Can You Lay a Mini Split on Its Side?

When it comes to the installation and maintenance of mini-split air conditioning systems, one common question that arises is whether it’s possible to lay the unit on its side. This is an important consideration, especially for those who need to transport or store their mini-split system. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the technical details and provide a step-by-step approach to safely laying a mini-split on its side, while also addressing the potential risks and precautions to be taken.

Understanding the Risks of Laying a Mini-Split on Its Side

Mini-split air conditioning systems are designed to operate in a specific orientation, typically with the compressor unit positioned upright. This is because the oil system within the compressor relies on gravity to function correctly. When the unit is laid on its side, the oil can flow into areas where it’s not supposed to be, potentially leading to damage to the compressor and other critical components.

The primary risk of laying a mini-split on its side is the potential for oil to accumulate in the wrong areas, causing issues with the compressor’s lubrication system. This can lead to increased wear and tear on the compressor, ultimately reducing its lifespan and efficiency. Additionally, the refrigerant lines and other internal components may be subjected to stresses that they were not designed to handle, further increasing the risk of damage.

Temporary Laydown: Precautions and Considerations

can you lay a mini split on its sideImage source: Flickr

While it’s generally not recommended to lay a mini-split on its side for an extended period, there may be instances where temporary laydown is necessary, such as during transportation or storage. In these cases, it’s crucial to take the following precautions to minimize the risk of damage:

  1. Orientation: If possible, try to position the mini-split unit on its side in a way that minimizes the impact on the oil system. For example, laying the unit on its back or side, rather than on its front or rear, can help maintain a more favorable oil distribution.

  2. Support: Provide adequate support for the compressor and other heavy components to prevent them from putting excessive stress on the unit’s internal structures. This can be achieved by placing a piece of cardboard, foam, or other suitable material under the compressor.

  3. Refrigerant Lines: Ensure that the refrigerant lines are not kinked or bent during the laydown process, as this can restrict the flow of refrigerant and cause further damage.

  4. Manufacturer’s Instructions: Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specific guidance on the safe handling and transportation of the mini-split unit. Some manufacturers may provide specific recommendations or requirements for temporary laydown.

  5. Inspection and Startup: Before reinstalling and operating the mini-split unit, carefully inspect it for any signs of damage or oil leakage. If any issues are detected, it’s best to consult a professional HVAC technician before attempting to start the system.

Horizontal or Vertical Mounting Options

It’s worth noting that some mini-split units are designed to be mounted in non-traditional orientations, such as horizontally or vertically. In these cases, the manufacturer’s instructions should be followed closely to ensure proper installation and operation.

Horizontally mounted mini-splits may be suitable for certain applications, such as in recreational vehicles or other confined spaces. These units are typically designed to function correctly when positioned on their side, with the compressor and other components engineered to accommodate the altered orientation.

Vertically mounted mini-splits are less common but can be useful in situations where space is limited or the unit needs to be installed in a specific location. These systems are engineered to operate safely when mounted vertically, with the compressor and other components designed to function properly in this orientation.

Seeking Professional Assistance

If you’re unsure about the feasibility of laying a mini-split on its side or have concerns about the potential risks, it’s always best to consult with a professional HVAC technician. They can provide expert guidance, assess the specific model and installation requirements, and ensure that any temporary laydown or non-traditional mounting is carried out safely and without compromising the system’s performance or longevity.


In summary, while it is generally not recommended to lay a mini-split on its side for an extended period, temporary laydown may be possible with the right precautions and considerations. By understanding the risks, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and seeking professional assistance when necessary, you can safely transport, store, or install your mini-split system, even in non-traditional orientations.

Remember, the key to maintaining the long-term performance and reliability of your mini-split air conditioning system is to prioritize proper installation, maintenance, and handling, regardless of the specific orientation or mounting requirements.