The 9 Best Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners in 2023 - Mini-Split AC

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Easier to install than ducted HVAC systems and more efficient than window units, these ductless AC units are the ideal way to beat the heat. Energy Recovery Wheel

The 9 Best Ductless Mini-Split Air Conditioners in 2023 - Mini-Split AC

Tired of using loud and unsightly window air conditioners to cool down your home in the summer? Even if you don’t have the means to install a fully ducted HVAC system in your home, you can still upgrade to a more powerful cooling system with a ductless air conditioner.

These systems, also called mini split air conditioners, include one or more indoor, wall-mounted units powered by a relatively small outdoor compressor. They offer more power and control than window air conditioners—and most double as heaters, too—yet they’re not as complicated or expensive to install as ducted systems, making them an excellent middle ground for homeowners wanting a more efficient cooling system. Smart ductless air conditioners are also available, plus most units come in a range of capacity options, along with single- and multi-zone models.

Looking for more cooling options? Check out our guides to the best window unit air conditioners and portable air conditioners.

First, decide how many indoor units you need and where they’ll be placed. Unlike window units, mini split systems are permanent fixtures, so carefully consider where they’ll be most efficient within your home.

It’s also essential to select a unit that’s powerful enough for the room it’s in—too small and it may not cool your space. The cooling capacity of air conditioners is typically measured in British Thermal Units, or BTUs, per hour. As a general rule of thumb, choose a unit that delivers 20 BTUs per square foot of living space. So, a 200-square-foot room needs at least a 4,000-BTU air conditioner. Those sensitive to noise should consider units with a quiet mode feature.

Although they’re simpler than installing permanent ducts, most ductless air conditioners still require professional installation (though some DIY models are available). Consider this expense and ensure your electrician or contractor is comfortable working with your chosen unit.

While shopping for your ductless air conditioner, you may see “SEER” with a number next to it. SEER stands for seasonal energy efficient ratio, which measures how much energy your air conditioner uses during the annual cooling season. The higher the SEER rating, the less energy your unit uses to cool your home.

A product with an Energy Star certification has been rigorously tested by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for its energy efficiency. EPA-recognized laboratories test products to Energy Star specifications to ensure manufacturers produce energy-saving products. Although testing guidelines change per product category, all items must prove they consume less energy than standard models without compromising performance.

To ensure that our list of ductless air conditioners caters to a wide range of needs, we looked at units from well-respected brands like Pioneer and Senville and selected models of various sizes at different prices. We also consulted guides from publications Forbes, Bob Vila, and Wirecutter. All the models are well-regarded by users on Amazon and other major retailers, and many are equipped with features like programmability, dehumidification settings, and, in a few instances, smartphone functionality.

This highly-rated AC unit from Senville comes in a number of sizes, ranging from 9,000 BTUs all the way up to 24,000 BTUs, and it comes in 120- and 230-volt models. It has 4-in-1 functionality, working as an air conditioner, heater, dehumidifier, and fan, and it operates at just 34 decibels, making it a tranquil option for a bedroom or nursery.

You can control all of its settings via the included remote. The air conditioner comes with a 16-foot installation kit, including a communication cable and copper lines, but it’s important to note the brand requires professional installation for the unit’s five-year warranty to be valid.

This model from Della is a great value, and it still delivers 24,000 BTUs/hour, making it suitable for rooms up to 1,500 square feet. In addition to cooling, this unit has settings for heating, dehumidification, and ventilation, and it has a variety of useful features, including a 24-hour timer, sleep mode, energy-saving mode, and multiple fan speeds, all of which can be adjusted using the included remote control.

It comes with a full installation kit, including a 10-foot line set, and it operates between 30 and 41 decibels, depending on the settings.

Air conditioning systems often use a lot of electricity, but you can minimize costs with this Energy Star-certified model from Bosch. It comes in several sizes, ranging from 9,000 to 36,000 BTUs, and the indoor unit has a sleek, modern design that’s not as much of an eyesore as other models.

The product offers several handy features, including a timer, automated “follow-me” settings that turn the unit on and off based on where you are in the house, and “turbo” speed settings for cooling down on a super hot day. When you put it on silent mode, it operates at a whisper-quiet 28 decibels. You can choose between a 16- or 24-foot line set with this air conditioner, which includes everything needed for installation.

The newest version of this ductless, high-efficiency mini-split system is specifically designed for DIY installation—and no special tools are required. It's compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa, and features an auto restart if there's a power outage, leakage detection, and sleep mode on the remote to adjust the temperature automatically during the night. The unit heats and cools, with 24,000 BTUs of power and a SEER rating of 20. Operation is also relatively quiet. Overall, it's a great package, albeit a pricey one.

This ductless air conditioner is perfect for small rooms and spaces, with a coverage that can handle areas between 200 and 350 square feet. Great for climate control storage and small bedrooms, the WYS009A-20 is an Energy Star-certified machine that’ll help you save money year-round. It cools as low as -13°F and heats up to 122°F.

It has a permanent washable air filter and a remote control for easy operation—though you have to buy an additional remote to use Wi-Fi capabilities. It also operates at only 23 decibels, making it one of the quietest machines on this list, and it has four modes: cooling, heating, dehumidification, and ventilation. After installation, Pioneer provides free tech support and five-year coverage on replacement parts and the compressor.

Suppose you want the ability to adjust your air conditioning from your smartphone. In that case, this model from Senville includes built-in wifi connectivity, allowing it to be operated remotely from an Android or iOS device. It’s suitable for large space, thanks to its four-zone setup and 36,000-BTU output, plus it also has heating, dehumidification, and fan settings.

The unit has Turbo and Quiet modes for even more versatility, and it can automatically switch from cooling to heating based on the ambient temperature. The Senville air conditioner has a 16-foot installation kit, but professional installation is recommended. Some customers say it has a loud outdoor start-up sound that quakes the floor.

If you plan to install your ductless air conditioner in a large room, this model delivers 36,000 BTUs per hour, making it powerful enough to efficiently cool spaces over 1,000 square feet. It can be used for heating and cooling, operating in ambient temperatures between 5 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and it comes with a comprehensive installation kit.

You’ll get an insulated and pre-flared 25-foot line set, communication wires, a drainage extension, and remote control. The unit can even be equipped with wifi if you purchase the brand’s USB adapter (sold separately).

The large, rectangular indoor units that come with most ductless air conditioners can be a bit cumbersome on your wall, and if you prefer a more streamlined appearance, this unit uses a ceiling cassette instead.

The 9,000-BTU system can be used for heating and cooling in spaces up to 450 square feet, and it comes with a 16-foot line set and all necessary installation equipment. The system has a 24-hour timer, sleep mode, turbo function, and 12 indoor fan speeds, and it operates as low as 25 decibels, making it ideal for bedrooms.

Daikin is a premium brand that offers a 10-year warranty on parts, plus free technical support from in-house experts. This wall-mounted unit has a 24,000-BTU output that allows it to effectively cool 1,500 square feet of space, and operation can be controlled through the app on your Android or iOS device, or via the included remote control.

Other highlights include sleep mode for automatic temperature adjustment overnight, quiet mode, eco-mode, and turbo mode, plus it comes with a 15-foot installation kit. It's also available in 12,000-BTU and 18,000-BTU models.

Kevin Cortez is an editor for Runner's World, Bicycling, and Popular Mechanics covering reviews. A culture and product journalist for over ten years, he’s an expert in men’s style, technology, gaming, coffee, e-bikes, hiking, gear, and all things outdoors. He most recently worked as the Style Editor for Reviewed, a top product recommendation site owned by USA TODAY. He also helped with the launch of WSJ's Buy Side commerce vertical, and has covered the music and podcast industries for Mass Appeal, Genius, Vulture, Leafly, Input, and The A.V. Club. Equally passionate about leisure as he is his penmanship, Kevin dedicates his spare time to graphic novels, birding, making cold brew, and taking long, meandering walks.

Camryn Rabideau is a freelance writer and product reviewer specializing in home, kitchen, and pet products. In her four years as a product tester, she's tested hundreds of items firsthand, and her work appears in publications such as Forbes, USA Today, The Spruce, Food52, and more.

Rachel Klein is a Senior Commerce Editor for Popular Mechanics, where she writes about everything from garden hose reels and patio furniture to mesh wifi systems and robot vacuums. She started her career as a daily newspaper reporter and was a travel editor for more than a decade before she started testing and reviewing luggage, noise-cancelling headphones, and other travel-related products. Fast-forward another five years and her area of expertise includes home decor, appliances, tech, and outdoor adventure gear. In her spare time, you'll find her planning her next trip, reading historical fiction, and seeing as much art as she can squeeze into a weekend. 

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