The Best Heating and Cooling System for Mobile Homes
Mobile homes have unique HVAC system requirements due to their size and layout. Homeowners need to choose a system that caters to their space constraints, comfort preferences, and budget. To assist in making the right choice, we developed this comprehensive guide to help homeowners select the best heating and cooling system for mobile homes to ensure year-round comfort.
Best Types of HVAC Systems for Mobile Homes
Ductless mini-splits are perfect for most mobile homes, especially in the absence of ductwork or the presence of old, damaged, or inefficient ducts. Mini-splits use an outside condenser unit and one or more indoor air handling units installed on ceilings or walls to distribute conditioned air. The indoor units take up very little space which is ideal for mobile homes due to their size. Depending on your mobile home's size, you can install just one mini-split or two three to create temperature zones.
A single-zone ductless mini-split costs between $1,500 and $4,500 on average. Additional mini-splits add about $500 to $1,500 to the cost.
Air-source heat pumps are similar to ductless mini-splits, but they do require ductwork to distribute conditioned air across spaces. Heat pumps are popular HVAC systems for mobile homes because they offer both heating and cooling and are extremely energy efficient.
On average, a heat pump costs between $2,500 and $10,000, including installation.
However, significant rebates and tax credits are available for air-source heat pumps. Through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, homeowners are eligible for tax credits of 30% of the purchase and installation of a qualified heat pump, up to a maximum amount of $2,000. Steep rebates are also available through the High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebate Act (HEEHRA). Depending on their home's median income, homeowners may be eligible for heat pump rebates of 50% or 100% off the purchase and installation cost of a heat pump, up to $8,000.
Packaged HVAC Systems
Packaged HVAC units are self-contained systems that house all of the heating and cooling components – including the condenser, compressor, evaporator, and electric or gas heating element – in a single unit installed outside the mobile home. Packaged heating and cooling systems are efficient, reliable, and require limited space indoors, making them an ideal choice for mobile homes.
Packaged units are available in various configurations, including gas/electric, electric/electric, and heat pump, allowing you to choose based on your energy source, availability and climate conditions, said Ben Green, owner of Green Leaf Air in Richardson, TX.
According to ThePricer.org, the cost of a basic packaged HVAC system is between $2,500 and $5,000.
Window ACs, Portable ACs, and Electric Heaters
If your mobile home is small and you live in a relatively mild climate year-round, a window or portable AC may provide enough cooling to keep your space comfortable. You can consider pairing your cooling unit with an electric heater such as an electric baseboard heater, electric wall heater, or an electric radiant heater.
“Ultimately, the choice of an HVAC system for a mobile home should be based on the specific characteristics of the mobile home, climate considerations, energy-efficiency goals, and budget constraints, said Dave Roebel, owner of Northeast Mechanical Services in Fort Wayne, IN. ”Consulting with HVAC professionals who specialize in mobile home systems can help you make an informed decision."
Factors that Determine the Type of HVAC System for Your Mobile Home
Before shopping for an HVAC system for your mobile home, consider the following factors:
- Ductwork availability. While many modern mobile homes contain ductwork, budget-friendly and older models often do not. For mobile homes without ductwork, consider installing a ductless mini-split.
- Size and layout. The size and layout of the mobile home play a crucial role in the type of HVAC system you buy. A window AC combined with a space heater, or a single-zone ductless mini-split, might provide enough cooling and heating capacity for the entire home. For larger mobile homes, a packaged unit, multi-zone ductless mini-split, or a heat pump may be ideal.
- Insulation. Mobile homes often have less insulation than traditional homes, highlighting the importance of buying a high-efficiency HVAC system.
- Climate. Consider the climate when choosing the right HVAC system for your mobile home. Homeowners in the South and Southwest, for example, may prioritize cooling and opt for high-efficiency AC systems and an electric heater, while those in colder climates may focus on an efficient heating system.
- Zoning capabilities. Installing a ductless mini-split with multiple zones allows occupants to control the temperature separately in their rooms. If you live alone, you can also adjust the temperature accordingly in rooms you rarely use for increased energy savings.
- Budget. For mobile homeowners under a tight budget, window ACs, portable air conditioners, and electric heaters will save them money upfront, although they'll end up paying more in energy costs. Ductless mini-splits and packaged units are more expensive to buy, but they will provide better energy savings and increased comfort over time.
- Installation ease. Picking an HVAC system that requires minimal modifications to the mobile home is preferred to reduce costs.