Are you looking for a dependable, affordable home comfort system? If electricity is the best or only solution available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be a convenient option. Both systems run 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 decide, read more about each HVAC system to help you settle on a make and model.
A heat pump is a type of central climate control system. Different from a furnace, which produces usable heat for the home by combusting 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 deposits it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve will allow it to complete this process backward in the summer, running the same as an AC system to pull heat and humidity from indoor air and vent it outside.
A mini-split is designed 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 can be a ceiling- or wall-mounted unit with a built-in air handler. This indoor component connects directly to an outdoor condensing unit via a tiny hole drilled through the wall. Multiple indoor units can connect with a single outdoor unit, providing whole-home comfort with no ductwork necessary.
These are significant things to think about when choosing 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. In this situation, installing a heat pump is likely the more affordable solution.
On the other hand, 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, getting a mini-split is much less complicated and is more cost effective than adding 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 flip side, ductless mini-splits use a remote that lets you adjust each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re content with controlling the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be necessary. If it is, you can increase home comfort and save energy by heating and cooling separate rooms individually.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be integrated into a central heat pump system by using multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be simpler and more cost-effective to install mini-splits in rooms with individual 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 thanks to a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have more choices for where you can put the unit. Homeowners can place one in a single room that you would otherwise find difficult to keep comfortable. You could mount one in a modified garage or other home addition without new ductwork. You can also outfit the entire house with a mini-split air handler in each room, all hooked up to the outdoor condensing unit for cost-effective operation.
Modern heat pumps are more efficient than ever. There are even cold-climate versions available 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. An ordinary home wastes more than 20% of the air traveling through the ductwork to inadequate air sealing or a lack of insulation. This means that a mini-split is more likely to offer the same quantity of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look similar to central AC units. The outdoor unit is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler stays within a utility closet or somewhere in the basement.
On the other hand, mini-splits are easier to spot. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be unnoticeable, but they are clearly visible in any room in which they are installed on the wall or ceiling.
No matter which decision you make, Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing can complete the professional installation you are expecting. Our techs are ready to bring excellent products and services supported 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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