Something I've been working on for a few months now is trying to get a reasonable cost range for a whole-house ductless mini-split heat pump. A couple of anecdotal prices I've received range from an estimate of $10k for a 3-br, 1200 sqft ranch (four indoor units) to upwards of $30k actual cost on a different home, for which I don't have details.

I've asked a couple of manufacturer field reps what they believe the install costs are for a whole-house system, and their complete failure to give me a straight answer leads me to believe it's a lot closer to $30k than $10k. Now, if that's the case, one could argue that a GSHP would be price-competitive with a ductless mini-split heat pump.

If it matters, I'm looking at homes is zone 5/6.

Any input on this would be welcome and appreciated.

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No one can give you a valid price as there is so much that goes into - size of the unit, how many wall warts, ease of running the lines... That doesn't include the make of the unit (you want cheap or...) different markups, margins by each company, where in the world you are, etc... 10K is doable for that size - the results???

I had a ductless setup on a home I owned in Zone 5. 2100 sf. The cost was under $15K. Over 60K BTU capacity. I also had quotes of over $30K. 

I installed ductless because it made sense. The house was already built. It was three stories and had no ductwork when I bought it . I did not want to loose the space to duct chases. I was very happy with my choice. 

I was surprised by the heat output. The house stayed 68 degrees F even when it was -5 outside. That said - pulling heat out of subzero air cost about the same as electric heat strip. The wood stove on the second floor did an ok job at getting heat to the third floor but left me wanting on the 1st floor that did not have a dedicated heating system other than the two heat pump heads that we installed there. 

If you are building in Zone 6 you are going to want to think about installing an additional heating system.  If that needs to be ducted you might as well go with a traditional dual-fuel system.  If you are planing on a wood stove you are going to need to plan on how you want to move that air across the house without a duct system. 

For multi-split systems from the quality manufacturers, plan on roughly $2,500-3,000 per indoor "head"....on the lower side if it's 4-5 heads...on the higher side if it's just two heads. This will also vary up or down up to $500 per head depending on if you're talking about installing these on Martha's Vineyard or Tulsa, OK, for example.

For your 3-bed ranch example - depending on the loads, the house might be better served by a ducted system...either standard ducted split system or mini-split ducted such as Fujitsu AOU/ARU series. Ductless mini-splits have a lot of great applications, but they're not a panacea. 

No simple answer....It's all about placement, number of outdoor condensing units (affects SEER) and of course, heat load of the dwelling...As compared to GSHP??? a closed loop with 2 drilled wells doesn't come close in cost and makes no sense with today's air source efficiency...The challenge is distribution into a closed bedroom door,,, 1 head per BR, hallway with in-wall fans, ducted in conditioned space,

The REAL challenge is simply finding a competent HVAC contractor who really understands today's mini split DHP systems. We recently were planning a new construction home and among other energy requirements, specified mini split units with a wood stove backup heat (no gas here..) My frustration was the contractor's usual HVAC contractors were clueless, all they understood was the typical ducted approach or random wall mounted heads Absolutely no idea how to configure a ducted, low static pressure air handler or cassette style. I had to explain air handler location in conditioned space (dropped ceiling in closets to distribute in adjacent bedrooms) It's still 1980's thinking in unconditioned attics and flex duct...

Yes, they may not be for everyone,,, but they just keep getting better,,, and better,,, my 3 yr old mini split in my existing home in CT has survived 3 years of blizzards, and does a great job..

Well, the price of the system depends on a variety of factors like size, SEER ratings and the brand you are buying. The price range varies from $1500 to around $4000. I got mine installed at $2000. The most important thing is who you are getting the quote from. Different companies will provide you with different prices but the point is who knows the best. Not all HVAC contractors know much about the ductless ones. You must consult only the reputed and experienced ones on this issue. Fortunately enough, the ones I found were well experienced and had complete knowledge about every aspect of ductless systems. You can take a look at this website and get a free estimate if you want.

Check to see what incentives are available in your area for GSHP. In many states GSHP can be more than competitive with even a moderate efficiency air source HP. In my particular case (Maryland), I had a 2 ton system (2 wells drilled) installed with all new ductwork for $15K. My actual out of pocket expense after rebates/incentives was $7k. If I would have waited a year longer, I would have only paid $5,200 (utility company started running an additional $1,800 rebate for GSHP). I am a big fan of mini-splits, and recommend them routinely to my clients, but writing GSHP off due to potential cost can be a costly mistake in many locations (both short term and long term). The website http://www.dsireusa.org is a good place to start for looking into what incentives are available in your area.

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