Choose the best Portable bike pump. Electric mini bike pump

Choose the best Portable bike pump

Not sure what is the best Portable bike pump for you or even if you really need a Portable mini bike pump? Do you have one of those friends who is always prepared? The one who never has to scramble for a phone charger or an umbrella because they came prepared for everything? Well, today I’m going to let you in on their secret: portable mini bike pumps. These little devices can be life-savers when you’re out on a ride and find yourself with a flat tire. Not only are they easy to use, but they’re also small and lightweight so you can take them with you wherever you go. Keep reading to learn more about the best mini bike pumps on the market!

choose, best, portable, bike, pump
  • What bike pump should you buy?
  • What to look for in a bike pump as a road cyclists
  • Best portable bike pump for mountain bike
  • Mini bike pump for fat bike
  • Bike pump for a bike race
  • Best mini pump for gravel bike
  • Pressure Gauge
  • Size weight
  • Ease of use and time to pump your flat tire.
  • Pro Bike Tool – Mini Bike Pump
  • Dexpole Electric Bike Pump
  • CO2 Inflator with Cartridge Storage Canister from Pro Bike tool

What bike pump should you buy?

Even if you buy the best or most expansive, it might not be the right one for you? There are lot of option to fit different type of cycling. Since a lot of us are doing more than more type, we often need to make compromise. Here are some of the things to look out for depending of the type of cycling you do.

What to look for in a bike pump as a road cyclists

For the road cyclists, an option that is light weight will often do the trick since you are trying to be the lightest possible. The size will also count since we often put these devices in our back on our jersey. The size of your pump will also affect your aerodynamic drag.

A lot of riders will choose a CO2 inflator for these reasons.

Best portable bike pump for mountain bike

For a mountain biker, you will need an option that will never let you down. A device that you can count on when you are 30km deep in the woods alone. For this reason, the CO2 inflator is not the best option since it is a one use only. If you decide to use these, make sure to buy the right size for you tire. ( details here) On a mountain bike ride, a lot of us like to bring a backpack which allow you to bring larger items like a good hand bike pump.

Mini bike pump for fat bike

When riding a fat bike, you will often be lightly dress not to get to hot even though it’s cold outside. Therefore, you don’t want to get stuck in the trails because of a flat tire. This happens to me with a rental fat bike, and it wasn’t funny walking back to the shop 5km in.20 temperature… So, you will need a fast solution that will work. A hand pump is a good option but be careful. Some smaller pump need assembly before using them and with cold fingers, this might be a bit hard and frustrating.

A CO2 inflator could be a good idea but make sure to have the right sizing of cartridge. Fat bike tires are enormous, so of course you will need more air. Another great option on a fat bike is an electric bicycle pump. Since you need to play a lot with you tire pressure depending on the surface you are riding on, you will often need to add or remove air from your tires. These electric inflators often include a pressure gauge which is useful on a fat!

Bike pump for a bike race

In a bike race, for sure, you never want to get a flat tire… But, when you do, you need to change it as fast as you possibly can! You will also want to be the lightest and the more aerodynamic possible, therefore, Co2 inflator is clearly the best solution in a race situation.

Best mini pump for gravel bike

Gravel bike ride are usually done in remote areas where you might not always have cell reception. Therefore, you do not want to get stuck far from you starting point. Make sure to have a device that will do the job. Co2 cartridge can do the trick but make sure to have more than one just in case.

Cycling Hand pump

This type of pump has been on the market for years now. Back in the days, they were 3 feet long. Nowadays, as the technology grows, they are smaller, lighter, and more effective than ever. Some brands like Lezyne or Crankbrothers are now known for these small devices.

Having a small pump is great because of the lighter weight and the fact they are less likely to cause an aerodynamic drag.

The downside of having a small pump is that you only get a short travel to pump. Therefore, it will take longer for you to build the pressure you want in your tire. Again, because of that short travel when pumping, you might have some difficulty to get to the high pressure that requires a road bike tire… Just think about it as an upper body training!

This type of pump might be a bit more expensive than a CO2 inflator system but, you will have it for a long time!

CO 2 inflators

The Co2 system are fast and easy to use. It is a can filled with pressurized carbon dioxide gas (Co2) that is sealed until you use it. They come in a few different sizes(12g, 16g, 20g 25g) depending on the size of the tire to refill. (Road bike VS 29er or even fat bikes)

There are also a lot of accessories like different types of nozzles. You will find some cartridges with a sleeve or aluminium cover. This is not a branding purpose. When using your cartridge, it will get really REALLY cold. With this sleeve on, you will be able to keep it on your tire valve.

The Co2 Cartridge are single use only. Usually, when using them you will need all of it to recharge your tire to an approximatively good pressure. Even if there would be some CO2 left in the cartridge, it would empty itself within a few hours.

When using this type of inflator system, you usually buy a few of them that you can keep home a refill your saddle bag when needed.

Since you need to buy new cartridge every time you get a flat tire, it will get expensive over time. This might be a price you are willing to pay because of its compact size and light weight!

Electric bike pump

With technology bringing everything smaller and smaller, it is now possible to bring an electric bike pump with you on your ride! This system is faster and easier to use than a hand pump. You will be able to use it more than once compared to the Co2 Inflator.

Of course, there are a few cons… Electric means you need to have charged batteries. Even though these devices are getting smaller and lighter, the hand pump and the co2 inflator will often win in this category.

Features to look for when buying a portable bike pump

Pressure Gauge

Depending on the type of cycling you do, it might become necessary to know at what pressure your pump your tires after a flat. In a mountain or fat bike ride, you will need to adapt your tire pressure based on the type of terrain you ride on. In these situations, you would benefit in having a pressure indicator on you pump.

Size weight

If you have an e-bike or you always ride with a backpack, this might not be such a big deal. But if you like to be the lightest and most aerodynamic possible, the size and weight of your pump will be something to look out for.

Ease of use and time to pump your flat tire.

Are you a racer? If so, you need the fasted system to get air in your tire. You can’t afford to lose 2 minutes to assemble your pump before starting to pump. A fast delivery is a must! See more details about the best pump for a bike racer

Same thing if you are often riding in bad conditions. I’m talking about gravel biker, mountain bikers and fat bikers that often take the crazy weather as a challenge. Don’t get me wrong, I think exactly like you do BUT, when you get a flat tires 5k in the woods at.20, the “challenge” is over. You want to get it fixed ASAP not to freeze out there.

If you only ride for fun when the temperature is perfect outside, you might want to consider a system that takes a bit more time like an electric pump. You will actually have a bit of time to eat and drink while your tire is getting inflated

Buying guide for bike pump

Pro Bike Tool – Mini Bike Pump

This small hand pump will allow you to pump up to 120 Psi in your tires. The flexible air hose is stored inside the pump to reduce the size when not using it. Its size is 8.75 inches long and weighing in at only 4.5oz. The material used is Aluminum.

Size : 22.8 x 7 x 3 cm;

Weight : 127.57 Grams

Bonus, this pump has an integrated pressure gauge integrated on the flexible hose.

choose, best, portable, bike, pump

Dexpole Electric Bike Pump

This electric device can be used to pump your tires up to 7 times with the same charge. The maximum pressure is 150 PSI. With the Auto mode, you can preset a pressure that you want it to stop at. The small light on top of the pump can be useful at night but the possibility to use it as a USB batterie is awesome!

Size : ‎18.01 x 9.8 x 4.9 cm;

Weight : 572 Grams

CO2 Inflator with Cartridge Storage Canister from Pro Bike tool

As we touched on earlier, a container around your Co2 cartridge will help you hold still while getting air in your tires. The Cartridge gets really cold!

The valve will allow you to stop the flow so you can check the pressure. without this little feature, the air simply goes away so you can’t really know your tire pressure before stopping…

You can fit 12g or 16g cartridge in the pump.

The canister body is made of an aluminum alloy. It is CNC machined so precise.

A grey and red version is also available.

Size : 12 x 5 x 2.7 cm‎

Weight : 55g

For more products from Pro Bike Tool visit their Amazon Store Here

Picking the best portable bike pump is not an easy task. There are so many to choose from and each one has its positives and negatives. Some pumps will inflate faster than others, some can be used for more types of tires like car tires. The thing that I recommend most often when people ask me about this topic though is asking yourself what you need it for before buying anything! If you want something small to take on your commute then go with a mini-pump; if you’re looking for something fast to use in a race, get a CO2 inflator system. Then, if you want the best pump without the need for it to be small and light, an electric pump is what you need!

What would be the best pump for you? Even if it doesn’t exist yet, let us know if the Комментарии и мнения владельцев below!

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ

There are a lot of different types of portable pumps. For a lot of these, it’s pretty simple. 1) Assemble your pump2) Pump to inflate the tire3) Check the pressure to make sure you don’t put to much air in your tire. (You can find the maximum air pressure you can add written on the side of your tires). 4) Once you are done, don’t forget to put the cap on the valve so it doesn’t get damaged. Here is a quick video of how to use the Lezyne Pumps

Yes! Depending on the type of pump you are using, you could inflate too much your tires. At some point, the tube will simple let go. With a portable bike pump, once you get high in PSI, it will get pretty difficult to pump. At this point, this is a good indicator to check your pressure.

The short answer is yes, but! These pump are used to add a lot of air in big tires. Your bike tires is way smaller than a car tire. It will then be way faster to refill. Check you pressure often! Depending on the type of valve your tube has, it might not be compatible with standard car pump. There are small adapters that can be used to let you pump your presta tire tube with a Schrader valve. Check these out on Amazon :

Fumpa electric pump review

Australian-based company Fumpa’s Smart idea is a self-contained lithium polymer battery-powered compressor that’s ideal for travel.

I’ve put it into service when out riding my gravel bike. At 42 x 74 x 87mm it easily fits into a rear jersey. and at 379g it’s not exactly heavy either.

Fumpa also offers a mini-version for £109, which is even easier to carry when riding.

The unit itself is very well put together with a solid anodised alloy body (and matching valve head). The unit has a digital gauge built-in that reads in psi, kPa or bar, and the screen also shows battery level when you turn it on.

Operation is simple: push-fit the valve head (Presta only), press the button and the compressor simply jumps into action, it’s pretty loud but efficient with it, inflating a 25c clincher tyre to 88psi in 24.6 seconds and a big 47c 650b tubeless gravel tyre to 45psi in 24.3 seconds. It can achieve a max of 120psi.

The Fumpa Pump is effortless to use, and I even found its flow rate was enough to seat a tubeless tyre that had ‘burped’ off the rim when out on a gravel ride and fully deflated.

The pump’s gauge is reasonably accurate, though it generally errs on reading lower than the actual psi. On the gravel tyre a reading of 55psi was, in fact, 61 psi (using a PRO Digital gauge to check).

The pump is charged via a micro-USB cable (550mA) and charging takes close to three-and-a-half hours to fully charge. However, the red charge light doesn’t go off or change when fully charged, which is something I’d like to see.

A fully charged unit was good for 10 inflations from zero to 95psi on a 25c tyre. The reason this little pump packs so much punch is because inside is a 12-volt motor.

The downside of this Smart little unit is the price: £149 will buy a top-end track pump.

In its favour, when travelling it’s more convenient and off the beaten track it’s superb for big-volume tubeless tyres where a mini-pump falters, or you empty C02 cartridges quickly.

Fumpa also says that the battery is replaceable and it claims up to six years’ use out of a single battery.

Fumpa pump details

The unit itself is very well put together with a solid anodised alloy body Dave Caudery / Immediate Media

  • Hose: The short hose has an anodised alloy, elbow-shaped head that push-fits onto a Presta valve
  • Info technology: The LED screen shows battery level on switch-on, and the pressure in psi, bar or kPa
  • Energy stored: A lithium polymer battery runs a powerful 12v brushless motor

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Warren Rossiter

Warren Rossiter is BikeRadar and Cycling Plus magazine’s senior technical editor for road and gravel. Having been testing bikes for more than 20 years, Warren has an encyclopedic knowledge of road cycling and has been the mastermind behind our Road Bike of the Year test for more than a decade. He’s also a regular presenter on the BikeRadar Podcast and on BikeRadar’s YouTube channel. In his time as a cycling journalist, Warren has written for Mountain Biking UK, What Mountain Bike, Urban Cyclist, Procycling, Cyclingnews, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike and T3. Over the years, Warren has written about thousands of bikes and tested more than 2,500 – from budget road bikes to five-figure superbikes. He has covered all the major innovations in cycling this century, and reported from launches, trade shows and industry events in Europe, Asia, Australia, North American and Africa. While Warren loves fast road bikes and the latest gravel bikes, he also believes electric bikes are the future of transport. You’ll regularly find him commuting on an ebike and he longs for the day when everyone else follows suit. You will find snaps of Warren’s daily rides on the Instagram account of our sister publication, Cycling Plus (@cyclingplus).

Mini Bike Pump

Anti-slip collapsible pedal, foldable footrests: The concavo-convex design makes the Presta Schrader valve bike pump more stable with no slip to inflate.

Aluminum alloy inner and outer barrel: Made of high-strength Aluminium alloy, the floor bicycle tire pump is more durable and wear-resisting.

Addmotor Mini Bike Pump with Pressure Gauge

This bike pump with a large pressure gauge can be compressible and folded, so it will be easy to carry and store. Iron material let this pump solid and durable, and will be safe for you. Compere with the normal bike pump, the parts of the extra gas needle and valve are added in one box, it will be easy to carry.

Vertical Foot Activated Pump

Aluminum alloy inner and outer barrel. labor-saving and hand-free.

Anti-Slip Foot Pad

Concave-convex-designed plastic foot pads make the pumping process more stable and less slippery.

Thickened Non-Lip Base

Widen base will be more stable when pumping. Have room to let you store the Needle and Nozzle.

The Best Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner

A mini-split is an efficient, scalable way to add cooling or heating to specific rooms of a home.

Also known as ductless mini-split air conditioners and heaters, they consist of one or more wall, floor, or ceiling-mounted indoor units connected to an outdoor compressor.

They’re easier to install than a full ducted system, more efficient than window units or central HVAC, and they often make sense as a supplement to your existing heating and cooling equipment—giving a boost to an isolated area of your home.

Add in thermostat-like controls alongside Smart-home integration and mini-splits start to sound pretty great—but they aren’t cheap, with installation costs that can reach into the five figures. (Many local utility companies offer rebates to offset some of that.)

The exact mini-split equipment you need depends on your home’s unique heating and cooling requirements, and your options are limited to the qualified installers in your area—but we’ve researched this topic enough to be able to tell you about the scenarios when mini-split systems make sense and how to decide among the brands available. We asked installers, manufacturers, and homeowners who have mini-split systems to tell us what anyone considering one would need to know.

Who should get this

If you want to cool or heat specific rooms with better efficiency and less clutter than window ACs and space heaters—and less complexity than central HVAC—consider a mini-split system. Central HVAC usually forces air through several rooms—or the entire house—often heating or cooling rooms that aren’t even being used. “If you turn the water faucet on in the kitchen and every other water faucet turned on throughout the house. how efficient is that? That’s what central systems do,” says Mike Smith, senior marketing manager of Mitsubishi Electric, one of the prominent mini-split brands sold in North America.

Some, but not all, mini-splits are also heat pumps; this refers to a different method of moving heat in and out of a room. Conversely, some but not all heat pumps are also available as mini-splits. For this guide, we’re focusing on mini-splits more broadly, regardless of whether they’re heat pumps or cooling-only units. If you’re specifically interested in heat pumps, we have a guide for that, too.

Pros of a mini-split system

Mini-splits are popular as retrofits into existing construction, for a reason that also happens to be another big source of their efficiency: They don’t require costly duct work. This means they’re much easier to install than a traditional ducted HVAC system, and they can deliver more of the conditioned air they produce, too. According to Tim De Stasio, president of Southern Comfort Consulting and Service of Greensboro, North Carolina, “ductwork loses heat, especially in attics, and here in the South our attics can get up to 150 degrees.” This is not to say installation is simple, however.

Another appealing factor about a mini-split is a lot of flexibility in sizing the system to your needs. The system consists of two types of units: one outdoor condenser and the individually controlled air-delivering indoor units, which you have at least one of (or, maybe, four). These connect by a refrigerant line and a drain line. The indoor units vary in size based on what the room needs, and they’re typically mounted high on a room’s wall and are about the size of a long duffel bag. Some indoor units can also be mounted on the floor or recessed into a ceiling. The ceiling units are more discreet, but they require a much more invasive installation. The outdoor unit can be as small as a piece of luggage, but the more indoor units you have, the larger the outdoor unit needs to be to support them. “If you want to take care of more rooms in the future, you just leave a little extra capacity on the outdoor unit,” Smith said.

Mini-splits offer a lot of control, too, beyond their ability to be programmed like a regular thermostat. The best models can sense when someone is in the room (or not) and adjust the temperature accordingly, and then they can direct the air either away from you or toward you based on your preferences. Most models include a wireless remote and/or a wireless wall-mounted controller, and many can be controlled via Smart phone or be integrated into a larger system like Nest or Alexa. We’ve tested a few standalone devices that act as thermostats for the individual rooms where the indoor units live.

Where mini-splits work well

Mini-splits can work as a small space’s primary system in a mild climate, but more often they’re ideal for rooms that don’t already have a heating and cooling system—like an addition, finished basement, attic bonus room, or a garage workshop. They can also add air conditioning to a high traffic area like a kitchen or living room, or even a room where you just might want a little extra temperature control like a nursery. For some homes, a couple of well-placed indoor units can handle the heating and cooling needs for most of the year.

Mini-splits also make sense in rooms that are off-kilter from the rest of the home’s heating system. De Stasio mentioned sunrooms, which are “pretty much glass ovens” that heat up and cool down much faster than the rest of the house. “The thermostat in the hallway 30 feet away has no idea that it’s 85 degrees in the sunroom.” A mini-split will allow you to condition that sunroom separately from the rest of the home.

choose, best, portable, bike, pump

For some homes, a couple of well-placed indoor units can handle the heating and cooling needs for most of the year.

Why not just get a window unit or portable AC?

All these advantages of a mini-split add up to increased comfort, especially when compared to the (much more affordable) options for treating single rooms: window air conditioners and portable ACs. For one, mini-splits are much quieter. With the system split between an indoor and outdoor unit, the only noise in the room is the fan needed to move air. There is none of the loud compressor hum that is typical of a window unit. In addition, most quality mini-split systems, much like the best whole-house systems, use variable-speed motors in their compressors. De Stasio explained, “On a mild day, a mini-split will actually run on a slower speed than on a hot day and save you energy, where a window unit will just come on and off on and off.” (There are some window ACs that use variable-speed compressors, including our top pick, but those models are typically harder to come by.) He added that this constant cycling of the window unit “consume[s] a massive amount of energy.” He explained: “Think of it like trying to push a car from a dead stop to 5 mph versus pushing it as it’s already rolling forward. Which one requires more energy? The variable speed motors in a mini-split are never at a dead stop.”

Another downside to window units, De Stasio said, is that “every time that air conditioner shuts off and stays off for 20 minutes, you’re not doing any kind of dehumidification.” Since the mini-splits variable speed can dial down to near zero once the target temperature is reached, it’s actually at its most efficient when you leave it at the setting you find comfortable—win-win.

Beyond variable speed, a mini-split is comparably more efficient than a window unit due to its different construction. Mitsubishi Electric’s Smith explained that within the housing of the window AC are the same two components of a mini-split—the evaporator and a condenser. “Those two components of that system are separated by a very thin wall, and that thin wall is not doing a great job of keeping heat energy out.” With a mini-split, he said, the two components are “now separated by your insulated wall.”

The way a mini-split disperses air is better than a window unit or a portable AC. Smith explained, “When you’re trying to blow cool air into a hot room, the cool air will fall, so a window unit has a tougher time driving that cool air across the room because of the position of the window.” A mini-split is typically mounted high on a wall or even in a ceiling, giving it a much better throw of that cool air, with the ability to disperse it in a sweeping motion from side to side, up and down, or even directed towards a wall, if you want some circulation without a direct blast of air.

Last, a mini-split doesn’t occupy a room’s electrical outlet or affect the function of your Windows. A window AC completely blocks a good chunk of the window, obviously. And even a portable AC hogs its share of the window space by requiring the window to stay shut tight against the vent hose hardware that every portable AC uses to dump heat outside.

Cons of a mini-split system

Mini-splits are never cheap. De Stasio told us a typical single-unit install costs roughly 3,000-5,000, but if you’re looking to create a whole-house system—which needs multiple indoor units and a larger outdoor unit to support them—it can start getting cost-prohibitive. In 2017, a friend in Los Angeles installed a one-zone Mitsubishi Electric system with a single indoor unit for a total installed cost of about 4,500. In 2019, a friend in Hawaii installed a Mitsubishi Electric system with four indoor units (of three varying sizes) and a 42,000 btu, 5-zone outdoor unit to serve his entire house. The total cost came in just under 17,000. That’s a lot, but it may still come in under the cost of a comparable ducted system; on the other hand, the best window units and portables range from about 200 to 700 apiece.

You also have to commit to a location with the indoor units, and there’s no moving them around, like with window air conditioners or portable ACs. Ideally, the pipes go through the wall directly behind the unit, where they’re hidden. Depending on how the wall is constructed, this may cause the unit to be off-center on the wall, which you may not want. One mini-split owner we spoke to said that he wished he had understood this better. “In our bedroom, the unit is a little closer to the side wall than I’d like because they couldn’t access the coupling without putting the unit where it is.” The other option in this situation is to have the pipes do a short run along the interior wall before going through it, but, as he said, “Generally, the units look best when the punch-through is hidden behind the unit rather than to the left or right of the unit.”

Even in the perfect location, mini-split indoor units take up a chunk of wall space and they’re not the most attractive things in the world, as we heard separately from two friends who recently installed them. It’s basically a boxy rectangle, or, as one owner put it, “a big stupid plastic giant lunchbox thing on your wall.” Some manufacturers offer a variety of colors, at least, and LG seems to be hearing these complaints with models like their Art Cool Mirror line. Another option is to get units that recess into the ceiling. But a ceiling installation will likely be more expensive and invasive.

Mini-splits can also struggle in extreme temperatures. According to Mitsubishi Electric, their best systems can operate at 100 percent capacity all the way down to an exterior temperature of about 5 degrees and will keep working in conditions as cold as negative 13 degrees. Still, it’s something to consider when setting up a system for your home.

A related (more avoidable) downside is winding up with a system that feels undersized for your needs, even in less extreme weather, which happened to our LA friend. To play it safe, an installer might suggest going with a bigger outdoor unit, which has the flexibility to serve multiple indoor units. But the costs add up fast, and it can be tempting to try to get by with the minimum equipment possible. That may backfire if the system is underpowered. “I have to run the heat at 90 degrees for it to feel comfortable,” she says. “And then I have to run it all day.” On the bright side, she says, “the A/C works great.”

Last, mini-splits are nice in that they are all electric (and require no additional fuel or gas service, like with some traditional HVAC systems), but their electrical requirements are considerable. The 5-zone unit our Hawaii friend installed required a dedicated 40 A breaker for its 230-volt service, and his installation crew used a licensed electrical sub-contractor for the work, adding cost.

How we’d pick a brand

We found four leading brands in our research: Mitsubishi Electric, Fujitsu, LG, Daikin, and Panasonic (and a handful of smaller names, like Mirage). You probably don’t have a ton of choice on which exact pieces of equipment you need—that’s determined mostly by your home’s size, climate, and the heating and cooling needs you’re addressing. But you do have a choice to make on what brand you go with, and in a big market, you can take your pick among qualified installers recommended by each of those four manufacturers. We evaluated the options by looking broadly at the characteristics common to the brands as a whole—comparing things like warranty, aesthetic options, Smart features, and other factors that would make a meaningful impact if we were shopping for ourselves. Here’s an overview by brand, in the order in which we would begin our search locally.

Mitsubishi Electric stands out in this field, for starters, by being among the most common and popular options available in North American markets.

That translates to a larger pool of service technicians to choose from, better availability of more models, higher likelihood you’ll be able to design a system to fit your needs exactly, and potentially faster service for troubleshooting or repairs. They also have a reputation for durability.

“I can count on one hand how many replacement parts I’ve had to put on a Mitsubishi mini-split system,” De Stasio said. “There are other brands where I can’t say that.”

If something does go wrong, Mitsubishi Electric’s limited 12-year parts warranty is among the best, and the brand’s popularity means lots of local utilities offer rebates.

In Mitsubishi Electric’s brochure (PDF), you’ll find fairly limited aesthetic options for wall units, although matte silver and black wall unit finishes are available, and you can also consider ceiling mounts, floor mounts, or other special configurations.

Mitsubishi Electric runs its Smart features off a proprietary app, Kumo Cloud, which controls multiple zones via a clean-looking interface. The app initially picked up a lot of negative reviews when it launched in 2017. Several years later, it works mostly as expected, though it still suffers from the occasional glitching (like a lot of Smart home tech). We also didn’t like the fact that you can’t install the software yourself, and need to bring in a licensed Mitsubishi tech to set up the remote. But if that’s all part of your new installation process, it could be all right.

LG is another big company that has advantages similar to Mitsubishi due to the company’s size, stability, and market saturation. You can find qualified LG installers in many metropolitan areas. Depending on the equipment involved, LG’s warranty can last up to 12 years, similar to Mitsubishi Electric’s, and LG’s local utility rebates vary by city, but they often cover at least some relevant mini-split equipment. LG’s catalog shows lots of aesthetic options on finishes for the wall units, and LG’s SmartThinQ app offers system-wide controls and reliable functionality. The app can potentially benefit some folks by also controlling other LG Smart appliances at home, which would be convenient—and, to LG’s credit, after watching a lot of appliance makers’ apps have their ups and downs over the years, SmartThinQ’s roughly 4.0-star average across more than 30,000 reviews is definitely above average for the category.

Daikin is another worldwide company that offers a large selection of units. They have a wide ranging network of installers and, like Mitsubishi and LG, a 12-year warranty for many of their products. The company offers many rebates as well as multiple control options.

Daikin and Fujitsu are fine alternatives to Mitsubishi Electric and LG. These may be lesser-known brands, but they both have wide-ranging networks of installers in most North American markets. The Fujitsu and Daikin warranties can last up to 12 years and both companies offer plenty of rebates. and local utilities offer rebates for lots of Fujitsu equipment, both in mini-split and conventional AC machinery. A minor reason we’d look to Mitsubishi Electric or LG first is that Daikin and Fujitsu offer relatively narrow choices on the look of the wall units, but fortunately, the various combinations of the system’s equipment still offer enough flexibility performance-wise to meet most homes’ needs. Daikin and Fujitsu offer similar Smart-home functions to its competitors.

Panasonic shares the advantage of being a stable, global brand, but it has disadvantages relative to its other mainstream North American competitors. Panasonic’s shorter warranty (PDF) maxes out at 7 years, and there are fewer aesthetic options in Panasonic’s air-conditioning and heat-pump product catalog. There are qualified Panasonic installers scattered throughout major North American markets. Panasonic’s catalog covers the basics, and it places less emphasis on Smart capability than the competitors, referring to “internet control” of its devices. (We’re not seeing any apps meant to do this.)

There are other manufacturers out there, but we can’t really imagine bypassing these four options for a niche brand with weaker availability, selection, and customer support.

How we’d pick an installer

Who you hire to install a mini-split system is as critical and difficult a decision as choosing the equipment itself. The machinery’s performance shouldn’t vary much, and defective units will be covered by warranty—but the commitment you make to an installer will determine how well the mini-split system functions in your space. A good HVAC firm will know what equipment to use—especially for tricky jobs that require some expertise and experience to design around—and the technical skill the pros bring to the installation will affect its initial performance as well as whatever service calls you make over the years. No pressure!

It is technically possible to install a mini-split yourself—how-to videos on This Old House look straightforward enough, and there’s a forum full of Reddit homeowners who say they’ve done it—but self-installation is probably not worth the risk. For one thing, even a perfect DIY installation may void the unit’s warranty, exposing thousands of dollars of equipment to the risk of not being covered on a legitimate claim. Beyond that, De Stasio told us, “There is so much that can go wrong if it’s not professionally installed. Your typical homeowner does not have the tools to do it or the instrumentation to take the measurements to know that it’s been done right.” Getting the right size unit is not as simple as calculating the area of a room, for example. “A 400 square foot room in New Hampshire requires a different amount of heating and air conditioning than a 400 square foot room in Florida.” A good HVAC installer will do a proper heat load calculation, which means, as explained by Todd Washam, director of industry and internal relations at The Air Conditioning Contractors of America, they “measure the Windows, the tree overhangs for the shading, the pitch of your roof, the square footage, what type of floors, and the insulation in your attic and walls.”

There are companies, like Mr. Cool, that offer models that are marketed for DIY installation. These units are less expensive, but the installation process is not for the beginner, or even intermediate DIYer. It involves electrical work, plumbing, checking for refrigerant leaks, and drilling a 3½.inch hole through the side of your house (and another one for the electrical line). This is not something that most people want to undertake just to save a couple thousand dollars. And after all of that, the warranty is shorter than the one provided by companies like Mitsubishi and LG. These DIY models are certainly an option, but not one to be taken on without carefully considering what you might be getting yourself into.

To give yourself a good chance at a satisfying mini-split installation, here’s how we’d approach the contractor hiring process for this job:

Ask locals who they used: If a mini-split makes good sense for your house, you’re probably not alone in your area. Start by asking homeowners in your community for recommendations for (or warnings against) local HVAC firms.

Seek mini-split experience: Seek some confirmation—photos of previous jobs, customer testimonials, Yelp reviews—that this crew has done a few mini-split installations before and their work has satisfied others. Equipment manufacturers can give you a bit of a head start: You can search for a qualified contractor in your area at the sites of Mitsubishi Electric, Fujitsu, Panasonic, LG, and other makers.

Set up a site visit and interview: For no charge, your prospective installer should come over, walk the property, talk about your needs, and discuss the equipment options available. Take notes on any models or sizes suggested, so you can do your own pricing research independently afterward. Ask detailed questions—could you potentially add another indoor unit in the future? Will this indoor unit adequately serve the entire space it’s meant for? Do they offer an ongoing service plan? Will the work be inspected? What kind of warranty does the contractor offer on the labor (independent of the manufacturer’s warranty)? Satisfy yourself that the installer understands the nuances of your space and the way the equipment can be configured to address your needs. This job requires engineering and design skills on top of technical know-how; your goal is to ensure you can get all of that.

Look for a personal connection: You’re getting into a relationship with this contractor. You’ll be in touch throughout the installation, and in the future for service calls, warranty claims, or other troubleshooting. Is this person reliable and responsive, or do you have apprehension about having them in and out of your house in the short term and in the future? Can you trust them?

Get three quotes: If there are multiple qualified installers in your area, call two or three of them. This is a multi-thousand-dollar job, but we’d advise this even for simpler work—it really gives you a clear sense of what the market for this work is like and often helps you weed out options you’re less comfortable with, giving you the confidence to commit to the best place available.

Request written estimates: At minimum, you should see a one-page quote outlining the work involved and the before you agree to start the job. Even better—detailed manufacturer’s information, from the pro, on each piece of equipment going into the job.

Weigh the options: If you’re deciding between some options—say, a 2-zone version of your system versus a 4-zone, ask for written estimates for both configurations. At the outset, when you’re asking lots of questions, be on the lookout for pushback, a dismissive attitude, or impatience—you should have questions, even some very basic ones, and it’s a good sign if a pro can answer them respectfully.

Specify equipment placement: Take pictures of the proposed locations of the installations, both on the indoor and outdoor units, to confirm their exact placement as part of your agreement. This is a final decision and can be source of dissatisfaction among owners.

Make plans for maintenance: Mini-split maintenance is usually minimal but is also best done by an HVAC technician, at least until you watch them enough times to know the ins and outs yourself. It mostly consists of keeping the equipment clean and the drain line clear. De Stasio says, “At the end of the day, it’s a disinfectant cloth, it’s a shop vac, it’s a water hose gently washing the outside coil. The tasks themselves are things that a homeowner can do, but a professional is going to know how to do them safely and how to do them thoroughly.”

What about Smart controllers?

We tested three Smart thermostat devices: the Ambi Climate 2, the Flair Puck, and the Sensibo Sky. At their most basic, they allow you to easily control your mini-split from your phone. Unlike manufacturer options such as Mitsubishi’s Kumo Cloud, which do the same thing, these 3rd party options do not require expensive professional installation. Though none of the three have so far lived up to our expectations, the Ambi and the Flair are much better than the Sensibo. We’re continuing to watch new releases and version upgrades and will test any that we think look good.

The Ambi Climate 2 is the most in-depth of the three. It attempts to monitor your home, AC use, and external temperatures then adjust your AC throughout the day. We like the set-it-and-forget-it use of it and how it adapted to our routine, but the app’s depth, amount of upfront information, and optional user settings makes it more complicated to use than others we tried. The controller units are not wall mounted but unobtrusive within most modern decor. Our experience with customer support was good but not great.

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The Flair Puck is much simpler. The app is cleaner and much more straightforward, but it doesn’t try to do as much as the Ambi. It’s more like a modern replacement for the physical controllers that come with the mini-splits. It’s convenient, but it lacks some of the basic mini-split controls, like adjusting air direction, which the Ambi provides. The pucks can be wall mounted or stand alone and look like miniature Nest units though they aren’t as substantial. We like that you can also control the AC unit directly from the puck, which you can’t do with the Ambi. Flair’s customer service was excellent and very responsive. It’s also compatible with Ecobee sensors, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

Both the Ambi and Flair had issues with connectivity, especially with dual Band Wi-Fi. The signal strength of the units to the AC is hit or miss. When it works we were able to set them up over 25-feet away without an issue, but the best range seems to be closer to 12-feet. Good enough for a small room, but tougher in larger ones.

Another downside is that Flair and Ambi are not directly compatible with Apple’s HomeKit. Ambi does integrate with Siri shortcuts and has a 3rd party work-around for HomeKit, but it needs to be running 24/7 on your home computer in order for it to work.

The Sensibo Sky was our least favorite of the three. We found the overall design unappealing, the app was difficult to use, and the controllers were difficult to connect to our AC units. They also sent us a few oddly formatted and what can best be described as vaguely spam-y looking emails.

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