Best Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner & Heat Pump

In this article we talk about some of the things that people look for when they decide to purchase a ductless mini split system. There’s three main things to consider. The first being the SEER rating. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio – we will go into more detail on this later in the article but we just wanted to call it out now. The another thing to look for is AHRI certification. This is an ENERGY STAR certifying body that evaluates heating and cooling machinery for meeting certain efficiency standards – more on this later as well.

The last, and possibly most important consideration is making sure that the mini split system is appropriately-sized for the area that you want to heat and cool. We have a chart to help you calculate the number of BTUs your mini split system needs to be rated for in order to heat or cool a room. This information is located under the “Sizing” heading.

Three of the top brands for ductless mini split air conditioners and heat pumps are Pioneer, Senville and Air-Con. We will be using these three brands and some of their models as examples throughout this article. It’s important to be aware of where companies will ship products to when you’re buying one of these systems. Air-Con and Pioneer will ship within the United States and Senville will ship to Canada.

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SEER Rating

SEER is seasonal energy efficiency ratio. It is an easy way to compare between mini split systems that have different voltages, BTUs and designs for different sized rooms. The higher the SEER the more efficient the system. Some other factors like how many square feet the mini split can heat or cool may be more important for you. For more information about SEER and how it is calculated, check out this Wikipedia article. As you consider different mini split heat pumps to keep you warm through the winter the SEER rating is an important thing to be aware of. Having a high SEER rating is important it you want to keep your energy bills as low as possible. Any rating above 20 is on the high end of the efficiency scale. 

Most Senville and Air-Con products will have see ratings over 20. Pioneer mini split systems generally have SEER ratings below 20 and there’s a reason for this. Senville and Air-Con use condensers that operate at higher pressures and are able to take advantage of some of the efficiency that comes from using a newer refrigerant. This newer refrigerant is R410a. R410a replaces the old R22 refrigerant. R22 is now illegal because it depletes the ozone so all new air conditioners and heat pumps operate off of newer refrigerants.

Pioneer mini split systems generally have the lower SEER rating because they’re capable of operating with the R22 and the R410a refrigerants in them. Some people will still choose to use Pioneer mini split systems with R410a refrigerant simply because Pioneer is a well-established brand. They like knowing that the company they buy from has been around for a long time.

AHRI Certified

AHRI certification is another important thing to look for when you consider different heat pump systems for your heating and cooling needs. AHRI stands for Air-conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute. They have been recognized by the ENERGY STAR program as a certifying body. The AHRI is able to certify appliances and machines as being in compliance with efficiency standards. The AHRI certification is recognized by agencies in the United States and Canada, you can read more about it here if you like. AHRI certification is another way to compare between mini split heating and cooling systems. We recommend using this as a pass-fail test, meaning if the mini split does not have the certification, do not consider purchasing it.

All three brands that we talk about in this article have gone through the trouble of getting their mini-split systems certified by the AHRI. This is a good indicator that the company is committed to building quality products and supplying their customers with machinery they can depend on.

Sizing

The last thing we mentioned in the beginning of this article was making sure that your mini split heat pump and air conditioner is appropriately-sized for the area you want to heat and cool. Not all manufacturers will provide this information in their advertisements. This can be frustrating when trying to compare two different mini spit systems made by different manufacturers.

The BTU output of each mini split system should match what they are advertised at. The difference between brands will be the SEER rating. Higher SEER ratings will deliver the same number of BTUs but will use less energy than a lower SEER model.

To make things a little simpler we made the charts below. The first chart shows the recommended room size for the BTU rating of different sized units that Pioneer produces. Pioneer provides a range for each of their units. For example, the 9,000 BTU unit is designed to heat or cool rooms ranging from 250 to 350 square feet. To make our charts readable we used the higher number of these ranges.

For reference, we made a second chart with the recommendations for sizing air conditioners provided by Energystar.gov. They also use the same idea when providing recommendations that Pioneer used. For example, Energystar recommends using a 9,000 BTU mini split syaFollowing the charts we provide a quick analysis of which one we recommend using and our reasoning.

 

How to size a mini split system

We recommend using the sizing advertised by Pioneer for two reasons. Their numbers are more specific to the mini split system you are considering. The recommendations Pioneer make are for their products and their products only. The information provided by Energystar.gov is for air conditioning systems in general. Since you will not be heating or cooling with an ‘in general’ mini split system, go with what the manufacturer recommends.

The second reason we recommend using the Pioneer data because it passes the common sense test. If you look at the Energystar data closely it simply does not make sense. The numbers they show seem to suggest that as the room size increases it will take fewer BTUs per square foot to heat or cool that room. On the other hand, Pioneer shows a steady trend of about 27 BTUs per square foot needed to adequately heat or cool a room.

Best Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner & Heat Pump

Hopefully we’ve provided you with enough information to get you started on deciding which mini split heat pump and air conditioner is right for you. Just to reinforce the points we made earlier in the article – the Pioneer is a little bit more well-established and you probably have some familiarity with that brand. Then the Air-Con and Senville brands both are more efficient, in general, than Pioneers mini-split models are.


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