Guide to Mini-Splits vs. Heat Pumps

Are you searching for a dependable, affordable home comfort system? If electricity is the ideal or only solution 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, is it a heat pump or mini-split for you? If you’re still trying to figure it out, get the details about each HVAC system to help you settle on a make and model.

What Is a Heat Pump?

A heat pump is a kind of central climate control system. As opposed to a furnace, which creates usable heat for the home by igniting a fuel source, a heat pump transfers heat from one place to another. In the winter, it pulls out heat energy from the air outside and redirects it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve allows it to operate backward in the summer, working the same as an air conditioner to remove 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 — 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 equipment hooks up directly to an outdoor condensing unit via a small hole drilled in the wall. Several indoor units can link up with a single outdoor unit, allowing for whole-home comfort with no ductwork required.

Making Your Selection

Below are significant things to consider when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your the U.S. home.

Ductwork & Installation

If your home is already heated and cooled with a conventional furnace and central AC system, the needed ductwork infrastructure is already in place. In this situation, installing a heat pump is likely the more cost-effective choice.

That being said, if you live in an older home or have just made an addition, you might not have ductwork in reach. In this case, installing a mini-split is much less involved and costs far less than installing in the ductwork required for a heat pump.

Unit Control

Heat pumps are managed very much like most other central heating and cooling systems: by using a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a convenient location. Having said that, ductless mini-splits have a remote that lets you control each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.

Zoning

If you’re content with regulating the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be needed. If it is, you can improve home comfort and conserve energy by heating and cooling separate rooms individually.

Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be incorporated into a central heat pump system by setting up multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be easier and more cost-effective to install mini-splits in rooms with precise temperature needs, whether they’re heated and cooled by a central HVAC system or not.

Design Flexibility

Heat pumps don’t prioritize flexibility. Instead, they can replace your existing furnace and air conditioner and deliver whole-house comfort with help from a network of air ducts.

Mini-splits have more options for where you can put the unit. Homeowners can add 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 new ductwork. You can also outfit the entire house with a mini-split air handler in each room, all hooked up to the outdoor condensing unit for cost-effective operation.

Energy Efficiency

New 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 generally more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses that come with leaky ductwork. The average home loses more than 20% of the air traveling through the ductwork to poor air sealing or a lack of insulation. This means that a mini-split is more likely to produce the same quantity of hot or cold air at a lower cost.

Appearance

Heat pumps look pretty much the same as central air conditioning units. The outdoor cabinet is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler is]] {hidden within a utility closet or place in the basement.

In contrast, mini-splits are more noticeable. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be inconspicuous, but they are clearly visible in any room in which they are positioned on the wall or ceiling.

Schedule Heat Pump or Mini-Split Installation

Whatever you decide to do, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can accomplish the professional installation you expect. Our service providers are ready to bring excellent products and services backed by our one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee. To learn more 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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