Are you shopping for a dependable, reasonably priced home comfort system? If electricity is the best or only solution available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be a good choice. Both systems function on electric power and run in heating and cooling modes for year-round comfort. So, what’s it going to be — heat pump or mini-split? If you're still trying to figure it out, 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. As opposed to a furnace, which creates usable heat for the home by igniting a fuel source, a heat pump moves heat from one place to another. In the winter, it extracts heat energy from the air outside and redirects 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. In fact, it is a kind of heat pump — just without the ductwork. That’s 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 portion connects directly to an outdoor condensing unit through a tiny 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 Decision
These are key factors to think about when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Charleston home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is already 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 might not have ductwork accessible to use that space year-round. In this case, installing a mini-split is much less involved and costs far less than putting in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are controlled very much like most other central heating and cooling systems: by adjusting a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a central location. On the flip side, ductless mini-splits have a remote that lets you adjust each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re happy with controlling the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be needed. But you can improve home comfort and conserve energy by heating and cooling separate rooms individually.
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 cost-effective 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 with help from a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have more choices for where you can put the unit. Homeowners can add one in a single room that you would otherwise find challenging to keep comfortable. You could mount one in a transformed garage or other home addition without extending the ductwork. You can also equip the entire home with a mini-split air handler in each room, all hooked up to the outdoor condensing unit for cost-effective operation.
New heat pumps are more efficient than ever. There are even cold-climate versions on the market for a performance boost at low temperatures.
Even so, ductless mini-splits are generally more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses connected with leaky ductwork. A typical home squanders more than 20% of the air traveling through the ductwork to poor air sealing or a lack of insulation. This means that a mini-split is likely to offer the same amount of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look almost identical to central air conditioners. The outdoor cabinet is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler is concealed within a utility closet or space in the basement.
In contrast, mini-splits are easier to spot. The air handlers come in sleek jackets designed to be unnoticeable, but they are clearly visible in any room in which they are mounted on the wall or ceiling.
Schedule Heat Pump or Mini-Split Installation
No matter which system you decide is right for your home, Pardee Service Experts can perform the professional installation you expect. Our specialists 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 nearby Pardee Service Experts office today.