Guide to Mini-Splits vs. Heat Pumps
Are you looking for a dependable, reasonably priced home comfort system? If electricity is the better or only solution 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 365 days of comfort. So, have you made your choice? 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.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a type of central climate control system. Unlike 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 draws heat energy from the air outside and redirects it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve enables 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.
What Is a Mini-Split?
A mini-split is designed on the same principle as a heat pump. Actually, it is a kind of heat pump — just without the ductwork. That’s 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 links directly to an outdoor condensing unit via a tiny hole drilled through the wall. Multiple indoor units can connect with a single outdoor unit, allowing for whole-home comfort with no ductwork necessary.
Making Your Decision
Below are key things to think about when deciding between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Raleigh home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is already heated and cooled with a conventional furnace and central AC system, the required ductwork infrastructure is already in place. Therefore, installing a heat pump is likely the more practical choice.
However, if you live in an older home or have just completed a renovation, you may not have ductwork in reach. 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 controlled the same as most other central heating and cooling systems: by adjusting 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 controlling the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be worth the effort. But you can increase home comfort and conserve energy by heating and cooling separate rooms individually.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be added into a central heat pump system by setting up multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be simpler 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.
Heat pumps don’t emphasize 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. You can add one in a single room that you would otherwise find challenging to keep comfortable. You could mount one in a transformed garage or other home addition 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 cost-effective operation.
Today’s 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 usually more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses associated with leaky ductwork. A normal home wastes more than 20% of the air traveling through the ductwork to poor air sealing or a lack of insulation. This suggests that a mini-split is likely to produce the same amount of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look almost identical to central air conditioners. The outdoor unit 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 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 decision you make, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can accomplish the professional installation you are expecting. Our specialists are ready to provide 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 nearest Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office today.