Guide to Mini-Splits vs. Heat Pumps
Are you shopping for a reliable, affordable home comfort system? If electricity is the best or only choice available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be perfect for your home. Both systems run on electric power and run in heating and cooling modes for year-round comfort. So, have you made your choice? If you're still trying to decide, read more about each HVAC system to help you settle on a make and model.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a type of central climate control system. Different from a furnace, which produces usable heat for the home by igniting a fuel source, a heat pump moves heat from one place to another. In the winter, it draws heat energy from the air outside and redirects it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve allows it to complete this process backward in the summer, running 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 operates on the same principle as a heat pump. In fact, it is a kind of heat pump — just without 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 links directly to an outdoor condensing unit from a small hole drilled through the wall. Multiple indoor units can link up with a single outdoor unit, enabling whole-home comfort with no ductwork needed.
Making Your Decision
These are the most important things to review when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Hillsborough home.
Ductwork & Installation
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.
However, 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 adding in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are controlled identical to most other central heating and cooling systems: by using a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a central location. Having said that, ductless mini-splits have a remote that lets you operate each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re content with adjusting the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be worth the effort. But you can maximize home comfort and save 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 practical to install mini-splits in rooms with specific 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 supply whole-house comfort with help from 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 can mount one in a modified garage or other home addition without extending the ductwork. You can also equip the entire home with a mini-split air handler in each room, all hooked up 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 basically more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses associated with leaky ductwork. A normal home wastes more than 20% of the air passing through the ductwork to spotty air sealing or a lack of insulation. This means 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 AC units. The outdoor cabinet is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler stays within a utility closet or space in the basement.
On the other hand, 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 positioned on the wall or ceiling.
Schedule Heat Pump or Mini-Split Installation
Whatever you decide to do, Fras-Air/General Service Experts can complete the professional installation you are expecting. Our techs are ready to deliver excellent products and services supported by our one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee. To learn more about heat pumps vs. mini-splits or request an installation estimate, please contact your nearest Fras-Air/General Service Experts office today.