Guide to Mini-Splits vs. Heat Pumps
Are you looking for a reliable, 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 perfect for your home. Both systems function on electric power and run in heating and cooling modes for 365 days of comfort. So, is it a heat pump or mini-split for you? If you're still trying to decide, get the details about each HVAC system to help you determine the right fit.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a kind of central climate control system. As opposed to a furnace, which creates usable heat for the home by combusting 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 redirects it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve allows it to perform this process backward in the summer, behaving 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 works 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 can be a ceiling- or wall-mounted unit with a built-in air handler. This indoor portion links directly to an outdoor condensing unit via a tiny hole drilled through the wall. Several indoor units can link up with a single outdoor unit, allowing for whole-home comfort with no ductwork needed.
Making Your Selection
These are the most important things to consider when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Waukegan home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is already heated and cooled with a traditional furnace and central AC system, 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 added on to the home, you may not have ductwork accessible to use that space year-round. In this case, adding a mini-split is much less complicated and costs far less than putting in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are managed in a way similar 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 use a remote that lets you control each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re happy with controlling the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be needed. If it is, you can enhance home comfort and save energy by heating and cooling separate rooms independently.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be added into a central heat pump system by using multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be simpler and more affordable to install mini-splits in rooms with precise temperature requirements, whether they’re heated and cooled by a central HVAC system or not.
Heat pumps don’t focus on flexibility. Instead, they can replace your existing furnace and air conditioner and deliver whole-house comfort with help from a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have more choices for where you can put the unit. Homeowners can install one in a single room that you would otherwise find tough to keep comfortable. You could 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 hooked up to the outdoor condensing unit for affordable operation.
Today’s heat pumps are more efficient than ever. There are even cold-climate versions available for a performance boost at low temperatures.
Even so, ductless mini-splits are usually more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses affiliated with leaky ductwork. An ordinary 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 produce the same amount 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 hidden within a utility closet or space in the basement.
In contrast, mini-splits are more noticeable. 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.
Schedule Heat Pump or Mini-Split Installation
No matter which decision you make, Robinson Service Experts can perform the professional installation you want. Our techs are ready to provide 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 Robinson Service Experts office today.