If you want a quieter way to cool your home, the best ductless air conditioners are worth considering. They are easier to install compared to the best central air conditioning units, and are more energy efficient too. Ductless air conditioners, often called mini splits, include a wall-mounted indoor unit (some come with multiple units) powered by an outdoor compressor. As well as offering powerful cooling, some versatile units can be used as heaters too.
While the window air conditioners have their place in the home, a mini split AC system offers more power and control. But there are several things you need to keep in mind when buying the best ductless air conditioner for you. Chief among these is deciding how many indoor units you require and where they will be placed. It’s important to remember that mini split systems are a permanent installation, so you can’t cart them off to a different spot when you feel like it.
So, which brands make the best ductless air conditioners? You’ll spot some very familiar names here, including Gree, Bosch and Emerson. We’ve focused on mini split systems that boast a good SEER rating, plus smart-enabled models that can be app-controlled for sheer ease of remote use. If you’re planning on a ductless air conditioner in your bedroom to help you sleep well during the hotter months, look for systems that run quietly or that have night modes and dimmable LED displays so that you aren’t disturbed by noise or lights.
While a smaller single zone ductless air conditioner system may only set you back around $800, the more powerful multiple zone systems can cost thousands, so be clear on how much cooling you really need in your home.
1. Gree MULTI24HP312: Best ductless air conditioner for multiple zones
The Gree MULTI24HP312 may be the most expensive ductless air conditioner on this list, but it offers the widest coverage, and with three indoor units, it provides a more affordable alternative to installing new ductwork for a conventional air conditioning system. The three indoor units enable installation in three separate spaces and all three can be individually controlled.
As a premium model, the Gree MULTI24HP312 has a wide range of convenience extras. Three infrared remote controls come with this model, or you can connect the system to Gree’s app, enabling you to control the units from your smartphone.
The Gree MULTI24HP312 has also been created with durability in mind. If you’re splashing out on an expensive system you want to know that it will last. From anti-corrosion technology to five-year warranties on both parts and the compressor, this premium system is designed to last.
- Read our full Gree MULTI24HP312 review
2. Daikin FTXB18AXVJU: Best ductless air conditioner for large spaces
The Daikin FTXB18AXVJU is a powerful single zone ductless air conditioner that can cool or heat spaces up to 1,000 square feet in size. This makes it a great choice for workshops or open-plan residential spaces. It is pricier than some of the other single-zone systems on this list, so if you don’t need wider coverage you can save money by opting for one of those instead.
This system is energy efficient too, utilizing a range of technology to help keep usage low and energy bills cheaper. Air purification is achieved through the use of a titanium apatite photocatalytic air-purifying filter.
Despite the powerful airflow output, the Daikin FTXB18AXVJU is quiet, it’s often able to effectively operate at low speeds so the sound levels stay low for minimum noise interruptions.
- Read our full Daikin FTXB18AXVJU review
3. Bosch 8733954447: Best ductless air conditioner for dual zones
The Bosch 8733954447 provides powerful cooling and heating across two separate zones thanks to the two indoor units included with this system. It is pricier than single zone units, but with the extra hardware included as part of the system, it’s to be expected.
This is also a good quality system that’s durable and well-designed. It’s Energy Star certified too, so energy usage will be lower than some other ductless air conditioners, helping to keep monthly bills lower.
The Bosch 8733954447 also has one of the best warranties of any ductless air conditioner in this round up. It offers a 10-year compressor warranty, five-year parts warranty. Combined with Bosch’s reputation for quality products, this system is likely to last for many years to come.
- Read our full Bosch 8733954447 review
4. Emerson Quiet Kool 19S-EACH12R1W: Best budget ductless air conditioner
The Emerson Quiet Kool 19S-EACH12R1W may not be the most powerful ductless air conditioner on this list, but it will be plenty powerful for a wide range of spaces. On top of that, it’s one of the cheapest on the market so you could save money by opting for this model.
This budget ductless air conditioner has enough power to effectively heat or cool spaces up to 550 square feet. It’s a single zone model, so it can only be used to improve the airflow of one space.
This system has a good range of convenience features too. A digital display is useful for easy readout and ease-of-use while the WiFi connectivity allows for control via Alexa or Google Assistant. Along with features like auto defrosting and automated cleaning technology, as well as compressor intelligent pre-heating, this is a budget system that offers great value for money.
- Read our full Emerson Quiet Kool 19S-EACH12R1W review
5. Pioneer WYS012G-19: Best ductless air conditioner for small spaces
For such an affordable ductless air conditioner, the Pioneer WYS012G-19 offers a good range of features all within a compact and sleek system. It’s even cheaper than our best budget pick, but the lower coverage area means the Emerson Quiet Kool 19S-EACH12R1W offers slightly better value.
The Pioneer WYS012G-19 offers some good usability options that still make it a great choice for anyone looking to cool or heat a single small space. The dimmable LED display is great for at-a-glance information that won’t disturb your sleep if you decide to install it in a bedroom. Night mode also aids more comfortable sleep.
This system has four operating modes to choose from; cooling, heating, dehumidification, and ventilation. The included remote control is also useful for customizing your airflow output from across the room.
- Read our full Pioneer WYS012G-19 review
What is a ductless air conditioner, and how do they work?
A ductless air conditioner does pretty much the same job as a traditional central air conditioner, just without the ducts. If you’re wondering how that works exactly, the appliance takes the warm air and moisture from your room and runs it over cold evaporator coils.
As happens in a regular central air conditioner, the heat is absorbed into the coil and converted into cold air by a refrigerant. In return, the machine emits a blast of cool air into your room.
But where does the hot air go? Well, while a traditional AC unit channels the hot air through your home’s ducts and outside, the ductless air conditioner unit is connected to an outdoor unit instead, which dumps the heat outside your home without the need for installing ducts.
Aside from that, the main difference between these two types of air conditioners is that a ductless air conditioner unit usually works on one room (or a couple, if it’s a multiple zone system), while the ducts associated with the central air conditioner divvy out cool air throughout an entire house.
How to buy the best ductless air conditioner for your home
With so many ductless air conditioner models on the market, it may seem tricky to sift through to find the best one for you. Start by picking out a reputable brand such as Bosch or Daikin and then take a look at the features.
If you have multiple rooms in need of some TLC, such as a small apartment, a multi-zone design will let you cool down more than just one space.
After you’ve decided on a single zone or multiple zone ductless air conditioner, perhaps the most important thing to look out for is a powerful model with high British Thermal Units (BTU).
This is especially important if you’re handling a large space or if you live in a hot climate or poorly insulated home, because the higher the BTU, the more power you’ll have to keep the temperature constant against these higher demands.
After power, you’ll also want to consider other features that matter the most to you. If your home is prone to getting cold in the winter months, for instance, you may want to pick a model that will double up as a heater to save money on forking out for a separate heater appliance. Likewise, if you’re looking to limit any disturbances at night, a quieter model or one with a sleep mode will come in handy.