Can We Use Plastic Gadders for Mini Split as Pipes?

The use of plastic garden hoses as pipes for mini-split air conditioning systems is not recommended by professionals in the HVAC industry. While it may be tempting to consider this as a DIY solution due to the accessibility and lower cost of plastic hoses compared to copper or aluminum refrigerant lines, there are several critical factors to consider before proceeding with this approach.

Material Compatibility

Plastic hoses are generally not designed to handle the pressure and temperature fluctuations that occur in refrigerant lines. They may not be able to withstand the high pressures involved in the refrigeration cycle, leading to potential leaks or even ruptures.

Pressure Handling Capacity

Plastic hoses typically have a lower pressure rating compared to copper or aluminum refrigerant lines. The refrigerant in a mini-split system can reach pressures of up to 500 PSI (pounds per square inch) during operation. Plastic hoses, on the other hand, are usually rated for much lower pressures, typically around 100-200 PSI. Using a plastic hose in a mini-split system would put it under constant stress, increasing the risk of leaks and even catastrophic failure.

Temperature Resistance

Mini-split systems operate within a wide temperature range, with the refrigerant temperature fluctuating between -20°C (-4°F) and 70°C (158°F) during the cooling and heating cycles. Plastic hoses are not designed to withstand such extreme temperature variations and may become brittle, crack, or deform over time, leading to refrigerant leaks.

Material Degradation

Prolonged exposure to the refrigerant, UV radiation, and environmental factors can cause plastic hoses to degrade, leading to a loss of structural integrity and potential failure. The chemical composition of the refrigerant may also interact with the plastic material, causing it to swell, soften, or become porous, further compromising the hose’s performance.

Refrigerant Compatibility

can we use plastic gadders for mini split as pipesImage source: Flickr

Different types of refrigerants require specific materials for their transportation. Plastic hoses may not be compatible with the refrigerant used in mini-split systems, which could lead to chemical reactions, corrosion, or damage to the hose.

Refrigerant Types

Mini-split systems typically use refrigerants such as R-410A, R-32, or R-22 (in older systems). These refrigerants have specific chemical properties that require compatible materials for their transportation. Plastic hoses may not be able to withstand the chemical composition of these refrigerants, leading to potential leaks, corrosion, or even the breakdown of the hose material.

Refrigerant Permeability

Plastic materials are generally more permeable to refrigerants compared to metals like copper or aluminum. This means that the refrigerant can slowly diffuse through the plastic hose, leading to gradual refrigerant loss and reduced system efficiency. Over time, this can result in the need for more frequent refrigerant top-ups, increasing the maintenance costs and environmental impact of the system.

Thermal Expansion and Contraction

Plastic materials expand and contract at different rates than metals when exposed to temperature changes. This could cause the plastic hose to deform or crack over time, leading to refrigerant leaks and reduced system efficiency.

Dimensional Stability

Copper and aluminum refrigerant lines are designed to accommodate the thermal expansion and contraction that occurs during the heating and cooling cycles of a mini-split system. Plastic hoses, on the other hand, may not have the same level of dimensional stability, leading to stress on the connections and potential leaks.

Hose Deformation

As the plastic hose expands and contracts, it may become misshapen or develop kinks, reducing the effective cross-sectional area for refrigerant flow. This can lead to increased pressure drops, reduced system performance, and even the potential for the hose to become blocked or restricted.


Plastic hoses do not provide adequate insulation compared to pre-insulated refrigerant lines. This could result in energy loss, reduced system efficiency, and potential frost formation on the hose.

Thermal Conductivity

Plastic materials generally have a higher thermal conductivity compared to the insulation materials used in pre-insulated refrigerant lines. This means that the refrigerant flowing through a plastic hose will be more susceptible to heat gain or loss, reducing the overall efficiency of the mini-split system.

Condensation and Frost Formation

Without proper insulation, the cold refrigerant flowing through a plastic hose can cause condensation to form on the outside of the hose. This condensation can then freeze, leading to the formation of frost, which can further impede the refrigerant flow and reduce the system’s performance.

Installation Challenges

Installing and sealing connections between plastic hoses and the mini-split unit can be difficult, requiring specialized tools and techniques. Improper installation could lead to refrigerant leaks, reduced system performance, and increased risk of equipment failure.

Connection Integrity

Connecting plastic hoses to the mini-split unit’s refrigerant ports can be challenging, as the materials may not provide a secure, leak-proof seal. Specialized fittings and techniques, such as flaring or compression fittings, are typically required to ensure a proper connection, which may be difficult for a DIY installer to achieve.

Hose Routing and Support

Properly routing and supporting the plastic hoses can also be problematic. Refrigerant lines in mini-split systems are designed to be rigid and maintain their shape, allowing for efficient routing and minimizing the risk of kinks or bends that could restrict refrigerant flow. Plastic hoses, on the other hand, may be more prone to sagging, kinking, or becoming misshapen, which can compromise the system’s performance.

Leak Detection and Repair

In the event of a refrigerant leak, it can be challenging to identify the source and effectively repair a plastic hose. Leak detection methods, such as using a refrigerant leak detector, may be less reliable with plastic hoses, and the repair process may be more complex and prone to failure compared to working with copper or aluminum refrigerant lines.

In summary, while using plastic garden hoses as pipes for mini-split air conditioning systems may seem like an attractive DIY solution, it is not recommended due to potential issues with material compatibility, refrigerant compatibility, thermal expansion and contraction, insulation, and installation challenges. It is best to consult with a professional HVAC technician and use approved refrigerant lines for your mini-split system to ensure safe and efficient operation.

Dictionary of Computer Science, Engineering and Technology
ND Master Dictionary
Think Python Code
CSE143E Dictionary
CMU Course 15-121 Dictionary