Are you looking for a dependable, affordable 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 operate 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, get the details about each HVAC system to help you settle on a make and model.
A heat pump is a type of central climate control system. Compared with 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 extracts heat energy from the air outdoors and deposits it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve enables it to perform this process backward in the summer, working 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. In 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 is designed as a ceiling- or wall-mounted unit with a built-in air handler. This indoor equipment connects directly to an outdoor condensing unit via a small hole drilled in the wall. Various indoor units can connect with a single outdoor unit, providing whole-home comfort with no ductwork required.
These are the most important things 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 AC unit, the needed ductwork infrastructure is already in place. So in this case, installing a heat pump is likely the more cost-effective option.
However, if you live in an older home or have just completed a renovation, you may not have ductwork accessible to use that space year-round. In this case, installing a mini-split is much less complicated and is more cost effective than installing 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 convenient location. On the other hand, ductless mini-splits use a remote that lets you operate each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re satisfied with adjusting the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be necessary. But you can enhance home comfort and save energy by heating and cooling separate rooms separately.
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 individual temperature requirements, whether they’re heated and cooled by a central HVAC system or not.
Heat pumps don’t emphasize flexibility. Instead, they can replace your existing furnace and air conditioner and offer whole-house comfort thanks to a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have more choices for where you can put the unit. Homeowners can add one in a single room that you would otherwise find difficult to keep comfortable. You can mount one in a converted garage or other home addition 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 affordable operation.
New heat pumps are more efficient than ever. There are even cold-climate versions on the market for a performance boost at low temperatures.
Even so, ductless mini-splits are basically more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses connected with leaky ductwork. The average home loses 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 produce the same quantity 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 concealed within a utility closet or somewhere in the basement.
By comparison, mini-splits are more noticeable. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be unnoticeable, 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 want. Our techs 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 nearest Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today.
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