Guide to Mini-Splits vs. Heat Pumps
Are you shopping for a efficient, reasonably priced home comfort system? If electricity is the better or only option available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be a convenient option. Both systems run on electric power and operate in heating and cooling modes for 365 days of comfort. So, have you made your choice? If you're still trying to decide, read more about each HVAC system to help you determine the right fit.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a kind of central climate control system. Compared with a furnace, which generates usable heat for the home by combusting a fuel source, a heat pump transfers heat from one place to another. In the winter, it extracts heat energy from the air outside and redirects it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve will allow it to complete this process backward in the summer, working the same as an air conditioner to transfer heat and humidity from indoor air and vent it outside.
What Is a Mini-Split?
A mini-split is designed on the same principle as a heat pump. Actually, it is a kind of heat pump — minus the ductwork. This is why it’s called a “ductless” system. A mini-split can be a ceiling- or wall-mounted unit with a built-in air handler. This indoor component is connected directly to an outdoor condensing unit via a small hole drilled into the wall. Several indoor units can connect with a single outdoor unit, providing whole-home comfort with no ductwork required.
Making Your Choice
Here are the most important factors to think about when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your North America home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is currently heated and cooled with a standard furnace and air conditioner, the necessary ductwork infrastructure is already in place. So in this case, installing a heat pump is potentially the more cost-effective choice.
However, if you live in an older home or have just made an addition, you may not have ductwork accessible to use that space year-round. In this case, adding a mini-split is much less involved and is more cost effective than adding in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are managed in a way similar to most other central heating and cooling systems: by setting a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a central location. On the flip side, ductless mini-splits use a remote that lets you operate each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re content with controlling the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be worth the effort. If it is, you can maximize home comfort and save energy by heating and cooling separate rooms separately.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be added into a central heat pump system by installing multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be simpler and more cost-effective to install mini-splits in rooms with individual temperature demands, whether they’re heated and cooled by a central HVAC system or not.
Heat pumps don’t prioritize flexibility. Instead, they can replace your existing furnace and air conditioner and offer whole-house comfort through a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have more options for where you can put the unit. Homeowners can install one in a single room that you would otherwise find tough to keep comfortable. You could mount one in a transformed garage or sunroom without adding more ductwork. You can also equip the entire home with a mini-split air handler in each room, all connected to the outdoor condensing unit for affordable operation.
Modern heat pumps are more efficient than ever. There are even cold-climate versions offered for a performance boost at low temperatures.
Even so, ductless mini-splits are usually more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses that come with leaky ductwork. A normal home squanders more than 20% of the air passing through the ductwork to spotty air sealing or a lack of insulation. This suggests that a mini-split is more likely to offer the same amount of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look similar to central air conditioning units. The outdoor unit is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler is within a utility closet or space in the basement.
In contrast, mini-splits are easy to view. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be unobtrusive, but they are clearly visible in any room in which they are installed on the wall or ceiling.
Schedule Heat Pump or Mini-Split Installation
No matter which system you decide is right for your home, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can complete the professional installation you count upon. Our techs are ready to bring excellent products and services supported by our one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee. To ask more questions about heat pumps vs. mini-splits or request an installation estimate, please contact your nearby Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office today.