Guide to Mini-Splits vs. Heat Pumps
Are you shopping for a efficient, affordable home comfort system? If electricity is the best or only choice 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 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 determine the right fit.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a kind of central climate control system. Different from a furnace, which creates usable heat for the home by burning a fuel source, a heat pump transfers heat from one place to another. In the winter, it pulls out heat energy from the air outdoors and deposits it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve will allow it to perform 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.
What Is a Mini-Split?
A mini-split is designed on the same principle as a heat pump. As a matter of fact, 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 connects directly to an outdoor condensing unit through a tiny 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
Below are key points to think about when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Louisville home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is currently heated and cooled with a standard furnace and air conditioner, the required ductwork infrastructure is already in place. In this situation, installing a heat pump is probably the more practical choice.
However, if you live in an older home or have just made an addition, you may not have ductwork in reach. In this case, adding a mini-split is much less complex and is more cost effective than adding in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are controlled identical to 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 have a remote that lets you control each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re happy with adjusting the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be required. But you can maximize home comfort and save energy by heating and cooling separate rooms separately.
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 cost-effective 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 focus on flexibility. Instead, they can replace your existing furnace and air conditioner and offer whole-house comfort through a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have more options for where you can put the unit. You can install one in a single room that you would otherwise find tough to keep comfortable. You could mount one in a transformed garage or sunroom without new ductwork. You can also install a mini-split air handler in each room, all connected to the outdoor condensing unit for cost-effective operation.
New 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 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 inadequate air sealing or a lack of insulation. This means that a mini-split is more likely to supply the same amount of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look pretty much the same as central air conditioning units. The outdoor cabinet is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler sits hidden within a utility closet or somewhere in the basement.
On the other hand, mini-splits are easy to view. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be inconspicuous, but they are clearly visible in any room in which they are installed on the wall or ceiling.
Schedule Heat Pump or Mini-Split Installation
No matter which decision you make, Becht/Givens Service Experts can perform the professional installation you expect. Our technicians 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 local Becht/Givens Service Experts office today.