Guide to Mini-Splits vs. Heat Pumps
Are you looking for a efficient, 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 good choice. 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 figure it out, 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 generates usable heat for the home by combusting a fuel source, a heat pump redirects 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 allows it to operate backward in the summer, behaving 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. In fact, 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 is designed as a ceiling- or wall-mounted unit with a built-in air handler. This indoor portion hooks up directly to an outdoor condensing unit from a tiny hole drilled into the wall. Several indoor units can connect with a single outdoor unit, providing whole-home comfort with no ductwork necessary.
Making Your Choice
These are key points to consider when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Gainesville home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is currently heated and cooled with a standard furnace and AC unit, the necessary ductwork infrastructure is already in place. Therefore, installing a heat pump is likely the more cost-effective solution.
On the other hand, if you live in an older home or have added on to the home, you might not have ductwork in reach. In this case, installing a mini-split is much less complex and is more affordable than installing in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are managed very much like most other central heating and cooling systems: by setting a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a convenient location. On the flip side, ductless mini-splits use a remote that lets you control each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re happy with regulating the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be worth the effort. If it is, you can maximize home comfort and reduce wasted energy by heating and cooling separate rooms separately.
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 affordable to install mini-splits in rooms with precise 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 deliver whole-house comfort with help from a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have greater versatility for where you can put the unit. You can place one in a single room that you would otherwise find tricky to keep comfortable. You could mount one in a converted garage or sunroom without adding more 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.
Today’s heat pumps are more efficient than ever. There are even cold-climate versions available for a performance boost at low temperatures.
All the same, ductless mini-splits are basically more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses that come with leaky ductwork. The average home loses more than 20% of the air passing through the ductwork to spotty air sealing or a lack of insulation. This means 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 sits within a utility closet or space in the basement.
By comparison, mini-splits are easier to spot. 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
No matter which decision you make, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning can accomplish the professional installation you are expecting. Our specialists are ready to bring excellent products and services protected by our one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee. To learn more about heat pumps vs. mini-splits or request an installation estimate, please contact your nearest Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning office today.