for a mini-split?
The higher the SEER rating is, the more efficient your mini-split will be and the more money you’ll save on your electric bill. Multi-zone systems won’t be as efficient as single-zone systems because of the amount of power required. However, you should always strive for a SEER rating of at least 20. Keep in mind that they go as high as the low to mid-40s.
How many square feet will a mini-split cool?
The number of square feet your mini-split will heat or cool depends on the size of the mini-split. Here’s a sizing chart showing the typical heating and cooling capacity of different units.
Anything larger than 24,000 BTU often involves a multi-zone system with multiple indoor units.
Making up your mind in regards to which mini-split brand to choose is a daunting task. There are dozens of different brands and makers, and hundreds of products to choose from. However, by using the information and advice listed above, and by weighing the pros and cons of each brand, you have the best chance of making a wise and informed decision.