Dual Zone mini split air conditioners are growing increasingly popular, especially among owners of multi-story homes.
Since a dual-zone ductless mini split has two indoor air handlers, you don’t need to buy two AC units. You can have one of the air handlers on the upper floor and the other on the lower floor, and maintain the desired indoor climate all year round without any worries.
This guide is designed to help you select the right 2-zone mini split for your needs. Let’s begin with a review of some of the top models on the market today.
Best Dual Zone Mini Split Systems
1. PIONEER Air Conditioner WYS020GMHI22M2 Multi Split Heat Pump
Pioneer Mini Splits have become the best ductless systems to buy on the market. This is because they are inexpensive, energy-efficient, and last long. The PIONEER Air Conditioner WYS020GMHI22M2 Multi-Split Heat Pump is no exception. It’s almost half the price of most of the other brands and still offers great features.
One of the features we noticed is the Wireless Internet worldwide remote access and programming module option. That means you can adjust the temperature or switch between different modes from your phone, anywhere in the world.
When it comes to how much power this dual zone ductless air conditioner offers, you’ll be pleased. It offers 23, 475 BTU heating capacity and the recommended indoor temperature setting range is 62~90 F. However, you can go as low as 46F, especially if the house is unoccupied. On the other hand, the cooling capacity is 19, 900 BTU, and the recommended temperature setting is 32~122 F.
Like other models, PIONEER Air Conditioner WYS020GMHI22M2 Multi-Split Heat Pump uses a high-efficiency inverter technology that not only makes it energy efficient but whisper-quiet during its operation. The 22 SEER rating further enhances its energy efficiency.
This system is safety tested and approaved for safety by ETL. It’s also listed for energy efficiency by AHRI. Most mini-splits are not easy to install. However, PIONEER offers unsurpassed support hotline covering installation. If not, it’s best to hire a professional to help you set it up. All installation accessories are included in the purchase, however.
- A little inexpensive compared to other brands
- High SEER ratings ranging between 21.3~22.5
- High HSPF ratings ranging between 9.8~10.4
- Wireless Internet worldwide remote access and programming module option
- Refrigerant: R410a (precharged for line set lengths up to 25′ per circuit
- Safety tested and approved for safety by ETL, and listed for energy efficiency by AHRI.
- Permanent washable air filters, plus variety of other enhanced filter options.
- Complete 16′ installation kits
- Customers complained of poor customer support
2. Senville SENA-18MO-209 18000 BTU Dual Zone Split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump
The Senville SENA 18MO-209 is a great dual-zone mini-split heat pump that utilizes DC inverter technology for super-efficient performance. Rated 22.5 SEER, ETL Intertek Approved, and Energy Star and AHRI certified, there aren’t many dual-zone mini-split systems that come close to the 18MO-209.
Some of this 18000 BTU mini split key features include a self-cleaning mode that automatically removes any water, dirt, and even bacteria that finds its way into the unit. Silver Ion Filtration takes safety measures a notch high by making sure that no harmful microorganisms enter your home through the AC.
The 18MO-209 has an inbuilt heat pump, thus doubles up as a heater during the cold months. It can also function as a dehumidifier or a ventilator.
The noiseless performance is another feature we can’t forget to mention. Thanks to Whisper Technology, the Senville runs with no audible noise.
For ease of installation, the shipment includes all the necessary parts and components. You’ll find one outdoor condenser, two indoor air handlers, two remote controls (for each air handler), and two 16-foot copper line sets (for each air handler).
- 7-year warranty on condenser; 2 years on other parts
- Pre-charged with eco-friendly R410A refrigerant
- Whisper Technology for quiet operation
- Vertical swing motion
- Electrical wiring harness and cables not included
3. Senville SENA-36MO-218 36000 BTU Dual Zone Split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump
Looking for a medium-sized dual-zone ductless air conditioner and heat pump? The Senville SENA 36MO-218 would be a great pick! Part of the AURA series by Senville, the 36MO-218 employs innovative technology to deliver efficient, quiet comfort in your home.
The first thing you need to know about the dual-zone AC is that it uses DC inverter technology. There are two broad categories of condenser technologies used in air conditioners – rotary and inverter. An inverter condenser is more efficient as it delivers enormous cooling/heating power while consuming very little electricity. Inverter condensers also produce less noise and last longer.
As with all other AURA air conditioners, the 36MO-218 comes with a seven-year warranty on the compressor while other parts enjoy a 2-year warranty. The shipment comes with everything to install your new AC, including two 16-foot line sets for each air handler. You’ll also find two remote controls for each of the air handlers.
The 36000 BTU mini split is Energy Star Certified, AHRI Certified, and ETL Intertek Approved, meaning it’s a safe and reliable unit.
- Remote control (for each air handler)
- Pre-charged with R410A refrigerant
- Inverter technology for efficient performance
- Has an in-built heat pump
- Electrical wiring harness and cables not included
4. COOPER AND HUNTER 2 Zone Mini Split
An arguably unexpected brand on this list, COOPER AND HUNTER 2 Zone Mini Split is another option you should consider, especially if looking for a fairly priced 12,000 BTU dual zone mini split. Designed to comfortably cool and heat spaces up to 1,200 square feet, this system is quiet, efficient, and a beautiful work of art.
The most significant advantage of this 12000 BTU mini split is the independent zone control function. You can control each indoor air handler independently.
Other than that, this ductless machine features; a Turbo Mode for ultra-fast performance, a Sleep Mode so you can sleep comfortably without any noise, an Auto Reset so that your AC can automatically resume automation at the previous settings in case of a power outage, and auto-clean function to prevent mildew and mold.
The AC has a 7-year warranty on the compressor and a 5-year warranty on other parts. Better still, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee – the first of its kind in the AC market!
- Save up to 60% of energy
- Enjoy a 7/5 year warranty on condenser/parts.
- Comes with two remote controls and 2×16-foot line sets
- Fully pre-charged with R410A refrigerant
- Requires professional installation
5. Mitsubishi Dual Zone Ductless Mini Split
The Mitsubishi Dual Zone Ductless Mini Split is another great 18,000 BTU dual-zone mini split, albeit smaller in size to most of the options we’ve discussed above. With a SEER rating of 18 and an HSPF rating of 8.9, it’s an efficient AC that will give you the comfort you desire without burning a hole in your pocket. If you need a high btu, check the 24, 000 BTU mini split systems.
This system comes with two indoor air handlers from a total of four options; ductless wall-mounted, horizontal ducted, ceiling recessed, ductless low-wall, and floor standing. We advise that you mix-match these units for the best outcome.
Other top features you’ll love about this unit include; multiple fan speeds, wide airflow GL24 only, washable long-life filters, vertical air swing on all units, and auto restart.
Several smart features, including compatibility with Thermostat Interface for smartphone control and Smart Set features for recalling the preset temperature are other features worth mentioning. One major downside of this unit, however, is that most of the required accessories are purchased separately.
- Smart control
- Very quiet
- Anti-allergy and nano-platinum filters
- Most accessories purchased separately
Dual Zone Mini Split Buying Guide
Ready to find the best dual-zone mini split for your home? The following section should help you make an informed decision.
What is a Dual-Zone Mini Split?
A dual-zone mini-split is an air conditioner (or HVAC system) with one outdoor condenser and two indoor air handlers.
In a traditional air conditioner, everything is bundled into one large box. Modern mini splits are a bit different in that they come in two parts – an outdoor component known as a condenser and an indoor component known as an air handler.
However, although there’s usually only one outdoor component across all mini-splits, the outdoor units can vary in number. Dual-zone mini splits are units that have two indoor units. Remember that there are also single-zone models with one indoor unit and multi zone mini split air conditioners that have more than two units. Indeed, some of the larger mini splits have as many as five indoor units.
Who Needs a Dual-Zone Air Conditioning?
Although a dual-zone air conditioner would suit multiple applications, some of the situations to use it include;
Installing ductwork in a multi-story building isn’t easy. Buying the piping and hiring an HVAC professional to install the ductwork throughout the house can be costly. Dual-zone mini splits don’t require ductwork, thus solving this problem. All you need is a small hole in the wall to connect the indoor and outdoor components.
When It’s Impossible to Install Ductwork
If it would be impossible to install ductwork throughout the home without causing significant damage, then a ductless air conditioning system is a great option. It would be too risky to dig through the entire length of the wall of an old home, for example. In such a situation, a two-zone mini split makes a great alternative.
When the Existing Ductwork can’t Accommodate All Rooms
Human needs change with time. For example, it’s possible that your bigger family needs more cooling or heating than the original ductwork can support. This could lead to temperature inconsistencies within the room. This is another situation where you’d want to consider a dual-zone mini split air conditioner.
Dual Zone System VS. Two Single-Zone Systems
The question a lot of consumers usually ask is “when” is a dual-zone mini-split system better than two separate air conditioners? Put differently, instead of buying a dual-zone air conditioner, why not just buy two smaller air conditioners?
Well, there are pros and cons to both approaches, with dual-zone systems coming out on top at the end of the day.
When Dual-Zones Systems are Better
- When you’re building a new home
If you’re building a new home, meaning that you’ll install a brand new air conditioning system, a dual-zone system is your best option for two main reasons. First, the cost of one dual-zone HVAC system is lower than that of two single-zone systems. The installation costs are also lower for one dual-zone system when compared to two single-zone systems. Secondly, even maintenance is easier when dealing with one dual-zone system as opposed to two single-zone systems.
- You’re replacing your old AC system
The advantages listed above apply when replacing an old AC system, for instance a wall mounted air conditioner heater combo. It’s cheaper to buy and install one dual-zone system rather than two single-zone systems. It’s also easier and less costly to maintain one dual-zone system rather than two single-zone systems.
When Two Separate AC Systems would be Better
- When building an addition
When building an addition, it might not be financially wise to buy a dual-zone air conditioning system. That’s because most additions are small while most dual-zone air conditioners are meant for large spaces. Even if it’s a big addition, unless you’re building two new rooms, just one AC would be enough.
Advantages of Dual-Zone Mini Split Air Conditioners
Dual-zone air conditioners come with endless benefits over conventional air conditioning systems. These include;
- Independent zone control
Yes, you can control the climate in each zone independently. If you have one of the air handlers in the kid’s bedroom and the other in the master bedroom, for example, you can let the kids control the cooling (and heating) in their room while you control the conditions in your room. As you can see from the earlier reviews, most dual-zone systems come with two remote controls to enable this level of control.
- Customized comfort
Do you ever go through days when you wish you could have different cooling or heating levels in different rooms? Maybe you’d like to have the living room on a lower setting as you spend time in the bedroom and vice versa? In central air systems, this is impossible. In the central systems, the setting on the thermostat applies to every room in the house. Dual-zone mini splits solve that problem once and for all.
If you just want a mini split for cold weather, the options are also available so you don’t have to buy several space heaters for different rooms.
- Cost savings
Finally, being able to control cooling and heating in each zone independently guarantees significant cost savings. For instance, if you don’t need cooling in the living room, you can turn OFF the air handler in that room to save on energy. Or, you can keep the cooling on a relatively low setting. Either way, you end up saving energy, leading to cost savings.
Drawbacks of 2-Zone Mini Splits
- High price
The biggest challenge with dual-zone mini splits is the cost. Like other ductless mini splits, dual-zone systems are a lot more expensive than similar-sized air conditioners. A 24,000 BTU dual-zone air conditioner, for example, costs several hundred dollars more than a similar-size central air system with the same features.
The high cost is, however, offset by the lower installation costs and reduced energy loss over the life of the appliance. Ductless mini splits use 30% less energy compared to their ducted counterparts, resulting in significant cost savings at the end of the year. Also, since you don’t need to buy or install ductwork, you’re guaranteed additional savings.
Factors to Consider when Buying a Dual-Zone Mini Split Heat Pump
Not all dual-zone mini split systems are the same. They come from different manufacturers and often differ in many other aspects, including; size, features, cost, etc. the following are the top factors to consider when selecting one for your home;
- Size of the unit vs. your space
Dual-zone air conditioners range in size, from 9,000 BTU to 48,000+ BTU. It’s your duty to identify the right size for your space. From our experience, it’s wise to begin by having an HVAC professional look at your room and help you calculate the BTU requirement for the area, taking into account energy loss factors such as insulation, openings (doors/windows), ventilation, and so forth. Never buy a mini split that is too small or too big for your space. For small rooms, we recommend 9,000 btu mini split air conditioners.
The efficiency of the AC is also paramount. An efficient system leaks less energy, thus contributes to reduced cooling/heating costs. Efficient systems also guarantee optimal indoor comfort round/the clock, with minimal temperature fluctuations. High-efficiency air conditioners have a high; Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER), Seasonal EER (SEER) value, and Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) value. Energy Star Certification is another strong sign that an electronic is energy efficient.
- Convenience features
Many dual-zone mini splits double up as heaters and can even work as dehumidifiers and ventilators. However, don’t make assumptions. Confirm that the system you’re considering has these features. Also, consider other convenience features such as an automatic mode that lets you program the AC in advance, smart restart that automatically restarts the system after a power outage, and wireless remote control that enables you to control the AC from any smart mobile device. These features make your life easier.
- Warranty and customer support
Finally, it’s essential to select a mini-split with a long warranty that covers as many potential problems as possible. Aim for five or more years worth of coverage for the compressor and at least two 12 months on other parts. As for customer support, some brands are exceptional at helping customers. Find a brand with sufficient customer support material (guides, manuals, videos) and provides additional support via chat, message, and even voice call.
Dual-zone mini split air conditioners are an excellent investment for homeowners with multiple spaces or large rooms to cool or heat. Since each indoor air handlers has its own remote control, you get complete control over the climate in your rooms and can adjust or turn OFF either of the air handlers as needed to save on energy. If budget isn’t a problem, you should definitely consider buying one.