A ductless mini-split compressor on the external wall of a home

Since ductless mini splits do not rely on ductwork to circulate air, they have indoor air handlers (or head units) to provide heating and cooling.

The vast majority of these are wall-mounted units, but they are available in floor mounts and recessed ceiling mounts as well. 

One or more indoor units can be connected to a single system. And even though these head units are all connected to one outdoor condenser, they can all be individually controlled. 

This makes them great for zoning or just providing a little better temperature control in certain areas of your home.

Options for Installing Your Mini-Split Outdoor Unit

Let’s start with the outdoor unit. The two options you can choose from here are wall-mounted or ground-mounted.

Wall-Mounted Mini-Splits

Depending on your home construction, a wall-mounted system may be your only option. Wall-mounted units can help make the best use of space for houses with a limited area around their perimeter. This is often the case for apartment blocks or simply homes with landscaping or uneven terrain.

It is worth noting that vibration and noise can be an issue if damping material is not used with the mounting bracket. Most outdoor wall brackets come with rubber bushings so this is not a problem.

Ground-Mounted Mini-Splits

This style is less likely to have vibration and noise issues causing nuisance and disruption. However, it must be positioned away from plants or other obstructions to ensure good airflow.

One drawback of ground-mounted units is snow buildup during the winter. Since heat pumps operate the condenser during the winter, it needs to be kept clear of snow.

In areas with significant snowfall, most mini splits are mounted with a wall bracket instead.

If you go with a ground-mounted unit and you live in a snowy area, you will need to keep a shovel nearby.

It is worth mentioning that these units are exactly the same. The only difference is how they are mounted. If you have a mini split condenser that is mounted on the ground and you are experiencing difficulty with snow, you can have it raised up and placed on a wall-bracket.

This will need to be done by an HVAC company, but it is an option.

Two mini-split compressor units outside a home in snowy conditions
Build-up can spike up your utilities and lower efficiency, so you’d better be ready to shovel some snow.

Selecting Where to Mount Your Air Handler

There are several options for installing your interior mini-split air handler (also called an evaporator or “head” unit). Which you decide to go with is largely down to personal preference.

The most popular options are the wall-mounted units. They seem to circulate air a little better and take up less space than floor-mounted units.

It’s best to keep them away from TVs to avoid potential signal interference issues. You will also need to make sure that the airflow is not obstructed and can circulate freely throughout the room, or zone, to be heated or cooled.

Mounting to an exterior wall will make for an easier (and often cheaper) installation, but it isn’t necessary as the refrigerant lines can be concealed with a little creativity.

A mini-split system's internal air component above two doors near the ceiling of the room
Although air handler placement boils down to preference, there are factors you have to consider such as the proximity to other appliances.

Typically, 25 feet (7.62 meters) is the standard length of refrigerant lines supplied with most units, but up to 50 feet (15.24 meters) can work well.

Bear in mind that longer lines will require an additional refrigerant for the longer line set. These are things to keep in mind since they will raise the cost of your mini-split installation.

For more information about refrigerants, their cost, and how eco-friendly they are, check out our article on the topic here.

Options for Installing Your Air Handler

There are several types of internal air handlers, which allow flexibility in their placement.

The main choices for air handler installation include:

  • Ceiling cassette – installed flush with the ceiling. This style is very unobtrusive and takes up no wall space.
  • Floor standing units – installed on the floor up against a wall. These are useful if it is impossible to mount a unit on the wall.
  • Wall-mounted – installed high up on a wall, wall-mounted units are the most popular type of head unit. They keep the condenser out of the way and tend to be the cheapest option.
A ceiling cassette mini-split head unit installed in a ceiling under construction
An example of a ceiling cassette installation of an air handler.

Tips for Wall-Mounted Units

  • A wall-mounted air handler unit must be installed high up on the wall, which helps with air distribution around the room.
  • Allow at least two inches of accessible space above the unit to allow for servicing and maintenance.
  • Mini-split heads must be installed on a vertical wall. Sloping walls are unsuitable.

Final Thoughts on Mini-Split Wall-Mounted Units

Mini splits can work with just about every home configuration. My first recommendation is to go with a wall-mounted head unit but if that’s not an option, ground-mounted and ceiling cassettes are available.

If you live in a particularly snowy climate, your best choice is to use a bracket and mount the outdoor unit on the wall of your home.

This will make your life a lot easier in the winter months since you won’t have to shovel snow away from the unit.

If you would like to know more about the likely cost of a mini-split heat pump, why not read our article about it here?

You can also view our list of the most popular mini-split pump brands!

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