Are you shopping for a reliable, budget-friendly home comfort system? If electricity is the ideal or only solution available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be a convenient option. Both systems function on electric power and run in heating and cooling modes for 365 days of 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 kind of central climate control system. Different from 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 extracts heat energy from the air outside and redirects it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve enables it to complete this process backward in the summer, running 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 works on the same principle as a heat pump. Actually, it is a kind of heat pump — minus the ductwork. This is 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 equipment is connected directly to an outdoor condensing unit from a small hole drilled into the wall. Several indoor units can connect with a single outdoor unit, enabling whole-home comfort with no ductwork necessary.
Making Your Choice
Here are significant things to consider when deciding between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Elkhart home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is currently heated and cooled with a standard furnace and AC unit, the required ductwork infrastructure is already in place. So in this case, installing a heat pump is potentially the more practical solution.
However, if you live in an older home or have just made an addition, you may not have ductwork where you want climate control. In this case, installing a mini-split is much less complex and costs far less than adding in the ductwork required for a heat pump.
Heat pumps are controlled the same as 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 use a remote that lets you operate each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re satisfied with controlling the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be required. If it is, you can enhance home comfort and reduce wasted energy by heating and cooling separate rooms independently.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be integrated into a central heat pump system by using multiple thermostats and ductwork dampers. But it may be simpler and more cost-effective to install mini-splits in rooms with precise temperature demands, 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 through a network of air ducts.
Mini-splits have greater versatility for where you can put the unit. Homeowners can place one in a single room that you would otherwise find tough to keep comfortable. You can mount one in a transformed garage or sunroom without extending the 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.
All the same, ductless mini-splits are basically more efficient because they don’t suffer the energy losses connected 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 provide the same amount of hot or cold air at a lower cost.
Heat pumps look similar to central air conditioners. The outdoor unit is nearly indistinguishable, and the indoor air handler stays concealed within a utility closet or space in the basement.
On the other hand, 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 positioned on the wall or ceiling.
Schedule Heat Pump or Mini-Split Installation
No matter which system you decide is right for your home, BW/Cook Service Experts can perform the professional installation you want. Our service providers are ready to bring 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 nearest BW/Cook Service Experts office today.