Are you in the market for a new heating and cooling system but don’t want the hassle or expense of installing ductwork? A ductless mini split may be the perfect option for you!
These systems offer many benefits, including energy efficiency, quiet operation, and flexibility in location. In my experience working as a mechanical design engineer in New York City, mini-split systems so often save the day when there just isn’t space for a full central system to be installed.
Whether you’re looking for creative ways to hide your unit or want ideas for how to make the most of its features, I’ve got you covered. Keep reading this guide to the best hidden ductless mini split ideas for tips on how to make your ductless mini split work for you!
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for the best way to hide your ductless mini-split system, dropping it into a soffit is the way to go. This provides the most flexibility when deciding where to install a mini-split system in your house.
Plus, it’s a great way to keep your system hidden and out of sight. The other options are still great ways to go for specific situations, but in my opinion, you can install a mini-split unit into a soffit pretty much anywhere, which makes it the best option for most people.
My first idea shows how seamlessly it integrates into the room; you’d barely know it was there!
What is a Mini-Split System?
A mini-split system is an air conditioning and heating system that doesn’t require ductwork. Mini-split systems consist of an outdoor unit (compressor/condenser) and one or more indoor units (air handlers). The outdoor unit is connected to the indoor unit(s) by copper tubing and electrical wiring.
Mini-split systems work by circulating refrigerant between the indoor and outdoor units. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the indoors and transfers it to the outdoors. In cooling mode, the process is reversed, and the refrigerant absorbs heat from the outdoors and transfers it to the indoors.
Different Types of Mini Split Air Handlers
There are three main types of mini split air handlers: wall-mounted, floor-mounted, and ceiling-mounted.
- Wall-mounted air handlers are the most popular type. They are easy to install and can be placed in pretty much any room that has an exterior wall, and some that don’t.
- Floor-mounted air handlers are less common than wall-mounted units, but they offer some advantages. Floor-mounted units can be easily installed in crawl spaces or basements, and they’re out of the way, so they don’t take up valuable living space.
- Ceiling-mounted air handlers are typically used in commercial applications, but they can also be used in homes with high ceilings. Ceiling units offer the advantage of being out of the way and not taking up any living space.
Best Hidden Ductless Mini Split Ideas
There are many different ways to incorporate a mini split into your home’s design, and I’ve compiled some of the best hidden ductless mini split ideas to get you started.
Whether you’re looking for a way to cool a single room discreetly or you want to create an entire zoned heating and cooling system, there’s a mini split solution that will work for you.
As more and more people look to install mini split systems in their homes, the question of where to hide the unsightly outdoor unit has become increasingly important. There are a few key selection criteria that I considered when making the decision on where to hide a mini split system’s indoor unit:
- Accessibility – The first thing to consider is how accessible the location will be for servicing. You don’t want to have to move furniture or climb over obstacles every time the system needs maintenance, so choose a spot that is easily accessible.
- Aesthetics – Of course, you also want to consider how hiding the outdoor unit will impact the overall look of your home. For example, if you have a nice garden, you may want to hide the unit in a shed or garage where it will be out of sight and out of mind.
- Functionality – Another important consideration is how well the chosen location will actually work for hiding the mini split system. If you’re looking to tuck the unit away in a corner, make sure there’s enough clearance around it for air to circulate properly.
- Climate – In some cases, the climate can dictate where you ultimately hide your mini split system. For example, if you live in an area with very cold winters, hiding the unit in an unheated space like a crawlspace or attic could lead to problems with freezing.
A Recessed Niche above a Closet
One of the most popular locations for installing a ductless mini split is in a recessed niche above a closet. This allows you to take advantage of the space that would otherwise go unused, and it also helps to hide the indoor unit so that it is not an eyesore in your home.
However, you will need to make sure that there is enough space in the niche for the indoor unit. You should also make sure that the niche is not too close to any heat sources, such as a furnace or water heater. Once you have found the perfect location, you can begin the installation process.
Recessed in Kid’s Room
I like this because it is a simple idea that can reasonably be achieved in most rooms, and still manages to significantly hide the unit from view. It also has no obstructions in front of the unit, which maximizes airflow. A great option for all!
Recessed in Niche above Closet
Another simple idea to recess a mini-split unit is to recess it above a closet. Everyone has closets in their home, so this is a simple idea to hide the unit from view. However, access for maintenance could be hard for this option as there’s a closet in the technician’s way.
Recessed in Niche above Entryway
This is more of a custom option, with a specific niche being custom-built in a specific area specifically for the unit. This is the best option for maintenance and aesthetics, but it will require much more planning and is more expensive than the other options.
Why I Like this Location
I love locating mini split air handlers in a recessed niche above a closet for several reasons. First, it’s a great way to save space. Second, it allows for better airflow and circulation throughout the room. And third, it just looks nicer than having the unit sitting out in the open.
When it comes to saving space, a recessed niche is the way to go. It’s much more efficient than having the unit sit on the floor or on a shelf somewhere. And when it comes to airflow and circulation, there’s simply no better location because it’s high up.
The air handler can really get moving and circulate all that lovely cool air evenly throughout the room.
Lastly, an installation like this just looks nice. It’s much more aesthetically pleasing than having a big, bulky air handler sitting out in the open. And it can really help to tie the whole room together and make it look more put together. However, it is not as disguised as some of the other options on this list!
Build it into a Bookcase
If you’re looking for a way to incorporate a ductless mini split unit into your home discreetly, consider hiding it behind a bookcase. This can be an effective way to keep the unit out of sight while still allowing it to function properly.
When choosing a location for the bookcase, make sure it is close to an exterior wall so that the refrigerant lines can be easily connected. The bookcase should also be tall enough to cover the unit completely.
- Once you have selected the perfect spot, begin by removing the back panel of the bookcase. This will give you access to the unit’s interior so that you can make any necessary connections.
- Next, cut out a hole where the unit will be.
- Finally, replace the back panel of the bookcase and make sure it is securely in place. You may want to add some decorative trim around the unit to give it a more finished look.
Personally, I like how you can get creative with your bookcase and make it a statement piece, therefore turning an otherwise boring AC unit into an interesting addition to your décor!
Installed Behind Natural Wood Slats
Installing the indoor unit behind natural wood slats is a great way to almost completely hide the unit without affecting the airflow too much. The natural look will also complement a lot of different designs. However, there must be some way to get past the wood slats for maintenance.
Installed in Cabinetry at the Top
I think this is a great, simple way to integrate a unit into a bookcase without a complex design. My only concern would be that when a person is sitting at the desk, they will have cold or hot air blowing directly onto them, causing them to either much colder or hotter than the rest of the room before the unit is satisfied.
Behind a White Wooden Grate
This grate at the top of the bookcase does a great job of hiding the white indoor unit. It also looks like it hinges up to give access for maintenance. This simple idea can reasonably be worked into any bookcase and has amazing results!
Why I Like this
- It saves space: When you build a mini-split air handler into a bookcase, you’re essentially creating a built-in unit that takes up much less space than a standalone air conditioner. This is especially beneficial if you have limited space in your home or apartment.
- It’s more aesthetically pleasing: Let’s be honest – air conditioners can be pretty ugly. But when you build a mini-split air handler into a bookcase, it becomes a stylish and modern piece of furniture. It’s the perfect way to add a touch of class to your home décor.
Use an Old-Fashioned Radiator Cabinet
Not all indoor mini-split units are wall-mounted; some are floor-standing. If you have a floor-standing unit, you may want to consider hiding it in an old-fashioned radiator cabinet.
Radiator cabinets were once a common sight in many homes, especially older homes. They were used to hide unsightly radiators and often served as a piece of furniture in their own right.
Nowadays, radiator cabinets are not so common, but they can still be found in antique stores or online. If you are lucky enough to find one, it can make the perfect home for your mini-split unit.
Home Depot White Radiator Cover
This option from Home Depot is an off-the-shelf option for those that want to completely hide their floor standing unit. While the airflow looks like it could be restricted a little on this particular model, the idea for this white cover really does a great job of hiding the unit.
Custom AC and Radiator Covers
While this option will be much more expensive than the others on this list, you will get the best results, as the cover will be custom to your specific units and design. This is great if you want to spend a little more on the aesthetics of your systems.
Ornate Long White Radiator Cover
This is a typical design that you would see for pre-war buildings in New York, but the concept can absolutely be applied to a floor-standing mini-split unit. Some customization may be required for airflow and maintenance, but you can’t deny how finished it looks!
Why I Like this
There are many reasons that I like building a floor-standing mini-split air handler into an old-fashioned radiator cabinet. The first reason is that it gives the installation a much more polished and professional look.
It also eliminates the need for any sheet metal or other materials to be cut to size, saving time and money. Another advantage is that this configuration allows for easier access to the air handler unit for future maintenance or repairs.
The variety of designs that you can go for really ensures that your final product will be unique. It also means that you can perfectly match the style of your home’s interior.
If you want a more modern look, you could install a sleek and shiny air handler into a glossy white radiator cabinet. On the other hand, if you want something with a vintage feel, you could opt for an antique-style cabinet in a dark wood finish.
Drop it in a Soffit
If you’re not keen on the idea of an exposed unit in your home, one option is to install the unit in a soffit.
A soffit is a horizontal or vertical architectural element which forms the underside of an overhang, arch, or lintel. They’re often decorative, but they can also serve a practical purpose by hiding ductwork, wiring, or other unsightly elements.
When installed properly, a soffit can provide an effective way to hide a ductless mini-split unit while still allowing for proper airflow. Plus, it is quite simple to drop a soffit pretty much anywhere, so it gives you great flexibility, in my experience.
Installing a ductless mini split in a soffit requires some careful planning and execution, but the results can be well worth the effort.
The most important consideration when installing a ductless mini split in a soffit is ensuring that there is sufficient clearance around the unit for proper airflow. Most ductless mini-split units require a clearance of at least four inches on all sides, so be sure to measure the space carefully before proceeding with the installation.
Integrated Into Soffit Behind White Slats
Hiding this unit in the soffit, and covering it with white slats renders it almost invisible. I love this because it is almost a seamless as central air while allowing for the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the mini-split unit.
Recessed Into Soffit with White Cover
This is a graceful way of not trying too hard to hide the unit completely but doing enough so that it doesn’t look like an eyesore. The bigger openings will also allow for maximized airflow and easier access.
Installed in Wood Soffit with Slats and Doors
I love this idea! This looks like a custom room separator that they have integrated an indoor unit into. While it may not be necessary for structure, it definitely looks the part and will give easy access to the unit for maintenance.
Why I Like this Location
I have seen air handlers installed in soffits many times, and I have to say it just looks so clean! By dropping the unit into the soffit, it essentially disappears and creates a much more polished appearance. It can make maintenance a little harder, especially if there are very high ceilings, and because usually space is quite limited in soffits.
Another great reason for choosing this installation option is that it helps to maximize airflow. When the unit is mounted in the soffit, there are no obstructions around it which allows air to flow more freely. This results in better cooling or heating performance as well as reduced energy costs.
Lastly, this option can also help to reduce noise levels. By having the air handler recessed into the soffit, it helps to muffle any sounds that it may make. This is especially beneficial if the unit is located near bedrooms or other areas where noise levels need to be kept to a minimum.
Recess it in the Ceiling
A popular option is to recess the unit into the ceiling, which can provide a number of benefits.
In addition to improving the look of the room, recessing a ductless mini split unit into the ceiling can also help improve the unit’s efficiency.
These units often need to be located in an area where they will receive plenty of airflow to function properly. When the unit is recessed into the ceiling, it can be better positioned to receive the airflow it needs.
Another advantage of recessing a ductless mini split unit into the ceiling is that it can help to reduce noise levels, just like when the unit is hidden in a soffit.
White Cassette Recessed into Ceiling with Grille
This is a typical installation for a ceiling cassette unit as a part of a mini-split system. The cassette unit has its own grille, which does a lot to hide it completely from view. This is a tried-and-true installation for a reason. It just works!
Custom White Grille for Ceiling Unit
This is similar to the last idea, but just with a custom grille installed instead of a generic grille. This can be used to fit in more with a home’s aesthetic and can even provide more access for maintenance.
White Ceiling Grille with Directional Slot
Another custom grille for specific applications. It provides more directionality for directing air.
Why I Like this Location
Keeping the “hidden” air handler theme, recessing the air handler into the ceiling gives much of the same benefits as the soffit does. By painting the air handler to match the ceiling, it becomes practically invisible.
This can be a good option for people who want to keep their home’s aesthetic appeal while still providing optimal cooling and heating.
This type of unit is known as a “cassette unit’, and it typically used in commercial applications. Still, if you have the space above your ceiling, not many installations will look cleaner!
The LG Art Cool
When it comes to finding a way to keep your ductless mini split unit hidden, the LG Art Cool may be just what you need. This unique product is designed to hide your ductless mini split unit behind a piece of artwork, allowing you to maintain the aesthetic of your home while still enjoying all of the benefits of having a ductless mini split unit.
The LG Art Cool is easy to install and comes with all of the necessary hardware to do so.
The LG Art Cool is a great way to keep your home looking its best while enjoying all of the benefits of having a ductless mini split unit. If you are looking for a way to improve the look of your home and save money on your energy bill, the LG Art Cool is the perfect solution. This might not be for everyone, but the people who like the LG Art Cool, LOVE it.
LG Art Cool with Custom Picture
I have always been a sucker for good design, and the LG Art Cool air handler is a perfect example of great aesthetics meeting top-notch function. The sleek, modern design of the air handler is visually appealing and extremely efficient in terms of cooling your home or office space.
The compact size of the LG Art Cool air handler makes it perfect for use in smaller spaces, and the fact that it can be mounted on the wall means that it takes up even less space than traditional air handlers.
Additionally, the lack of visible coils and moving parts gives the air handler a streamlined look that complements any décor. Just pick your favorite piece of art, and you now have a new art piece to decorate the room with!
Install it above the Refrigerator
Another option to discreetly install your ductless mini split unit is to put it above the refrigerator. This can be a great way to save space and keep your unit out of sight.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Check that there’s enough clearance above the fridge for the mini split to be installed without blocking any vents or airflow.
- Keep in mind that the noise level from the mini split may be amplified when it’s installed above a fridge, so consider using sound-dampening material to help reduce noise.
- If possible, try to install the mini split unit in an area where there’s good ventilation to help prevent any condensation build-up on the fridge.
- Be sure to follow all manufacturer instructions carefully when installing the mini split unit to avoid any damage.
Small Unit Installed Over Fridge with No Cover
This is as simple as installing an indoor unit over a refrigerator gets. The cabinet directly over the fridge is used to house the unit, which means this setup can be used in pretty much any home! I love this because it’s a simple look, a simple installation, and a cover can always be installed in the future for more subtlety.
Installed Over Fridge with Opening Doors
This is basically the last option with doors installed on the cabinet. However, these doors are not vented, so they will have to be opened when the unit is on. While I like the idea, I think there are better door designs out there that are specifically designed for this use.
Installed Over Fridge Covered by Wood Slats
This is an example of a custom cabinet cover that does a great job of hiding the unit, and having enough airflow to allow the unit to work properly. I love this design. It looks so sleek!
Why I Like this
Installing a mini-split air handler above a refrigerator gives many of the same benefits as either installing it in a recessed niche above a closet or in a soffit. By putting the air handler in this high location, you can take advantage of the space that would otherwise go unused.
Not only does this give you more space to work within your kitchen, but it also helps to keep the air handler out of the way and makes it less likely to be damaged.
Another reason why I like installing a mini-split air handler above a refrigerator because it allows me to customize the look of my kitchen. By having the air handler in this location, I can choose various styles and colors that will match my kitchen’s décor. Additionally, I can also add features such as LED lights or a built-in timer to further personalize my kitchen.
Put it in the Corner
One of the easiest ways to hide a ductless mini split is by putting it in a corner. This way, the unit will be out of sight and won’t be a focal point in the room. You can also use furniture or other objects to help camouflage the unit.
There are also plenty of options for making it blend in with its surroundings. One option is to choose a unit that has a white finish. This will help it blend in with most walls and ceilings. Another option is to get a decal or wrap for the unit.
This can help it match with the surrounding décor. Even paintable options are available to match the unit to the exact color of your walls.
Black Unit in Corner of Loft Living Room
This is an example of how a custom unit can even further the design of a room, especially if is an industrial look like this. The high ceilings will allow great air circulation. No need to hide the unit when it looks as cool as this!
Unit In Corner of Modern Living Room
Like the last option, the unit could be a different color here to take away from how big it looks over the TV. What I do like is the little shelf below the unit to make it look more at home in the corner, and not sure sticking out like a sore thumb.
Why I Like this
If none of the more involved options above are possible, then installing the air handler in the corner of the room can be a good option just to take it as far out of your line of sight as possible. This can help reduce the room’s visual impact and make it feel more open.
Additionally, if there are any windows in the room, putting the air handler in the corner can help to maximize their effectiveness. By having the air handler in the corner, you’ll also be able to take advantage of any natural airflow that might be occurring.
Question: Can I Hide My Mini-split System Behind a Piece of Furniture?
Answer: Yes, you can hide your mini-split system behind a piece of furniture. You will want to make sure that there is enough clearance around the mini-split system so that it can properly circulate air.
The general rule of thumb is to allow at least six inches of clearance on all sides of the unit. This will ensure that air can circulate freely and that the unit doesn’t overheat.
It’s also a good idea to leave a few inches of space between the floor and the bottom of the furniture piece to prevent dirt and debris from accumulating on the unit.
Question: Can I Put a Cover Over My Mini-split System?
Answer: Yes, you can put a cover over your mini-split system. There are a few things to keep in mind when doing so, however. Make sure the cover is made of breathable material so the unit can properly ventilate. Also, be sure to leave enough clearance around the unit so that air can circulate and the compressor doesn’t overheat.
Question: Can I Install My Mini-split System Myself?
Answer: Installing a mini-split system is not a project for amateurs or do-it-yourselfers. In addition to requiring special training and knowledge, the job also requires specialized tools and equipment.
Even if you are an experienced handyman or contractor, I recommend that you hire a trained and certified professional to install your mini-split system.
Question: How Do I Know if My Mini-split System is Properly Sized?
Answer: There are a few different ways to do this.
One way is to use a load calculation worksheet. This takes into account the square footage of your home, the number of windows and doors, the insulation values of your walls and ceiling, and other factors. Once you have this information, you can plug it into a load calculation tool to find out what size system you need.
Another way to size a mini split is to look at the manufacturer’s sizing chart. This will give you a rough idea of what size system you need based on the square footage of your room or home.
Remember, these are just estimates. The only way to know for sure what size system you need is to have a professional come out and do a load calculation. This is the most accurate way to determine the proper size system for your home.
Question: What are Some Common Issues with Mini-split Systems?
Answer: One of the most common problems is improper installation. This can lead to several issues, such as leaks, inefficient cooling or heating, and even system failure.
Another common issue is poor maintenance. Like any other HVAC system, mini-splits need to be properly maintained to function properly. This means regular cleaning and servicing by a qualified technician.
Finally, mini-splits can also be subject to wear and tear over time. This is especially true if they’re not used frequently or if they’re not installed correctly. If you notice any unusual noises or decreased performance from your system, it’s important to have it checked out by a professional.
No matter how you choose to hide your ductless mini split, it’s important to make sure that there’s enough clearance around it. This will help ensure that it doesn’t get blocked by furniture or other objects. It will also help keep the unit from being constantly bumped into if it’s a floor-standing unit.
Mini-split systems are becoming more and more popular in the United States. They offer homeowners a variety of benefits, including energy efficiency, zoning capabilities, and flexibility in where they’re installed.
I hope these tips help you make the best decision for your home. Have you decided on a mini split yet?