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Guide to Mini-Splits vs. Heat Pumps

Are you searching for a dependable, budget-friendly 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 convenient option. Both systems function on electric power and operate in heating and cooling modes for year-round comfort. So, is it a heat pump or mini-split for you? If you’re still trying to decide, read more about each HVAC system to help you determine the right fit.

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 burning a fuel source, a heat pump moves 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 complete this process backward in the summer, working the same as an air conditioner to pull heat and humidity from indoor air and vent it outside.

What Is a Mini-Split?

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 could be a ceiling- or wall-mounted unit with a built-in air handler. This indoor component is connected directly to an outdoor condensing unit via a small hole drilled through the wall. Various indoor units can link up with a single outdoor unit, enabling whole-home comfort with no ductwork required.

Making Your Choice

Below are the most important things to consider when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your the U.S. home.

Ductwork & Installation

If your home is already heated and cooled with a conventional furnace and air conditioner, the required ductwork infrastructure is already in place. So in this case, installing a heat pump is probably the more affordable solution.

On the other hand, if you live in an older home or have added on to the home, you may not have ductwork where you want climate control. In this case, adding a mini-split is much less complex and costs far less than installing in the ductwork required for a heat pump.

Unit Control

Heat pumps are controlled the same as most other central heating and cooling systems: by adjusting a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a central location. On the other hand, ductless mini-splits use a remote that lets you control each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.

Zoning

If you’re happy with controlling the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be necessary. But you can improve 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 easier and more practical to install mini-splits in rooms with specific temperature needs, whether they’re heated and cooled by a central HVAC system or not.

Design Flexibility

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 place one in a single room that you would otherwise find tough to keep comfortable. You can mount one in a transformed garage or sunroom without adding more ductwork. You can also outfit the entire house with a mini-split air handler in each room, all connected to the outdoor condensing unit for affordable operation.

Energy Efficiency

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 basically more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses associated with leaky ductwork. A normal home squanders more than 20% of the air passing through the ductwork to spotty air sealing or a lack of insulation. This suggests that a mini-split is more likely to produce the same quantity of hot or cold air at a lower cost.

Appearance

Heat pumps look pretty much the same as central air conditioners. The outdoor cabinet is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler is]] {hidden within a utility closet or place in the basement.

By comparison, mini-splits are easy to view. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be unobtrusive, 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

No matter which system you decide is right for your home, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can complete the professional installation you expect. Our technicians are ready to deliver excellent products and services protected by our one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee. To learn more 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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