Are you shopping for a efficient, reasonably priced home comfort system? If electricity is the best or only option available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be a good choice. Both systems run on electric power and run in heating and cooling modes for 365 days of comfort. So, what’s it going to be — heat pump or mini-split? If you’re still trying to figure it out, read more about each HVAC system to help you settle on a make and model.
A heat pump is a kind of central climate control system. Unlike a furnace, which creates usable heat for the home by igniting a fuel source, a heat pump redirects heat from one place to another. In the winter, it draws heat energy from the air outdoors and deposits it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve allows it to complete this process backward in the summer, running the same as an AC system to remove heat and humidity from indoor air and vent it outside.
A mini-split operates on the same principle as a heat pump. As a matter of fact, it is a kind of heat pump — but although they don’t use the ductwork. This is why it’s called a “ductless” system. A mini-split could be a ceiling- or wall-mounted unit with a built-in air handler. This indoor portion hooks up directly to an outdoor condensing unit through a tiny hole drilled into the wall. Various indoor units can connect with a single outdoor unit, allowing for whole-home comfort with no ductwork needed.
Here are key details to think about when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your the U.S. home.
If your home is currently heated and cooled with a standard furnace and central AC system, the required ductwork infrastructure is already in place. So in this case, installing a heat pump is probably the more cost-effective solution.
That being said, if you live in an older home or have added on to the home, you might not have ductwork in reach. In this case, adding a mini-split is much less complicated and costs far less than putting 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 using a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a central location. On the other hand, ductless mini-splits use a remote that lets you adjust each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re satisfied with controlling the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be necessary. If it is, you can improve home comfort and reduce wasted 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 practical to install mini-splits in rooms with precise temperature requirements, 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 deliver whole-house comfort thanks to a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have greater versatility for where you can put the unit. You can place one in a single room that you would otherwise find tricky to keep comfortable. You can mount one in a transformed garage or sunroom without adding more ductwork. You can also install a mini-split air handler in each room, all connected to the outdoor condensing unit for cost-effective operation.
New heat pumps are more efficient than ever. There are even cold-climate versions available for a performance boost at low temperatures.
Regardless, ductless mini-splits are generally more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses associated with leaky ductwork. The average home loses more than 20% of the air passing through the ductwork to poor air sealing or a lack of insulation. This suggests that a mini-split is more likely to offer the same quantity of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look pretty much the same as central air conditioners. The outdoor unit is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler stays within a utility closet or place in the basement.
In contrast, mini-splits are easy to view. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be inconspicuous, but they are clearly visible in any room in which they are mounted on the wall or ceiling.
No matter which system you decide is right for your home, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can complete the professional installation you count upon. Our service providers are ready to provide excellent products and services backed 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 & Plumbing office today.
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