Are you searching for a reliable, reasonably priced home comfort system? If electricity is the better or only choice available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be a convenient option. Both systems run on electric power and run in heating and cooling modes for year-round 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 settle on a make and model.
A heat pump is a type of central climate control system. As opposed to a furnace, which produces usable heat for the home by burning 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 operate backward in the summer, working the same as an AC system to transfer heat and humidity from indoor air and vent it outside.
A mini-split operates on the same principle as a heat pump. In fact, it is a kind of heat pump — but although they don’t use the ductwork. That’s 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 tiny hole drilled into the wall. Multiple indoor units can link up with a single outdoor unit, enabling whole-home comfort with no ductwork required.
These 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 standard furnace and air conditioner, the necessary ductwork infrastructure is already in place. Therefore, installing a heat pump is potentially the more cost-effective choice.
That being said, 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 affordable than installing in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are controlled the same as most other central heating and cooling systems: by adjusting a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a accessible location. Having said that, ductless mini-splits use a remote that lets you adjust each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re satisfied with regulating the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be needed. If it is, you can maximize home comfort and reduce wasted energy by heating and cooling separate rooms separately.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be integrated into a central heat pump system by setting up multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be more straightforward and more affordable to install mini-splits in rooms with precise temperature needs, 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 supply whole-house comfort thanks to a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have greater versatility for where you can put the unit. Homeowners can install one in a single room that you would otherwise find challenging to keep comfortable. You can mount one in a converted garage or sunroom without new 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 cost-effective operation.
Today’s heat pumps are more efficient than ever. There are even cold-climate versions on the market for a performance boost at low temperatures.
All the same, ductless mini-splits are usually more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses affiliated with leaky ductwork. A normal home squanders more than 20% of the air traveling through the ductwork to spotty air sealing or a lack of insulation. This means that a mini-split is likely to provide the same amount of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look similar to central air conditioners. The outdoor unit is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler within a utility closet or space in the basement.
In contrast, mini-splits are more noticeable. 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.
No matter which decision you make, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can perform the professional installation you expect. Our techs are ready to bring excellent products and services protected 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 nearest Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today.
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