Guide to Mini-Splits vs. Heat Pumps
Are you shopping for a dependable, affordable home comfort system? If electricity is the better or only choice 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 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 make your mind up.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a kind of central climate control system. Different from a furnace, which produces usable heat for the home by combusting 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 deposits it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve will allow it to perform this process backward in the summer, working 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 operates 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. That’s why it’s called a “ductless” system. A mini-split can be a ceiling- or wall-mounted unit with a built-in air handler. This indoor component is connected directly to an outdoor condensing unit through a tiny hole drilled into the wall. Several indoor units can connect with a single outdoor unit, allowing for whole-home comfort with no ductwork necessary.
Making Your Choice
Here are the most important things to review when deciding between a heat pump and a mini-split for your San Antonio home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is already heated and cooled with a traditional furnace and AC unit, the needed ductwork infrastructure is already in place. Therefore, installing a heat pump is potentially the more cost-effective solution.
That being said, if you live in an older home or have added on to the home, you might not have ductwork in reach. 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 managed in a way similar to most other central heating and cooling systems: by using a wall-mounted thermostat installed in a accessible 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 content with adjusting the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be required. But you can enhance home comfort and reduce wasted 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 easier 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 emphasize flexibility. Instead, they can replace your existing furnace and air conditioner and supply whole-house comfort through a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have more choices for where you can put the unit. You can add one in a single room that you would otherwise find challenging to keep comfortable. You could mount one in a converted garage or other home addition without new 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 on the market 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 wastes 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 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 hidden 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 mounted on the wall or ceiling.
Schedule Heat Pump or Mini-Split Installation
Whatever you decide to do, Aramendia Plumbing, Heating and Air can perform the professional installation you count upon. Our technicians 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 nearby Aramendia Plumbing, Heating and Air office today.