Guide to Mini-Splits vs. Heat Pumps
Are you shopping for a dependable, budget-friendly home comfort system? If electricity is the better or only solution available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be perfect for your home. Both systems run on electric power and run in heating and cooling modes for 365 days of comfort. So, have you made your choice? If you're still trying to figure it out, get the details about each HVAC system to help you settle on a make and model.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a type of central climate control system. Different from a furnace, which creates usable heat for the home by igniting a fuel source, a heat pump transfers heat from one place to another. In the winter, it pulls out heat energy from the air outside and deposits it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve allows it to operate backward in the summer, running the same as an air conditioner to pull 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. Actually, it is a kind of heat pump — minus the ductwork. That’s 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 equipment hooks up directly to an outdoor condensing unit from a small hole drilled in the wall. Several indoor units can link up with a single outdoor unit, enabling whole-home comfort with no ductwork needed.
Making Your Decision
Here are key things to consider when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Kansas City home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is already heated and cooled with a standard furnace and AC unit, the necessary ductwork infrastructure is already in place. Therefore, installing a heat pump is potentially the more affordable option.
That being said, 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 complex and is more cost effective than putting in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are controlled in a way similar to most other central heating and cooling systems: by adjusting a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a central location. On the other hand, ductless mini-splits have a remote that lets you control 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 required. If it is, you can increase home comfort and conserve energy by heating and cooling separate rooms separately.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be integrated into a central heat pump system by installing multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be simpler and more cost-effective to install mini-splits in rooms with specific 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 deliver whole-house comfort through a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have greater versatility for where you can put the unit. Homeowners can install one in a single room that you would otherwise find difficult to keep comfortable. You can mount one in a modified garage or sunroom without extending the ductwork. You can also outfit the entire house with a mini-split air handler in each room, all connected to the outdoor condensing unit for cost-effective 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 affiliated with leaky ductwork. An ordinary home loses more than 20% of the air traveling through the ductwork to spotty air sealing or a lack of insulation. This suggests that a mini-split is more likely to provide the same amount of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look almost identical to central air conditioners. The outdoor unit is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler sits within a utility closet or space in the basement.
In contrast, 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 system you decide is right for your home, Neal Harris Service Experts can complete the professional installation you count upon. Our service providers are ready to provide excellent products and services backed 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 Neal Harris Service Experts office today.