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 choice available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be perfect for your home. Both systems operate on electric power and run in heating and cooling modes for 365 days of comfort. So, what’s it going to be — heat pump or mini-split? If you're still trying to decide, read more about each HVAC system to help you make your mind up.
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 redirects 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 allows it to perform this process backward in the summer, running the same as an AC system to transfer heat and humidity from indoor air and vent it outside.
What Is a Mini-Split?
A mini-split operates on the same principle as a heat pump. In fact, it is a kind of heat pump — minus the ductwork. That’s 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 equipment hooks up directly to an outdoor condensing unit from a small hole drilled in the wall. Multiple indoor units can link up with a single outdoor unit, providing whole-home comfort with no ductwork needed.
Making Your Selection
These are key points to review when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your West Chester home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is currently heated and cooled with a traditional furnace and AC unit, the necessary ductwork infrastructure is already in place. Therefore, installing a heat pump is likely the more practical choice.
That being said, if you live in an older home or have just completed a renovation, you might not have ductwork where you want climate control. In this case, adding a mini-split is much less complex 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 using a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a accessible location. Having said that, ductless mini-splits use a remote that lets you control each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re satisfied with regulating the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be necessary. If it is, you can improve home comfort and conserve 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 easier and more practical to install mini-splits in rooms with precise 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 through a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have more choices for where you can put the unit. You can place one in a single room that you would otherwise find difficult to keep comfortable. You could mount one in a converted garage or sunroom without new ductwork. You can also install a mini-split air handler in each room, all hooked up to the outdoor condensing unit for affordable operation.
Modern heat pumps are more efficient than ever. There are even cold-climate versions offered for a performance boost at low temperatures.
Even so, ductless mini-splits are generally more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses that come 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 is within a utility closet or space in the basement.
By comparison, 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 displayed on the wall or ceiling.
Schedule Heat Pump or Mini-Split Installation
No matter which system you decide is right for your home, Wesley Wood Service Experts can perform the professional installation you count upon. Our techs are ready to bring 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 local Wesley Wood Service Experts office today.