Guide to Mini-Splits vs. Heat Pumps
Are you looking for a reliable, affordable 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 convenient option. Both systems operate on electric power and run in heating and cooling modes for year-round comfort. So, is it a heat pump or mini-split for you? 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 type of central climate control system. Compared with a furnace, which generates usable heat for the home by igniting a fuel source, a heat pump redirects heat from one place to another. In the winter, it pulls out heat energy from the air outdoors and redirects it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve will allow it to complete this process backward in the summer, behaving the same as an air conditioner to remove 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 — just without 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 connects directly to an outdoor condensing unit via a small hole drilled through the wall. Multiple indoor units can link up with a single outdoor unit, enabling whole-home comfort with no ductwork needed.
Making Your Selection
Here are the most important things to consider when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Houston home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is currently heated and cooled with a standard furnace and central AC system, the needed ductwork infrastructure is already in place. So in this case, installing a heat pump is likely the more cost-effective 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, adding a mini-split is much less complicated and is more cost effective than putting 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 other hand, ductless mini-splits have a remote that lets you adjust 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 needed. But you can maximize home comfort and conserve energy by heating and cooling separate rooms independently.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be incorporated into a central heat pump system by using multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be more straightforward and more practical to install mini-splits in rooms with distinct temperature needs, whether they’re heated and cooled by a central HVAC system or not.
Heat pumps don’t prioritize flexibility. Instead, they can replace your existing furnace and air conditioner and deliver whole-house comfort thanks to 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 challenging to keep comfortable. You could mount one in a transformed garage or sunroom without new 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 usually more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses connected with leaky ductwork. The average home squanders 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 more likely to offer the same amount of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look almost identical to central AC units. The outdoor unit is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler sits concealed 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, Church Services can accomplish the professional installation you are expecting. Our service providers are ready to provide 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 local Church Services office today.