Are you looking for a efficient, affordable home comfort system? If electricity is the best or only choice available to you, a central heat pump or ductless mini-split could be a good choice. Both systems function on electric power and operate 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 settle on a make and model.
What Is a Heat Pump?
A heat pump is a type of central climate control system. As opposed to a furnace, which creates usable heat for the home by burning a fuel source, a heat pump moves heat from one place to another. In the winter, it extracts heat energy from the air outdoors and deposits it inside. Then, a built-in reversing valve enables it to perform 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 works on the same principle as a heat pump. As a matter of 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 equipment hooks up directly to an outdoor condensing unit through a small hole drilled in the wall. Various indoor units can link up with a single outdoor unit, providing whole-home comfort with no ductwork needed.
Making Your Selection
Here are key things to review when choosing between a heat pump and a mini-split for your Austin home.
Ductwork & Installation
If your home is already heated and cooled with a traditional furnace and AC unit, the required ductwork infrastructure is already in place. Therefore, installing a heat pump is probably the more cost-effective choice.
However, if you live in an older home or have just made an addition, you might not have ductwork where you want climate control. In this case, installing 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 use a remote that lets you adjust each wall-mounted unit from anywhere in the room.
If you’re satisfied with adjusting the temperature throughout the house using a single thermostat, zoning may not be needed. If it is, you can increase home comfort and save energy by heating and cooling separate rooms separately.
Such ‘zoned’ temperature control can be incorporated 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 distinct temperature demands, whether they’re heated and cooled by a central HVAC system or not.
Heat pumps don’t focus on 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 choices for where you can put the unit. You can install 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 adding more 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.
New heat pumps are more efficient than ever. There are even cold-climate versions available 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. An ordinary home wastes 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 likely to offer the same quantity 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 sits hidden 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 unobtrusive, 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, Strand Brothers Service Experts can perform the professional installation you are expecting. Our service providers are ready to deliver excellent products and services supported 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 Strand Brothers Service Experts office today.