When shopping for a ductless air conditioner, you’ll have to choose between single zone and multi zone mini splits. Basically, single-zone mini splits have just one indoor unit whereas multi zone mini split air conditioners have two or more indoor air handlers. But, that’s just the start. Although single and multi-zone air conditioners share a lot of similarities, they also differ in several ways.
This guide is for you if you’re shopping exclusively for a multi zone mini split ac. In the guide, we lay bare the difference between single and multi-zone air conditioner, discuss how multi-zone models work, enumerate the pros and cons of ductless multi zone mini split systems, and give tips on how to choose the right multi-zone mini split for your home. First though, a review of the top multi-zone mini-splits;
6. Best Multi Zone Mini Split Reviews 2020
1. PIONEER WYS040GMHI22M4 Air Conditioner Pioneer Multi Split Heat Pump
PIONEER WYS040GMHI22M4 is not only affordable but efficient, quiet, and powerful multi zone split ac. It delivers unrivaled comfort all year long. Ideal for large areas like basements, it’s the perfect cooling and heating solution.
When choosing a ductless air conditioner, it’s essential to consider the seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). This Pioneer WYS040GMHI22M4 features a pretty impressive SEER rating ranging between 21.3~22.5. Moreover, its inverter system and variable speed compressor allow it to regulate its energy output, allowing it to deliver efficient cooling and heating.
This 4-zone mini split from Pioneer can be operated from anywhere using the wireless remote and programming module option. A permanent washable air filter and other enhanced filter options are included.
This Pioneer mini-split system must be installed by an HVAC professional. However, all systems are safety tested and approved for safety by ETL and Listed for energy efficiency by AHRI.
- Multi ductless indoor sections
- Complete 16′ installation kits
- Variable speed ultra high efficiency DC inverter compressor
- Large LCD backlit display, multi function wireless infrared remote controller
- Must be installed by an HVAC professional.
2. Senville 36,000 BTU SENA-36HF/Q Quad Zone Mini Split
This list mostly has quad-zone mini splits, and the Senville SENA-36HF/Q is easily the pick of the lot. That’s because multi-zone air control should be about comfort and convenience, and the SENA offers both of these in abundance.
The 22.5 SEER AC (with heat pump) has one condenser (outdoor unit) and four air handlers (indoor units) – each with its remote control. This way, when in the bedroom, you can control every function of the AC using the bedroom air handler’s remote control. While it’s rated as 36,000 BTU mini split system, each indoor unit is rated 9,000 BTU. And, to make the installation process easier, the package comes with four 16-foot line sets for each of the air handlers.
It’s also worth noting that the SENA has multiple operation modes, including Turbo Mode for high cooling or heating output and Sleep Mode for quiet night operation. The Timer Function and follow-me remote functions are other features worth getting excited about. A 7-year warranty backs the SENA’s condenser while other parts enjoy a 2-year warranty. Above all, Senville offers unmatched customer support. Whenever you run into a problem, during or after installation, just call to have the issue fixed.
- Utmost comfort and convenience
- High 22.5 SEER efficiency
- Four indoor units; 4 remote controls
- Turbo and Sleep Modes
- High cost
3. Senville 36,000 BTU SENA-36HF/T Tri Zone Mini Split
If you’re looking for a tri-zone mini-split, the Senville SENA-36HF/T would be a great addition to your home. Packing 36,000 BTU of power, it comes with outdoor condenser unit rated at 36,000 BTU and three indoor air handlers, each rated at 12,000 BTU. All three air handlers are beautifully designed to fit nicely into any interior. Also, each air handler has a remote control device for independent control.
The AC is rated 22.5 SEER, putting at the top of efficiency charts in its category. Indeed, thanks to the inverter technology, you stand to reduce your heating/cooling costs by up to 30%. The inverter technology also helps extend heating capacity to -30C/-22F. All this happens under quiet operation.
Other features of the SENA-36HF/T include; Ionizing air filters, Turbo Mode for fast heating and cooling, timer function that allows you to plan your heating and cooling in advance, a follow-me remote function that makes it possible to control indoor climate without leaving the sofa, wired control. The package includes a basic installation kit with three 16-foot line sets for each of the indoor air handlers and additional accessories.
- Industry-leading 7-year compressor warranty
- 2-year warranty on other parts
- 3 indoor units + 3 remote controls
- Basic installation kit included
- A bit expensive at over $2,400
4. YMGI (9k + 9k + 9k + 12k) Quad Zone Wall-Mount Mini-Split
This YMGI Quad Zone mini-split offers a total of 39,000 BTU with four wall-mount indoor air handlers of various size combinations. This way, you can install the larger air handlers in larger rooms and the smaller ones in smaller rooms. The 21-SEER unit also uses inverter technology for efficient performance. The compressor automatically idles when a set temperature is reached and resumes operation when temperatures drop.
The YMGI package contains the outdoor condenser unit and four indoor air handlers. The condenser comes pre-charged with the environmentally-friendly R410A refrigerant. There are also four wireless remote control devices and an installation kit that includes four 25-foot line sets for each of the four indoor units. The low ambient operation for cooling and heating (5F to 115F), digital LCD screen, Turbo Mode for fast cooling and heating, and wide-angle air distribution are other features of note.
The manufacturer, however, provides strict guidelines for installation. First off, you’re required to have an HVAC technician inspect the area/home and calculate loads for each zone to determine whether this YMGI is right AC for your home. Secondly, installation must be done by a licensed contractor with an EPA Refrigerant Certification. Otherwise, the five-year warranty (on the compressor) and one year warranty (on other parts) is voided.
- High efficiency (21 SEER)
- Super quiet
- Washable air filters
- Professional installation required
5. Air Con (12k + 12k + 12k + 12k) Quad Zone Mini Split
The biggest (BTU-wise) multi-zone mini split on this list, the Air Con Quad Zone air conditioner stands tall among the rest. Packed with 48,000 BTU, this mini-split is designed for large homes with high cooling/heating needs – and it sure performs.
First off, the Air Con can effectively cool or heat up to 2,400 square feet, without showing any signs of strain. Considering that the average home is 2,500 square feet, we can say that the AC is designed for whole-home cooling/heating. Secondly, it comes with four high-rated air handlers, beautifully designed to add style to your home without taking up space on the floor. The package comes with four copper line sets and four remote control devices for each air handler. There are also four separate brackets for each indoor unit.
Other features of the Air Con include; inverter technology to lower operating costs, Turbo Mode for fast heating and cooling, Sleep Mode for comfortable sleeping, and automatic cleaning that prevents mildew and dirt buildup. The unit also boasts Auto rest in case of power interruptions, a 24-hour timer so you can plan your heating/cooling ahead of time, and a dedicated dehumidifier.
- Year-round comfort thanks to high efficiency
- Independent zone control
- Wi-Fi ready with optional remote
- Serious money-saving potential (save up to 60%)
- Awesome warranty (7 years on the compressor + 5 years on parts)
- Electrical wiring not included
6. Gree Multi30CCAS205 30,000BTU Multi21+ Dual Zone Ceiling Cassette
The new model Multi30CCAS205 replaced Model MULTI30BCAS205 and remains one of the top dual-zone mini-splits you can find today. Powered by a Gree G10 inverter compressor and Eco-friendly R410A refrigerant, these units effortless cool two zones without distribution boxes. Thanks to the inverter technology, it’s also energy-efficient, impressively quiet (both indoors and outdoors), and keeps room temperatures steady by eliminating the harsh starts and stops of traditional air conditioners.
Top of the Gree’s list of features is the sleek discharge air grill. The package contains two of these grills, both beautifully designed to add style to your room. The wireless remote controls are another huge feature. Again, the shipment comes with two remote controls for each indoor air handler. There are also two wired XK-19 controllers. Other features include; heavy gauge steel cabinets, line set adapters, internal condensate drain pump, and sensory float switch.
In terms of performance, the dual-zone mini split has a 21 SEER rating and produces 59 decibels of sound while in operation. While this is a bit high for mini-splits, it’s still below the 60-decibel mark which is the recommended maximum for air conditioners. Intelligent defrost, 4-way discharge, multi-fan speeds, swing louver, and power failure recovery are other noticeable features.
- Great multi-zone Ac performance
- Wired + wireless control (independent)
- Inverter compressor for optimal performance
- Beautifully designed indoor air handlers
- Line set required but not included
Multi Zone Mini Split Buying Guide
Now, let’s get to the down and the low of multi-zone air conditioning and how to choose the right multi-zone AC for your home.
What is a Multi Zone Mini Split Air Conditioner?
To understand what multi-zone air conditioners are, you first need to understand the meaning of the term “zone” in home Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC). Zoned cooling (and heating) is a type of HVAC configuration where the house (or space) is divided into multiple sections known as zones. Each zone is a target of climate control.
The easiest way to differentiate zoned climate control from non-zone climate control is to look at how central air conditioner work. With a traditional central AC, cool or warm air is generated from a central location and cools or warms the entire space uniformly. Contemporary air conditioners work slightly differently by allowing you to zone the space somehow. But, at best, it’s semi-zoning because the cooling/heating is controlled from one place. If the AC goes off, cooling/heating in all the zones stop.
Full zoning, which is what you get from mini multi-zone mini splits, is different. Here, climate control in each zone is independent. When you go to sleep, for example, you can turn OFF cooling in the living room and turn ON the same in the bedroom. You can also lower cooling output in one zone without effective the indoor climate in adjacent zones.
Typically, each indoor air handler has a designated thermostat to facilitate control. Most multi-zone units also have remote control devices that allow you to control each indoor unit independently. The remote controller can be handheld or wireless. Some advanced multi-zone mini splits also offer mobile connectivity, allowing users to control their ductless mini-split ac from a smartphone, tablet, or any other smart mobile device.
Advantages of Multi-Zoning
Although both single and multi-zone mini splits come with several advantages over central and window air conditioners, multi-zone models come with even more benefits compared to their single zone counterparts. These include;
- Greater control over indoor climate: This is, by far, the most significant advantage of zoned air conditioning. Unlike with central AC systems where you can only set one temperature for the entire home, zoned air conditioning allows you to have climate control as and when you need it, where you need it. If you don’t need climate control in the bedroom, you can turn the bedroom unit off. If you need cooler air in the living room, you can adjust the living room thermostat without interfering with the climate in other rooms. It’s a luxury you won’t find elsewhere.
- Guaranteed energy savings: The fact that you can shut OFF air conditioning in rooms (zones) where it’s not needed means you ultimately save on energy and related costs. For example, people rarely spend much time in the bedroom. Yet, with a traditional central AC, as long as the unit is on, every part of the home is cooled, including the bedroom. Multi-zone mini-splits solve this problem once and for all. If you don’t need air conditioning in the kitchen, you can shut OFF the air handler in that room to save on energy/costs.
- Reduced wear and tear: One of the main reasons central air conditioners break down frequently is that they overwork most of the time. As already mentioned, the central AC has to cool (or heat) even rooms where air conditioning isn’t actively needed. In extreme temperatures, this often leads to overworking as the AC works beyond limits to keep your spaces comfortable. Zoned air conditioning allows you to shut OFF rooms where air conditioning isn’t needed, thus keeping the load on your AC to a minimum.
Potential Drawbacks of Multi Zone Mini Split
Despite the many advantages, though, multi-zone mini splits also come with a few downsides. These include;
- Cost: Multi-zone mini splits are more expensive than single-zone minis, and, generally, also costlier than similar-sized central air conditioners. Also, the prices tend to go up as the number of air handlers increase. Indeed, quad-zone models and mini-splits with five air handlers are some of the most expensive air conditioners in the market.
- Installation complexities: Multi-zone air conditioners are also more challenging to install compared to single-zone mini-splits. This doesn’t necessarily mean that multi-zone air conditioners are difficult to install. Compared to a wall mounted air conditioners and central air units, for example, mini-splits are much easier to install. But, since multi-zone minis come with several indoor units, the installation process is long and a little more technical than when installing a single-zone unit.
Factors To Consider When Choosing a Multi Zone Mini Split System
Multi-zone mini splits come in all shapes and sizes. You’ll also come across options from more than a dozen manufacturers. To find the right one, consider the following tips;
Number of Zones
Multi-zone mini splits can be dual-zone (designed for two zones), tri-zone (designed for three zones,), or quad-zone (designed for up to four zones). There are even those designed to simultaneously cool/heat up to five zones. Before you head out shopping, determine how many zones you have and, budget allowing, buy a mini-split with enough air handlers for all your zones.
Size of the Unit
Aside from the number of zones, you also need to consider the size of the appliance. AC size is measured in BTU, with the majority of mini splits rated between 9,000 and 36,000 BTU. It’s imperative that you pick the right size unit for your space. You’ll need to be a little more attentive here, though. In multi-zone air conditioners, the total size (BTU) of the unit is shared among the air handlers. In a tri-zone mini-split rated 36,000BTU, for example, you’ll likely find that each of the three indoor units is rated 12,000BTU. Remember this when comparing BTUs vs. your space size. Don’t look at the total BTU value and think that it’s sufficient for your room. Consider the BTU value of each air handler too.
Although we’ve mentioned that multi-zone mini splits are controlled independently, don’t take this for granted. Always check to confirm that this is the case. If one or more of the indoor air handlers aren’t independent of the rest, look elsewhere. Also, we recommend independent remote control. Each unit should be independently controllable from a remote control device. In some models, the remote control might work for just some of, rather than all, the indoor air handlers. It’s more convenient when all the air handlers are controllable remotely. If you however, need one unit for winter, the best mini split for cold weather will do the job.
Finally, most multi-zone mini splits are highly energy efficient. But, that doesn’t mean that every multi-zone unit you come across will be a great energy saver. Some still consume a lot of electricity. To determine whether or not the unit is energy efficient, check the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER), Seasonal EER (SEER), and Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) values. Higher values indicate better performance. Labels such as the Energy Star Certified blue seal are another great sign of energy efficiency.
From both the reviews and the buying guide, you can tell that multi-zone mini splits are an invaluable investment for homeowners. They give you ultimate convenience and complete control over the climate in your home. They are also generally very efficient, reducing both energy losses and cooling/heating costs. Budget allowing, you should consider buying one – they are, without doubt, a step up from other air conditioners.
Other Mini Splits Systems by BTU Ratings