Are you shopping for a reliable, affordable home comfort system? If electricity is the ideal or only solution available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be a convenient option. Both systems operate 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, get the details about each HVAC system to help you make your mind up.
A heat pump is a kind of central climate control system. As opposed to a furnace, which produces usable heat for the home by igniting a fuel source, a heat pump transfers heat from one place to another. In the winter, it pulls out heat energy from the air outside and deposits it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve will allow it to complete this process 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 works 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 is designed as a ceiling- or wall-mounted unit with a built-in air handler. This indoor equipment is connected directly to an outdoor condensing unit via a tiny hole drilled in the wall. Various indoor units can link up with a single outdoor unit, enabling whole-home comfort with no ductwork necessary.
Below are the most important factors to think about when choosing 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 central AC system, the required ductwork infrastructure is already in place. Therefore, installing a heat pump is likely the more affordable option.
On the other hand, if you live in an older home or have just completed a renovation, you might not have ductwork in reach. In this case, adding a mini-split is much less complicated and is more cost effective than putting in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are managed identical to most other central heating and cooling systems: by setting a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a accessible location. On the other hand, ductless mini-splits have a remote that lets you adjust 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 required. If it is, you can improve home comfort and reduce wasted energy by heating and cooling separate rooms individually.
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 cost-effective to install mini-splits in rooms with distinct 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 supply whole-house comfort through a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have more choices for where you can put the unit. You can install one in a single room that you would otherwise find tricky to keep comfortable. You could mount one in a modified 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 cost-effective operation.
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 generally more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses associated with leaky ductwork. A typical home loses 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 likely to offer the same quantity of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look almost identical to central air conditioning units. The outdoor cabinet is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler stays within a utility closet or place in the basement.
In contrast, mini-splits are easier to spot. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be inconspicuous, but they are clearly visible in any room in which they are displayed 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 are expecting. Our specialists 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 nearest Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office today.
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