Are you shopping for a dependable, affordable home comfort system? If electricity is the ideal 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, have you made your choice? If you’re still trying to decide, get the details about each HVAC system to help you settle on a make and model.
A heat pump is a kind of central climate control system. Compared with a furnace, which generates usable heat for the home by burning a fuel source, a heat pump moves 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 will allow it to complete this process backward in the summer, behaving the same as an air conditioner to transfer heat and humidity from indoor air and vent it outside.
A mini-split is designed on the same principle as a heat pump. Actually, it is a kind of heat pump — minus 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 connects 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, allowing for whole-home comfort with no ductwork necessary.
Below are key things to review when deciding between a heat pump and a mini-split for your the U.S. home.
If your home is already heated and cooled with a traditional furnace and AC unit, the required ductwork infrastructure is already in place. So in this case, installing a heat pump is likely the more practical option.
However, if you live in an older home or have just completed a renovation, you may not have ductwork where you want climate control. In this case, installing a mini-split is much less complicated and costs far less than putting in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are controlled very much like most other central heating and cooling systems: by adjusting a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a accessible 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 happy with adjusting the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be worth the effort. But you can improve home comfort and reduce wasted energy by heating and cooling separate rooms separately.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be added into a central heat pump system by installing multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be more straightforward and more practical to install mini-splits in rooms with individual temperature demands, 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 supply 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 install one in a single room that you would otherwise find difficult to keep comfortable. You could mount one in a converted garage or sunroom without extending the 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 usually more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses associated with leaky ductwork. A normal 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 likely to supply 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 unit 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 easier to spot. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be unobtrusive, but they are clearly visible in any room in which they are mounted on the wall or ceiling.
Whatever you decide to do, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can complete the professional installation you expect. Our techs are ready to bring excellent products and services backed 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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