Mini splits are all about efficiency. If you’re looking how to be smart about cooling your garage, the best option is to install a mini split through the garage wall. We are going to cover 5 best mini split AC units for garage but let’s start by tackling this question:
Is a mini split good for garage?
Ductless mini split AC units are perfect for garages. You have superb energy efficiency (20+ SEER rating, 8+ HSPF rating), are notoriously quiet, hands-off and comfortable ACs for garage. With a bit of technical skills, you can even install them yourself (DIY installation).
For garage, you can use a mini split, portable or window AC. Out of these options, the best garage mini split units are by far the most energy efficient (electricity saving) and the most reliably. The only drawback of mini splits are upfront higher costs; these are balanced out with energy savings in 10-20 years.
Now, you can’t just use any mini split for garage. LearnMetrics recommends 5 top-rated mini split AC units for garage based on key factors you should be looking out for. To help you choose the best mini split for garage, we are going to look into:
- What size mini split you need for garage? We are going to look at how many BTU you need for 1-car, 2-car, 3-car, 4-car garage. Square footage of the garage is the key metric here.
- What SEER rating should you look for? SEER rating is a measure of cooling energy efficiency of garage mini split air conditioners. Difference of 1 SEER rating can reduce your garage cooling costs by 6-7%.
- What HSPF rating should you look for? All mini splits are basically heat pumps; by reversing the refrigerant cycle, you can adequately heat a garage in the winter and cool it in the summer. Having the ability of both cooling and heating a garage is a key advantage mini splits have in garage.
- Can you install a mini split in garage yourself? What are the installation costs? Garage mini split DIY units like #1 MRCOOL DIY-12-HP-115B25 can be installed by yourself and effectively save $1,000+ cost of installation.
- Which brand makes the best mini split AC units for garage? Reliability is vital. The best way to ensure your garage mini split will last for 15+ years is to choose one from a reputable brand with a good track-record for reliability.
Using these key parameter, a selection of the best mini split AC for garage was made. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip to the 5 best mini split for garage in 2022, complete with a spec-by-spec comparison table, and individual reviews of the best garage mini splits here:
However, if you want to make the right choice with confidence, you will have to understand what kind of mini split you need for garage and how to read the specs sheet. That’s why we are going to look into most important specification you should look for when picking the best mini split for your garage.
We are going to start with the most important one:
What Size Mini Split For Garage? (How Many BTUs + Garage Coverage)
Before you start look at the best split systems for your garage, you have to figure out one thing:
How many BTU garage mini split AC do I need?
For general AC sizing, you can use the DOE’s rule of thumb which states that you need 20 BTU per sq ft of living space. Now, you are not dealing with living space, you’re dealing with a garage.
Garages usually have less insulation but they also don’t need to be low 72°F temperature. You usually want to get below 80°F or so.
That means you’re look at (rough estimates):
- 15 BTU per sq ft of a well-insulated garage.
- 20 BTU per sq ft for a standard garage.
- 25 BTU per sq ft for a garage with below-average insulation.
Here’s an example: What size mini split do I need for 24×24 garage?
This is a big 2-car garage with 576 sq ft total square footage. If you have a well-insulated 24×24 garage, you can use 15 BTU per sq ft estimation for the size of mini split you need. Here’s how you calculate the size of mini split you need
24×24 Garage (Well-Insulated) = 576 sq ft × 15 = 8,640 BTU
You would need about 8,640 BTU mini split. If your 24×24 garage is badly insulated, you will have to get a 14,400 BTU mini split.
Here’s the thing:
No garage mini split has exactly 8,640 BTU or 14,400 BTU cooling output. Most mini split sizes adequate for cooling a garage have these following cooling outputs:
- 9,000 BTU or 3/4 ton. This is a small mini split appropriate for 1-car or 2-car garages.
- 12,000 BTU or 1 ton. This is a standard-sized mini split for garage used primarily in 2-car garages.
- 18,000 BTU or 1.5 ton. This is a bigger mini split for bigger 2-car or 3-car garages.
- 24,000 BTU or 2 ton. This is a big garage mini split appropriate for 3-car and 4-car garages.
In most cases, you will need a 12,000 BTU mini split. 1 ton mini split air conditioners are the most popular size of split systems used in garages.
In order to get a feeling of how many BTU mini split you need for garage, you can consult this calculated table with BTU estimates for different garage sizes:
|Garage Size (Sq Ft):||BTU Estimate (15 BTU/sq ft; good insulation):||BTU Estimate (20 BTU/sq ft; standard insulation):||BTU Estimate (25 BTU/sq ft; poor insulation):|
|200 Sq Ft||3,000 BTU||4,000 BTU||5,000 BTU|
|300 Sq Ft||4,500 BTU||6,000 BTU||7,500 BTU|
|400 Sq Ft||6,000 BTU||8,000 BTU||10,000 BTU|
|500 Sq Ft||7,500 BTU||10,000 BTU||12,500 BTU|
|600 Sq Ft||9,000 BTU||12,000 BTU||15,000 BTU|
|700 Sq Ft||10,500 BTU||14,000 BTU||17,500 BTU|
|800 Sq Ft||12,000 BTU||16,000 BTU||20,000 BTU|
|900 Sq Ft||13,500 BTU||18,000 BTU||22,500 BTU|
|1,000 Sq Ft||15,000 BTU||20,000 BTU||25,000 BTU|
One rule that’s quite useful in garage mini split AC sizing is to always pick a unit that’s a bit bigger.
Example: You have a 26×26 3-car garage with good insulation. You would need 10,140 BTU of cooling output for this garage. That means you have to choose between:
- 9,000 BTU mini split for 3-car garage.
- 12,000 BTU mini split for 3-car garage.
It makes sense to choose the bigger option; 12,000 BTU unit. You can always run it at lower fan speed setting and you don’t run into the risk of oversizing a garage mini split (that would short-cycling the AC).
If you choose the 9,000 BTU mini split, your garage might feel hot and humid because you don’t have adequate cooling power. And there is no way to increase the BTU cooling output above 9,000 BTU.
When you have adequately sized a mini split to your garage, you have to think about the running costs. That involves two energy efficiency ratings you should check on the specs sheets:
SEER Rating For Cooling A Garage
Running costs of garage mini split are conditioners can be as low as $0.05/h or as high as $0.30/h. To keep the costs of cooling a garage low, you should pick a cost-saving mini split.
Just to keep in mind: When running at 100% output, garage mini split wattage can reach up to 2,000W. That means you can be used about 2 kWh worth of electricity per hour. The US national price of electricity is about $0.1319/kWh.
All mini splits have an exceptional cooling energy efficiency. The metric we use to denote how energy efficient any garage split system is is SEER rating. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio; this is a weighted average of four EER ratings, namely EER25%, EER50%, EER75%, and EER100%.
The mini splits with higher SEER rating will have a lower running costs. The federally mandated minimum SEER rating is 14. Split system units like mini splits can achieve a very high SEER rating; above 16 SEER. If you check the spec-by-spec comparison of the best mini splits for garage, you can see that all of them have extremely high 20 SEER rating or higher.
Every mini split fit for a garage comes should come with this EnergyGuide label:
The difference between lets say a 16 SEER rating and 20 SEER rating mini split AC unit for garage might be $100 per season. That will result in above $1,000 savings during the lifetime. In general, it always pays off to invest into a mini split with a higher SEER rating.
HSPF Rating For Heating A Garage
All mini split AC units for garage are basically heat pumps. That’s because it’s very easy to switch a mini split from cooling (summer) to heating (winter). You just switch the flow of refrigerant (R32, R410A) and instead of cooling you get heating.
This is one of the best advantages a mini split can offer to a garage: additional heating in the winter. In the list below you can see the spec-by-spec comparison of the best mini split heat pumps for garage. You have to be aware, however, of the HSPF rating.
This heating function of a mini split should be as energy efficient as possible. We denote the heating energy efficiency of mini split heat pumps for garage with HSPF rating. HSPF stands for Heating Seasonal Performance Factor. It basically tells you how much you’re going to pay for heating a garage with a mini split.
Mini split heat pumps used in garages have between 6 and 10 HSPF rating. The higher HSPF rating the better; this will result in lower heating costs.
Some of the most energy efficient mini split heat pumps for garage can have a 10+ HSPF rating. Example: #2 Cooper & Hunter Hyper Heat mini split has a 12 HSPF rating and is extremely energy efficient.
Cost To Install A Mini Split In Garage (You Can Also Install Mini Split Yourself)
One of the key disadvantages of mini splits in garages in the installation cost. You can install portable AC or window AC yourself. For mini splits, homeowners usually need a professional installation.
Cost of installing a mini split vary quite a bit from state to state, specific location, HVAC company and so on.
Here’s a general rule of thumb for cost of installing a mini split:
The price of the mini split represents about 50% of the total upfront cost. The other 50% is the installation cost with labor.
Now, this rule of thumb is true for bigger multi-zone mini splits. Example: A 3-zone Mitsubishi mini split can cost about $4,000. You’re likely going to pay another $4,000 for installation + labor costs.
For garage, we use smaller mini splits AC units that between $1,000 and $2,000. However, the installation cost (given it’s a smaller mini split) cost between $1,500 and $3,000. That’s quite a big expense.
Now, people who like to work in their garages are usually technical guys. They know their way around power tools. To save on the installation costs, it pays to invest in a DIY mini split for garage.
The easiest DIY mini split to install yourself are made by MrCool. That’s also one of the reasons why you will find the #1 MRCOOL DIY-12-HP-115B25 on the 1st place among the best mini split AC for garages.
You get the whole DIY installation kit and you can install some mini split ACs yourself. Effectively, you’re saving a several $1,000 by doing this yourself. The installation might take a whole afternoon but if you’re a technical guy it’s quite manageable. You get the whole step-by-step process of how to install a mini split in your garage (outdoor unit, refrigerant lines, indoor unit) in the manual.
Which Brand Makes The Best Mini Splits For Garage? (Reliability Factor)
If you’re going to use a mini split in your garage, you want to opt for a reliable unit. The best way to ensure you pick a reliable and durable mini split (that will last for 15+ years) is to go with a reliable brand.
Manufacturers that make smaller mini split AC units appropriate for garages include MrCool, Hunter & Cooper, Pioneer, Daikin, Mitsubishi, Carrier, Trane, and so on.
The big brands like Mitsubishi, MrCool, Carrier and Trane do make reliable mini split; but, in most cases, their smaller 12,000 BTU or 18,000 BTU mini splits are quite costly. MrCool is an exception here; they make superb mini splits for garage for less than $2,000 and you can DIY the installation (saving between $1,500 and $3,000 on installation).
The best price-performance brands have a lower price (below $1,500) of these smaller garage mini split. These include Pioneer, Hunter & Cooper, DELLA, and Klimaire, to name just a few.
The rule of thumb for a reliable brand is this:
If you haven’t heard of the company, it usually doesn’t have a long track record with air conditioners. Brand having a long and successful track record is the key thing you want to look out for when choosing a reliable mini split for your garage.
5 Best Mini Split AC For Garage In 2022
1. Overall Best Mini Split For Garage: MRCOOL DIY-12-HP-115B25
Out of several smaller below 2-ton mini split AC units for garage, the MrCool DIY mini splits are the top choice. It’s quite easy to see why: MrCool makes high efficiency mini splits with high SEER and HSPF rating, they are reliable (easily last for 15+ years), and you can install them yourself (saving $1,500 to $3,000 on installation).
The first thing you have to figure out is the size of MrCool mini split for your garage. MrCool offers 2-3 models that are adequately sized for a garage. Here are the models are rough estimations of the size of garage we’re talking about:
- MRCOOL DIY-12-HP-115B25 is a 12,000 BTU mini split. You can install it in most 1-car and 2-car garages with up to 600 sq ft total square footage.
- MRCOOL DIY-18-HP-230B is a 18,000 BTU mini split. You can install it in all 2-car garages and 3-car garages with up to 900 sq ft total square footage.
- MRCOOL DIY-24-HP-230B is a 24,000 BTU mini split. You can install it in all 3-car and 4-car garages with up to 1,200 sq ft total square footage.
All MrCool garage mini splits are extremely efficient. DIY-12-HP-115B25 model has a 22 SEER rating (that’s above 20 SEER) and 10 HSPF rating. It’s a cost saving way of cooling and heating a garage.
One of the key advantages of MrCool mini splits is the DIY kit. With this kit, you can install any MrCool mini split yourself. Yes, you will need power tools to drill a whole in the wall for the refrigerant lines, but that’s the hardest part of the installation. All other steps of how to install a mini split in garage by yourself are included in the manual.
The drawbacks of MrCool include a slightly higher price (several $100) of the unit compared to less-known and less-reliable brands. You will also need a 230V circuit for bigger 18,000 BTU and 24,000 BTU units.
All in all, the MrCool mini splits are a go-to choice for garages. They are very energy efficient, reliable, you can get a 12k, 18k, and 24k model and all of them are designed to be installed by yourself:
2.Most Energy Efficient Mini Split For Garage: Cooper & Hunter Hyper Heat
Cooper & Hunter makes the most energy efficient mini splits for garage. These are robust and durable units units with 20+ SEER and 10+ HSPF ratings. If you’re looking for a cost saving mini split to install in your garage, the Cooper & Hunter is your go-to choice.
Cooper & Hunter makes all garage sizes mini splits from the smallest 9,000 BTU (adequate for up to 450 sq ft garages) to 24,000 BTU units.
If you look at the most energy efficient 12,000 BTU model, you will notice it has extremely high energy efficiency ratings. It’s 22.5 SEER rating is way above the baseline 14 SEER rating. It has has an exceptionally higher-than-average heating efficiency with 12 HSPF rating.
With every unit, you also get all the parts you need for DIY installation. This includes 16 ft copper line set, drainage extensions, and communication wires.
Cooper & Hunter mini splits don’t include the modern remote controls (like operating the mini split in your garage via smartphone app). 1 reviewer also mentions that front cover came with a broken piton that had to be duct-taped in place.
With an affordable price and wide range of sizes, Cooper & Hunter is one of the top-rated mini splits for garage. It’s most praised quality is extremely high energy efficiency (both for cooling and heating):
3. Top-Rated 110/120V Garage Mini Split: Klimaire DIY 115V
Now, if you need a simple no-brainer mini split for a garage (that you can install yourself), you go with Klimaire DIY 115V. This is a standard 115V circuit mini split with high energy efficiency and lower price tag (below $1,200).
Klimaire DIY is available in several sizes, including 12,000 BTU, 18,000 BTU and 24,000 BTU units. Out of these, the 12,000 BTU unit (1 ton) is the most popular to be used in a garage.
The 20 SEER rating and 10 HSPF are standard for top-rated garage mini splits. You will be able to provide cooling and heating for your garage at a relatively low cost.
The 12,000 BTU unit requires only the standard 110/120V circuit and has an lower-than-average cost of about $1,200. Of course, the bigger units like 18,000 BTU and 24,000 BTU require 220/240V circuit.
Klimaire is a known brand but not as well known as MrCool or Mitsubishi, for example.
All in all, if you want a simple and cheap mini split for garage, the Klimaire DIY 12,000 BTU unit is a good option:
4. Superb Inverter Mini Split For Garage: PIONEER Inverter+
Pioneer Inverter+ offer the most diverse portfolio of mini splits for garages. These are affordable units but they can be a bit noisy. If you don’t mind a bit of noise that much, you can save some $100 due to lower-than-average cost.
Pioneer offers 6 mini split Pioneer Inverter+ models that are appropriately sized for all garages. These models include:
- 9,000 BTU 110/120V unit (about 450 sq ft coverage).
- 9,000 BTU 230V unit (about 450 sq ft coverage).
- 12,000 BTU 110/120V unit (about 600 sq ft coverage).
- 12,000 BTU 230V unit (about 600 sq ft coverage).
- 18,000 BTU 230V unit (about 900 sq ft coverage).
- 24,000 BTU 230V unit (about 1,200 sq ft coverage).
The advantage you have here is to pick the smaller 9,000 BTU and 12,000 BTU unit that run on standard 110/120V circuit. That means you won’t have to upgrade the wiring in your garage.
The energy efficiency is above-average with 20 SEER and 10 HSPF rating.
The drawback of Pioneer Inverter+ is noise. The outdoor unit can generate up to 57.5 dB of noise which is not ideal.
All in all, the Pioneer Inverter+ offers you quite a lot of size choices for a garage mini split. They also have affordable price with 12,000 BTU 230V unit costing less than $1,000
5. Very Cheap Ductless Mini Split For Garage: DELLA Mini Split
DELLA is one of the lesser-known brands that makes garage mini splits. That has a key advantages as well as a key disadvantage.
The main disadvantage of DELLA mini split is unknown reliability. This is a new brand that doesn’t have enough 20 year lifespan mini splits test to adequately guarantee that this is a durable unit.
The advantage, of course, is a very low price. The smallest 9,000 BTU unit, for example, costs less than $800. They also offer two 12,000 BTU mini splits that run on 115V and 230V circuit; both of them cost less than $900. This makes DELLA units the cheapest mini splits for garage.
The energy efficiency ratings include the standard above-average 20 SEER cooling rating. However, the heating efficiency is lower: 8 HSPF rating. That means that you will spend more if you want to heat a garage with a mini split.
All in all, DELLA is a good example of an up-and-coming brand, it offers mini splits at lower prices but it also has a questionable reliably since it’s not an established brand:
This has been an overview of cooling and heating a mini split can bring to your garage. If you check the specs and brand reliability, you can now adequately evaluate if the mini split you’re looking at is a good fit for your garage. You can read more about garage air conditioning options here.