Guide to Mini-Splits vs. Heat Pumps
Are you searching for a dependable, reasonably priced home comfort system? If electricity is the best or only option available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be a good choice. Both systems run on electric power and operate 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 produces usable heat for the home by igniting a fuel source, a heat pump moves heat from one place to another. In the winter, it draws heat energy from the air outdoors and redirects it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve allows it to complete this process backward in the summer, working the same as an AC system to pull 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 — but although they don’t use the ductwork. This is 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 component connects directly to an outdoor condensing unit via a tiny hole drilled into the wall. Various indoor units can link up with a single outdoor unit, allowing for whole-home comfort with no ductwork necessary.
Making Your Decision
Here are significant things to review when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Cleveland home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is currently heated and cooled with a conventional furnace and central AC system, the required ductwork infrastructure is already in place. So in this case, installing a heat pump is probably the more practical choice.
That being said, if you live in an older home or have just made an addition, you might not have ductwork accessible to use that space year-round. In this case, installing a mini-split is much less complex and costs far less than installing in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are managed identical to most other central heating and cooling systems: by setting a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a central location. On the other hand, ductless mini-splits have a remote that lets you operate 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 necessary. If it is, you can increase home comfort and conserve 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 affordable to install mini-splits in rooms with distinct temperature demands, 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 options for where you can put the unit. Homeowners can add 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 install 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 basically more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses associated with leaky ductwork. An ordinary home loses 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 more likely to offer the same amount of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look similar to central air conditioners. The outdoor unit is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler is concealed 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 installed on the wall or ceiling.
Schedule Heat Pump or Mini-Split Installation
Whatever you decide to do, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can complete the professional installation you want. Our techs are ready to deliver 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 Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office today.