Are you looking for a reliable, budget-friendly home comfort system? If electricity is the best or only choice available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be a good choice. Both systems run on electric power and operate 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 decide, read more about each HVAC system to help you determine the right fit.
A heat pump is a kind of central climate control system. Different from a furnace, which creates usable heat for the home by igniting a fuel source, a heat pump moves heat from one place to another. In the winter, it pulls out heat energy from the air outdoors and deposits it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve allows it to operate backward in the summer, behaving the same as an AC system to pull heat and humidity from indoor air and vent it outside.
A mini-split is designed on the same principle as a heat pump. As a matter of fact, it is a kind of heat pump — just without 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 from a small hole drilled through the wall. Various indoor units can connect with a single outdoor unit, allowing for whole-home comfort with no ductwork required.
Below are key details to consider when deciding between a heat pump and a mini-split for your the U.S. home.
If your home is currently heated and cooled with a conventional furnace and AC unit, the needed ductwork infrastructure is already in place. So in this case, installing a heat pump is potentially the more practical choice.
On the other hand, if you live in an older home or have just completed a renovation, you might not have ductwork accessible to use that space year-round. In this case, installing a mini-split is much less complex and is more affordable than installing in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are managed very much like most other central heating and cooling systems: by setting a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a accessible location. On the flip side, ductless mini-splits have a remote that lets you adjust each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re happy with controlling the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be required. But you can enhance home comfort and conserve energy by heating and cooling separate rooms independently.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be incorporated into a central heat pump system by using multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be simpler and more cost-effective 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 focus on 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 install one in a single room that you would otherwise find difficult to keep comfortable. You could mount one in a transformed garage or other home addition without adding more ductwork. You can also install a mini-split air handler in each room, all hooked up 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.
Regardless, ductless mini-splits are generally more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses affiliated with leaky ductwork. A typical home wastes more than 20% of the air passing through the ductwork to inadequate air sealing or a lack of insulation. This means that a mini-split is more likely to supply the same quantity 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 concealed within a utility closet or place in the basement.
By comparison, mini-splits are easier to spot. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be inconspicuous, but they are clearly visible in any room in which they are displayed on the wall or ceiling.
No matter which decision you make, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can perform the professional installation you count upon. Our technicians are ready to provide 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 & Plumbing office today.
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