Buying The Smallest Air Conditioners – What To Look For And Where To Buy Them

If you are looking for the world’s smallest air conditioners, this might be the right place to be. 

However, you need to be aware that we won’t present you here with a cool super-micro-tiny pocket-sized air conditioner that runs on an USB-charged battery and that you can attach as an accessory to your smartphone.

Nope, not even anything similar to that. Here we’ll be dealing with the simple traditional air conditioners as you already know them.

Here we are going to present you with a list of our picks of ACs primarily in regards to their size but we will also take in account their overall quality and performance.

Before we start, we also need to clarify that we are going to exclude window and portable air conditioners from this list.

Why? Because we already worked on compiling the lists of our picks for both the window ACs and the portable ones.

NOTE: If you are looking for something really small and still very efficient to cool your home, you might also want to check our reviews of sliding window air conditioners and portable air conditioners.

For the rest of you who are here primarily looking for more of a classical type of the air conditioners usually known as mini-split ACs, here are our top picks.

OUR TOP PICK: PIONEER 18000 BTU WYS018GMFI17RL Mini-Split Air Conditioner 

PIONEER 18000 BTU WYS018GMFI17RL Mini-Split Air Conditioner
PIONEER 18000 BTU WYS018GMFI17RL Mini-Split Air Conditioner

Although there is a smaller size and capacity unit from the same brand, we rather decided to choose this air conditioner as our top pick. 

We decided to do so primarily because this mini-split AC, despite its capacity of 18000 BTU, still falls into the category of relatively small air conditioners. Also, compared with the capacities of other models of this series from the same brand, it is right in the middle between the 12000 and 24000 BTU units which makes it an adequate choice for various sizes of spaces.

This air conditioner with its cooling and heating capacity of 18000 BTU can cover the spaces of up to 650 square feet

It has both the cooler and the heater option and is a good choice to be used as a long term solution for air conditioning of even larger flats or smaller houses, during all of the seasons.

This model weighs only 26 pounds (total shipping weight is 30 pounds) and here you can see the indoor and outdoor dimensions for this model:

  • Indoor unit (W-D-H): 38.0×8.5×12.5
  • Outdoor unit (W-D-H): 30.5×12.0x22.0

Another important feature to point out is how quiet this AC unit is. Its indoor unit has the noise-level specification of the range of only 29 to 45 dbA (lowest to highest setting). This means that even when producing the highest possible noise, this air conditioner will still be extremely quiet.

This mini-split AC comes with the wide range of options that you can expect from this type of AC including a full control remote controller, four different operating modes (cooling, heating, dehumidification and ventilating). Has a built-in timer, night mode that will change the cooling speed according to the usual body temperature levels during the night, and its auto-restart function will memorize all of the current custom settings of the AC in case that power failure happens.

There is also the internet access feature but this comes as optional to select during the purchase. If you opt in for this feature you will get a smart controller kit with the Wi-Fi access.

It comes with the basic installation kit as well (the package consists of the indoor unit, outdoor unit i.e. compressor, remote controller and the installation kit which contains necessary copper tubes to connect indoor and outdoor unit). You can also opt in to purchase additional installation kit parts like the mounting bracket for the compressor and the line cover kit made from PVC.

Pros:

  • A powerful air conditioner that can operate both as a cooler and heater
  • Can be used for cooling and heating small, mid-sized and even larger rooms and flats
  • Very low noise-level of the indoor unit (from 29 to 45 dbA)

Cons:

  • You might need help of a professional to get it installed properly

NOTE: If you are concerned regarding the installation and what you might need to have as a part of the installation kit, we included below a guide regarding this. Also, make sure to check if your model comes charged with the freon or not.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: This relatively small AC might be just perfect solution for air conditioning your home through all of the seasons. It can cover even larger spaces. The low noise level of the indoor unit and the advanced options that you can get with the Wi-Fi kit makes you feel like you have got a true small central cooling and heating system for a bargain.

BEST FOR SMALL ROOMS: PIONEER 9000 BTU WYS009-17 Ductless MIni-Split Air Conditioner

PIONEER 9000 BTU WYS009-17 Ductless MIni-Split Air Conditioner
PIONEER 9000 BTU WYS009-17 Ductless MIni-Split Air Conditioner

With its 9000 BTU cooling capacity and 9500 BTU heating capacity, this small but efficient AC can cool or heat surfaces up to 350 square feet.

If you are looking for a quiet and reliable air conditioner that can be used both as a heater and cooler, you are at the right place. The only reason that we didn’t choose this particular model as our top pick is the fact that it is primarily designated for use in smaller spaces.

Everything else regarding this super quiet and lightweight air conditioner would be enough to put it as our top pick.

The indoor unit weights only 17 pounds and has the dimensions (W-D-H) of 28.5 x 7.5 x 11.5 inches.

The outdoor unit weighs 65 pounds and has the dimension of 30.5 x 12.0 x 22.0 inches.

This model, as its larger cousin from the same brand, has all the standard features and options. It comes with a remote control has a wide range of programmable controls, it can be used for cooling, heating, dehumidification and ventilation. It comes with the standard installation kit that contains the necessary tubing and connectors to connect the outdoor compressor unit with the indoor unit.

There’s also optional Wi-Fi connection feature that you can purchase additionally.

The indoor noise level specification for this mini-split air conditioner is within the range of 24.5 to 39 dbA which puts this AC into the category of the most quiet ACs on  the market. The outdoor unit is also pretty quiet with the noise-level specification of 56 dbA.

Pros:

  • Great for small rooms
  • One of the quietest air conditioners on the market
  • Small and relatively easy to install

Cons: 

  • Even though the installation process is not that complicated, you might want to hire a professional to help you with this

OVERALL IMPRESSION: If you need to cool or heat a smaller place, you don’t have to look further. This is a quiet and practical mini-split air conditioner that has everything you need for air conditioning your home through the whole year.

BEST FOR MID SIZED ROOMS: Senville 12000 BTU B00ESNCW38 Mini-Split Air Conditioner

Senville 12000 BTU B00ESNCW38 Mini-Split Air Conditioner
Senville 12000 BTU B00ESNCW38 Mini-Split Air Conditioner

This AC model from Senville, with its capacity of 12000 BTU is a perfect solution for mid-sized rooms – it can be used for cooling up to 750 square feet of space. As most of the ACs of this type, it also can work as a heater during the winter.

The dimensions of the indoor unit for this air conditioner are:

32.87 x 7.8 x 11.02 inches and 31.50 x 13.1 x 21.81 inches for the outdoor unit.

This AC unit comes as pre-charged for up to 25 Ft with R410A refrigerant.

This mini-split air conditioner falls into the group of ultra quiet ones with its Whisper Technology. The noise-level specification for the indoor unit is within the range of 24 to 43 dbA– from low to high cooling or heating settings.

The outdoor unit is reasonably quiet as well with the noise-level specification of just 56 dbA.

This model comes with a wide range of options and features including self-cleaning feature, refrigerant leak detection system, built-in dehumidifier, the FollowMefeature with the built-in thermostat within the remote control and bucket free outdoor item design.

Another cool thing to mention is that this AC model comes with the 3-year warranty on parts and 7 year warranty on compressor.

Pros:

  • Great performance and efficiency
  • Both indoor and outdoor units are very quiet while turned on
  • Takes not much of space when installed

Cons:

  • A little bit more expensive than the competition 
  • There’s no WiFi option built in

OVERALL IMPRESSION: This mini split air conditioner is a perfect solution for air conditioning mid-sized rooms during the whole year. It is extremely quiet and wouldn’t take you plenty of space when installing.

BEST FOR BUDGET: Innova 9000 BTU B074167FSB Mini-Split Air Conditioner

Innova 9000 BTU B074167FSB Mini-Split Air Conditioner
Innova 9000 BTU B074167FSB Mini-Split Air Conditioner

This 9000 BTU ductless mini-split AC from iNNova can cool or heat up to 300 square feet of space. With all the features that it offers and being one of the quietest mini-split air conditioners, it well deserved to get on this list as out Best For Budgetpick.

The indoor noise-level specification for this small AC starts at just 29 dbA, which makes it one of the quietest ACs on the market and the outdoor unit also has the noise-level specification of 54 dbA which would still be pretty quiet even if it was an indoor item.

This mini-split AC can be used as a cooler, heater and dehumidifier.

It has a full control remote however the remote itself doesn’t have a thermostat built-in as you would expect from an item like this one.

The dimensions of this AC are (W-D-H):

  • Indoor unit – 26.77 x 7.01 x 10.04 inches
  • Outdoor unit – 25.98 x 10.43 x 21.26 inches

The weight of the indoor unit is 16 pounds and the outdoor unit weighs 64 pounds.

The package includes 16 ft copper tubing with the connectors and also contains all the necessary installation accessories. The outdoor unit comes as pre-charged with R410a refrigerant.

Comes with the 1-year warranty on parts and 5-year warranty on compressor.

The installation kit and the instructions are pretty easy to use. While you can do the most of the installation for this particular AC on your own, it is recommended to call a professional to help you with connecting and testing the copper tubes that are connecting the outdoor unit with the indoor one.

Pros:

  • Cheaper than the other ACs of similar capacity on the market
  • Very quiet
  • Easy to install

Cons:

  • No built-in thermostat within the remote control as you would expect from a device of this type

OVERALL IMPRESSION: This mini-split air conditioner has everything that you need to cool or heat your room, garage or office. It is cheaper and quieter than the most of similar ACs on the market.

RISING STAR: Klimaire KSIF012-H115-S 12000 BTU Ductless Mini-Split AC and Heater

Klimaire KSIF012-H115-S 12000 BTU Ductless Mini-Split AC and Heater
Klimaire KSIF012-H115-S 12000 BTU Ductless Mini-Split AC and Heater

This small mini-split AC with its 12000 BTU capacity can cool or heat spaces of up to 550 square feet.

It can be used both as a cooler and heater. Also, it can be used for dehumidification and as a ventilator.

There is a cool feature built-in within this model that will notify you as soon as the refrigerant starts to leak somewhere. This model has the so-called auto clean function to clean and dry the evaporator automatically.

The indoor unit has the dimension of 31.69 x 7.68 x 11.22 inches while the outdoor unit measures 30.31 x 11.81 x 21.85 inches.

The indoor unit that is equipped with oscillating louvers for better distribution of the cooled or heated air produces very low-level noise while turned on. The specified noise level for the indoor unit is within the range of 26-35-41 dbA making it extremely quiet and the outdoor unit’s specified noise-level is 54 dbA.

It comes with the necessary tubes and installation kit. The outdoor unit comes as pre-charged with the refrigerator for 25 ft.

The remote control has built in thermostat that communicates with the AC in order to decide which part of the room to prioritize when cooling / heating.

This mini-split AC has the manufacturer’s warranty of 2 years for the parts and 5 years for the compressor.

Pros:

  • Great price for the given features
  • Plenty of programmable controls
  • Oscillating louvers 

Cons:

  • The installation kit might lack a proper wiring needed for the installation
  • If you aren’t an electrician, you will most likely need to hire someone to help you with the installation

OVERALL IMPRESSION: This small and quiet mini-split AC has some cool features for the given price to include it as our Rising Star pick. It is a relatively small AC that produces very little of noise and can fit almost anywhere (we even saw it put on a travel RV van!).

SOMETHING DIFFERENT: PIONEER 24000 BTU UYB024GMFILCAD Floor / Ceiling Split Air Conditioner

PIONEER 24000 BTU UYB024GMFILCAD Floor / Ceiling Split Air Conditioner
PIONEER 24000 BTU UYB024GMFILCAD Floor / Ceiling Split Air Conditioner

We planned to have only five models as our pick for this list, as we usually do with the AC reviews, however this particular unit deserved a special place.

We thought that it would be appropriate to introduce you with this particular model, although it might not be the smallest air conditioner among these we listed here already, its flexibility regarding where you can mount it made us to include it here anyways.

This split AC from Pioneer, with its 24000 BTU cooling and heating capacity is something with what you can hardly go wrong if you need a reliable and well designed unit to cool or heat even larger surface.

One of the main reasons we decided to put this model here is the fact that the indoor unit can be mounted either onto a wall near the floor or directly onto the ceiling of your room / house. In both cases, it will take less space than what you would have with the classical designs.

The indoor unit measures 42.0 x 26.5 x 9.3 inches, which might be larger than the other indoor units from this type of air conditioners. However, considering that this is a 24000 BTU unit and that it can be used literally for air conditioning the whole apartment or house, and also considering the fact that it has a non-conventional way of mounting, this unit might be actually a kind of something that you might prefer from all of the others we included in this list.

So, the really cool feature is that you can put this onto a floor (if you prefer to get cooled and heated from below rather from above).

The outdoor unit is also pretty small and can be mounted almost anywhere, measuring 37.3 x 16.2 x 31.9 inches.

When it comes to functionality, this unit comes with a wide range of options, everything that you could expect from an AC of this design and price range.

It is not the quietest among the mini-split ACs but we can forgive it a couple of extra decibels just because of the fact that it is a 24000 BTU unit that can be placed almost anywhere so you can put it further from you and still get all the benefits of quality air conditioning.

The noise-level specified by manufacturer is within the range of 42 – 48 – 53 dbA which is pretty reasonable for the AC of this capacity.

It comes with all the standard installation equipment as well as with the adequate remote controller.

Pros:

  • The indoor unit can be mounted vertically close to the floor and vertically directly onto the ceiling – this way you will get unexpectedly wider range of options when selecting a proper location to mount it
  • Great for people who like the idea of being air conditioner from the bottom rather from the top – if you have issues with the airflow that regular ACs produce, this might be a true change

Cons:

  • Not for people who want a classical indoor unit design
  • If you don’t want to put it onto the floor, then the other option would be ceiling (although, theoretically you could put it vertically even higher from the floor, somewhere on the middle of the wall).

OVERALL IMPRESSION: A truly refreshing and unconventional design from Pioneer, something that you might prefer if you can’t stand the strong airflow hitting you from the above, as might be the case with the rest of mini-split ACs.

Mini-split Air Conditioners – How Do They Work And What Are Their Advantages Over Window And Portable AC Units

Every year, more than a hundred of millions of all different kinds of air conditioners are being sold worldwide. There are hundreds of different types and models of ACs that are offered to buyers. 

Considering these facts, it is easy to conclude that buying air conditioners might be a true challenge for the buyers, who are constantly being bombarded with the ads about the latest and coolest AC models. 

Although there are some smaller air conditioners like window or portable ACs, we decided that while working on choosing our top picks for this category, we decided primarily to focus on the classical ductless air conditioners (they are also often called as mini-split air conditioners). 

One of the reasons is that we already wrote about these and we wanted to focus here on the more classical ACs that are a little bit different than window and portable AC units.

What’s the main difference between mini-split ACs and window and portable ACs?

Classical mini-split air conditioners do the similar job as window or portable ones would do. Except there are couple of differences regarding how do they operate.

Window and portable air conditioners are generally built as units that are packaged as a whole into a single casing. This means that everything that a classical air conditioner would be consisted of like compressor, evaporator, cold air dispenser etc. is put into a single casing.

Mini-split air conditioners are made from three main parts: 

  • the compressor and condenser containing unit, which is mounted on the outside of the house and whose main function is to cool down air and blow it through the pipes to the indoor unit 
  • the indoor unit which contains all the technology needed to distribute the cooled air from the compressor to the inside of your home
  • the adequate copper tubes that are used to connect the indoor unit with the outdoor unit

These simple differences between mini-split and window / portable ACs can still be very important when deciding about wat to buy.


Window and portable ACs might be a great solution if you are looking for something that doesn’t need complicated setup or installation and simply that is cheaper to buy.

However, if you are looking for something that is designated more for longer-term use, and with the compressor as the noisiest part of the air conditioner being placed completely out of your home, then classical mini-split air conditioners would be a better option.

Due to their construction, mini-split air conditioners can perform better than the window or portable air conditioners however, truth to be told, it really depends on you whether to choose a mini-split AC or some of the window or portable ACs.

All of the mentioned air conditioners still somehow fall into the same category, when it comes to their capacity and expected size of the places they would be used in. All of them are meant to be used primarily in smaller and mid-sized spaces.

Mini-split ACs vs Window & Portable ACs Noise-Level Comparison

Mini-split ACs could be considered as a more advanced solution but their advantages over the other two types of ACs mentioned above are minor. However, there is one very important aspect where the models like window or portable ACs can’t compete with the mini-split air conditioners and that is the noise.

Classical mini-split air conditioners are way better in regards of the noise they produce. This is simply due to the fact that the noise-producing parts are mounted outside of your home, usually onto a wall on the balcony or somewhere near the window. So, the unit that is placed indoors is basically consisted of low-level noise fans that are distributing already cooled air from the outdoor unit to the inside of your room.

This way, you get insulated from the majority of the noise produced by the compressor, which is not the case with the window and portable AC units.

Are mini-split ACs easier to install?

While they come with the advantage regarding the noise-level over the window and portable ACs, this is not the case with the installation.

Window and portable ACs are easier to install and easier to remove and usually you can do all of the required installation steps on your own.

Mini-split air conditioners however require some extra work regarding the installation and you will probably need to find someone to do it for you. Considering that you usually need to put the indoor unit on a wall and connect it with the compressor that also usually needs to be mounted on a wall outside, there will be also some drilling required to put in place the tubes that will connect the outdoor and indoor unit.

What Are Mini-Split Air Conditioners Made of?

Mini-split air conditioners could be considered as younger cousins of central air conditioning systems. This is due to the way they’re built. They are actually a system of couple of different parts that are mounted on different places in your home. When these parts are connected together, they represent a small air conditioning system.

However, they are different from central air conditioning systems simply because there are no any ducts (therefore the name “ductless”) that are used to dispense the cooled air through the whole space.

This kind of air conditioners usually consist of couple of main parts:

  • The compressor, which is mounted somewhere outside of your place
  • The tubes that are connecting the compressor with the indoor unit and they are used to transfer the cool air from the compressor
  • The indoor unit that is usually mounted on a wall somewhere inside your home and whose main task is to dispense the cool air from the compressor to the inside of your place

There are two different kinds of mini-split ACs:

  • The ones that are used to cool down only a single room (i.e. they have only one indoor unit)
  • The ones that are used to cool down multiple rooms / spaces (they have more than one indoor unit)

Mini-split AC units that can cool down two or more rooms at the same time are usually consisted of one compressor and couple of connected indoor units that are placed in different rooms. In this case, a mini-split AC can be used as an inexpensive replacement for a central air conditioning system.

Why the size matters?

You might be thinking something like this:

  • If the compressor is going to be placed outside, then why bother with the size anyways?

Air conditioners of this type can be really large. So large that you would not only need a professional to install it but also a kind of a special equipment to lift it and put it on the wall. Also, installing the larger units of this type will require some serious drilling to your walls.

The smaller the unit the easier the installation will be. And if you are mounting the compressor on your balcony as plenty of buyers actually do, it will take less of your balcony space.

The size of the indoor unit matters as well. This is especially important if you are planning to install the AC for the use in a single room or a small apartment. Huge and noisy indoor unit is not something that you want to have hanging from your wall when you are dealing with the lack of space.

Buying The Smallest Air Conditioner – What To Look For?

There are couple of things to consider when buying a mini-split air conditioner that won’t be too large for your home.

Of course, since this list is for the smallest air conditioners, you might be concerned with the size in first place. If this is the case, the good news is that these air conditioners have usually the similar size, starting from only 27 inches in width for the indoor unit (check the Innova 9000 BTU AC above that we selected as our Best For Budgetpick).

The outdoor units are small enough as well to be installed on any wall and we saw some of these units perfectly fitting some RV travel vans.

While the size might be very important criteria when selecting one of these units, you also need to make sure that the unit will work as well.

It has become a standard to have both, cooling and heating features

For this kind of air conditioners, it has become the standard practice to have them working both as coolers and heaters. So, this is something that you need to look for when buying one, unless you are living somewhere where there’s no need for heating during the winter. 

Since you will be dealing with some more complex installation work anyways, you want from an unit of this kind to be able to serve you as a heater as well, during the winter days.

Do you plan to use it as a heater as well?

Before buying a mini-split system, you might want to consider whether you would be using it also as a heater during the winter or not. 

Although, most of this kind of units do come equipped with the heat pumps anyways, if you intend using your AC during the winter for heating your home, you might need to calculate what would be a proper capacity to buy for that purpose.

This is because in some areas winters can be pretty harsh and the AC unit that has been working perfectly during the summer cooling your home, might struggle to provide enough of the heat when the winter comes. 

So, if you live somewhere where the winters are more intense than the summer heat, and you don’t have any additional backup source of heat, make sure you get adequate amount of BTUs for your mini-split system so it can keep your home warm even during the coldest days.

Checking the noise-level specifications

This type of air conditioners is expected to be better than the other for one particular thing – operational noise-level.

As it is built from two split units, where the condenser unit (being the loudest part of every AC in general) is placed outside, mini-split air conditioners simply can afford to compete for being the quietest air conditioners on the market.

Therefore, when buying a mini-split system, high noise-levels is something that you should have a zero tolerance for.

These units can operate producing noises of just 19 dbA which is extremely quiet, and everything up to 45 dbA is still considered pretty quiet. Everything that goes above 50 dbA is not tolerable for units like these because that is actually the usual noise-level of the outdoor units of mini-split ACs and you don’t want to have something like that inside your room (although, even 50 dbA would be considered as reasonably quiet if we were talking about other types of air conditioners like sliding window ACs or portable ones).

Check what’s included in the installation kit and whether it comes pre-charged with the refrigerant

Most of the mini-split ACs have similar installation kits that contain everything that you need to connect the indoor unit with the outdoor unit, including copper pipes with the connectors, some basic pipe insulation and a set of wires to connect the indoor and outdoor unit as well as to connect the whole system to the electrical circuit of your home.

Although most of the mini-split systems will have all of the listed above included as the part of the installation kit, some may come without the wires, for example – so, you need to check on time this in order to get prepared if there aren’t any wires included.

Also, most of the unit will come as pre-charged with the refrigerant but again, it might happen that you need to take care about this on your own.

Do you plan to use your mini-split for multiple areas i.e. zones?

One of the coolest things with mini-splits is that they can be setup to work as a true central air conditioning system. You can connect multiple indoor units to a single outside unit and have all of the units have their own settings. This way you can create different zones within your home using a single mini-split system.

Of course, if you are up for this option, you will need to consider dealing with some more powerful condenser, larger number of BTUs and larger budget in general.

If you are not sure about this but planning to make your mini-split a multi-zone installation, you need to make that decision on time because a single-zone unit can’t be used as a multi-zone while you can do it vice versa.

Deciding where it will be mounted

Making early plans about the location where you should mount the air conditioner can help you get a better idea what you might be looking for.

Although these air conditioners have pretty similar dimensions and designs of the indoor units, you need to make sure that the size fits the place where you planned to install it.

As you can see from the list of the recommended products we included above, there are some really cool options if you have issues with placing the inside unit onto a proper place (we primarily think of the Pioneer 24000 BTU model when mentioning this).

Another very important factor to consider regarding the placement of your air conditioner is where it would be easier and most appropriate to mount the outdoor unit as well. These outdoor unit aren’t that massive or noisy but, there will simply be some places where you don’t want to put them. If you are planning to place the outside unit on the balcony, you might want to look for something that is more quiet and smaller in size.

Which price to expect?

We devoted this article primarily to finding some of the smallest mini-split AC units that are good for use in smaller and mid-sized spaces. We intentionally excluded the larger capacity units or the multi-zone models that can be set up within different rooms and connected with a single outdoor unit.

Having this in mind, it is fair to expect that these smaller split AC models would cost less than the large ones, of course. 

If you are looking for an air conditioner of this type to cool or heat your small room, a mid-sized flat or maybe a slightly larger garage, the price range to look for would be somewhere between $550 and $1550.

We indeed have one model in our best picks list whose price is above $1550 but for this use case, anything above $1550 would be considered as overpaying unless you are seeking for an extra level of luxury.

The difference in pricing is in most cases simply due to the different capacity, i.e. the quality to expect might be the same for a $550 9000 BTU unit and for a $950 15000 BTU unit. So, before rushing into simply buying the most expensive one, make sure you check whether the offered price represents the real value of the unit, considering its cooling capacity and any of possible special features that might affect the price.

Of course, you still should care to get as plenty of the BTUs as you can because if your AC manufacturer claims that a 9000 BTU unit will, for example, handle the spaces up to 170 square feet, you won’t go wrong if you buy a 12000 BTU unit for your 175 square feet space in order to make sure that you won’t end up with an item that simply can’t cover the surface with its capacity.

Installation Guide: How To Install a Mini-Split Ductless Air Conditioner

As you could notice while reading our best picks reviews above, there wasn’t plenty of mention regarding the installation kits.

If you were wondering why we didn’t include more details about what’s exactly inside the installation kit that comes as part of each of the above listed ACs, there’s a simple answer for that – this kind of air conditioners will in most cases require you to have some professional help while doing the installation.

Unlike the window air conditioners, these units are a little bit more complicated to install. 

Given the fact that mini-split ACs are consisted of three separate parts (the indoor unit, the outdoor unit i.e. condenser and the tubes that connect these two units), it is obvious that this kind of ACs require some serious work while installation like drilling, checking the tubes for possible leaks and electrical work as well.

However if you are a DIY enthusiast and like to do the stuff on your own, you already know that the installation part, with some extra online research, can be done without anyone’s help.

Here we prepared a quick guide for you on what to focus when installing mini-split air conditioners.

Be prepared to deal with electric wires and some plumbing work

As said earlier, this kind of ACs require some extra work during the installation, compared to window air conditioners that we wrote about earlier.

Before you begin, you need to know that at some point of the installation process, you will need to deal with electric wires and that you will also need to make sure your tubes aren’t leaking anywhere in order not to lose all of your refrigerator even before you manage to turn the AC on.

So, you should just have in mind that you will have to deal with this at some point. If this sounds discouraging, you can still do some steps of the installation and call someone to help you with only what you can’t do.

Choosing appropriate location to mount the indoor unit

There are couple of things that you need to know before you decide where to put the indoor unit.

The indoor unit gets mounted onto an inside wall of your space. Due to the fact that it needs to be connected to the condenser i.e. the outdoor unit, you need to plan the location of the indoor unit accordingly.

So, the first thing to do is to find a proper location where you can put your indoor and outdoor unit close enough to each other so they can get connected properly with the copper tubes.

NOTE:It is advised that you put the indoor unit as high as possible somewhere near the ceiling of your room however, you need to leave some open space surrounding around the indoor unit (don’t put it too close to the ceiling and to the corner if there’s one in the nearby).

You should be aware by now that you will have to drill a hole into your wall in order to install the indoor unit properly. This is also something that you might want to consider before choosing the perfect place for putting your indoor unit.

EXPERT TIP:Because of the limited lengths of the copper tubing provided within the installation kits (usually between 15 and 25 ft), you will have to take in account that the outdoor unit will need to be somewhere very close to the indoor unit, from the outside. It is highly advised to put both of these units i.e. indoor and outdoor, somewhere where there’s the least of direct exposure to the sunlight. So, if you can do this, put your AC somewhere in the shady part of your home and you will avoid plenty of trouble or extra costs on your electricity bills.

Also, you need to make sure your walls are strong enough to hold the indoor unit. If you are not sure that they will, you can always add some framing around the unit to make it tight and stable. However, if you bought any of the mini-split ACs from this list, you should be less worried about this since we selected the smallest and the most lightweight ones.

When selecting the perfect location where to put the indoor unit you should also make sure that the location can provide enough of stability for the indoor unit to work properly i.e. make sure that the wall is stable enough to avoid any vibration.

Although this kind of ACs are extremely quiet even when working on the highest setting mode, you should also consider putting the unit somewhere distant enough from where it might annoy you with its noise.

It is also advised to put it at least one meter away from all other electrical devices in order to avoid interference of the electrical signals that might cause your AC to do some weird stuff.

It is not recommended to mount the indoor unit near the doorway and near any obstacle that might be blocking the proper circulation of the air.

NOTE:Before you select the place to mount your air conditioner, you also need not to forget that in most cases the outdoor unit will need a direct connection to the electricity source. So, you need to plan this upfront and make sure that there’s a proper point in the nearby of the AC where you can connect it to your electrical wiring system.

Attaching the indoor unit to the wall

After you choose the right place to put your mini-split system, it is time to start working on the installation of the indoor unit.

In order to install it, you will need first to attach the mounting plate to the wall, exactly where you planned to put the indoor unit.

NOTE:While doing this, you need to care about horizontal leveling of the unit. The indoor unit should be perfectly horizontally leveled, so you should use a leveler for this step. What you can do to make this easier is simply to first draw the lines with a pencil on your wall and then put the mounting plate accordingly.

Once you made sure that the leveling is correctly measured, you can drill the screw holes and fixate the plate to the wall.

NOTE:You should already know this but we will mention it anyways, while drilling the screw holes and the wall hole, you want to make sure to avoid any electrical wires or other installation that might be installed within the walls.

The next step to do before you start mounting the indoor unit onto the wall is to drill another wider hole where the copper tubes that are connecting the indoor unit with the outdoor unit would be placed.

You need to determine the proper width of this hole, since the width of the tubes provided as a part of the installation kit might vary from case to case. You can check your AC unit installation guide for this step to make sure that you have the perfect width of the hole.

Also, make sure to check the guide where exactly this hole should be since the position of it might vary depending on which model of AC do you have – some models will need it drilled somewhere at the center of the space where the indoor unit is mounted while other models will need it drilled on the left or right corner.

Taking care about electrical connections

This step might vary from case to case so it is highly advised to check the instructions for your specific model on how to do this. Or, if you don’t like messing with wires, you can leave this step for someone who knows about electricity to do.

Basically, you need to connect the inside unit with the outside unit using a cable that might be provided within the installation kit but don’t get surprised if you don’t find it there as well.

The cable that connects the inside unit with the outside condenser unit will ensure that the indoor unit gets all the power it needs and to properly communicate with the outdoor unit.

There is usually an in-detail manual provided regarding this step so you shouldn’t hesitate trying to do it on your own.

The electrical wire will go through the same hole where the copper pipes need to fit. Once you make sure that you connected the wire properly to the inside unit, you can start mounting it onto the wall. The pipes and the wire need to come out to the outside of the wall where you will connect them to the condenser.

While the inside unit usually will have only the cable that connects it with the outside unit, the outside unit will, in most cases, need a direct connection to the electrical wiring system of your home. 

Putting the outdoor unit in place

Assuming that you already followed our tips regarding choosing the best place where to put your AC, you should probably know by now where to put the outdoor unit. 

The outdoor unit needs to be somewhere close enough so the copper pipes can be connected to it. Usually the outdoor unit is placed right below the hole through which the outdoor unit gets connected with the inside unit.

You will need to put the condenser i.e. the outdoor unit, onto a solid flat surface. There are numerous ways you can do this. If you are installing the AC in your flat somewhere inside a building, you will most likely want to put the condenser on your balcony if you have it. The condenser can be mounted on the outside wall as well but you will have to use some kind of brackets specified for that. 

NOTE:This step is easier to do if you plan to place the condenser on the ground however, if you need to mount it onto a wall, especially in case you need to do it on higher floors, you should consider hiring a professional rather than doing it on your own. 

Regardless of where you are mounting the outdoor unit, you should use some rubber cushioning bellow it i.e. on the place where it will be in direct contact with the flat surface. This step is done in order to prevent unwanted vibration. If you however, are mounting it onto a wall, using brackets, there probably won’t be enough space to apply it but brackets should already be optimized to carry out the vibration.

Connecting the outdoor unit with the inside unit

By now, you should have the indoor unit put in place with the wire and pipes hanging to the outside from the hole dedicated to that.

The next step is to connect everything with the outdoor unit.

First thing to do is, once you made sure that everything is in place, to bend the copper pipes that are coming out from the indoor unit i.e. the pipes that you put through the hole when mounting indoor unit from the inside.

Be careful when bending the pipes not to break them. The pipes should be bent straight downwards to follow the angle of the wall (assuming that your outdoor unit is placed right below the hole).

The pipes should work fine if bent at 90 degrees but make sure not to overdo it so the refrigerator can pass through them easily.

The next step will depend on what you have provided within the installation kit. You need to properly connect the pipes that you got as the part of the kit with both, the pipes that come from the indoor unit through the hole and with the outdoor unit at the predesigned connectors on it.

If the pipes come prepared so all you have to do is to bind them properly, this step will be easy. If not, you will most likely need a help from a plumber or to use a proper tool to prepare the pipes to fit properly.

NOTE:Due to its complexity, this part might require some professional help. You can still do the most of the installing job on your own and leave only a couple of things, like connecting pipes and connecting the outdoor unit to the electrical wiring of your home for the professional.

Connecting the outdoor unit to the electrical wiring system of your home

This part is not simple enough to be covered with a general tutorial like this one and you might require some professional help since you will have to deal with electrical wires, unless you know what you are doing.

NOTE:Needless to mention, you need to make sure the electricity is turned off properly before you try to do anything with the wires from your home circuit.

Usually, you will have in-detail instructions which wire to connect where however, this might be slightly different for each specific model.

In essence, there is a predesigned place on the condenser unit where the wires need to be connected to the electric circuit of your home. This is a place where 

NOTE:Don’t mix the wires that are connecting the indoor unit with the condenser with the wires that are connecting the condenser with the electrical circuit i.e. source of electricity. These are two different things and if you connect them wrongfully you might cause a damage to your AC.

Checking the pipes and charging the condenser with the refrigerant

These are steps where you will need some professional equipment and possibly a professional assistance as well.

It is important to mention that these steps aren’t that complicated but you can’t do it without proper tools and these tools might cost you more than what would you pay if you hire someone who already has the tools to do this for you.

If you really want to do it on your own, here are the tools that you will need:

  • Vacuum pump – the main machine that you will need for this process
  • Set of manifold gauges 
  • Refrigerant can tap
  • And most likely a digital scale to determine which weight of the refrigerant you are putting in

Checking the pipes is a process which involves use of a vacuum pump which will you will also need to remove the air from the pipes completely and for charging the condenser with the refrigerant.

Basically, what you will have to do here is first remove any air and moisture from the pipes using vacuum pump (this will also check if there are any leaks in the pipe system). After you removed air and moisture, you can start pumping the refrigerant to your AC. Usually, you will have to add a specific weight of refrigerant, therefore a digital scale can come as handy in that case.

NOTE:Most of the smaller ACs that we listed here as our picks will come pre-charged with the refrigerant. If you want to avoid doing this, you should look for the units that come as pre-charged.

Wrapping This Up

In this article we worked really hard to select some of the best air conditioners in regards with their size and efficiency. 

Although this list was meant to be built primarily in consideration of the size of the both, indoor and outdoor units, we tried to take in consideration all the other aspects that might be crucial for finding the smallest and most reliable mini-split air conditioners that can do their job.

As you could see from the written above, mini-split air conditioners are one of the greatest solution for air conditioning your room, office, garage or even the whole house during the whole year. The models that we choose as our picks for this list all have the dual functionality i.e. they can work as coolers through the summer and heaters during the winter.

One another great feature of this air conditioners is the fact that they fall into the category of the quietest ACs on the market. This is primarily due the fact that they are split systems i.e. the condenser, which is generally the noisiest part of any AC, is put outside as a part of the outdoor unit and the rest of the fine machinery is put inside within the indoor unit, leaving all the unwanted noise outside.

Finally we included some extra information about the advantages of this kinds of ACs over the other models like window or portable units and we included some tips on how to choose the one that fits best for your space. And for the DIY enthusiasts, we included a brief tutorial on how the installation process is done.

We hope that this extensive article inspired you in a positive way and helped you to get closer to the perfect AC that you were looking for, for your space and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are mini-split ACs smaller than window or portable models?

This really depends on how do you perceive the mini-split ACs in first place. If you don not count the outdoor unit that is mounted somewhere outside of your room, then, mini-split ACs i.e. the inside units can be indeed way smaller (and also quieter) than the window units or portable ACs. This is especially the case with the models that have large cooling capacities.

Are mini-split ductless air conditioners quiet?

Yes, they indeed are. They are actually the quietest air conditioners on the market, excluding the central air conditioning systems. The average noise level for the indoor unit of a mini split AC is somewhere between 29 to 45 decibels which is way quieter than the other types of air conditioners.

Are mini-split ACs good to use as heaters as well?

Mini-split systems are very efficient in both cooling and heating your home. Most of the available mini-split ACs on the market will come with the heat pump which will let you use it as a heater during the winter. If you are not pretty much concerned with the electricity costs then this kind of ACs can be also a great way to heat your home.

Are mini-split ACs as easy to install as window units?

Not really. The installation process often requires some plumbing work and modifications to your home electrical circuit so, they aren’t as easy to install as portable or window units. If you are, however, a DIY enthusiast that likes to do stuff on their own, you could still do the most of the work on your own but it is highly advised to have someone skilled enough to help you out with the installation.

Do mini-split ACs come as pre-charged with the refrigerant?

Some models will come as pre-charged while the others won’t. You need to check this if you plan to do the installation on your own because charging it with the refrigerant requires a very specific equipment.

Can one mini-split unit be used to cool multiple rooms?

There are so-called multi-zone models of mini-split ACs that will let you connect multiple indoor units with the single outdoor unit. However, you need to know that you can’t turn your regular mini-split system into a multi-zone unit this option has to come as pre-built so if you think that you might need this, make sure you check for this option when buying.

What is the cheapest mini-split air conditioner?

Mini-split systems probably aren’t the cheapest solution on the market (compared with window or portable models) however, you can expect to be able to buy one for as cheap as $400 which is still pretty affordable price for what you get. The price range of this kind of ACs is somewhere between $400 and $1500 depending on what features they offer.

What are the dimensions of the smallest mini-split AC?

The indoor units of mini-split ACs can be as small as 26.77 x 7.01 x 10.04 inches however this might not be as important as the dimensions of the outdoor unit if you are limited with the space where you are mounting it, for example if you plan to put it on your balcony. The outdoor units are pretty small as well and they can be as small as 25.98 x 10.43 x 21.26 inches.

Do I have to place the outdoor unit onto a wall?

Not really, it can be also put onto the ground but this needs to be a leveled surface and with a proper insulation to reduce the possible vibration of the unit.

Do I have to drill a hole in the wall when installing a mini-split AC?

In most cases yes, if there isn’t an existing one, you will have to drill a proper sized hole in your wall so you can connect the outdoor unit with the indoor unit. There are copper pipes and electrical wires that need to go through this hole in order to connect properly with the condenser and compressor which are part of the outside unit.

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