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Single Zones: 115V vs 220V – Which Is Right for Me?

Mini splits are an efficient and affordable solution to help cool or heat your home. These ductless systems can be installed quickly in any room to keep you more comfortable. They can be the perfect solution if you have a room that’s always warmer or colder than the rest of your house or if you’re looking for an energy-efficient way to regulate your home’s temperature. 

With so many options to choose from, figuring out which mini split unit is best for you can feel overwhelming. You’ll also have to decide on a brand and what type of voltage you want your unit to have. 

Most single zone mini split systems are available in 115v and 220v. Learn the differences between the two so you can decide which voltage will work best for you.

an electrician checking a breaker panel


Mini Splits: 115v vs 220v

Mini split units are available in both 115v and 220v. The voltage of your mini split varies between manufacturers and models. The main differences between the units are their BTU capacity and how they are installed in your home. Understanding these differences can help you decide which level of voltage is right for you.

The amount of BTUs your unit has is dependent on its voltage. BTUs measure the amount of thermal energy needed to change the temperature of a room by one degree. The bigger the room, the larger the amount of BTUs you’ll need to heat or cool the space. Determine the size of your room to see how many BTUs you’ll need from your mini split. 

You can do this by calculating the cubic volume of the room and multiplying it by a specific factor depending on what type of room it is (bedroom, living room, kitchen, room facing north, etc.) While this will give you an estimate of the number of BTUs you require, you need to factor in heat loss, the number of windows in a room, and your insulation. 

Mini splits with lower voltage levels typically also have lower BTU capacity. 115v mini splits typically have BTU ranges of 9,000 to 12,000 BTUs, while 220v is available in capacities of 18,000 BTUs and higher.

The installation method for your mini split depends on its voltage. A 220v mini split is wired directly into the main electrical panel of your home and given a dedicated breaker. This is because it requires a high level of electricity that is only accessible through the panel. 

Your mini split’s voltage doesn’t determine its efficiency. You can find very efficient models available in both 115 and 220 volts. The efficiency of your mini split depends on its SEER rating. A higher SEER number typically means better efficiency. Most units today have SEER ratings between 13 and 25. As of January 2015, any new mini splits in the United States need a minimum SEER rating of 13 or 14, depending on the region.  

When a 115v Unit Is the Right Choice

Determining which mini split voltage is right for you depends on your needs. The location of your electrical panel, your budget, and your planned use of the mini split are all factors to consider. 

A 115v mini split is your best choice when:

  • You’re installing your unit outside in a shed or garage. 
  • Your room size is small (up to 550 square feet).
  • Your unit will be located far from your electrical panel, making it more complex and more expensive to install wiring. 
  • You’re on a tight budget and need to have an electrician install it using your existing wiring instead of paying to add an electrical line.


Why You’ll Need a 220v Mini Split

If you’re using a mini split to heat or cool a large space, you may need the more powerful 220v unit. These models produce higher levels of BTUs, helping to change the temperatures of spacious rooms and open areas with ease. 

You may want a 220v mini split instead if:

  • Your room size requires BTU levels unavailable in the 115v units.
  • You don’t want to use up the available electrical outlets in your room.
  • Your unit will be installed too far away to use an electrical outlet.
  • You want a dedicated electrical line and breaker for your mini split for safety reasons.
  • You’re thinking about creating a larger mini split system or zones throughout your home.
an indoor mini split unit above a window


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