Ductless mini split air conditioners and heat pumps using the wall-mounted type of indoor unit are simple and efficient. Here are my recommendations for the all-round best and the cold climate model.
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My Recommendation for All-Round Best: Daikin 19 Series
Why I pick the Daikin 19 series? I have worked on and used Daikin air conditioners for many years. They generally hold up very well. My unit hasn't break since installed (touch wood). So, I have a strong belief in Daikin air conditioners. The 19 series is balanced between energy efficiency and affordability. Thus, it is suitable for most people.
What they could do to improve? Daikin is not yet popularized in the United States and Canada. They lack service centres in certain states. Hence, I would like to see they improve on their marketing and services.
How does it compared to the competition? Daikin as a brand is very reliable. Their air conditioners are known to be NOT sensitive to installation and operation errors. Some brands if you did a mistake during the installation, they break easily. Daikin is also a pioneer in air conditioning technology. Most of their businesses come from selling and servicing air conditioners, unlike other brands where they sell appliances other than air conditioners. Price wise, the 19 series is comparable to most mini splits out there.
My Recommendation for Cold Climates: Mitsubishi MSZ-FS Hyper-Heating Series
Why I pick the Mitsubishi MSZ-FS series? Out of all the mini splits that I've compared in detail, Mitsubishi MSZ-FS series with their hyper-heating function stands out the most in terms of low ambient heating. Many people find their mini split heat pumps not working during the winter. Usually, it is because they have chosen the wrong model.
What they could do to improve? Mitsubishi air conditioners are quite pricy. So, it may not be appealing to many people despite having better performance. Nonetheless, this series has a rare 6000 BTU which can reduce the cost for people who don't need that much heating.
How does it compared to the competition? Ever since I worked in the HVAC industry, I came to realized that Mitsubishi products “never break”. It shows how reliable Mitsubishi air conditioners are. Spec. wise, the MSZ-FS hyper-heating series has the number to support its low ambient heating capability. It is much better than most mini splits that claimed to be good in cold climates.
My Favourite But May Not Be Available: Daikin Atmosphera R32 Series
Why I pick the Daikin Atmosphera R32 Series? R32 is a new type of refrigerant that is more efficient and more environmental-friendly than R410A refrigerant which is used in most new mini split air conditioners today. Furthermore, it has the highest efficiency among Daikin mini splits.
What they could do to improve? Since it is a new model, many places are unavailable. Most of the time, you'll need to enquire Daikin or their authorized dealers to check on the stock availability. I heard this model always out of stock due to high demand.
How does it compared to the competition? Most mini splits out there are still using R410A refrigerant. This model is the first R32 mini split in the United States. Plus, its price I believe is quite competitive although not disclosed. Nonetheless, its spec. beats the crap out of the mini splits on the market.